We spend our whole working life focused on saving money in our 401(k). And then a funny thing happens: as adults get closer to retirement age, the thought of spending that savings starts to create a kind of panic.

“Savings are for emergencies!”

That’s might be the script you’ve lived with your whole life, but as retirement approaches that kind of thinking needs to change. Your savings will be important as you transition to retirement. Savings are things like your 401(k), IRAs, investments and personal savings.

Sure you will still need to have savings to tap for health care costs, emergencies, unexpected expenses or fun things like travel. Having a nest egg to cover these things is important.

A new paycheck; you’ve earned it.

But what you may not realize is your savings can also be used as flexible monthly income. All that hard work means you’ll start taking distributions from your savings to live on — think of it as your new paycheck. At Financial Engines, we can show you how this might work and how it can give you more to spend.

We’ll work together to develop an investment approach that balances safety and growth. Safety focuses on making sure your money is protected and there when you need it. Together we’ll review your tolerance for risk and balance that with when you want to start using your money as income. Growth will help target your investments so you can do your best to keep up with rising costs.

No matter your age, you need to start planning today.

Whatever you decide, the first step is managing your savings — now. It’s important for your savings to keep growing while helping to protect them against loss. You’ve worked hard to build your savings. You want to do everything you can to protect and grow them so you can retire well.