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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Covers a great deal of ground in a short space.
There are plenty of books telling you how to invest for retirement, not so many discussing the even more complex matter of funding your retirement. Two sources, both mentioned by Mike Piper, are the Bogleheads' Guide to Retirement and Jim Otar's nearly 600-page tract, which is designed for financial professionals and makes for nearly impenetrable reading. Now we have...
Published on December 8, 2010 by Falstaff in New York

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100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coffee table reading - retirement 101
Okay, it's sort of like what my parents use to say about how much you pay for something, "A lot of times you get what you pay for" That's kind of the situation here. 100 pages isn't a whole lot of room for information, so you shouldn't think that your going to get a lot of details on implementation of your retirement plan.

I would consider this coffee table...
Published on March 6, 2011 by JYoder


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100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coffee table reading - retirement 101, March 6, 2011
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
Okay, it's sort of like what my parents use to say about how much you pay for something, "A lot of times you get what you pay for" That's kind of the situation here. 100 pages isn't a whole lot of room for information, so you shouldn't think that your going to get a lot of details on implementation of your retirement plan.

I would consider this coffee table reading for someone who has not even considered retirement; Retirement 101, This book will introduce you to the basic concepts and most of the things you need to consider. What you will not get is details. So if you are looking for a book to give you an introduction (ie the cliff notes) so you can have a general conversation with your spouse, or best friend, this may be good for you. If you are getting serous, and are a beginner, you should really consider the AARP retirement Survival Guide listed below.

I don't really want to beat up on the book to much, because it does give you a good 10,000 foot overview. Just remember, you are getting what you pay for here as far as the 100pages is concerned.

Here is a list of some of the books I have read in preparing for retirement, and a one-liner, and ranking for each. I will order them in the order I would read them:

1. The AARP Retirement Survival Guide: How to Make Smart Financial Decisions in Good Times and Bad (Julie Jason)
Rank: 5/5
Summary:Real good overview and introduction to the many considerations for retirement.

2. Buckets of Money: How to Retire in Comfort and Safety (Raymond Lucia)
Rank: 4/5
Summary: Interesting concept on planning for retirement. Although I'm not sure I will use the plan Raymond lays out here, I think the general concept is a real good idea on how to think about tapping your assets as you plan for retirement.

3. Annuities For Dummies (Kerry Pechter)
Rank: 4.5/5
Summary: Great details on the highly complex subject of annuities, a critical tool for your retirement planning to alleviate longevity and market risk.

If you read the books above, I don't think there is a need for reading the books listed below since either they don't have the depth, or have already been covered in sufficient detail in the books above.

The Bogleheads' Guide to Retirement Planningg (Various Aurthors)
Rank: 3.5/5
Summary: I think this book tries to cover a little to much, and as a result has topics that I don't think are appropriate for the retirement planning. Since the book attempts to cover so many topics, it really doesn't give real good details on any one topic. I think of this book, more as an executive summary for the various topics it covers.

Can I Retire? How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Mike Piper)
Rank: 2.5/5
Summary: What do you expect for 100 pages? Although the author does seem to stay on-topic in this book, its just to broad to really give you any actionable information. Perhaps a decent book if you are just wading into the whole concept of retirement and don't want to put alot of thought into details(IE the big picture). This book does not answer the question it poses in the title.

Hope this helps
James
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Covers a great deal of ground in a short space., December 8, 2010
This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
There are plenty of books telling you how to invest for retirement, not so many discussing the even more complex matter of funding your retirement. Two sources, both mentioned by Mike Piper, are the Bogleheads' Guide to Retirement and Jim Otar's nearly 600-page tract, which is designed for financial professionals and makes for nearly impenetrable reading. Now we have another guide by Mike Piper.

Anyone who follows ObliviousInvestor.com knows that Mike has a gift for conveying difficult concepts in concise, clear language, and by and large this little book is no exception. It explains clearly why 4% is probably the maximum safe withdrawal rate from a retirement portfolio (some would say 3% is the maximum, but that requires having a larger nest egg), why purchasing a fixed annuity is a wise option for people who have underfunded their retirement, why TIPs and short-term bonds are the best choices for retirees investing in bond funds, and much more.

There's a lot going on here in 100 pages, and the book really deserves several readings so you can apply the information in each chapter to your own situation. But I had a bit of trouble putting everything together at times: e.g., for the non-annuitized portion of your portfolio (which could be all of it), Mike recommends having two years of cash in what he calls a "spending bucket." But it wasn't clear to me if so much cash is needed for people have purchased an annuity or have other safe sources of funding. I wasn't clear either if what he calls the "sequence of returns" risk when one has 50/50% stock/bond portfolio would decline if one allocates more conservatively, and how that would affect a safe withdrawal rate. In short, I think a couple of larger case studies pulling all the concepts in the book together would be very helpful.

