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Almost 20 percent of people near retirement age haven't saved for it, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households. Continuing to work, trimming expenses and aggressively saving are all ways to jump-start the process, but it's vital you work toward a retirement goal with investment options that work for you. There’s no one way to plan for retirement, but there are ways to educate yourself and stay one step ahead.

Plan for assisted living expenses

It’s tempting to think we’ll be able to stay in our homes forever, but our needs change as we get older and long-term care may be necessary. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, the average cost for a single one-bedroom apartment runs $3,022 a month at an assisted living facility. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to pay for long-term care, but there are options to consider. Invest in long-term care insurance to help protect your assets while investing toward your ongoing health and care needs. Make small repairs to your home as needed with a goal to sell when you enter assisted living. If your home hasn’t sold before you need assisted living, a bridge loan can help cover expenses in the interim. Remember to look into government programs to help cover costs. Veterans are usually eligible for assisted living financial assistance, and Medicare may pay for some treatments and ongoing needs.

Get a reverse mortgage

People ages 62 and older can take out a reverse mortgage to convert the equity of their home into cash. The upside is you won't need to sell your home or pay both a mortgage and assisted living or other costs at the same time. The downside is the equity in your home will deplete as you receive monthly income from your home. Think of a reverse mortgage as pre-borrowing on the equity of your home where the lender pays you. Eventually the sale of your home will cover the equity you received. You can use the income for monthly expenses or to move into a smaller home or assisted living facility without worrying about where the money will come from.

Play catch-up with your contributions

Senior citizens who are still working should look into catch-up contributions with their 401(k) and possibly 403(b) and 457 plans. People 50 years and older with a 401(k) plan can save an additional $5,500 as a catch-up contribution instead of the normal caps. In addition, contribute as much as possible to your retirement funds and max out your employer's matching program. Next, talk to a financial adviser about diversifying your retirement goals with stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Know your investment options

It can be overwhelming to consider the dozens of ways to create a retirement goal and follow investment advice and latest trends. While seeking out the advice of a financial professional is essential, you should also educate yourself on next steps. Take a public seminar to get an in-depth understanding of rating practices by Moody's investors and assessing credit risk. The more knowledge you have about investing and your overall retirement options, the more empowered you will be to fund a decision that works best for your lifestyle.This was a guest post by Susan Finch.  Susan is a freelance writer with a passion for travel and helping small businesses find their online voice through content marketing, blogging and beyond. She is an eclectic writer with more than 10 years of experience contributing to guidebooks, magazines, iPhone apps, online publications and more. Susan can be found at

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