Financial stress is the number one source of stress for employees, according to a Price Waterhouse Coopers 2019 survey. Financial matters outrank any other source of stress combined, including health and relationships. Retirement can be a key driver in that stress with nine out of 10 people reporting they don’t feel very confident in their overall retirement savings situation. That’s according to our 2017 survey, which found Americans are incredibly savings-insecure.

In recent years, the retirement planning landscape has undergone sizable change, as full-time employment has been replaced by part-time, temp or “gig” work—the kind of jobs that typically don’t offer retirement options, like a 401(k), but can be appealing for workers craving flexibility. And for people who do receive substantial support from their employer, many feel it won’t be enough: Only 13% of people say they could rely on pension alone to support their desired retirement lifestyle.

This do-it-yourself retirement can cause stress for many employees. While it can be easy to fall prey to the anxiety that accompanies thinking about the future, preparation doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. In fact, with a little discipline and focus, everyone has the tools they need to move in the direction of their ideal financial outcome.

Here’s how you can turn financial stress into retirement confidence:

First, level-set.

Ask yourself honestly: Are you worried about retirement? If you said “yes,” you’re just like most of us! Only a small minority of people report being “very confident” in their plans for retirement. Having some worry is natural and even motivating. We don’t become experts overnight and should be patient with ourselves as we learn new skills—financial skills included.

Just keep in mind your goal is to take small steps.

Second, paint a picture.

Once you realize planning for retirement will be a lifelong process, it’s time to break out your calculator and get honest about the numbers. Here, free retirement tools can help provide insight into your monthly income needs, your tax obligations, your potential Social Security payment levels and other considerations that can help you paint a picture of what to expect once you stop working.

Third, craft the path.

Now that you have a clear vision, it’s time to plan. Here, free retirement planning worksheets can help you understand which tools and products are most useful to your unique goals. For instance, not everyone has access to an employer-sponsored pension, so options like fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) might be worth considering. In addition to tax-deferred growth, FIAs can offer both guaranteed lifetime income and principal protection from market swings.

Fourth, ask for help.

How will you know which retirement products are best for you? A trusted financial professional is a great place to start. Just like a coach can help you meet your physical goals, a financial professional can help you achieve success financially.

Fifth, never stop learning.

The best way to prevent stress from becoming overwhelming is to keep learning. As they say, knowledge is power, and the more you know about your financial situation, the more you can adapt, plan and grow so that “retirement” is no longer a scary idea. With the right approach, it can even become something you look forward to.

Want to get started today? Learn how you can take your first steps toward retirement planning with our “Game Ready” financial checklist.

How to Transform Financial Stress into Retirement Confidence

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