Prioritizing Your Retirement Needs, Part I

When you take the time to ponder your retirement picture, how much do you see and how well-focused is the image? A comprehensive retirement plan is, in a manner of speaking, a picture of your future — a future in which an alarm clock won't likely figure very prominently, if at all, since you'll no longer be going to work every day.  Having a fruitful retirement is the postscript to the American Dream — and the ideal is to spend those proverbial golden years in comfort and calm, spending your time and money when and where you will. But in order for that to happen, you must carefully think about several retirement concerns and how much value you place on each before you can really see the full picture.

It all comes down to prioritization, but oftentimes there's just so much to consider that the task becomes daunting. To guide you down this crowded planning path, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), a not-for-profit organization with a focus on insured retirement income, developed the “Retirement Expectations Checklist,” an extensive list of retirement concerns you should address when formulating your plan. To give you the resources and perspective you need to start developing a clearer view of it all, we'll discuss a few of these important considerations as well as how other baby boomers generally feel about them so you can measure your concerns against those of your peers. The next step? Take your list of prioritized retirement needs to your advisor to discuss what you must do to meet your expectations and paint your perfect — and complete — retirement picture.   

Your Retirement Number: How much money will it take for you to retire? If you haven't started thinking about this all-important figure, like almost half (46 percent) of your boomer counterparts, now's the time to do so. Once you have a general idea of how much you'll need to save in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement, talk to your advisor or planner about which strategies and tools you can use to make it happen. And don't forget to plan for a long post-work life — the chances that you or your spouse will survive at least to age 90 are pretty good, so plan with the goal of never running out of income.

Investment Product Criteria: Combine long life expectancies with a sometimes volatile stock market and an uncertain economy, and many Americans start craving safety. There's certainly nothing wrong with that except that all investments carry risk. Even doing nothing carries risk. More and more boomers are becoming aware of the importance of risk management. What criteria are most important to you?

Your Retirement Age: How long do you think you'll want to — or have to — work before you retire? When it comes to determining a retirement age, 39 percent of boomers don't have a target age for when they will retire. But before trying to decide how old you'll be when you leave the workforce, it's a good idea to assess your situation with a qualified planner to help you develop a realistic goal. If you already have an age in mind, your advisor will be able to tell you whether your goal can be achieved or if you'll need to put a bit more — or maybe less — time into your career before you can put your feet up for good.

We've scratched just beyond the surface of what goes into crafting a beautiful retirement picture, and it should leave you with plenty to think about. Whatever you do, don't lose sight of that image! In Part II of this article, we'll discuss a few more common concerns you should take into account before retiring.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

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