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Steps to take before, during and after retirement for financial security

Retirement planning can sometimes become a tangled process with a lot of loose ends and a lot of variables, but taking a few simple steps can help ensure that your second half is fulfilling, comfortable and financially secure. Retirement consultant Denise Appleby writes for Investopedia that to begin the process, retirees should think about when would be the best, most realistic time for them to retire.

"Assessing your financial readiness will help you to determine whether you have a projected shortfall and whether you need to modify your retirement strategies, goals and objectives," Appleby writes. She explains that the best way to start getting hard data about your prospects is to collect all the relevant financial information - income tax rate, the rate of return on your savings, the balance of all your accounts and how much income you expect to receive during retirement.

This can involve complicated arithmetic that may be best done with the help of a financial adviser. With this information, you'll be able to calculate the vital signs of your retirement plans - including estimated need, your projected assets and projected shortfall.

From these findings, you can deduce how much pre-retirement income is necessary for retirement. Financial adviser Roger Wohlner suggests in U.S. News & World Report that retirees generally need as much 70 percent to more than 100 percent of their pre-retirement income to maintain the same standard of living.

Appleby writes that if you've calculated that you need a lot more income than you expected, you can compensate by getting a second job or looking over your budget and trimming expenses that aren't necessary.

While the stock market may seem appealing, Appleby warns that retirees who are considering diversifying investments but who don't have much time before retiring should focus instead on safer investments. They should also try to pay off especially high debts.

Many baby boomers these days know that saving and strategizing for retirement doesn't necessarily end at any given age. One Del Webb survey showed that more than 70 percent of retirees are planning to work in some capacity in the future. Some retirement communities, like Sun City Peachtree, offer homeowners the chance to attend weekly Investment Club meetings, where experienced day traders and novice investors alike come together to talk about the best ways to invest in and build a nest egg.  

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