In this series, we will ask top experts for their retirement advice on the most common retirement questions from our readers. Every portfolio is different, but when it comes to your retirement planning, many people have the same retirement questions and make the same retirement mistakes.

How do I pick my retirement date?

Be able to answer these three questions:

  • Do I have enough?
  • Have I had enough?
  • Do I have enough to do?

The first question is about money, the second question addresses whether or not you’re ready to leave your primary career and move on to new experiences, and the third question relates to how you’ll meaningfully use the gift of time that retirement brings (and keep in mind that might be a gift of 30 or more years).

How much money will I need in retirement?

You’ll need what it will take to live a satisfactory lifestyle. Separate your needs from your wants so you can have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, and perhaps even a Plan D. This will give you more flexibility and help ensure a happy and successful retirement, even if you must ratchet down your expectations. Be sure to factor longevity (assume you’ll live into your 90s) and inflation into your planning.

What is the biggest mistake people make in their retirement planning?

Not considering the non-financial aspects of this transition. Be sure you’ve thought about social support, universal design concepts in your current or future home, and what you’ll do with 168 hours a week. Most of us like to have some structure in our lives, interaction with others, intellectual stimulation, and a belief that we contribute and make a difference. For many of us, work provides that. How will that be replaced? Travel? Volunteering? A new career? Hobbies? Sports? More time with family and friends? Moving to a new location? All of the above?

Jan Cullinane has distinguished herself as an expert in the retirement arena. She speaks about retirement topics though her company, Retirement Living from A to Z, and is a retirement expert for the NABBW (National Association of Baby Boomer Women); a contributor to The Ocean Breeze and Ideal Destinations; and a retirement consultant. She has appeared on television both nationally and locally, has conducted more than 60 radio and Internet interviews, and has written or been interviewed for numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Her previous book, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007 and 2004), reached the No. 2 rank on both B& and Amazon, and was a book club selection of the Washington Post. The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement will be published in Spring 2012 (John Wiley & Sons). Cullinane has a B.S. and Master’s degree from the University of Maryland, is ABD from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and has taught extensively at the college level.