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Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well Paperback – January 1, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Warner, attorney and founder of Nolo, the do-it-yourself legal publisher, has written a unique retirement guide which, despite its title, focuses on non-financial issues as well as the traditional retirement concerns. The book also includes conversations with notable people who have led productive "retirement" lives, including environmental activist and writer Ernest Callenbach and mathematician Arthur Levenson. By focusing on important concerns such as broadening circles of friends, relying on one's extended family, turning to hobbies and nonwork activities, the book will help readers gain a healthier perspective on retirement. The sections on friendship and love are particularly compelling. The chapters on specific financial planning are not as complete as readers might want; for example, there's only one brief chapter that explains how investments work. Warner can also be something of a contrarian in his financial advice. He maintains that experts who say people need roughly 80% of their pre-retirement income are wrong. In addition, Warner says (arguably) that the Social Security system is not actually in precarious shape and will be around for many years to come. Still this is one of the freshest and most practical approaches to retirement planning in a long time.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Money for retirement doesn't matter? Well, not exactly. Warner puts a different spin on how to prepare for retirement by recognizing that a sensible savings plan is important, but the real keys to successful retirement are good health, spiritual life, relationships with family and friends, and having interesting things to do. His mission in this book is to identify the habits and life-style choices that set zestful people apart from those who spend their last years bored, lonely, and depressed. He reveals that there is often a direct connection between mid-life obsession with work and saving and an unhappy retirement. He has developed a thoughtful catalog of retirement activities and options that are worth reviewing; and he makes recommendations on the financial aspects of retirement by offering advice to "the savvy peasant," someone he identifies as being too busy to spend time on Wall Street "gobbledygook" but having more than enough financial smarts to invest money wisely and get rich slowly but surely. Mary Whaley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NOLO; 5 edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1413300847
  • ISBN-13: 978-1413300840
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Lozar on February 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
As someone who will probably retire within the next dozen years, I was beginning to wonder whether the doom-sayers were right: I don't have a million bucks in savings or a fat stock portfolio, so was I being foolhardy in assuming that I'd have enough to live on comfortably in my old age? This book was tremendously reassuring. Some of the author's main points are: (1) The difference between a happy, fulfilling retirement and "waiting for the undertaker" is not money but quality of life -- family, friends, good health, and meaningful activities that give you a reason to get up in the morning. (2) It's possible to estimate fairly accurately how much money you'll need to live on after you retire, and in most cases it's nowhere near the "70% of your present income" that the doom-sayers insist that you need to maintain your present lifestyle. (3) The loudest doom-sayers are the ones who are trying to sell you retirement plans! The author tells readers how to access a free set of "retirement calculators" on the Nolo Press web site to assist them in financial planning, and that alone is worth the price of the book. But what really "made" the book for me was his many interviews with happily retired people from all sorts of backgrounds and economic levels -- just reading about them was a real upper. There are plenty of books on how to provide for your retirement financially, but this is the only one I know of that adequately addresses the REST of your life. Read it!!
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By A Customer on August 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks about retirement, from those just starting out in their 20's and 30's to those nearing retirement. The book is a refreshing, contrarian view to the conventional wisdom of "save tons of money for retirement", "you'll need 70-100% of your current income in retirement", etc., etc., etc. The traditional retirement literature is focused almost exclusively on money, with which Warner takes exception.
Warner's focus is on the whole person - he makes a very compelling argument that money is a FACTOR in a good retirement, but that it is also important to cultivate health, outside interests, friendships and family. He believes these latter factors have a FAR greater influence on a successful retirement than money. He bases this viewpoint on research among those enjoying active, successful retirements.
Warner is not a Pollyanna, saying not to even think about retirement savings (as some critics seem to suggest). The book contains some common sense ideas on savings and admits that having SOME money may help. Warner's point, however, is that money alone isn't going to make you have a successful retirement if you neglected your family, friends, outside interests, spirituality and health in order to get the money.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who ever thinks about retirement. You may not agree with the proposition, but the book will really help expand your view of the elements of a good retirement and may help you plan a more enjoyable life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first retirement planning book I've ever read that realistically addresses how much money you really need to save for the lifestyle you want. I now realize that I don't need to save millions, that my current saving plan is perfectly adequate for the lifestyle I want. I can relax, enjoy my life and family, and work on retaining my health.
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By Mike on December 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
My wife and I are preparing for retirement in our mid-fifties -- twelve years from now. (Yes, we like to start planning early.) The title and summary on Amazon intrigued me so I purchased this one along with some other books that specialize in the non-financial aspects of retirement. This book was the best we found. Well written and enjoyable, I strongly recommend this for any who is looking for non-financial retirement advice. (The financial aspects of the book are adequate but far from unique -- strictly a good overview -- and I wasn't looking for financial advice).
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Format: Paperback
As a Certified Financial Planner, I recommend this book to many of my clients who are seriously planning their retirements. Warner has done a great job putting things in the proper perspective with a book that is an "easy read". While adequate money is important to a satisfactory retirement (and helping clients build a satisfactory net worth is how I make my living), I do find, as has Warner, that there are more important things such as health, friends, and a purpose (i.e., reasons to get up in the morning) when it comes to planning out one's retirement. I frequently ask clients what they plan to do when they retire. When they say "go fishing" or "play golf", I then ask them what they plan to do the second week/month/year. And I keep asking the question until they realize that its a serious one. Warner takes it further with discussion and clear examples. In short, a must read for anyone approaching retirement.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to admit I would have been far more skeptical about the points made in this book if I hadn't seen people already living on far less than a million dollars...and doing just fine.

One lived independently for years (admittedly, not on a champagne and caviar budget, but not poorly,either) and then moved into a nursing home, all expenses paid. This person is happy. Health costs have not driven that person to poverty and the medical care is just fine.

Another friend lives modestly but has family and friends nearby, an active social life and lives in a lovely Arts and Crafts style bungalow, bought for a modest amount and very tastefully decorated. She lives (as this book suggests) a life full of meaningful activities, many of them free, some of them volunteer work, some of them low-cost or free programs such as concerts in the parks or nature programs or lectures. Again, not an expensive lifestyle.. but fully satisfying.

ONE SUGGESTION: If you read this book, it is quite possible that you can start NOW to learn to live on far less money than you may be spending mindlessly today - and not feel deprived. If you do that, of course, you may save even more for your later years, when health issues and other concerns may impact your finances in a less predictable manner than today.

In any case, this is a refreshing change from the books which promote worry and anxiety about not being able to afford retirement. This book advocates finding a happy medium, neither advocating a "no savings" plan or needless worry and obsessions about the future and doomsday scenarios.
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