4 Steps to Follow for a Successful Retirement

An advance plan can help you meet your retirement goals.

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Most of us dream of a successful retirement. But a comfortable retirement doesn’t just happen. Retirement security requires planning and effort. As you consider your retirement future, here are four steps to follow for a successful retirement:

1. Figure out what you want your retirement to look like. Your definition of success might be different from someone else’s. Your first step is to figure out what you want your retirement to look like. Partial employment, travel, the ability to sit on your porch, service, a new hobby, and visiting with friends and relatives are all things to consider. Think about what you are most likely to enjoy, and be realistic about what needs to happen to make your dream a reality. Starting this process as early as you can will help motivate you to save and invest for your retirement goals.

2. Assess what you need for a successful retirement. Realistically determine what is needed for your personal retirement success. Consider what monthly income you will need from interest on your investments or other income sources in order to meet your goals. How big of a nest egg will you need to support your version of retirement success? Try to realistically account for expenses related to living and entertainment, as well as the effects of inflation. There are online calculators that can help you with your assessment.

3. Create a plan to help you reach your retirement goals. Once you know what you need in order to achieve a successful retirement, it’s time to make a plan to get there. Understand the risks and rewards of investing, and learn about your options. Find out what you can do to take advantage of an employee match program from your retirement plan. Look for ways to save up money and create regular passive income to supplement your retirement savings. Diversify your strategies and investments so that you can reduce risk. Make a plan to invest regularly and pay down debt so that you will be more likely to reach your goals.

4. Stick to your plan. Now that you have a realistic plan to achieve retirement success, it’s important to stick with it. Your plan should be developed with long-term success in mind, which means it should probably include investment strategies that favor the big picture like dollar-cost averaging and paying down debt. Unless you experience a major financial setback, don’t let short-term market conditions scare you into making significant changes to your plan.

While you might need to evaluate and tweak your plan periodically, a good retirement plan rarely needs a major overhaul unless your objectives change dramatically or if there is a fundamental shift somewhere. Remember that a lot of the noise and panic surrounding short-term market movements is just hype and sensationalism. If you stick to a well-made plan, you are more likely to reach your retirement goals.

Jeff Rose is a certified financial planner and U.S. combat veteran. He blogs at Good Financial Cents and Soldier of Finance.