No. 6: Monitor your plan

Your plan isn't a one-time exercise that you put on autopilot. It needs to be regularly monitored at scheduled intervals, preferably quarterly, to review planned versus actual achievement of various financial and nonfinancial milestones.

Timely changes need to be made to your plan to reflect new opportunities and changes in your personal and financial situation, goals, and health situation, as well as changes in the economic environment, tax laws, and other government regulations.

No. 7: Share your plan

Don't keep your plan a secret. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to be accountable for them. At a minimum, you should develop and monitor your plan with your spouse or significant other as applicable.

Your plan should reflect each of your respective unique goals as well as your shared goals. Given the fact that everyone should retire on his/her terms, planning for different potential retirement dates needs to also be considered whenever couples are involved.

No. 8: Work with a team of experienced professionals

Retirement planning isn't for do-it-yourselfers. It's extremely complicated with a lot of moving parts that need to be analyzed and coordinated on an continuing basis. One mistake can be extremely costly and potentially devastating to an otherwise sound plan.

Using your goals and your visualization of a successful retirement, your retirement income should be planned, managed, and protected by a team of professionals. Your team should be led by a retirement income planner with experience and training in financial and nonfinancial matters unique to retirees. It should also include a CPA, investment adviser, insurance agents, and an estate attorney whenever these services aren't provided by your retirement income planner.

Working with a team of professionals will enhance accountability and the likelihood of retiring on your terms.

No. 9: Embrace change

Retirement income planning is quite different from traditional retirement planning where asset accumulation is the primary objective.

Two important differences are (1) the types of strategies that are used and (2) the issues that need to be addressed. Things like income conversion and retirement plan distribution strategies and long-term care, Social Security, and Medicare planning techniques require specialized knowledge, expertise, and experience.

In order to retire on your terms and take advantage of various opportunities, it's important that you be receptive to exploring and implementing investment, insurance, tax, and other financial planning ideas and strategies that may have previously been foreign to you, including income longevity strategies where appropriate.

No. 10: Recognize that retirement planning doesn't retire when you do

Retirement planning, once it's initiated, is a lifelong commitment. Even if you follow my third recommendation and start retirement asset and income planning 30 and 20 years, respectively, in advance of retirement, you shouldn't stop doing retirement planning when you retire.

This would be like planting a fruit tree and never watering it. Retiring on your terms is a lifelong endeavor. Like the fruit tree, it requires continuing nourishment that must adapt to changes in one's environment.

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