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Now is when your attention should begin to include the smartest way to access your savings. At age 59 1/2, you may begin to withdraw money from your retirement accounts penalty-free. (The IRS requires you to take a minimum annual amount out of your tax-deferred accounts once you reach age 70 1/2.) Our panel says that one of the big mistakes they see clients make is taking out more money than they'll use in a given year (which means they end up paying income tax on an amount they could have left in a tax-sheltered investment).

You can begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62; the longer you wait (up to age 70), the larger your payment—but there may be advantages to receiving income earlier. Use one of the benefit calculators at to help determine which option is best for you. And as Eric Tyson pointed out, you can always continue to work. "Especially if you enjoy your job, consider retiring at a later age," he says. "You'll get a double benefit: earning and saving for money for more years."