How to Plan for the Perfect Retirement

Learn how to secure your financial future and create the retirement lifestyle of your dreams with practical advice for planners of any age and income level.
How to Plan for the Perfect Retirement is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 8.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good basic information This course is a nice beginner course for retirement planning but it was at a pretty basic level. There isn't a lot of detail for those starting into retirement except for some generalities on planning and considerations that most early retirees are already working through. the presentation is a little off-putting since the instructor constantly stares straight ahead, even when the camera angle is to her side, it makes it look like she is talking to someone in the distance. I would recommend this for people looking for basic retirement information at a low level of sophistication or for a novice looking at retirement information, and I recommend the audio only.
Date published: 2021-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course, Particularly for the Novice Ms. Anspach does a very nice job of providing core information everyone needs to know in planning for retirement. She has a very upbeat, approachable manner that wears well over the course of twelve lectures. The course is both a useful baseline guide for those who have put off financial planning as well as a good check for those who have a plan in place. It's a quick and easy course--one I found particularly well suited for drives in the car. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2021-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Instructor/Excellent Course The course was very informative especially concerning what to prepare for stating ten years or so from requirement. Extremely well taught.
Date published: 2021-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Planning Course All of the online courses that I have ever watched do not go into the depth that this course does. Professor Anspach not only covers the first phase of retirement planning - the basics of accumulating the funds you will need - she also goes deep into how one must manage the funds they've accumulated and live with less worry in the retirement years. Great course!!
Date published: 2021-01-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good primer on the basics I took this course for professional reasons as I write a regular business column for a trade newspaper. One of the topics I need to discuss over half a dozen articles is an approach to retirement planning for small business owners. I did not expect to find anything here specific to that niche market, but I'm always open to finding new approaches to a topic. This course does give several good examples of people who have successfully transitioned from their working lives to retirement so my time taking this course has been worthwhile. In particular, Ms.Anspach has provided a great set of 10 questions in the last lecture which every retiree should address well before retirement. It brings home the point that planning for retirement is a structured process, not something which can be done on the back of an envelope over a snowy weekend. I would certainly recommend the course as it will prod listeners into making plans and adjusting them with or without the help of qualified. professionals.. One thing which should be emphasized is that this is a course for American readers only. As a practising CPA, I can readily understand that a Roth IRA in the USA is equivalent to a Canadian TFSA or an IRA is similar to the Canadian RRSP. At the same time, Canada has nothing similar to a 401-K plan. When the discussion delves into those tax planning strategies it will, unfortunately, be meaningless to those living outside of the United States. For Americans well versed in their own tax regime, this will obviously be of no concern. The presentation of this course leaves a lot to be desired compared to other Great Courses. Ms. Anspach never takes her eyes off the teleprompter which makes for an uncomfortable experience when the camera swivels to a side view where she is rigidly looking off to my left. That critical bond between presenter and audience is broken. Apart from those concerns, if you are within 10 years of retirement take this course. It will get you started on the final plan of your life`s journey.
Date published: 2021-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well done for a basic course Part of the challenge of handling a subject with such a wide range of issues to address and possible depth with which they are covered, is striking the right balance: one that covers most of them and leaves you having learned something useful. I think this course struck that balance and delivered it right.
Date published: 2021-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Solid Foundational Best Practices I work for a financial institution and planning for retirement has been one of my main objectives in life for some time. Over the winter break while rebalancing some of my investments, I took stock of where I stood (sorry for the pun) and felt confident up to this point in positioning myself for the retirement I've been planning. At the same time I began contemplating if there's anything else I could be doing to refine my plan. Thank you, Great Courses, for providing this course at just the right time! This course is worth your time. Solid foundational practices are shared on how to plan for retirement from assessing how much money you’ll require to strategies on how to save, how to withdrawal/de-accumulate, how to reduce your tax burden, and how to manage Medicare and Social Security. It seemed to start slow but it picked up steam around lecture 7. Highlights for me were lectures 3 & 8 (withdrawal strategies in retirement, especially as it relates to how to minimize a down market’s impact on your retirement years) and lecture 11 (health care and Social Security in retirement). The lecturer brought some of the concepts home in practical terms by relating specific stories of retirees she has worked with, highlighting some of their pitfalls but also mostly their winning strategies. There are a few quibbles: There’s times when the lecturer mentions a specific strategy but does not describe it in depth until a future lecture but she does not state it will be covered later so you’re left at the conclusion of the current lecture feeling like you've lost an opportunity to understand certain concepts better. For example the instructor suggests buying bonds 10 years before one’s retirement date and paying for the first 10 years of retirement with that income (an idea that really intrigued me) but how exactly that works and how to set it up isn’t discussed until much later. Additionally, lectures end abruptly and suddenly at times without a closing thought, recap, or preview of the next lecture. If you're not paying attention to the amount of time that remains, the transition may be a bit jolting. Or maybe it is just me. Despite those minor points, all in all this is a great course and one I would recommend for everyone----even if you are retired since there are multiple lectures on how to plan for the various stages of your actual retirement years. It is a well overdue course that really should occupy everyone's library. No matter how novice or expert you may be at retirement planning there are strategies and tidbits here that will help everyone. One warning: this course is not one that is going to tell you how to strike it rich with the right investments. And Justifiably so. It is not intended to provide insight into the latest hot stock or ways to select the right mutual fund for you (for more on investing practices I would suggest the course "Understanding Investments"). As Ms. Anspach so eloquently states: a successful retirement is one of discipline, staying with the course, but tweaking as required as you go. If you follow the fundamentals outlined in this course I can't see how anyone wouldn't be able to achieve a retirement that will meet their personalized goals.
Date published: 2021-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent review of a very important subject I recently retired and continue to review related information so I can keep up with new asset allocation strategies and related laws. Based on what I learned, it looks like I can improve the plan I've worked on for several years which more than justifies the course cost. Also, my adult children are interested in optimizing their own savings and retirement plans so I'm recommending that they take this course as a great starting point. The instructor's repeated focus on wise spending and financial flexibility throughout life is something everyone should take to heart.
Date published: 2021-01-05
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Recent statistics suggest that nearly two-thirds of Americans regret not planning properly for retirement. Often, the future tends to get here before we know it-and it does not arrive with its own financial security unless we plan it that way. In How to Plan for the Perfect Retirement, Professor Dana Anspach of Sensible Money, LLC will be your step-by-step guide to help you create the future you want. No matter how old you are or how far along in your working life, it's never too early or too late to develop a plan that works for you.


