Cornerstones of Retirement

The RealSteps>Retirement® approach to retirement planning is built upon four cornerstones. All four cornerstones are important in every stage of your life.

Reliable Income

Goal: Help create a reliable retirement income stream.

  • Estimate current monthly expenses as a starting point for your retirement needs. Try this Expense Worksheet.
  • Make a list of your various income sources for retirement, such as Social Security and pension distributions.
  • Create a plan for withdrawing money from your retirement savings that seeks to optimize taxable income.

Asset Growth

Goal: Take the long view and keep investing, so you're ready for life's major transitions, including retirement. Maintain an appropriate balance of risk and return.

  • Consider redirecting bonuses and pay increases to help boost retirement savings.
  • Consider making catch-up contributions to your qualified savings plans after age 50.
  • Analyze your asset allocation based on your risk tolerance and time horizon through retirement.

Asset Protection

Goal: Plan for unexpected events that may threaten your retirement plan. Help protect yourself with thoughtful planning and insurance.

  • Review all of your insurance coverage. You may have too much of one type and not enough of another.
  • Plan for the potential impact of rising health care expenses and possible long-term care needs.
  • Consider establishing an emergency fund to help cover three to six months of expenses to help avoid dipping into retirement savings.


Goal: Establish a legacy plan that will ensure your intentions are fulfilled.

  • Review beneficiary designations on all accounts. Create a legal will or update your current will.
  • Develop a health care directive to let your family and doctors know your medical wishes.
  • Designate one or more persons as a power of attorney to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters if you are unable to make decisions.
  • Consider a revocable trust for more complex personal or financial situations.

Please remember that all investments carry some level of risk, including the potential loss of principal invested. They do not typically grow at an even rate of return and may experience negative growth.

Related Topics

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RealSteps>Retirement® Resource Guide

This guide includes information and tools to help you take action and manage your retirement goals.


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