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    I Asked A Financial Adviser How To Figure Out My "Magic Retirement Number," And It's Complicated

    It's all about the long game.

    I've been putting money in a retirement account for years, but I have no idea if I'm on track or even what sort of number I should be shooting for. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one.

    It turns out there are some general guidelines out there, but there's no one-size-fits-all answer because — you guessed it — everyone's situation is different.

    To help us all, I chatted with a financial adviser who told me how you determine that magic number and how to get there.

    1. To start, you need to reframe how you think about retirement — it should be the first thing you think about, not the last.

    2. It may help to think of retirement as the money you'll need to save now to give yourself a paycheck later.

    3. That being said, you're never too young to start saving for retirement.

    4. But if you haven't saved a cent, don't freak out, you'll just need to adjust a couple things.

    5. Before you do anything, ask yourself these two questions.

    6. Then, use your monthly budget (how to make that, here) to figure out how much money you can afford to put toward retirement.

    7. You can also use your budget to figure out what sort of lifestyle you lead — which may clue you into what sort of lifestyle you'll want to lead in retirement.

    8. When coming up with that "magic retirement number" you'll also need to factor in lifestyle flexibility and added healthcare costs.

    9. And, of course, your age, inflation, and the stock market play a role.

    10. You should put your retirement savings into a special retirement account, not a regular savings account.

    11. Diversify how your retirement money is invested, then decide when you want to pay taxes on that money.

    12. Revisit your retirement plan at least once a year.

    13. And remember that by planning now, you can roll with the punches when things inevitably change.

    14. Since retirement — and figuring out your magic retirement number — is so complicated, your best bet is to talk to a financial adviser.

    Are you saving for retirement? Share your tips and strategies in the comments!

    And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts