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11 ways to save after retirement

In an ideal world, the onset of retirement would be greeted with relief: Finally, you can leave the rat race for good and spend time doing what you really want. Unfortunately, many Americans see retirement as a hard-and-fast deadline, beyond which, if they haven't saved a vast mountain of cash, they'll just have to do without. Catfood anyone?

Relax. It doesn't have to be that way. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your golden years stay golden:

Saving
Careful planning, money management and saving will go a long way toward making your retirement years relaxing -- not taxing.
 
Maximizing retirement money
1. Draft a financial plan.
2. Rent before you buy.
3. Eliminate extra fees and charges.
4. Work part time.
5. Claim that senior discount.
6. Shop your money.
7. Be on the lookout for frauds.
8. Re-evaluate your life insurance needs.
9. Keep putting money in your company's retirement plan.
10. Plan tax-efficient investing.
11. Evaluate long-term-care insurance.

1. Draft a financial plan. "The great fear is running out of money," says Chris Farrell, host of the "Right on the Money" and author of the financial advice blog "My Two Cents." "That's the paralyzing fear every retiree has."

Creating a financial game plan will help you manage your fears, as well as your money.

Determine where your money will be coming from -- investments, pensions, Social Security or savings.

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"You want to keep your money in [tax] deferred vehicles as long as possible," says Wayne G. Bogosian, co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to 401(k) Plans." "Tap the ones that aren't -- like Social Security, traditional pensions and personal savings."

Figure out what you need coming in each year to live the way you'd like, and allocate your money accordingly. Typical strategies are to keep a certain percentage of your savings in cash or CDs (liquid), a certain amount in bonds (mid-term payoff) and the rest in stocks (long-term investments).

Set a budget. "Look at what you want to do," Farrell says. "In the early years of retirement, be a little on the cautious side, but don't deny yourself."

Review your finances, at least annually. "See where you are and what you want to do," Farrell says. "Spend in such a way that you are enjoying your life."

Keep a little something tucked away, "but you never come back, so you might as well enjoy it."

When it comes to retirement savings accounts -- IRAs and 401(k)s -- taking out 4 percent a year is a standard yardstick.

"If you only spend 4 percent of what you've got, it's virtually impossible to run out," says Clark Howard, host of a nationally-syndicated consumer radio show and co-author of "Get Clark Smart: The Ultimate Guide for the Savvy Consumer."

But be flexible enough to look at your special circumstances and goals. Remember, if you deplete your investments early on -- even if you work part-time and continue investing -- it will be tougher to make up the difference. Best bet: sit down with a financial planner who specializes in retirement distribution analysis, and figure out a spend-down rate that works for you.

Make sure your expert makes money only from offering advice -- not from commissions on products sold to you or through transaction fees every time something is bought or sold.

 
 
Next: " ... Slowly look over the fine print on your finances."
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