To help guide consumers in their retirement planning, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) has developed the “Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement,” a list that can be shared with prospects to help create awareness of the need and also a sense of urgency.

Prior to September 2008, for millions of Americans, retirement preparedness was synonymous with saving money through an employer retirement plan, often becoming the anchor point for a worker’s entire retirement savings strategy. However, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, more than 2.4 million active 401(k) participants were affected by employers suspending their savings match in the wake of the market decline. Today, employer retirement plans still play a key role in retirement preparation, but comprehensive planning must incorporate numerous considerations.

IRI’s “Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement” was released on Tuesday as part of its promotional efforts for National Retirement Planning Week(R), April 12-15. These key tips can help consumers set a roadmap for a secure financial future.

“Planning for retirement can be a daunting task, especially given the recent economic climate,” said IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford. “And while by most accounts the financial forecast appears to be improving, millions of Americans have yet to begin preparing for their retirement. Wanting to spend their later years content, secure and financially sound is the goal of anyone thinking about retirement. With some simple steps and strategies, and by reviewing our tips to prepare for retirement, financial freedom can still be achieved.

Top 10 ways to prepare for retirement

  1. Select a target date for when you want to retire.
  2. Calculate how much money you need to accumulate by the time you want to retire.
  3. Find out how to maximize your Social Security benefits.
  4. Take full advantage of tax-advantaged plans such as employer retirement plans, individual retirement accounts and annuities.
  5. If your employer doesn’t have a pension or retirement plan, ask that one be started.
  6. Don’t touch your savings for anything but retirement.
  7. Diversify your assets and be sure to include guaranteed income for life.
  8. Ask questions. Get help. Seek the assistance of a professional financial advisor.
  9. Start now, set goals.
  10. Do a retirement plan and monitor your progress. (Also: A three-phase retirement plan to free up your client’s cash flow and maximize their retirement savings)

National Retirement Planning Week(R) is sponsored by The National Retirement Planning Coalition — a group of prominent financial industry, education and advocacy organizations that have joined together to raise public awareness of the need for comprehensive retirement planning. The Coalition is headed by the IRI and includes the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and Americans for Secure Retirement (ASR).

The Coalition recognizes that the need to educate Americans on retirement planning is an ongoing effort and is committed to making this a national priority. The National Retirement Planning Week(R) and other coalition activities will demonstrate that it is possible to “Retire On Your Terms” if comprehensive retirement plans are properly developed and managed. To support these education efforts, the coalition has re-designed and re-launched www.RetireOnYourTerms.org – offering resources to both consumers and financial professionals alike, in order to help them stay focused on long-term financial goals.

More information and research on retirement planning by the Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA).