Retirement Strategies for Tough Times

Nest egg looking a little fragile? Chances are you need to rethink your old investment tacticsand consider a few new approaches. Our Annual Retirement Guide can help

A year ago, the cover of our Annual Retirement Guide featured a fluffy yellow chick breaking out of its shell, with the line "I'm Outta Here!" The guide promised to tell readers "how to retire early, nest eggs in place."

Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?

In the past year, Wall Street firms suffered hundreds of billions in subprime loan losses and sparked a worldwide credit crisis, oil futures rose from $70 a barrel to above $140, housing prices fell, "cash equivalent" investments turned out to be illiquid, and inflation reared its ugly head. There was no place to hide.

For anyone looking ahead to retirement, that potent combination of events means it's time to regroup and rethink how to arrive at that goal. There's no easy, three-step solution. But there are myriad ways to tweak old strategies and take advantage of new ones to get your plans back on track.

Taking time to rethink the role your home may play in your retirement is one of the most useful things you can do now. Evaluating whether the way your portfolio is constructed still makes sense is also crucial—and is the kind of challenge the men profiled on page 50 have embraced with a passion after lives spent in very different careers.

Staying on top of new thinking, whether it's about how much to safely withdraw from savings annually or the evolution of products such as target-date funds is also smart. And last but not least, since medical bills can eat through assets, it pays to keep an eye on the health-care front as insurers work with some large U.S. employers to offer early retirees—a group they've largely avoided—health insurance at discounted group rates.

Bottom line? Regardless of market chaos, you still have power to set yourself up for a financially healthy retirement.

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