Dana Anspach
Dana Anspach

The retirement income planning process is not static; it is alive with choices and variables.

Dana Anspach is a Certified Financial Planner, a Retirement Management Advisor, and the founder and CEO of Sensible Money, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm that specializes in retirement income planning.


Professor Anspach has been practicing as a financial planner since 1995 and writing as an expert on retirement-related topics since 2008. She was’s MoneyOver55 expert for eight years, and her writing on retirement decisions can be found at The Balance. She has contributed content to MarketWatch and U.S. News & World Report, and she is the author of Control Your Retirement Destiny: Achieving Financial Security before the Big Transition and Social Security Sense: A Guide to Claiming Benefits for Those Age 60–70.


Recognized for her commitment to education, Professor Anspach has twice been named to the Investopedia 100, a list of financial advisors who are considered to be making significant contributions to financial literacy. She also serves on the Strategic Retirement Advisory Council for the Investments & Wealth Institute, where she helps expand the reach of the Retirement Management Advisor designation.

By This Expert

How to Plan for the Perfect Retirement


How to Think like a Retirement Expert

01: How to Think like a Retirement Expert

Discover the many aspects of retirement planning that you’ll need to consider when working toward financial security for your later years. Explore the differences between the go-go, slow-go, and no-go years of retirement, and why your plan must address the specific needs of each period. And when considering financial products, learn to differentiate between a salesperson and a true advisor.

