Facts are easy to find in this era of the internet. But good advice is somewhat more elusive. Since my “brand” is The Savage Truth, my goal has always been to expose my readers and viewers to the best advice that is not motivated by hidden costs and incentives.
Every year I find a book that fits that definition of being truthful, helpful, and easy to understand, while opening your eyes to a new and better way of approaching personal finances.
For example, two years ago I advised you to buy The Price You Pay for College by Ron Lieber. It’s filled with secrets about how to work through the college decisions that families must make. But this book gives guidance — and a new perspective on the true value of a college education.
Last year’s best book was the Larry Kotlikoff’s thought- provoking Money Magic: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life.
This well-known economist often opines about Social Security (he created the unique and helpful software, www.MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com ), so he quantifies the tradeoffs of retiring. But Money Magic also asks readers to rethink their attitudes about life-changing financial decisions ranging from the true costs of their housing to long-term career prospects and the real costs of marriage (and divorce)!
These are books that are truly worth the time to read – not just to get facts. A Google search will give you facts. The authors of these books offer perspective and a helping hand to deal with the facts and make decisions that actually improve your financial outcome.
Well, that was a long-winded introduction to a new book on my “must read” list. Retirement Reboot by New York Times contributor Mark Miller approaches the process of retirement guidance from a realistic but positive perspective – no matter whether you think you’re ready or not.
And, as Miller clearly explains, the vast majority of Americans approach retirement without the resources to come close to replacing their pre-retirement income. But that’s no reason to give up. Retirement Reboot offers a new approach to thinking about and financing those inevitable years. So instead of living in anxiety or completely ignoring reality, let Miller help you understand and structure those years.
The first section is about “timing” your retirement. That decision may be foisted upon you by the company your work for – or impacted by your own unrealistic expectations for an early retirement. Read the chapter on “Managing Your Career to the Finish Line”—making the most of your largest asset, your career. And if your job does retire from you, Miller has an encouraging chapter on “Becoming an Entrepreneur over 50”, which many retirees use to not only bring in income, but expand their social horizons. It’s not only about money in retirement, as you’ll see in the chapter on” Finding Your Purpose in Retirement.”
But this book is more than a pep talk about the possibilities of enjoying your later years. It’s filled with practical advice on negotiating those critical decisions about when to take Social Security (yes, later IS better!), deciding between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage, tapping your home equity through a reverse mortgage or downsizing. And, he guides you gently into the one topic most pre-retirees want to ignore: the potential need for – and cost of – long term care. He explains the affordable choices.
Miller says it is never too late to build some retirement savings – even if you don’t get started till after the kids are out of college. He has advice on maximizing retirement contributions later in life as well as investment products such as target date funds (which are not all alike, even though they have the same target year). Equally helpful is his advice in finding a financial advisor you can trust.
I found myself nodding in agreement with Miller’s conclusions and appreciating his ability to make this information accessible and useful. I guess it comes down to this: Retirement Reboot is the best book you can buy today about personal financial planning for retirement. And that’s The Savage Truth.