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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Retirement Plan Now

Knowing where you stand and your planning personality may mean a better financial future down the road

A couple talking to a financial planner


As you approach the end of your working years, there’s greater urgency to plan for income in retirement. A life stage that was once 20 or 30 years away is now on the horizon. So, it’s crucial to ensure you have enough monthly income in retirement to live comfortably when that paycheck stops coming. 

For many Americans, there’s a good reason for concern – 80% of non-retired Americans are at least somewhat anxious that their savings might not provide enough protected income to live on in retirement. And, while we can all thank modern medicine and healthy lifestyles for living longer, it also raises the likelihood you’ll outlive your retirement savings without proper planning.  

3 easy steps can help give you confidence in your retirement plan.  

  1. Evaluate your current plan. Retirement planning isn’t a one-time activity. Changes in your income, investments, life events, and lifestyle mean you likely need to assess and modify your financial decisions on a regular basis. 

  2. Check off the basics. A simple method where you map your expected monthly income to your essential expenses to provide a picture of where your retirement plan stands. For many, Social Security will not be enough to cover everything, and it was never intended to. Now is the time for a retirement plan reset to make adjustments and help protect your retirement. Work with a financial professional to develop a plan that at least covers your essential expenses with sources of protected income, like Social Security, a pension or an annuity. 

  3. Be realistic and thoughtful with spending. Just because you’re saving and planning for your upcoming retirement doesn’t mean you can’t go on vacation and enjoy life now. However, you should weigh the financial implications of bigger, costly life decisions, especially if you’re close to retirement. Entering retirement knowing that your essentials are covered can inspire confidence, relieve stress and help you live the great life in retirement you want.

Beyond these, successful retirement planning requires knowing yourself, your priorities and your personality. 

a couple at home doing their finances


What’s Your Financial Planning Personality? Understanding It Will Help Ensure Your Success in Retirement 

Individuals have different approaches to financial planning. Which one of these five financial planning personality types best describes your mindset?  

Optimistic Dreamers: Creative and open-minded, these individuals want to do good for society and are hopeful they will enjoy retirement, but they’re uncertain about how to prepare for it financially.  

Cautious Preparers: These individuals adhere to tried-and-true practices in life, including planning for a financially secure retirement, but they are concerned about the risk of costly surprises. That description fits Rosaly Lopes, a volcanologist who is an adventurer at heart but more measured in her approach to savings.   

“I take a lot of risks when I go to volcanoes, but in my personal life, not so much. I tend to be more conservative, particularly with my finances,” Lopes said. “Managing risk on volcanoes is like managing risk on other things. You have to be educated. You’ve got to learn and use that knowledge to assess the risk.” 

Uncertain Strugglers: These individuals aspire to gain control over the direction of their lives and expect to take things as they come in retirement to the extent that they don't have a financial plan for it.  

Purposeful Planners: With a focus on leading well-rounded lives, these individuals spend considerable time and energy planning to ensure they can afford the same lifestyles in retirement.  

“Pre-retirement, we were meeting quarterly with our financial planner to prepare,” said Kent and Kelly. “Early in our retirement planning, we were open to new investment opportunities to grow and diversify our portfolio. Then we worked to lower risk the closer we got to retirement.” 

Ambitious Risk-Takers: Optimistic in their outlook on life, these individuals want to achieve great things for both themselves and society. They are confident in their ability to plan for a financially secure retirement. 

Elaine Larsen is a professional jet-car driver and approaches her retirement the same way she approaches a drag race. “We have to think about every little thing that can go wrong. I take that same serious approach to planning for my retirement,” she explains. “And I used that same planning strategy when I chose to purchase this annuity.” 

Is your approach to financial planning like Rosaly’s or Elaine’s? Or do you identify more with Kent and Kelly? Maybe you’re a mix of a few styles. Take the Financial Planning Personality Quiz to find out. After taking the quiz, you’ll better understand your financial planning personality and tendencies. This will be helpful as you prepare for a retirement lifestyle that meets your needs and desires. Print out the results and share them with your financial professional to help him/her understand you better, so you can work together on a plan to live your best retirement life.  

Click here to take the Alliance for Lifetime Income Quiz to determine your financial planning personality and gain clear direction on how to improve your financial security in retirement.


(No personal information is required or collected to complete the quiz.)  

The Alliance for Lifetime Income is a non-profit educational organization that raises awareness and educates Americans about the value and importance of having protected income in retirement. The Alliance has tools and resources to help you better prepare for your financial life in retirement.  

All information provided is anonymous and strictly confidential, and it will not be shared with other parties.