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Retirement checklist: 5 things to do to get yourself prepared

Survey after survey shows that Americans are nervous about their ability to save for retirement. But there are steps you can take to help plan for your later years. As a part of Yahoo Finance Live's Retirement Readiness series, Jean Chatzky, Financial Expert and Opportunity Knock$ Financial Coach, gives her a detailed checklist with steps Americans can take to better prepare for their retirement.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, nearly three in four Americans say they don't feel financially secure at the moment. That's according to a recent Bankrate survey. 41% point to insufficient retirement funds as a factor that's keeping them from financial security. We want to help change that by getting you retirement ready. And here with a five-part retirement checklist is Jean Chatzky, financial expert and Opportunity Knock$ financial coach. Jean, let's start with that list. What's on the top five?

JEAN CHATZKY: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, nice to see you. Thanks for having me. First thing that you have to do is figure out what your retirement looks like. And I know that sounds really obvious. But in particular, we know that there is often a disconnect between couples. When are you retiring? Where are you retiring? What will you do day-to-day in your retirement? Will you continue to earn some sort of an income as many people do? You got to scope that out.

And then you have to, part two, step two, figure out how much that's actually going to cost. Putting numbers together with your plan. A lot of people are banking on old math. They're thinking, well, my retirement life is probably going to cost me about 80% of my pre-retirement life. That was true for some of our parents. And some of our grandparents. But we're retiring younger in some cases. We're retiring healthier in a lot of cases. We've got more years to live.

And so figuring out where your-- where that money that you are going to come up with is actually going to go, what it's going to fund, how much housing is going to cost, how much transportation is going to cost, how much travel you want to do, how much you're banking on for health care. That's an integral part of the equation. And a lot of people have no idea where their money is even going day-to-day. So that is a good place to start-- figure out where your money is going now.

If you're feeling like you're at a loss with that, my coaching program, which is called Finance Fix, it's a program that we developed at hermoney.com can help. It helps you get in touch with your money. So that you can save a little more spend a little less and start to make progress towards your goals.

BRAD SMITH: Jean, you'll have to forgive me for reading ahead on this assignment as well in this top five list. Number three, talks about the sources of income. And I mean, I've always been taught you've got to have five streams of income. I'm working on it, too, all the people that told me that growing up. But where within your retirement checklist do you advise people on where they can find different sources of retirement funds?

JEAN CHATZKY: So these days, most of us don't have pensions with the exception of Social Security. I'll come to that in just a second. We do have retirement accounts. And we've been told accumulate, accumulate, accumulate money in these accounts. Well, now, we're in a position when we look retirement in the face, where we have to say, all right, how do I take this sum of money and make it last as long as I do?

And there are additional strategies that you need to dig into that involve coordinating taxes, so that you're pulling the money out of the right accounts at the right time. That you think about things like, do you want to craft a retirement paycheck using some of that money to perhaps buy you an annuity that will provide a stream of income that will last as long as you will last without having to worry about it?

And when it comes to Social Security, people without a strategy for when they're going to take Social Security leave a lot of money on the table. In particular, for the higher-earner in the family, you want to try to wait as long as possible between age 62 and age 70 before tapping Social Security, because, for every additional year you wait, you get a bump in benefits equal to about 8%. That's a guaranteed return. And it's tough to beat on a year-to-year basis by putting your money into a diversified portfolio of investments.

AKIKO FUJITA: Finally, looking at number 4 and 5 on your list, how do you think people should be thinking about long-term care? And ultimately, that last part, getting help, what do you advise people?

JEAN CHATZKY: So when it comes to long-term care, this is particularly important for women. We're going to outlive the men in our lives. Many of us who are partnered will take care of the men in our lives. But then when it comes to our own care, we should be looking into a bundle of benefits that will pay for things, like nursing home care or at-home health care unless we've got enough money to pay for those things ourselves.

It's a complicated product, comes in a lot of permutations, which is why getting help is number five on the list. And it's paramount. If you are more than 10 years or 10 years or so out from retirement, if you're around 50, 55, and you have yet to go through a pre-retirement checkup that puts you through all of these steps, that looks at whether or not you're well-situated to embrace the retirement that you want, it's time to have that checkup. You want to have it with a financial advisor who is a fiduciary, who has your best interest at heart. And you want to make sure that you lay out a plan that you can follow for the next decade.

It may change, that's OK. But having a plan is the only thing that will really get you going.

AKIKO FUJITA: Certainly good advice there. A lot of people taking notes. Jean Chatzky, good to talk to you today. Really appreciate the time.