This book is geared towards people who already have a decent retirement account rather than those who will struggle on nothing but social security, and it deals exclusively with the funding aspects of retirement, which is more than enough to cover without attempting to deal with other major retirement issues like insurance and estate planning. Even so, it is not as thorough as a larger book can afford to be, saying nothing for example about reverse mortgages. And it falls short in one key area related to funding, which is that Mike says very little about pensions and social security. These are major sources of funding for many if not most retirees and can have a substantial impact on withdrawal rate, asset allocation, spending buckets, and taxes. Mike briefly mentions social security at the end but then tells us only that it's "complicated," but it's probably no more complicated than any of the topics he did cover in greater depth. I wish at least the basics of social security had been addressed - perhaps in lieu of discussing index funds and ETFs, which are more germane to general investment advice and have been covered many times elsewhere, including Mike's previous books.

I also wish he had made a stronger case for the financial benefit of working longer, as every retirement calculator I have tried suggests that there's no better way to improve your chances of success than to work even a year or two beyond what you've planned. But even if this book doesn't answer all the questions raised, it goes far towards answering many of them, and should thus be a big help to anyone seriously planning for retirement.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want Retirement? Must Read!, December 5, 2010
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
This is hands down the best overview of what it takes to truly retire that I've ever read. (And as a bona-fide personal finance junkie, CFA, and 15 year veteran of the financial services industry - I've read a lot of books on the subject). In less than 100 pages & in jargon free English, this gem of a book nails the key issues of: (1) How do you identify your "number" - that amount you must have saved to be able to safely nibble away on your nest egg in retirement with low odds of outliving your money AND (2) exactly how to draw down that nest egg - from asset allocation to what Michael smartly calls 'asset location' (what investments to put in which accounts & in what order to access funds from those accounts). If you are trying to get a handle on whether or not you can retire, this book is an absolute must read. Five stars!!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Retirement planning condensed and made clear, December 16, 2010
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
Since early 2007 I have been doing a self-study on investing, financial markets, and retirement issues and have read most of the classic academic literature, from Benjamin Graham, Roger Gibson, and Charles Ellis, to Burton Malkiel, William Bernstein, and John Bogel. As the previous reviewers have noted, Mr. Piper writes both extremely clearly and very well. He boils down a subject to its pure essense, yet on nearly every page he adds notes of clarification just where a newcomer might tend to get lost [or even bring clarity to someone who has been doing a total immersion into finance books!]. In a couple places, as I finished a chapter and was thinking, "that was really good, but what about..?", and then I turned the page to find the answer. I never found anything, not a word, which I did not agree with him, and although it is of course impossible to cover everything completely in 100 pages, many folks [like all the ones who don't have the time to read the dozens and dozens of fine books on the topic] will find most the basics of what they need to get started for retirement in this book. For those who need more, the finer points are out there in specialized books, or on self help websites like the Bogleheads or Mr. Piper's own. This is NOT "retirement for dummies"! Mr. Piper knows his subject thoroughly and presents it well. The book will stand re-reading, even for non-novice readers.

I am ordering a few more copies to give out to family [including my wife] and friends who are near or starting retirement, and plan to read his other books also.

There are rumors that Mr. Piper is thinking about writing a similar 100 page book on Social Security, which I hope is true, since I am already 61.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about nothing, January 13, 2011
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
I purchased this book based upon the praise that has been lauded upon it in the media and on-line. Having now read it, I am truly amazed that so many can say so much about so little. Anyone that has demonstrated the slightest due diligence, and expended even the most minimal time on the subject of retirement planning, is already as well informed at the start as they will be upon reading this book to completion. It isn't that the author dispenses bad advice, it is just that the advice he does provide is so rudimentary as to barely qualify as an introduction, let alone an answer to the question he rhetorically poses in the book's title. A quick "google" of "Monte Carlo" retirement planning/analysis will lead you to information that is free, notable by its absence in this book, and far more useful to answering the question "Can I Retire?" That being said, if you really haven't a clue about retirement planning, this book is an OK start, and certainly does no harm.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good short primer on retirement planning, January 26, 2011
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
I heard about Mike Piper and his books on The Bogleheads online forum. I decided to buy this book and check him out.

The author boils down retirement planning to about 100 pages compared to the 370 pages in The Bogleheads Guide to Retirement Planning and Jim Otar's 525 pages in Unveiling the Retirement Myth.

By the title, I assumed all 100 pages would focus on the decision on whether or not to retire. Instead, 30 pages focus on this key decision...and the balance of 70 pages focus on the steps to take after you decided to retire. This is ok, but not what I expected from the title.

My reading time was about 50 minutes, but I took notes as I went to be able to write this book review. If you subtract the note taking time, my reading time was about 40 minutes.

Piper mentions that state guarantee associations exist to back up an insurance company that fails. The soundness of an insurance company is critical if they are paying you a lifetime SPIA. It is extremely difficult to find data about past insurance company failures and whether investors lost money or not on their SPIA's. As we all remember in the Sub-Prime Crash of 2008, AIG basically went bankrupt and Uncle Sam had to bail them out. William Bernstein has correctly pointed out that buying SPIA's may be too risky because of the chance of insurance company failures and inability of state guaranty associations to fill the gap.

