Ask a Vanguard investor about what it takes to be successful at saving for retirement, and he or she would probably tell you to start saving early, save as much as you can, invest in a low-cost diversified portfolio, and stick with your plan through thick and thin.

This is sound advice. But something that caught my eye recently was an article from a financial planner writing about the “9 factors that affect when you retire.” As he points out, it’s not only “the basics” that influence retirement incomes. So do factors such as when you have children, your level of education and financial literacy, and your psychological makeup.

It’s a good reminder that retirement success is a holistic concept. It’s not just about savings rates and portfolio allocations.


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• Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market.