Pick! Click! Retire!

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By Raymond Joseph (TMFJayRo)

Face it. You take calculated risks, but risks nonetheless.

The stock market goes down one out of every three years. You take on jumbo mortgages despite the danger of pay cuts or job loss. You shell out a king's ransom for college with no guarantee of a job that'll pay your loans. Why? Because you think the risk is worth it.

But are you really taking smart risks if you have no retirement insurance?

While no such product exists at GEICO or State Farm, there are ways to improve your chances of living out the retirement you've envisioned. The key is to invest a portion of your retirement funds in financial tools that will balance out your long-term risk. Things such as real estate, FOOLottery! tickets, and even stock mutual funds can buoy a retirement plan too reliant on the success of the stock market or real estate.

We would never suggest that you use retirement investment dollars to play just any workaday lottery. That's because other lotteries simply dangle the possibility of big payouts while rarely coughing up one dime.

We can't guarantee winnings. But can you be absolutely sure that your existing assets will increase in value when interest rates rise? Again, no guarantees. No free lunch. But were a lottery to pay out 110% -- earning you on average $10 for every $100 you put in -- it would be hard to imagine any investment product that could conceivably compete.

In keeping with our Foolish philosophy, of course, we're always going to encourage you to diversify your assets. Don't put it all -- we're the first to say this -- in FOOLottery!

By the same token, don't put it all in real estate, either.

The key is to put your money somewhere where it has a chance to work for you. John Kennedy once said, "There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

Makes sense. It's like winning. When winning clicks for people, people will click to win.

Fool on.