In 1985, nearly one in five Americans in their late 60s were still working. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21 years later, nearly 30% of those older than the typical retirement age of 65 had jobs.

Stop and think about that. For one thing, ask yourself if that will be you. You might be dreaming of retiring at age 62 or 65, but if you haven't been carefully planning and taking action with that goal in mind, it may remain a dream -- one you look back on wistfully from your desk at work ... at age 73.

Remember, after all, that as our Rule Your Retirement newsletter service has recommended, in order to make your nest egg last, you should plan conservatively and withdraw about 4% of it per year in retirement. If you end up with a seemingly big nest egg of $400,000, 4% of that is $16,000 for one year, or $1,333 per month. Is that enough for you to live?

If not, don't panic -- all is not lost. You can start taking action now.

Invest now, enjoy later
Have you contributed to your IRA this year? Most of us can chip in up to $5,000 in 2009, or $6,000 if we're 50 or older. That's probably not enough to build a retirement on, though, so make the most of your 401(k), too.

Beyond your retirement accounts, don't neglect your regular brokerage account. Dividend-paying stocks currently benefit from favorable tax rates, so stocks like the following might make a good addition to your overall portfolio:


Recent Dividend Yield



Manulife Financial (NYSE:MFC)


Sanofi-Aventis  (NYSE:SNY)


Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE:IR)


Unilever plc (NYSE:UL)


Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO)


Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR)


Data: Yahoo! Finance.

Make the right choice
Of course, some people might actually enjoy working after age 65. If you'd be bored or restless in retirement, working at least part time can be fulfilling. It also has some financial benefits. For instance, the longer you work, the less money you'll need in retirement, and the longer you'll be covered by an employer's health-care policy.

Ideally, the choice should be yours. Take steps to plan now, and you'll enjoy a much happier retirement later.

Learn to plan a cushy retirement with our Rule Your Retirement newsletter. A free trial will give you full access to all past issues. It regularly recommends promising stocks and mutual funds, too.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Unilever is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Try all of the Fool's investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.