THE BLOG
03/06/2013 02:10 pm ET Updated May 06, 2013

5 Easy Steps Toward a Worry-Free Retirement

By David Goodboy

Worry-free finances = a happy, productive retirement, right?

Well, that goal is easier to accomplish than you think. It only takes a little sacrifice... and as much planning as you can muster.

I'm going to tell you about five tips that should make your golden years that much more golden.

Ideally, begin planning with your first real paycheck. However, regardless of your age -- or financial condition -- starting now is better than not starting at all. Just remember: Each year you are closer to retirement, the more capital you'll need saved to reach your retirement goals.

I have other tips to put you on a path toward a worry-free retirement... And while nothing is guaranteed, these tips should get you started.

1. Have A Plan
The American Savings Education Council provides calculators that show you how much you will need to save for retirement and obtain the right income. If you know what income you will need for retirement, then you will be able to save enough capital to earn the income. Don't fly by the seat of your pants: This is one time when it pays to be exact. You can also try InvestingAnswers' savings calculators here.

2. Use Your 401(k)
Your 401(k) plan is a powerful retirement savings tool. This is particularly true if you are fortunate enough to have an employer who matches your contributions up to a certain amount. Most experts suggest maxing out your contributions to the plan up to the allowable limit. This forced savings/investing method can translate into a worry-free retirement.

3. Build A Portfolio Of "Retirement Savings Stocks"
In addition to your 401(k) plan, build a portfolio of stocks that pay safe, rising dividends and supercharge your retirement fund. Think of this portfolio as your ace in the hole when it comes to speeding up the process. [My associate Carla Pasternak calls these investments "Retirement Savings Stocks." These stocks offer a reliable source of high income even if the market goes down and can give you the second income you're looking for.]

4. Keep Working
This may sound ridiculous, but working at what you love can be a great retirement plan for some. Choose a part-time job in a field or business that you enjoy. Many retirees turn their hobbies into small businesses or work part time at what they consider enjoyable. I have a friend, Joe, who loves to fish. He would spend many of his pre-retirement weekends fishing -- sometimes regardless of the weather. I thought he was overboard with the sport, but he was very passionate about it.

After retirement, he turned this obsession into a successful part-time business guiding other sportsmen to his favorite fishing locations. Last I checked, he couldn't be happier getting paid for what he loves to do. This is just one example of the multiple times I have witnessed retirees being happier working at something they love than not working. Not only will this keep you mentally sharp, but your knowledge and skills will be appreciated by others.

5. Monitor your progress
Once every six months, review your progress. Make sure your investments are performing as expected. It's easier to correct a mistake early on than to let it grow into a potential portfolio-damaging error.

The Investing Answer: You need an exit strategy. How will you turn your nest egg into income and spending money? This is the time to reap the rewards of careful planning and delayed gratification, so make sure you have a workable exit plan in place. The primary things to remember when developing an exit plan are place and affordability.

Since you are no longer tied to your old job, you can live anywhere you wish. Do you like the ocean, the mountains or the desert? Anything is possible now, so be creative! Next, explore where, within the overall plan, your retirement resources will provide the best "bang" for your buck. The cost of living varies wildly around the United States, and if you decide to look internationally, the sky is really the limit.

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