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Saving for Retirement

Retirement iPlan

Use these tips and tools to create your personal retirement plan.

Sorry, we can't squeeze all the following valuable information into a mobile-phone app. But this list of tips and tools will help guide you as you create your retirement plan. We've also gathered some of our most popular articles and useful calculators into one place -- our Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Special Report -- to help you boost your savings, fine-tune your investments and stretch your retirement income.

And we don't stop there. We've partnered with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors to bring you two days of free, individualized advice online and on the phone during our ninth Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days. To ask a NAPFA member for financial advice, go to kiplinger.com/links/jumpstart or call 888-919-2345 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST on Friday, January 22, or Tuesday, January 26.

Retool your investments

Start at work. Take advantage of seminars and one-on-one guidance for your 401(k) or other employer-based plan to set and monitor your retirement-savings goals.

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Keep it simple. Confused about how to invest? Use an all-in-one target-date fund to create a well-diversified, age-appropriate portfolio.

Hire help. Want more personalized advice? For $200 a year, Smart401k (www.smart401k.com) will provide specific recommendations of how to invest your retirement savings. Or find a fee-only financial planner through www.napfa.org.

Hop on the bus. Get free advice from a financial planner with Your Money Bus. Check out the nationwide tour schedule at www.yourmoneybus.com.

Maximize your Social Security

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Avoid a benefit cut. Collect at 62 and your benefits will be reduced by up to 30% for the rest of your life. Wait until 66 (for those born between 1943 and 1954) or later to collect your full benefit.

Weigh your options. Married couples have several choices when it comes to how and when each spouse collects benefits. Read Secret Ways to Boost Your Social Security.

Collect on your ex. If you were married at least ten years and haven't remarried, you may be able to collect spousal or survivor benefits based on your ex's work record.

Patience pays off. Wait until age 70 to collect. Delayed-retirement credits can boost your monthly benefit by up to 32%. Crunch your own numbers at www.ssa.gov/estimator.

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Boost your savings

Sign up. Enroll in your company 401(k) plan (or don't opt out if you are automatically enrolled).

Capture the match. Contribute at least enough to qualify for your employer's contribution. Otherwise, you're walking away from free money.

Go on autopilot. Sign up for an automatic-escalation feature that increases your future contributions by 1% or 2% a year.

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Play catch-up. If you are 50 or older by the end of 2010, you can contribute an extra $5,500 to your 401(k), up to $22,000.

Use the web. Experiment with robust retirement-planning tools from TD Ameritrade (www.tdameritrade.com/wealthruler) and Fidelity (www.fidelity.com/myplan). They're free and available to all.

Stretch your savings

Guarantee income for life. To see whether an immediate annuity fits into your retirement plan, visit www.buyapension.com to watch a video that explains how annuities work and to estimate how much monthly income you could expect based on your age and amount invested.

Balance growth and income. Deferred variable annuities are more complicated and expensive than immediate annuities, but a new consumer-education tool from Fidelity Investments and MetLife (www.fidelity.com/incomeplus) can help unravel the mysteries.

Reduce volatility. Learn how the "income for life" model of investing provides immediate income for the first ten years of retirement and still invests for long-term growth. To watch an explanation of the concept and to find a list of planners who use it, go to www.iflmmovie.com.