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The New Retirement Rulebook

D'Arruda stresses proper scrutiny of any annuity product.

"Insurance companies have stepped up and made it a lot easier with these income riders," he says. "Of course you have to know it's a good company and you have to know what's going on with the income rider ... They are not your grandmother's annuities any more, but there still are some bad ones out there. With variable annuities there are, of course, commissions and fees. With fixed annuities there are no commissions coming out, but there are some fees, so you have to know what they are. You have to deal with quality companies and quality advisers."

The volatility of the past four years has led D'Arruda to suggest that consumers think of financial guidance the same way they consider medical care.

"I think this is the year of a second opinion," he says. "Maybe you get two advisers, one who is a 'risk' adviser and who is a 'safe' adviser. Then you have them work in synergy though a quarterback like a CPA or somebody you really trust and have both advisers put together what they really think is the best and combine them -- a hybrid kind of a plan."

D'Arruda says people can be so locked into studying their savings statement by statement that they lose sight of the fact that "the most important thing is what you started with and what you have now."

"When you go to a shopping mall you have to find that map that can get you to where you want to go," he says. " But first you have to look for that big red X that says, 'You are here.' Before you decide where to go you have to figure out where you are right now -- and that's mentally, emotionally and financially all together. That's what adds up to a full financial plan. It's not just about numbers any more."

Like Smith, D'Arruda agrees that having "safe" money provides the ability to invest a portion of assets into a wide variety of strategies, some not normally thought of in terms of retirement planning.

"You can take what is left for risk and divide that into stocks, maybe a bond or maybe some Master Limited Partnership, REITs or alternative investments. You have correlated and noncorrelated assets all working together on that risk side, but your safe money is still trucking along and you don't have to worry any more."
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