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.
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
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.
Image from iStockphoto contributor monkeybusinessimages
More on MoneyWatch: