A free online retirement planning guide

The U.S. is the only advanced in economy in the world that doesn't require employers to offer paid vacation time. iStockphoto

(MoneyWatch) For the last four months, I've been writing a series of posts that help you plan for a healthy, secure and happy retirement. Planning for a period of your life that can last 20, 30 or even 40 years is a complex and significant task.

To help you manage your retirement planning efforts, over the last 16 weeks I've written weekly posts that describe retirement planning steps you can take each week. Each post contains links to additional articles for further reading, so you can control how much detail you want to read.

You don't need to finish in 16 weeks; you can pace yourself to take the time you need and fit the steps into your schedule. When you're ready for each week's steps, the posts will still be there. And you don't need to follow the weeks in order; you have the flexibility to pick and choose the topics that are most relevant for you.

In effect, the entire series is a free, online retirement planning book, written by an actuary with 35+ years of experience working with retirement plans. I don't sell insurance or investments; rather, I just prepare retirement education and research. I write this blog column, publish books, conduct research at the Stanford Center on Longevity and deliver workshops on retirement planning topics. This enables me to use my skills and experience to help you, without being influenced by how I'm compensated.

This post contains links to the entire series. Before the 16-week series started, I wrote a series of posts describing the trends that affect retirement planning in today's environment; in effect, these first posts act as an introduction.

Introduction: Trends, strategies and a new vision for retirement

Week 1: Plan for a long life

Week 2: What kind of retirement do you want?

Week 3: Get the right help that you need

Week 4: Invest in your health

Week 5: Take inventory

Week 6: Will you work in retirement?

Week 7: Social Security basics

Week 8: Strategies for optimizing your Social Security benefits

Week 9: Turn your savings into income

Week 10: Investing strategies for retirement

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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

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