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Retirement Checklist for 'Two-Digit Midgets' (or Even Three-Digit Midgets)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In the armed forces, there's a term for people less than a 100 days from a return to civilian life: "two-digit midgets."

If you're a two-digit midget in terms of retirement, or even a three-digit midget with retirement a year away, you need to prepare for your golden years with a "retirement checklist."

So says Larry Rosenthal, a certified financial planner and principal at Rosenthal Wealth Management Group, a Manassas, Va., investment advisory firm.

"Planning for retirement can be a burdensome task," Rosenthal says. "While the transition can be difficult -- emotionally, mentally and financially -- the sooner you start preparing the better. Ideally, pre-retirees should begin planning years in advance, but many people find it can be difficult to get the metaphorical retirement ball rolling."

To make that shift into retirement easier, Rosenthal recommends a retirement checklist to be addressed in the year before calling it quits on the career front:

Refinance your home: You want to make sure all of your fixed costs are as low as possible.

Conduct an insurance audit: You don't want any surprises with reduced benefits or increased costs.

Have a dress rehearsal: Practice living on your estimated retirement income six months before you actually retire. It's important to see how your income stacks up against your expenses. (This goes hand in hand with your big-ticket purchases. Consider that one of the most overlooked retirement expenses is the car or truck you own. If you get a new car every seven years, that's likely three cars in retirement.)

Reallocate your investments: Approaching retirement, you'll want a more conservative plan to minimize unwelcome market surprises. You'll also want to make sure your plan is customized to grow, protect and deliver income in the most tax-advantaged way.

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