3 tips for retiring with confidence

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Retire with confidence.
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In survey after survey, Americans say that one of their biggest retirement worries is outliving their savings and running out of money. And they have good reason to be concerned. The average American lifespan has gone up by nearly a decade since 1960, and today, one in four sixty-five-year-olds are expected to live to at least 90. That's a lot of retirement to save for, and finding enough income to cover you for more than two decades is the ultimate financial planning puzzle.

Fortunately, there are smart tools and financial planning strategies designed to help you retire with confidence — so you can enjoy the best years of your life.

1. Get smarter about Social Security.

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If it's guaranteed lifetime income you want, then we've got good news: You already have that coming your way, in the form of a regular Social Security check. Unfortunately, that monthly benefit almost certainly won't be enough to cover all your expenses in retirement, so it will need to be supplemented with other income sources. Still, Social Security can play a big role in your retirement income plan — especially if you increase the size of benefit by waiting a little longer to take it.

Take Social Security as soon as you're eligible, at 62, and your monthly benefit will be about 25 percent lower than it would be if you took it at your "full retirement age" (somewhere between 65 and 67, depending on when you were born). And if you can wait until you're 70, your benefit will be about 25 percent higher than it would be if you took it at full retirement age.

Of course, if waiting until you're 70 means that you spend your 60s leaning harder on your nest egg to pay the bills, it might not be worth it. But if you think you've got a long life ahead of you, and you can work long enough to put off taking Social Security, then you can maximize the size of your benefit, and your 90-year-old self will thank you.

2. Use life insurance or an annuity.

Some forms of life insurance can be tapped to provide a source of income in retirement. For instance, a cash-value life insurance plan ensures your premium dollars will grow on a tax-deferred basis — similar to an IRA. And once you reach retirement, you can tap that value in the form of withdrawals and loans and potentially receive that income tax-free. You get the peace of mind of knowing your family will be taken care of, and the confidence of being able to rely on another source of income during retirement.

Annuities can go a step further by providing guaranteed lifetime income. An immediate annuity, for example, will provide a monthly check for the rest of your life in exchange for an upfront lump sum. Usually, the size of the monthly benefit will depend on both the size of your initial lump sum investment and your age. Annuities offer the peace of mind of knowing that, no matter how long you live, you'll still have a source of income that never runs out.

3. Talk to a financial professional.

It might be tempting to think you can go it alone and put together a DIY retirement plan. But like any DIY project, you might be underestimating how complicated it is.

Just consider the myriad of income sources you'll need to juggle: Withdrawals from your retirement accounts, Social Security payments, any life insurance or annuities, investment income, and even home equity-based income. Meanwhile, your income needs may be a lot different than they were in your working years. Take medical expenses, for instance: How much should you budget for doctor's visits and prescriptions? What will Medicare cover? What about long-term care?

If all these questions and variables make your head spin, we don't blame you. Fortunately, a good financial professional can assess your whole financial picture, put together an income plan that accounts for all your expenses and income needs, and help ensure that you don't run out of money. And nothing boosts your confidence like knowing that you've got an expert on your side.

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