Step 1: Consider hiring help
It's crucial to plan for your retirement, and for many, the services of a financial planner can make the difference between security and chaos. A planner looks at all aspects of a person's financial life and comes up with a plan to coordinate all the pieces -- from managing risk via insurance to tax planning to investing strategies
So how do you find one? Start by looking for someone with broad training in the financial field. "A planner should have credible education and professional credentials," says Terry Dunne, a managing director at Millennium Trust Company in Oak Brook, Ill. "He or she should clearly disclose how they are paid."
Some planners will charge a separate fee, others a commission, and still others take a percentage of your assets if they manage your money directly.
The most widely recognized generalist is a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, professional, a designation held by nearly 69,000 people in the U.S., according to the CFP Board, which oversees CFP professionals.
Other credentials include registered investment adviser, or RIA; certified public accountant-personal financial specialist, or CPA-PFS; and chartered financial consultant, or ChFC.
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, at NAPFA.org, and the CFP Board, at CFP.net, both let you search for planners.