In the first part of this article, we discussed several elements that often comprise the shape and tone of a retirement picture, and stressed the importance and absolute need to put some serious thought into how important each element is to you if you want to achieve a picture-perfect retirement.

With the guidance of the Insured Retirement Institute’s (IRI) “Retirement Expectations Checklist”, we have already explored several needs you must weigh as you think about and ultimately set into motion a solid and realistic plan.  But we also acknowledged that determining how much you would need to save — and later, to earn — to reach your retirement number, how old you want to be when you leave the workforce, how you plan to treat investments and guarantees, and if annuities would play a role in your plan were just the beginning of several considerations you must ponder.  And just for perspective, we noted how the baby boomer generation weighed in on the importance of these topics.

In keeping with that tradition, we’ll now list a few more issues for you to place in your retirement picture — you just need to determine how prominently featured they will be.

1. Your Debt Situation

The past several years have not been economically kind, and many Americans have been forced to incur more debt than they would like.  In fact, for a whopping 48 percent of boomers, even the essentials, such as food, medication, and gas, often have to go on the old credit card.  Do you have any debt resultant from the recent economic strain or any other reason?  No one wants to retire in debt, so start paying down what you can, and start now.

You may find it helpful to ask an advisor to help you develop a budget (including savings geared towards retirement), to which you could adhere until your debt is eliminated.

2. Leaving a Legacy

Have you given any thought to whether you’d like to bequeath any funds to your loved ones after you pass away?  How important is that to you and how much money would you like to leave behind?  Many baby boomers (62 percent) feel that leaving an inheritance is either “very” or “somewhat” important.  If you are of a similar mind, you would do well to mention that goal to your retirement planner.

3. Considering Long Term Care

To avoid burning through your savings or burdening one of your children should you become ill or somehow impaired, long term care insurance is one type of coverage worth exploring.  The earlier you plan, the better, since 47 percent of boomers worry they won’t have enough funds to cover the expenses associated with long term care.  Talk to a professional agent or advisor to determine if long term care insurance will complement your plan.

4. To Work or Not to Work

When you reach retirement age, do you intend to leave the workforce for good, or are you someone who would prefer to work part time for a while to keep yourself occupied?  Neither situation is necessarily better than the other, especially if money is no object.  But what if you must work during retirement?  A full 57 percent of the baby boomer cohort anticipate that due either to personal choice or need, they’ll need to work at least part time beyond age 65.

Preparing for retirement takes just that — preparation.  Preparation, prioritization, and not a little bit of planning.  Spend some time thinking about these plan elements, and then review your list with a financial professional to ensure your retirement picture is shaping up nicely.