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Retirement Game-Changers: Strategies for a Healthy, Financially Secure, and Fulfilling Long Life Paperback – June 24, 2018
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Paperback : 314 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0985384646
- ISBN-13 : 978-0985384647
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.71 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Rest-of-Life Communications (June 24, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is actually largely based on a research report that Vernon co-authored for the Society of Actuaries and the Stanford Longevity Center on retirement. You can go download those and read them for free. It isn't exactly the same: those are focused almost entirely on spending strategies in retirement, whereas this book covers a lot more ground.
Despite the title, this doesn't really offer any "game changers". That doesn't mean the book is bad. But if you've read pretty much any other retirement book, you are unlikely to find a lot of value here. Writing a book on retirement is challenging because "retirement" is such a broad topic that it is impossible to actually do it justice in a single volume. There's not just the financial side of things -- that's complicated enough -- but also all the softer topics like how a husband and wife will suddenly be spending 40+ extra hours together and that might cause friction. I'm less & less convinced that a book -- as opposed to some kind of interactive website -- is a good way to present the information around all of the complexities of retiring..
Entire books have been written on each of the chapters that Vernon provides. In some ways, that's the main strength of this book. None of its chapters really go into enough depth to be actionable. But each of them gives you an idea of the kinds of questions you need to answer and the research you need to do. If you think of this book less as "it will give me the answers" and more as "it will provide a roadmap" then it becomes more useful. Towards that end Vernon provides the best set of "go here to read more" references of any retirement book I'm familiar with.
But, again, that's really only going to be useful if this is the first retirement book you pick up.
I had some annoyances -- Vernon tries too hard to pretend that he's offering any game-changing advice here. Early on he tries to convince us retirements today are vastly longer than those of our grandparents. He abuses life expectancy statistics to claim that our retirement will be 30 years longer than our grandparents's retirement. That's clearly false, as the Social Security Administration data makes abundantly clear. In 1900, the average 65 year old man lived 11 more years. 100 years later, the average 65 year old man lived 15 years. An increase of just 4 years. Meanwhile, the retirement age has been pushed back from 65 to 67, so it is actually just an extra 2 years of retirement.
Likewise, the actual financial advice is the same thing financial advisors have been telling people for at least a decade. Defer Social Security as long as you can. Build a secure income floor. Put extra stuff in more risky investments. This is usually called the "floor and upside" strategy but Vernon invents new terminology ("retirement income generators") for the same concepts.
The biggest failure of the book is that none of the advice is detailed enough to really be actionable. Vernon says that if Social Security alone isn't enough we should consider buying an income annuity -- a SPIA. Okay. But when? At age 65? At age 70? How much of our assets should we use? 30%? 50%? Do we buy it all at once or do we ladder the purchases -- half at age 65 and half at age 70?
The same basic pattern repeats in nearly every chapter. We know there's a new topic we need to research but we don't know enough to make a decision based on this book. Ultimately, that makes the book pretty unsatisfying.
There are also a few gaps on topics that Vernon doesn't cover. He doesn't really discuss taxes or tax efficiency. This is an important topic, especially if you take his advice and defer Social Security until age 70. You'll have a few years with no income -- you'll be living entirely off of savings. That means you have the ability to do things like Roth conversions of tax gain harvesting while your income is near $0.
Despite the weaknesses, the references are very useful for someone getting started on researching all of this.
However, after all of the excellent information, resources for more study and anecdotes, what absolutely comes across is the author’s passion for educating his readers on the importance of planning now – in many areas beyond the financial – for finding happiness in retirement. That press of optimism, when coupled with his expertise, yields a book useful as both a practical retirement planner and a call to seek out personal contentment when one’s career has finally ended.