Even without a pension, you can collect a guaranteed check every month for life by buying an immediate annuity (you can shop for one at immediateannuities.com).
The strategy: Put enough in an annuity so that the income it produces, combined with Social Security, covers your basic living expenses. Let the rest of your portfolio keep growing. (Even the federal government is getting behind this strategy: In February the Treasury Department proposed making it easier for workers to buy annuities in 401(k) plans.)
Annuity payouts depend on your age and current interest rates, so today the checks are smaller than five years ago, says New York City financial planner and CPA Michael Goodman. His advice: Buy three annuities over a decade so that you don't invest all your money when rates are low.