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Overviews of Retirement Planning and Basic Guides

Retire_overviewPlanning for retirement covers more than just financial planning. Planning for retirement is an activity that you and your spouse or partner do together. Your financial planning for retirement is driven by your retirement goals. Here are the basic steps involved.

The first step is self-assessment. The task is to focus on what your needs and desires are. You'll use the results of your self-assessment to set the goals that you want to achieve. These questions may provide a place to start.

  • Do I (we) want to work after retirement? If so, what would I (we) like to do and what are my (our) options?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I (we) want?
  • Do I (we) want to volunteer?
  • Do I (we) want to travel?
  • Do I (we) have any particular activities in mind?
  • Do I (we) have any hobbies I (we) want to pursue?
  • Do I (we) need any additional skills or knowledge to do what I (we) want?
  • Where do I (we) want to live?

Gather information. Once you've completed your self-assessment, the next step is to gather any information you might need in order to set your goals.

Set goals. Next comes setting goals so that you'll be prepared when you retire. For each goal, write a goal statement that identifies who will do what by when. Write down all the actions that are needed to reach the goal. For each action, also list who will do what by when. Being very specific will help you to accomplish the goals.

The last step is to regularly review and update your plans. It's not unusual for goals and plans to change. Even after you've retired, a regular review and reassessment can be fruitful.

The bottom line: Only you know what you want out of your retirement so only you can plan for it.

The following tutorials and articles provide more details on these basic steps.

Planning Tutorials

Among the thousands of Web pages devoted to the topic of retirement, few offer sequential tutorials that introduce you to the many basics of retirement planning. These sites offer a good place to begin. (For more tutorials that primarily address money issues, see our section Financial Planning and Saving for Retirement.)

The Pre-Retirement Planning Guide from the New York State Governor's Office of Employee Relations. This interactive tutorial guide hits a homerun in its comprehensiveness. The material starts with self-assessment and goal-setting for your total retirement (not just financial goals.)

You First: A Guide for Baby Boomers is a series of 5 handbooks from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) that cover many aspects of retirement planning including goal setting and financial planning. The handbooks were developed with input from Boomer focus groups. The handbooks are only available as individual pdf files. Note that many of these are large files and will take time to download.

Article Archives

The following sites offer numerous articles on various aspects of retirement planning. Generally the articles are grouped by topic. Although presented in some instances as retirement planning "guides," the sites don't really offer tutorials, but with judicious selection you can read more deeply about issues introduced in the tutorials in the previous section or create your own course of study.

Senior Citizens' Resources is a page on with links to government sites of interest to retirees. Its "Retirement" and "Money and Taxes for Seniors " sections in particular have links pertinent to retirement planning.

Social Security and Retirement Planning from, a legal self-help site, presents varied articles on such aspects of retirement as Social Security, retirement plans, Medicare and related issues, and estate planning. Ads and sponsored links are easily identifiable.

Ultimate Retirement Guide is a selection of articles from CNN/Money, including "A Lazy Man's Guide to Retirement Planning."  CNN/Money has a wide variety of articles pertinent to retirement, although, in our judgment, you may have to search further for some.

Retirement Planning, a "Money Guide" in the Retire Well section of offers a varied archive of articles. There are text ads but are clearly identified.

The Bigger Picture on Retirement

Interested in the bigger picture? The reports coming out of various think-tanks may not give you practical pointers on how to plan your retirement but the summaries and links on these sites can help you think broadly about issues that may affect your retirement.

The Urban Institute Retirement Project has conducted a number of studies on issues related to retirement, particularly Social Security, pensions, and elder caregiving. This link takes you to the project's homepage from which you can preview and access a number of studies.

Retirement Planning, in the Aging Well section of offers a varied archive of articles.  There are ads but are clearly identified.

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