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Can I Retire?: How Much Money You Need to Retire and How to Manage Your Retirement Savings, Explained in 100 Pages or Less Paperback – May 13, 2013
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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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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.
My honest opinion: not nearly enough young people take the time to really learn about this asset of theirs: many just blindly throw money in to an retirement account at their place of business - or worse - some people don't start thinking about until it's two late, and most of these people are forced to work until the day they die.
This book taught me a lot of basic things I needed to know, and it inspired me to manage my money today and put as much money in to my retirement account as I can. My full contribution, employer's match included, is now 20%. And I may raise that number in the future if I find a surplus in my budgeting.
Understand, "100 pages or less" won't tell you absolutely everything. But it makes an excellent primer or introduction to the world of retirement planning.