A survey by Ipsos/USA TODAY revealed that one in three Americans plans to work during retirement. The reason? Too much debt and not enough income! This makes evident the lack of proper planning on the part of retirees and pre-retirees. The truth is, most people find it hard to transition smoothly from an employed life to a retired life. Walking away from a life of regular income and employer-provided benefits after almost 30 to 40 years isn’t the easiest thing to do, so you need to plan ahead if you wish to minimize the effects of these major life changes.

However, formulating a strategic retirement plan is not a rush job. Different people have different concerns when it comes to retirement – some wish to make their savings last while others want to cash in on retirement benefits. So, a one-size-fits-all approach is never going to work here. What you need is a comprehensive plan that utilizes every available resource for a comfortable retirement. Find out how you can devise such a plan below:

Why Time Matters

The success of your retirement plan depends on how strong your foundation is and that, in turn, depends on your current age and the expected age of retirement. Usually, the longer you have until retirement, the more risks your portfolio can withstand. Pre-retirees and retirees no longer have the option. But instead of fretting over this, what they need to do is have a portfolio that focuses more on capital preservation and income.

• If you’re planning to retire soon, the best course of action would be to go through your employer’s policies on profit sharing and 401(k) matching, and time your retirement in a way that allows you to reap all the vested benefits that come your way well before they expire. Have a talk with the HR department and check your retirement benefits to see if there is a way to increase it.

• Also, be sure to apply for the pension five months in advance. Request a benefits statement and take a look at your payout options, if available. Coordinate your pension payout to minimize your tax liability and meet your financial requirements at the same time.

While planning your retirement strategies on time is important, there is one thing that you can afford not to be worried about—inflation. Studies show that a 64-year-old is likely to be less impacted by inflation than someone who just started his/ her career.

Plug the Insurance Gap

A person retiring before 65 may have a lapse in his/her insurance coverage before he/she is eligible for federal health insurance. If your employer lacked provisions for retiree health insurance benefits, you might consider some other individual insurance policies to tide you over until you become eligible for Medicare. However, do not neglect long-term care insurance and life insurance.

Know What You Want

It is one thing to realize you need to plan for your retirement; it is another thing altogether to go through with the actual process. Most people shy away from doing the latter partly due to the complications involved and partly due to how long it takes. But a little forethought and expertise can go a long way in simplifying the process and ensuring you do not sell yourself short on any of the perks you are owed. Minimize tax liabilities by taking advantage of all the benefits offered by your employer and planning how you’re going to manage your retirement income. Consult a financial advisor, if necessary.

Understand the Risks

Every retiree should aspire to have proper portfolio allocation – the kind that balances return objectives effectively with risk aversion. This will determine the extent of risk you’re willing to take for achieving your retirement objectives. So, it is important to feel comfortable with the risks in your portfolio and differentiate between a luxury and a necessity. This is something that you need to discuss seriously not just with a financial professional but with your family members too.

Stop Trying to Outsmart the Market

Finances are tricky. There is always a certain degree of uncertainty involved, which is why you can’t prevent anything bad from happening; all you can do is plan for it beforehand. So, stop trying to outsmart the market. Flexibility is a better choice in these uncertain conditions than sticking rigidly to a plan. This is why most financial experts recommend diversifying a retiree’s portfolio and ensuring all options are not in the same area. When the money is spread around into different types, you end up taking fewer risks. As they say, it is never a good idea to put all your eggs in a single basket.

Check Back on Your Retirement Plan Often

Make it a point to review and update your retirement plans every quarter. That may sound a little specific, but there’s a reason behind it – anything less, and you end up losing opportunities; anything more, and you become too emotionally involved with minor fluctuations in the market. So, your best bet is to schedule an appointment with a retirement account specialist and learn more about the allocation plans for your funds.

Investing Retirement Funds? Plan Wisely

Retirees should think about consolidating their accounts and rolling 401(k) funds into an IRA so that they can manage it more easily and enjoy greater investment freedom. On the other hand, there are a few retirees who find the investment options with employer-provided 401(k)s cheaper than the ones bought independently. However, it is best to discuss your options with a financial expert and select the option that maximizes your income to get the level of economic flexibility you desire. You should also check whether your beneficiary designations have been set up properly to ensure your retirement benefits go exactly where you want them to go.

You must have intimate knowledge of your own finances and make careful, informed decisions if you’re planning to create a strategic retirement plan that meets your requirements. But expecting a retiree to do all that instead of enjoying the final stage of life is unfair. So, it is better to designate this task to an expert – a financial advisor who is familiar with the process and understands the correct steps that you need to take for ensuring financial stability in future.