This is it -- the final step. But first, let's review the 12 previous lessons:

  • Recognize that retirement is more than choosing a date to do so.
  • Determine what it takes and how to get there.
  • Know how your job contributes to your retirement needs.
  • Choose the right account for your retirement savings.
  • Invest like a turtle -- now and in retirement.
  • Determine how Social Security fits into your plans.
  • Be aware of the impact of working in retirement.
  • Recognize that your home is an asset.
  • Conserve your cash after you retire.
  • Be smart about how you take money out of your retirement plan accounts.
  • Ensure your hard-earned wealth stays in the family.
  • Examine your insurance needs, particularly medical coverage.

And now, at long last, here's the final step:

  • When all else fails, repeat Steps 1 through 12.

Wait ... what?
Before you angrily email the FTC, the FBI, or the AARP, let us explain why we're ending our retirement primer with a note to repeat Steps 1 through 12. 

Remember that old adage about the best laid plans of mice and men? We can't speak for the mice, but when our plans go astray, it often helps to go back to the basics and figure out where things went wrong.

But what if your plan doesn't fail? What if it works gloriously? Even then, you're not home free. The first 12 steps deal primarily with money issues, but they fail to address the facets of retired life that have little to do with finances.

The other Step 13: Reflect on the personal issues of retirement
When you no longer work, you'll have loads of time to fill. When golf or fishing or gardening gets boring, what will take its place? Who'll meet your need for human interaction when you no longer have a gaggle of coworkers to pass the time with? Don't assume your spouse alone will fit that bill. Every couple, no matter how happy and healthy, will surely go bonkers without outside friends and interests.

There are other quality-of-life issues to consider, too: where and how you'll live, how to keep healthy, what your community has to offer, whether to work (paid or volunteer) or go back to school, and how to spend your leisure time. These questions will define your life and happiness in retirement. Money is a tool to keep you comfortable, but it can't answer these issues.

With one-third or more of our lives destined to be spent in retirement, considering these non-fiscal issues is definitely the Foolish thing to do. We want to amass enough of a nest egg so that we can wake up each morning of our retirement with nothing to do, and have only half of it done by the time we go to bed.

These 13 steps are the path to help get us there as comfortably as possible. Use them Foolishly.

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