Just before I retired, I had a particularly stressful day that sent me straight to the bookstore. (My go-to place when things get tough.) I was working with someone from another office who clearly needed treatment for a narcissistic personality disorder. Do you know the type? I believe you do, Boomer. Eight hours and you’re ready to tear-your-hair-out.
And then…my eyes fell upon it.
Get a Life: You Don’t Need a Million to Retire Well
by Ralph Warner
Upon opening the book, I learned I was headed to Retiremageddon. (I took no comfort in this, Boomer.) I further learned that retirement is a fragile time, with: a lack of structure, loss of identity, increased isolation, and reduced income. Moreover, if I didn’t work to overcome these pitfalls, I’d become: bored, depressed, and prematurely dependent on others.
Further, I was informed that I had to come to terms with the fact that my life is short and I was running out of time.
Can I even go on?
Yes, Boomer, I can. Stay with me.
The other side of retiremageddon.
Once I got past the Retiremageddon-thing, I saw that the book outlines, chapter by chapter, what we need to do to prepare ourselves for a fulfilling retirement.
Chapter 1. Engage in retirement activities that make you feel you count for something. Make a plan on how to find these activities.
Chapter 2. Reclaim your health and pay better attention to your diet and fitness.
Chapters 3-6. Start developing meaningful relationships with family and friends. Establish relationships with a wide variety of people of all ages, so as to avoid intense loneliness—a common retirement pitfall. Find retirement mentors who are living a successful retirement and figure out how they’re doing it.
Chapter 7. Realistically assess whether you’ll actually require long term care. Don’t fall prey to insurance sellers trying to scare you. The chapter concludes with how to find a good long-term care policy.
Chapters 8 – 11. Figure out how much money you’ll need in retirement, what your income sources will be, and how to save so that you have enough money.
Pay off your house so that your money will go further and you won’t be subject to unexpected and unreasonable rent increases by landlords.
These chapters conclude with an example of an investment portfolio.
Careful on the investment advice…
The weakest part of this book is the author’s investment portfolio advice. He was the founder of the wonderful Nolo Press publishing house. But he wasn’t an investment guy.
There are plenty of investing books out there, written by people who have spent their lives studying retirement finance–what works and what doesn’t. AARP’s columnist Jane Bryant Quinn comes to mind. Her How to Make Your Money Last or Making the Most of Your Money Now offers superior advice, in my opinion.
Get a Life is not a bad read.
In spite of the investing shortcomings, I thought this book was a decent read. I liked that it provided concrete steps throughout each chapter to help us build a meaningful retirement. Moreover, most retirement books concentrate only on the money part of retirement. But retirement consists of so much more than just money. Get a Life talks about this other piece and gives us a nice template for navigating our way through it. It was worth my time. You can check out online reviews here.