It took patience, discipline and personal sacrifice to whip your nest egg into shape.

And now, as retirement day dawns, you look to your investment portfolio with pride, eager to begin the next chapter of life without the work-related hassles of having a boss.

Not so fast.

While retirement marks an important milestone for most Americans, it also ushers in a set of new financial challenges.

Without the luxury of a guaranteed paycheck, retirees must restructure their investments to create cash flow for monthly living expenses. They also must determine where, when and how much of their portfolio they can safely withdraw to ensure they don’t outlive savings — a growing challenge as life expectancies rise.

Making matters worse, most retirees are juggling a mixed bag of accounts — 401(k) plans, IRAs, pensions, personal savings — making it hard to manage their assets.

And you thought saving for retirement was tough.

If you want to live well during the golden years, take control of the financial future now, regardless of your age. Begin by educating yourself on age-appropriate investment tools, sustainable distribution strategies, and sources of supplemental income such as rental properties and reverse mortgages.

The stories in this Bankrate special section can teach you lessons that lead to a fun and profitable retirement.