Christine says it's important to have a flexible mindset because it's possible that when you hit your desired retirement date, the markets are working against you. "So if they were to go to an adviser today, she would probably suggest that if you don't have to retire, don't." Why? Because if you start withdrawing from your portfolio, it's already lower in balance than it used to be, Christine says. "You're putting yourself at a tremendous disadvantage."
Continue working for your employer and you'll shorten the years that you have to finance your retirement and increase the years that your employer pays for your daily expenses, Christine says. Then, instead of contributing to your IRA or 401(k) plan, use all of the money you don't need to get the match being offered and spend it. "It's a phased-in retirement, and it's a total win-win because every year you wait, you're going to have that much more income and a more robust retirement," she says. Seven or eight percent a year is the kind of increase you get for that kind of delay, so if you work four more years, you'll have about 30 percent more money to spend on retirement, Christine says.
Retirement date funds and lifecycle funds, which can be found at most investment firms, are also beneficial, Christine says. "I just can't underscore the value of having the package all prepared for you, so that you have a portfolio manager on your side whose mixing and matching and making sure you have proper diversification and that you're properly rebalanced," she says. "I think that's an essential ingredient to a good retirement plan."