By Tim Hawkins

If you want to retire with confidence, you need to have and follow a plan. Today, I’m going to share with you some advice so you can have peace of mind moving toward retirement.

“As you near retirement age or even within a decade or so, it is time to start doing some serious financial planning,” said Larry Stein, CFA, author of Peace of Mind Investing.  “Retiring with confidence is to develop a plan that makes sense, executing it, and reviewing it at least every five years to make sure you’re on track.”

Mr. Stein addresses a number of risks we need to consider — those we know and don’t know. This includes increased longevity, inflation, family responsibilities (such as caring for parents), health care and interest rates. All could have a major affect on finances and lifestyles.

According to Stein’s research, once a couple reaches the age of 65 they have a 50 percent chance one of them will live past 92, and a 25 percent chance one will live to 97. Unless you have serious health risks or unfortunate heredity, basing your financial planning on a 95-year lifespan makes sense.

Peace of Mind Investing is built on a single premise that’s been time-tested through the Great Depression, two World Wars and multiple other major events — yet is incredibly simple. The grand premise: stock prices rise over time. Stein’s book boils down to the following key points:

• First, set return goals that make sense for your personal situation. The only benchmark that would make sense is to achieve your personal goals over a time horizon that fits your specific situation. Your performance goals should be the rate of return you need to live comfortably through retirement. The true measure of investment performance is your return through a full-market cycle, up and down. “Beating the S&P 500 or any other such nonsense is pure noise and distraction,” says Mr. Stein.

• Second, manage risk through asset allocation and rebalancing.

• Third, trim risk during euphoria and overvaluation; buy during times of fear and undervaluation.

Mr. Stein says retirees and pre-retirees must manage risk vigilantly. Withdrawals from a portfolio that sustains significant declines can accelerate the loss in value. Risk management is imperative.

Creating a plan for retirement can feel overwhelming, but there are professionals who can help you personalize and execute a financial plan that gives you, and your family, peace of mind for your future. It is important to begin taking the small steps now that can make a big difference later.

At Hawkins Wealth Management, we work to customize a retirement plan based on your unique needs and goals. We understand that retirement means different things for everyone, but there are some systematic decisions everyone can make to set a strong financial foundation for their future.

(No strategy can assure success or protect against loss. Investing in the market is subject to possible loss of principal. Please seek the advice of your financial advisor regarding your personal situation.)

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Samantha Kollasch currently serves as Chief Digital Officer at the Corridor Business Journal. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a BS in Management Information Systems....