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Planning for your retirement: Making your money last

Want to know what keeps millions of baby boomers up at night? Nope, not that.

Their biggest fear is that they'll outlive their retirement savings.

More and more people are living well into their 80s or even into their 90s, and for those who have managed to save for their retirement, the fear that consumes them now is that perhaps they haven't saved enough.

(Read more: How to rescue your retirement at 55)


CNBC's Sharon Epperson recently sat down to discuss the best strategies to make your money last with three top financial advisors and members of CNBC's Financial Advisor Council; Rich Coppa, managing director at Wealth Health, Geri Pell, president of Pell Wealth Partners, and Tim Maurer, director of financial planning at The Financial Consulate.

Planning to have enough money in your retirement begins first with having a budget, says Coppa.

"This is the key to success and planning. You have to come up with a cash flow analysis to help your advisor understand what are your needs and what do you expect to have as cash flow needs in the future." Coppa says, adding that once you know that, then you and your advisor can decide on how much money you can withdraw and for how long. Coppa warns that without a budget it is easier and more likely that you'll blow through your money and not have enough to last.

Boomers and their financial advisors have long believed that you could count on a relatively comfortable retirement by adhering to the so-called 4 percent rule, but Pell says those days—and that way of thinking, are gone.

(Read more: Rethinking the 4% withdrawal rule)

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Financial planners used to believe that 4 percent was the amount you could safely withdraw each year from your 401(k), individual retirement account or other retirement savings all while still maintaining a lifelong retirement income. But now with people living longer and lower yields, Pell says you need to rethink the 4 percent rule.

Instead she says she tells her clients when they're nearing retirement to keep at least two years of cash or cash equivalent on hand and then have the rest of the money invested in equities and fixed income. She says by doing so you'll be better protected if the market goes down. Pells says having a couple of years of cash on hand buys you time and allows the market to work itself out.

Maurer says a great way to prepare for your retirement and to make your money last is to do a dress rehearsal.

He says the best transitions are done a couple of years before you actually retire. He suggests that you try to live on a reduced budget and try doing those activities you're planning to do in your golden years.

"Instead of having retirement be a two-act play, where it's Act 1, you're working your butt off as hard as you can, and Act 2 is kicking your feet up at the beach," Maurer said to think of retiring as a three-act play: Act 1: The Working Years, Act 2: The Transition (he says this can last years) and Act 3: The Retired Years.

(Read more: Financial checkup Q&A: Your 401(k) and how to catch up)

All three experts agree no one should ever just plan to "wing it" during their retirement years. To relieve your anxieties and to make sure you're better prepared for a longer life spent retired, each says the best chance you have is to start planning now for the life you want to live.

—By CNBC's Gloria McDonough-Taub.

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