Ten tips to help you reach your retirement goals

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What do you want in retirement? According to AARP Nevada research, fielded in January 2011, many Nevadans (47 percent) envision a life of travel and leisure; others anticipate turning their hobbies into a second career (19 percent), and others just hope to have enough to live on. Retirement means different things to different people. Once you determine what will give you peace of mind as you age; however, it's essential to know how you could get there financially. AARP can help you get started with 10 simple (and fun) tips to help you reach your goals.

Step 1: Define your retirement

Write down your top goals for retirement. Think of it as a financial as well as spiritual bucket list. You need the money to fuel the dream after all. Perhaps you can keep a scrapbook or start a journal which outlines your goals and your steps towards achieving them. Some say that just by putting those goals onto paper, you create a greater intention towards achieving them.

Step 2: Take stock of your "assets"

Write down how much you bring home each month, how much you have in the bank and how much you have in your retirement account. Then take the time to list all of your hobbies and skills - many can be turned into real income. Visit www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/info-06-2009/recareering_transferable_skills.html .

Step 3: Evaluate your health now for long-term healthy living

Consider scheduling your checkups and preventive exams sooner rather than later; from your annual physical to teeth cleaning. Remember that Medicare pays for some but not all medical costs?eyes, ears and teeth are generally not included in those medical benefits.

Commit (or re-commit) to eating better http://www.aarp.org/food/healthy-eating , exercising, getting enough sleep and staying mentally sharp with brain games, puzzles and books http://games.aarp.org.

Step 4: Determine when to collect Social Security

The longer you wait to claim Social Security, the greater the benefit for you and your family. However, you'll also want to consider factors such as your health, longevity in your family and how much money you already have tucked away. AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator will show you the difference in benefits and when it could be best to claim: www.aarp.org/socialsecuritybenefits.

Step 5: Network through social media to stay active and engaged

Include a networking strategy in your retirement plan; so that you always have social outlets and interests outside the home. It may involve joining a community book club you discovered via Facebook or starting a morning meet-up group at a local coffee shop with other soon-to-be retirees. Not sure where to start? You can view Facebook pages on the internet without signing up for an account; so check out AARP Nevada's and sign up to be a fan if you like us. www.facebook.com/aarpnv.

Step 6: Decide how much you want (or need) to work

Weigh the pros and cons of working - including how many hours per week - now. Some people work because they enjoy keeping busy, others want the security of a little extra income. The sooner you decide what your future holds in terms of work, the more secure you will be in your retirement planning. AARP Nevada volunteer Carlos Romo decided to use his talents and skills in a completely different way after he retired from his job as an administrator for a northern Nevada community college. Read the story of his second career here: http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-08-2011/work-from-home-jobs-for-retirees.1.html.

Step 7: Create a retirement budget

Create a retirement budget and do a financial checkup of your investments. The AARP Retirement Calculator can help: www.aarp.org/retirementcalculator. Additional resources are available at www.aarp.org/financialfreedom .

Step 8: Find new ways to cut your expenses (and start saving more)

Saving more now will always make you better prepared for retirement. Start by listing your bills and then figure out ways to trim them. Another strategy that works for many people: pay off your smallest debts first, regardless of interest rate, which can give you a sense of accomplishment. Visit www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-09-2010/controlling-debt-and-finances.html .

Step 9: Prepare for the unexpected

Take time to consider how you'd pay for minor issues, like a roof leak, to serious ones, like a grave illness. Discuss the big issues with your family or those closest to you. Visit http://www.aarp.org/decide . Also check all your insurance policies to make sure they are adequate.

Step 10: Stick to your plan (our community can help)

Joining AARP's online community will connect you with others going through the same life changes. The community holds a wealth of information and can be a source of comfort and strength, www.aarp.org/online_community.

For more on retirement planning, visit www.aarp.org/readyforretirement.


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