33 min
How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

02: How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

You might have heard some “rules of thumb” about financing your retirement, and they might point you in the right direction. But in this lesson, you will learn why no generality, statistical average, or one-size-fits-all answer will work for you. Instead, you will learn how to accurately estimate how much money you will need in retirement by creating a series of personalized expense, income, and withdrawal timelines.

29 min
Five Ways That Retirees Run Out of Money

03: Five Ways That Retirees Run Out of Money

We all have one important thing in common about our retirement: We do not want to run out of money! Examine the five major risk categories every retiree will face and learn the key aspects of developing a responsive and resilient financial plan to address these risks in retirement. Then you’ll be in solid shape to weather any storms that might come along.

32 min
How to Start Saving for Retirement

04: How to Start Saving for Retirement

Many of us resist the idea of creating a budget, but having a handle on your spending is the starting point to financial success. Compare and contrast two different ways to create a personalized spending plan. You’ll also learn how to make some crucial planning decisions, including whether to pay down debt first or boost savings and whether to rent or buy a home.

29 min
Mid-Career Financial Strategies

05: Mid-Career Financial Strategies

If you’re a mid-career parent, you’ll have some important decisions to make regarding funding your child’s college vs. funding retirement accounts for yourself. You’ll also want to make sure you’re using your company’s benefits to your best advantage. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to address those issues, plus why tax-deductible contributions to a retirement plan might not be the boon you think it is.

27 min
Investing for Safety, Income, and Growth

06: Investing for Safety, Income, and Growth

Where should you put your money when saving for retirement? That feels like the million-dollar question, and the sheer amount of information out there is overwhelming. Understand why discipline, not superior skill, will be your key to success, as you learn how stocks, bonds, and mutual funds work and the differences between active and passive investing.

27 min
The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement

07: The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement

Discover the crucial actions and decisions you’ll face in the five years immediately prior to your retirement. You’ll learn about the importance of building up cash reserves; how and why to simplify your financial life; when to begin taking Social Security; whether or not to downsize your home; and, if you have a pension, whether to take that payout as a lump sum or as an annuity payout.

29 min
How to Make Your Retirement Savings Last

08: How to Make Your Retirement Savings Last

Look into four main strategies for withdrawal. For example, what is the income-only approach to retirement savings and is it right for you? Dig deep into annuities as a vehicle for your retirement and learn why this sometimes-controversial product is neither all good nor all bad. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of the other three main types of annuities as well—income, deferred-income, and variable.

31 min
Planning the Go-Go Years in Retirement

09: Planning the Go-Go Years in Retirement

One of the most important decisions you’ll make is when to retire. Learn about the costs and availability of health care coverage, the pros and cons of two spouses retiring at the same time, when to start taking Social Security payments, and rules related to required minimum distributions from your retirement accounts—all of which will figure into the many financial decisions you’ll make in the earliest years of retirement.

31 min
Financial Strategies for the Slow-Go Years

10: Financial Strategies for the Slow-Go Years

Most of us consider our trust, power of attorney, and health care directive as among our most important estate-planning documents. But in this lesson, you’ll see why these are equally crucial: the titling of your accounts and property, and setting up beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts, life insurance, and investment accounts.

28 min
Social Security, Medicare, and Tax Strategy

11: Social Security, Medicare, and Tax Strategy

Don’t make your crucial decisions about Social Security, health insurance, or your tax strategy based on outdated information or what anyone else did. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of all your decision options. The reward for getting these decisions right can be worth thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars.

32 min
10 Questions to Answer Before You Retire

12: 10 Questions to Answer Before You Retire

Creating a secure retirement plan that meets all your needs is complex, with lots of integrated moving parts. Small decisions you make now can have major consequences for your financial security later on. Explore 10 questions that can help point you to a plan for your perfect retirement.

30 min