Consider health care

One area many people don't consider in their retirement planning is medical costs.

Often, younger workers assume that Medicare covers everything, but it doesn't.

After the age of 65, the average couple will spend about $260,000 out of pocket on health care, including insurance premiums and nursing home care, according to a 2010 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

"The problem is most households don't have $260,000 in the first place," says Webb. "What it means is that in practical terms, a lot of households face the risk of impoverishment or ending up on Medicaid."

Prepare to work longer

Many of today's "retirees" are staying in or rejoining the workforce.

For some, it's a financial necessity. For others, it's a chance to pursue interests or careers they put off in their younger years. And for many, it can be a combination of both.

"And maybe the nature of retirement is changing," says Webb. "It's less of a clean break."

Postponing Social Security payments or retirement account withdrawals often means you'll get more when you do tap those sources.

For those retiring over the next few years, delaying collecting Social Security from 62 to 70 can mean a 76 percent increase in benefits, says Webb.

Two factors may force workers to retire earlier than expected: late-in-life job loss and health problems, he says.

Seniors face a greater risk of having to leave the working world because of health, and also of "being prematurely ejected from the workforce," says Webb.

Think beyond the money

When you're planning and saving for your golden years, don't hesitate to think beyond the money.

Throughout your working life, "Keep your eye on the next job, and prepare so that (your) skills are what employers are seeking," says Rix.

It also doesn't hurt to be a little entrepreneurial, says Martin Yate, author of "Knock 'Em Dead: Secrets and Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World."

If you find something that gives you joy, stick with it, he says. Figure that in time, "I will learn how to make a buck," Yate says. "And in my 50s and 60s, I will either have a little business on the side or be prepared to launch one."

And if your needs and interests change or get refined as the decades go by, that's OK, says Yate.

Whatever your entrepreneurial dreams, you'll be using and sharpening many of the same transferrable skills you use in your "day job," he says. "It will help you be successful."

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