So you have a pension plan. Will that cover you in retirement? Maybe and then again, maybe not. Coupled with Social Security, will that do the trick? Again, not at all sure.

Unless you've been away on Mars for the past 10 years, most of us have been bombarded with a message that we need to save big-time for retirement. The problem is that some of the details, besides savings, have been left out.

For example, where do you invest? And once you do retire, how do you turn those savings into income that will last you all your remaining days?

So, the question starts at the beginning. What do you need to save? If you're just started out on the working track, then it is suggested by most gurus in financial planning that you should look to put away at least 10% of your income by investing it in a diversified portfolio. You see, with plenty of years ahead of you, you can handle the roller coaster rides of the financial markets. Of course, putting dollars in tax-deferred areas is always rewarding.

But suppose you just woke up and you are at mid-career? Aha! The game plan changes. You have to estimate how much you will need annually in income when you retire and then you can compute what kind of support or nest egg you need to have. For instance, if you need $20,000 additional a year to supplement any Social Security or pension income, then you'll need to have a sockful of about a half a million dollars to live comfortably for 20+ years. This means that in order to build this tidy nest egg by age 65, assuming an investment return of 8%, you must put aside at least $9,000 a year beginning at age 40. Naturally, if you don’t do this until you're 50, then the ante goes up and you'll need $21,600 a year.

One aspect requires immediate attention. Most people in the workforce that have a retirement savings plan pick a few funds and then ignore them. You need a specific strategic plan so that you know at all times whether you are going forward or you will wind up considerably short of your goals.

Keep in mind that saving for retirement is really only half the battle. Suppose you are within a few years of retirement, then it's time to develop a plan to turn savings into actual income. Most retirement experts point out that the single biggest mistake new retirees make is withdrawing too much of their retirement savings in the early years. You need to select a withdrawal rate that can sustain your level of income in both good and bad markets over your entire lifetime.

The key is that ole strategic plan. Anything less is downright foolish.

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