Author:Eaglin, Ryan
Position:LIFE IN AMERICA - Retirement planning

Many Americans who have not reached retirement feel that they will not be comfortable once they get there. For some, those potentially uncomfortable retirement years are decades away but, for the baby boom generation, retirement either is here or will be soon, which raises the question: just what does it take to be prepared?

Many baby boomers measure their preparedness in terms of assets. They are trying to hit a certain number or account balance. Asset accumulation is an important part of retirement planning, but it is not the only component. There are a few other steps you need to take to make sure you are ready to leave work behind and enjoy a stable and comfortable retirement.

* Prepare not just one, but two budgets. Most Americans do not use a budget, even though it is a handy tool--especially in retirement. It helps you see where you are spending your money, how much money you can afford to spend, and what adjustment you should make.

The recommendation here is to create two budgets. One would be for your remaining years before retirement so you can look for ways to cut spending and save more. The other would be for after you retire. The idea is to think of ways to live the retirement you have dreamed of while also staying within your income. It may be difficult, but just the act of preparing a budget can help you get a better understanding of your financial situation.

* Project your income. While your budget will help you understand how you are spending your money, you also need to have a good grip on what your potential retirement income will be. For most people, that is a combination of Social Security, personal savings, and...

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