Piper correctly raises the major issue of conflict-of-interest if you choose to use a financial planner. His example of conflict-of-interest is financial planners not recommending SPIA's because it reduces the amount of assets under the AUM (assets under management) financial model........and therefore reduces the annual income to the financial planner. This can be remedied by negotiating an annual retainer fee which does not depend on the vagaries of a fluctuating stock market or SPIA usage. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I am co-author of Chapter 18...Seeking the Help of Professionals..... in The Bogleheads Guide to Retirement Planning.......and I think our chapter elaborates and does a much better job of explaining the conflict-of-interest issue.

One thing I was not aware of until a couple of months ago, is that if you retire between age 55 and age 59.5, you might be better off leaving your money in your 401K versus rolling it over to an IRA. Tax law allows you to withdraw from the 401K without the 10% penalty if you are in this situation. Piper does mention this fact.

One thing Piper mentions that I was not aware of.......was that if you own company stock in your 401K plan...you can withdraw it and pay long term capital gains taxes versus higher ordinary income tax rates. I have not heard of this loophole before. Of course, I would recommend being fully diversified and not investing much in your own company stock.......just ask Enron employees what can happen.

Piper correctly points out that if you a financial advisor who uses the 1% AUM model (he charges you 1% of assets under management each year) your 4% safe withdrawal rate really becomes 3% because of the 1% AUM fee. Many advisors charge a fraction of 1% AUM, which means your SWR is higher than 3%.

Piper repeats the basic financial guide to put dividend paying investments into retirement accounts (bonds, bond funds, TIPS, and REIT's) and stocks in taxable accounts.

He also points out your available options if your investment income is not high enough to support you in retirement: Work longer, work part-time in retirement, reduce retirement living expenses, reduce current expenses and save more, annuitize using SPIA's which generate more than 4% (but leave nothing for your heirs), or try to get higher returns from your retirement portfolio.

Given the low savings rate and portfolio size of most Baby Boomers, I suspect many of them will tap their equity in their home and use it for retirement living expenses via reverse mortgages. Piper does not mention reverse mortgages as an option.

All-in-all, a good little book with practical advice. In our U.S. culture of short attention spans (e.g. 8 sec TV commercials).....maybe more people can learn the very basics of retirement planning versus having to read full length books.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Educational for a quick easy read!, December 23, 2011
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
Can I Retire....

I was a little hesitant to read the book being how small it is (under 100 pages), but I am a big fan of the Authors weekly blog posts on personal finances and investing. So I decided I would give it a quick read, and I am so happy I did.

While I am not ready to retire yet (only 40yr old), I did take away 3 things from this book that I had not previously known from reading several other investing books.

1. SPIA (Single Premium Individual Annuity) on how each state is different in the amount the state will cover if the insurance company goes bankrupt.
2. Rules concerning Back Door Roth on non-deductible tIRA contributions.
3. The 3 bucket system for handling your portfolio in retirement.

This book was such a great read that I will be reading all the authors other books as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent succinct summary of retirement planning decisions, December 17, 2010
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
I subscribe to Mike Piper's blog, Oblivious Investor, and he was pushing this pretty hard in the past two weeks. I balked for that reason, but when he offered a special $5 price on Amazon, it was too good a deal to pass up. I like it very much. It's short enough (99 pages) to read in one or two sittings, and he summarizes the key decisions and calculations very well. I especially appreciated the information he provided about distributions and their income tax consequences. Most of the retirement books I have read focus only on the accumulation stage of the retirement process. This book deals specifically with the "when can I pull the trigger and retire?" and "how should I distribute my accumulated retirement savings?" The last pages deal with the right kind of financial planner you should use. There is no perfect answer since each type of compensation arrangement has inherent conflicts of interest. But, avoid the sales people and the Assets-Under-Management advisors. He recommends hiring an hourly fee-only planner. I agree. The disclaimer I have to make here is that I am studying myself to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), so my bias has always been towards fee-only planners.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short excellent resource for individual investors, December 20, 2010
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
Mike Piper set out to write a short book to address 2 questions. How much to save for retirement and how to allocate in retirement. He succeeded in answering both questions with simple common sense advice. In particular his advice on distribution planning during retirement will be quite useful to anyone already retired.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a GREAT SUMMARY of what you need to know!, February 20, 2011
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Jeanette Panchula (Vacaville,, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less (Paperback)
I have been reading and studying about retirement for many years, although I am not a financial expert - because I felt that as a Baby Boomer I would not be able to depend on Social Security. Even though the time has come, and I CAN get (for now) Social Security - this book has provided me with some NEW concepts - Asset LOCATION, Three Bucket system (I was using a 2-bucket system), and more insight into being aware of the tax implications of our funds. I would give it to every 45 - 50 year old if I could...and it wouldn't hurt for younger readers to read it, although Mike has some other books that might be more appropriate for them. Sooo- if you're looking for a good gift book for your uncle, aunt or parents - this is IT! Father's Day and Mother's Day is just around the corner....hint hint...
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