Retirement Planning: How to Do It Right

Last Updated Jun 26, 2011 8:13 PM EDT

For the past 12 weeks, I've been writing posts that offer a step-by-step approach to planning for your retirement. When you think about it, it's an ambitious task to plan for a period of your life that might last 20, 30, or 40 years, and to rely mostly on your accumulated financial resources. It makes sense that you'll need to take 12 weeks or more to do the job right.

Some readers have asked how they can access the entire series. To make it convenient for you, I've summarized the steps below, with the links to each week's posts.

Kickoff Summary

12 Steps to Get Your Retirement Plan in Order

Week 1: Estimate your life expectancy, and dream for your future

How Long and How Well Will You Live?

Week 2: Build your team of professional advisors
Get Professional Financial Help

Get the Nonfinancial Help You Need

Week 3: Take steps to improve your health, to reduce medical bills and enhance your life expectancy


Invest in Your Health

Week 4: Collect and organize your financial resources

Take Inventory

Week 5: Develop a strategy for claiming your Social Security benefits

What You Need to Know About Social Security

How to Take Spousal Benefits

Boost Your Social Security Payout by $100,000
Social Security Strategies: How to Get $90,000 More For Your Spouse
Week 6: Use your IRAs, 401(k), and retirement savings to generate lifetime retirement income
The Best Ways to Generate Lifetime Income

Week 7: Choose the investments that are right for you

The Best Investments to Generate Income

The Best Investments During Retirement: Gauging Risk

Week 8: Develop a budget for living expenses
The Secret Formula That Will Make, or Break, Your Retirement

Week 9: Manage your housing expenses

9 Ideas to Reduce Your Housing Costs

Week 10: Plan for your medical expenses
Early Retirement? 9 Ways to Find Health Insurance Before Medicare
8 Essential Steps for Enrolling in Medicare

Week 11: Address the threat of long-term care
Long-Term Care: Don't Let the Cost Blow Up Your Retirement

Week 12: Put it all together
A 6-Step Guide to Figuring Out When You Can Afford to Retire

As you can see, you'll have to do a lot of homework to properly plan your retirement. Some people find it helpful to form small study groups, so they can share the legwork and kick around ideas. Don't forget to include your spouse or partner in your planning.

And don't be surprised if it takes you longer than 12 weeks to complete all the steps. Even if it takes you 6 months, remember that you're planning the most important part of your life: your rest-of-life! Take the time to put good plans in place, so you can focus on the things that are really important to you.


Want to learn more about retirement planning? Check out my latest creation - Money for Life, an innovative, free online retirement planning guide. I've organized a rich collection of more than 150 blog posts, articles, research reports, and video clips on the most important retirement planning decisions regarding money, health, and lifestyle.

You can also check out my latest book, Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years: Simple Retirement Planning Strategies That Work Through Thick or Thin.

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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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