playing catch up to retirement planningIf retirement is drawing near and you have yet to settle on a plan, now is the time to take action. If you feel like you've missed the boat because you haven't been contributing to a traditional IRA or 401(k), there's plenty of time to make other arrangements. Here are a few things you should consider as you create your new plan:

Focus on Building Cash Flow

Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s receive hype from financial advisors because of their taxation status. However, if you look at what you would actually receive from each of these accounts in retirement, you might be surprised to find that years of saving money only gives you a couple hundred dollars a month in returns at the end of life. The truth is that your retirement plan should be focused on investments that will give you strong monthly cash flow, both now and in retirement. You can do this with short-term annuities, but you're better off looking at things such as real estate and other alternative investments where you can earn your principal back over time and receive greater interest on your money. If you build up your passive cash flow to a sustainable level, you will never have to worry about being out of work or not having enough in a regular retirement account.

Focus on Fluidity

For years, we've been told that the only way to plan for retirement is to save money in accounts that have a specific designated purpose at the time of retirement. These accounts typically come with hefty penalties and taxes if you cash them out too early. The problem is that your life can take many twists and turns during retirement, and you may need your money to move for you. If your money is too restricted, you won't have the flexibility you need to handle medical emergencies, car repairs, and other unexpected expenses, much less to travel or do anything fun. Instead, try to put your money in fewer accounts that offer more functionality everyday.

Make Sure Your Insurance is in Place

Whatever you do, make sure that your insurance is in place. Having the right insurance is a major part of successful retirement planning because it can offset many of the unexpected events that happen later in life. When you're no longer covered by company health and life insurance policies, you will need to consult with an expert to find policies that are affordable and productive for you. That's right, your insurance policies should be productive, not just a bill you pay that you hope to never use.

Most importantly, don't worry if you find that you are behind in your retirement planning. It's never too late to start, and these three simple strategies can change the way you think about saving for retirement. Instead of focusing on how much you have or have not accumulated in the past, focus on what you can do now.

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