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Spend 'Til the End: The Revolutionary Guide to Raising Your Living Standard--Today and When You Retire Hardcover – June 10, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416548904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416548904
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kotlikoff and Burns (coauthors of The Coming Generational Storm) turn conventional retirement planning wisdom on its head in a feisty financial guide that questions the financial benefits of college and argues delaying filing for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, many provocative insights are buried beneath fairly recondite economic analysis. Math-phobic readers may be unable—or unwilling—to follow along as the authors couch their methods to maximize spending power in a number-heavy narrative with awkward case studies that fail to properly personalize the financial challenges new retirees may face. According to the authors, truly sophisticated planning is best left up to computer programs (such as the one Kotlikoff himself has developed and offers online at ESPlanner.com). Readers in search of a user-friendly primer might be put off, but there are nuggets of useful information to be mined—the authors efficiently address Roth IRAs and provide an eye-opening exposé of the duplicity rampant in the personal finance industry. Intrepid readers able to navigate through the numbers will be rewarded—if they keep from drowning in the evidence. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In The Coming Generational Storm (2005), the authors presented a dire warning about the consequences of the $51 trillion debt America has amassed, forecasting huge tax obligations and the collapse of the U.S. economy as we know it. Here they take a more cheerful tack, guiding the would-be retiree on the most efficient ways to maintain a decent standard of living during the golden years. Eschewing the standard financial advice to use replacement income as a guide on how to save, they instead accomplish this by analyzing spending habits, utilizing consumption smoothing as a way to ensure that you neither starve yourself in old age nor end up with more money than you need by depriving yourself during your working years. Through a long series of useful examples, they dispel many of the myths surrounding whether one should pay off the mortgage early; begin taking Social Security at 70 or at 62; maximize savings in a Roth, 401(k), or regular IRA; or even hold mutual funds at all. These exercises are sure to create new rounds of discussion as they turn much of the conventional financial wisdom on its head. --David Siegfried

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Customer Reviews

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He argues that using the 80% rule causes too many people to save too much and some people to save too little.
Dale C. Maley
#What sense does it make for lower income people to decide not to work because they would lose tax and healthcare benefits?
William Whipple III
I found the advice and analyses in this book to be very helpful in planning and executing my financial plan for retirement.
Hutch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on July 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kotlikoff is a very interesting writer/economist. His previous book The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America's Economic Future is a must read for anyone interested in the actuarial position of Social Security. Now, Kotlikoff and Burns focus on financial planning. To investigate it, Kotlikoff developed a sophisticated program (ESPlanner). Its underlying methodology is "consumption smoothing" that consists in evening out your discretionary income over your lifetime.

Per the authors, the financial service industry ignores consumption smoothing methodology for several reasons. First, it is really complicated. It includes many variables (mortgages, change in member of households, AMT, Social Security benefits taxation, etc...). Second, it reduces retirement savings needs. Third, it reduces the investment risk you need to incur to reach your goals. Thus, consumption smoothing would cut into the sales of financial products.

The authors spare no one in the financial service industry. The mutual fund managers don't earn their fees as 70% of them routinely fall behind the stock indexes. And, the 30% that beat the market change every year. Thus, the 30% who beat the market are just Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. Hedge funds don't have a chance to make up for their high fee structure (1% management fee; 20% of returns). Insurance salesmen care more about their commission than your finances.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Dale C. Maley VINE VOICE on August 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A little background on myself before I start the review: I have read over 200 books on investing, so I count myself lucky if I learn 1 new thing for each new book I read. I have read quite a few columns by Scott Burns and generally agree with him on his ideas. I have read several papers and articles by Kotlikoff. I have not read any prior books written by either of these gentlemen. I have been a fan of index fund investing since 1990.

Before I read this book, I was also aware that Kotlikoff sells his own software package ESPlanner for $150 a copy plus $50 annual update fee ($200 for Monte Carlo version plus $50 annual update fee).

My first comment is that my perception is that Kotlikoff wrote the majority of this book. I base this upon the early writings of Kotlikoff and Burns that I have read.

I have long known that index funds usually beat roughly 70% of the actively managed funds in any given year......and my gut intuition is that similar statistics apply to the latest rage.....hedge funds. Kotlikoff points this out in a slightly different way saying that if 70% of mutual funds with the managers paid 1% of assets per year and 0% of the profits can't beat their appropriate index.......then there is no way a hedge fund charging 2% of assets per year and taking 20% of the profits will ever beat out index funds.

Kotlikoff also expresses the lack of financial literacy of Americans in a new way. I already knew that almost all Americans received no education in investing in our high school and college system. I used to get a kick out of the periodic investment tests that Money magazine used to give to average Americans..........and they consistently received grades of F on the test.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Daniel P. Smith on August 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The greatest value of this book is that it got me to "think outside the box" that has been built for me by decades of financial writers, employer 401(k) seminars, and retirement guides. It is a popular introduction to a new way of thinking about financial planning called "consumption smoothing," advocated in particular by BU professor Laurence Kotlikoff. I think almost everyone should read it. We are all sick from an overdose of the conventional wisdom and this book is therapeutic.

But I'm going to devote the rest of this review to knocking it.

It is a popular introduction. Too popular. The breeziness of the writing style goes beyond the Strunk and White's worst nightmare. Schticks like naming hypothetical characters "Bill and Hillary" or "Donald and Ivana" or "Dr. Ruth" annoy and distract me like the scraping of a fingernail on a blackboard. The book is replete with dialog like "I'm going to convert!" "You found Jesus?" "Not quite. I'm going to convert all my 403(b) money to a Roth IRA to save taxes." Ewwwwww!

What I take from this book is that our financial lives contain such unexpectedly complicated interactions that few decisions can be intuited or considered in isolation. For example, the financial aspects of a mortgage: the interest is deductible, but only if you itemize... and interest decreases with time while the standard deduction, being inflation-indexed, increases with time. So for many families, the tax savings on interest deductibility last for only a few years. But there are other complexities as well; by the time I finished the chapter on the tax and consumption-leveling implications of a mortgage, my head was spinning. I was glad that I paid off my mortgage long ago and don't need to think this stuff through.
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