The older I get, the more I recognize that there are lots of things I don’t know.

And I’m okay with that.

I’m not a great mechanic. I know the basics, but I don’t attempt to fix my car when it rattles enough to make my teeth chatter. I take it to the repair shop. Or take computers. I can turn mine on, find the internet, check my email, and write stuff. That’s it. And don’t even ask me about fashion!

I have learned what’s important to know . . . and what I can ignore. I need to know my anniversary and the PIN for my debit card. I need to know how to work with people and how to navigate airports. Movie quotes, while fun for a dinner party, aren’t essential.

When it comes to retirement, there are some things you must know. You can’t ignore or forget them. You can’t delegate them to someone else or put them off. Otherwise, you’re putting your future in jeopardy! Here are some things that are critical for you to keep in the forefront of your mind.

Your Retirement Dream

Knowing what you want to do in retirement is the starting place. If you don’t know what you want to do—whether it is to start your own business or visit grandkids—then you won’t know what you’re aiming for. And if you aim for nothing, you’ll get nothing in the end.

Your R:IQ Number

R:IQ stands for Retire Inspired Quotient. It’s the amount of money you need to live out your retirement dream. You need to know how much you intend to spend every month. If you plan to travel the world, you’ll need a lot more money than if you plan to visit the grandkids down the street. If you don’t know your R:IQ, you can use the free online tool I’ve created to help you discover your number.

Next Steps

One you know your R:IQ, you can put together a game plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be. I can tell you the first two steps: get on a budget and get out of debt. You want to get rid of the interest you pay on debt and start earning interest instead! You also need to set up your retirement fund through your employer if you haven’t done that already.

Where to Get Help

A few years ago, I hurt my knee playing football. It was messed up. Did I go to the doctor? Nope. Of course not. I toughed it out—for a month. My wife finally talked me into going to the doctor. Turns out I had a torn meniscus and a microfracture that required surgery.

Why do I tell you this story? Because it’s not always smart to tough it out alone. And that includes retirement planning. You need to talk with someone who specializes in building wealth for your future. A financial professional can help you achieve your retirement goals. If you don’t have one, find a list of investing pros in your area.

Your retirement is in your hands. You don’t have to know the investing lingo or earn a degree in economics, but you do need to know the basics, like the types of mutual funds and your comfort level with risk. You need to know where you are and where you want to go. With your dream in front of you and your goals in place, you can take the practical, manageable steps to retire with dignity.

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