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4 Steps to Retirement

Determine how much you need to save
If you love to make a good list, this will be your favorite part. Grab a piece of paper or pull up a blank screen, and jot down all your expenses associated with a retirement vision. “Common expenses include housing, food, utility, and healthcare costs,” offered Mary Ryan, a financial planner with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. This will help determine the general target of how much you’ll need to meet those expenditures.


Invest for retirement with an appropriate asset mix
Put that savings to work through some investing. A good idea is to invest in the right mix of stocks, bonds, and short-term cash reserves based on your goals, the length of time before you’ll need your savings, and your comfort level with risk. “Investments with low risk have low returns,” says Anish Patel, a planner with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. “Risk comfort can be highly dependent on the market environment.”


Review and adjust investments regularly
Markets don’t move in slow and steady progressions—they shift and these changes can mess with your set strategy. "Regular reviews that focus on whether or not your asset mix is on target can help you know when to make adjustments so you can stick to your long-term plan," says Mary. “When stocks appreciate quickly and shift a portfolio's balance, it's more vulnerable to market corrections, putting it at risk of greater potential losses when compared with the original asset allocation.”


Minimize Taxes
In keeping with the phrase “location, location, location,” the type of account in which you hold your assets can make a difference in the amount of taxes you owe. "Investments that generate capital gains distributions or taxable income are better held in tax-advantaged accounts. For example, taxable bond returns are almost all income and thus subject to income taxes, so holding them in an IRA is a smart strategy," says Anish.

Ask for help
Look to a financially-savvy family member if you get a little lost, or visit a professional. Vanguard offers a team of financial planners, including Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professionals, who don't even receive extra compensation for their recommendations—they work solely to help you reach your goals.

Whether you work in partnership with a financial planner or act independently, checking these items off your to-do list can help you be more prepared for retirement. You’ve got this! Learn everything you need to retire at vanguard.com.

Please remember that all investments involve some risk. Be aware that fluctuations in the financial markets and other factors may cause declines in the value of your account. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.

Advisory services are provided by Vanguard Advisors, Inc. (VAI), a registered investment advisor.

©2016 The Vanguard Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/money-planning/four-steps-to-retirement