Good news! With the kids out of the house and on their own, you can focus more time and money on preparing for retirement. You can't make up in 10 years for what you should have been doing over the last 30 years, but you can make retirement a reality.

Follow these tips for a fast track retirement:

Scale back the vision

Without a retirement fund at age 55, you can't have saved enough to securely maintain the lifestyle you've had in retirement. Focus not on your dream retirement, but what is realistic. By preparing for a more modest lifestyle, you can significantly reduce the income required to fill the gap between social security and the lifestyle you want.

Save at least 20 percent of your income

Even saving 20 percent of your income, won't be enough to fund the retirement you want in just 10 years. There just isn't time for investment returns to compound and do much of the work for you. You'll have to seriously sacrifice to make retirement possible.

Plan to be in the right home for retirement

If you had several children, you may find that your home is larger, perhaps much larger, than you need now. Sell your big home and buy a small home suitable for retirement (no stairs). Make sure you reduce or eliminate your mortgage when you move. If you can't eliminate it, take out a ten-year mortgage so that your home is paid off when you retire. If you rent now, seek to purchase a home you can afford with a 10-year mortgage.

No more car loans

If you have a car loan now, congratulations! It's your last one. Don't ever buy a car, again, with a loan. Using a loan makes a car more expensive and gives you a false sense of what you can afford. If you end up with $200,000 in your retirement savings, you'd almost certainly never spend $30,000 of it one day on a new car. If you borrow the money, you're doing the same thing (except that you're spending $31,500).

Review your balance sheet

Your balance sheet or list of assets and liabilities may hold some surprises. Review it carefully. Look for assets that can be converted to cash to reduce any outstanding debts. With advice from your CPA, use those assets now to stop the interest on debt from working against your retirement plans.

By taking these five simple (but potentially painful) steps, you can set yourself up to retire, even if that hasn't been a high priority in your planning so far. If you roll into retirement with a home you own free and clear and no other debt, your need for income is reduced. Combining what you save over the next 10 years to produce income with your social security will make it possible for you to enjoy a safe and secure retirement.

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