Retirement planning is a task that often confuses, frightens, and intimidates us. When we think of what will and might occur after our employment years end, we wonder how we will manage and what kind of lifestyle we will be able to afford and maintain. We wonder what our health will be like when we retire, and how that will affect what we can do. We fear that it’s already too late and we’ve missed the opportunity to invest our savings to give us enough post-retirement funding.
Facing how our lifestyles are bound to change, we wonder if we have prepared ourselves for it. The questions asked and options supplied in Choose Your Retirement: Find the Right Path to Your New Adventure will help you plan what kind of retirement you want as well as figure out how to afford those plans.
Emily Guy Birken, author and respected personal finance writer, has written a book that details the discovery and understanding of the many choices and options available when approaching retirement. Detailed, and yet easy to understand and read, it covers almost every question and choice you can think of as well as including hundreds of real facts about actual retirement issues.
Choose Your Retirement will certainly appeal to those who are in their prime earning years and are in a mindset to consider and act on their retirement planning and investments. But this book will also speak to those just beginning their career journey as well as those who are already retired by making them aware of what they can do now to plan and adjust so they maximize this critical and “mysterious” time frame called retirement.
Part I, Clearing Your Path to Retirement, enables you to identify your feelings about money and speaks to the things that stand in your way of achieving your retirement goals. While many retirement planning books focus heavily on the nuts and bolts of saving and investing, the author devotes a portion of the book in consideration of your money mindset. Depending on your approach toward finances, there are different methods to improving your ability to plan and save. The role of psychology is often overlooked but in this case, you will find a wealth of information to guide you toward the approach that’s right for you. This goes beyond “I don’t save enough” to determining the real issues that are keeping you from adequately planning your retirement. You will also learn how the path to your retirement dreams is within your grasp once you truly define what it is you most value. According to Ms. Birken, “without defined values, it matters not how much or little money you have in the bank”. You need to know what your values-driven retirement will look like in order to plan for it and the book includes several worksheets to help you paint a picture for yourself as well as right-size your retirement to your resources.
In Part II, Debunking Retirement Myths, Ms. Birken reveals the many truths behind well-known retirement misconceptions surrounding income, Social Security and Medicare. A big part of the unexpected can be healthcare costs. While my wife and I are on Medicare, healthcare expenses are a huge part of our budget and have had an enormous impact on my own retirement. It’s important to plan for these possibilities and to be aware of what Medicare will and will not cover, if you don’t have retiree insurance from an employer. To expand on what is detailed in the book, if you have health conditions and/or take maintenance medications, you will probably need either Medicare supplemental insurance (aka a Medigap policy) or a Medicare Advantage plan. These policies may have a monthly premium attached, but without them, healthcare may become unaffordable. Understanding the reality behind the assumptions will help you understand and take the necessary steps to improve your personal retirement needs.
In Part III, Dream Big, you’ll find discussions of the many ways and alternatives you can choose as a retirement lifestyle and this is where the book really shines. How you spend your time in retirement should be an important part of your planning, and it’s something I addressed recently here on this blog. In the book, each chapter represents a different aspect of retirement and provides you with the questions and worksheets to figure out if it’s the right option for you. Those choices are varied and include everything from early retirement (Chapter 13) to travelling in retirement (Chapter 12) to working part-time in retirement (Chapter 16), and of course you don’t need to select just one. You see, it really is about your own unique choices. For example, while I’ve retired in place (Chapter 8), I’m also changing careers (Chapter 14) with my foray into personal finance blogging, and I’ve considered moving into a retirement community (Chapter 10). How you combine the various elements of where you live and how you spend your time formulates a unique retirement plan tailored to you.
Covering the what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s, and how’s, the so-called “golden years” we call retirement are shown not to be an end but rather a beginning. By following the author’s insights, your adventure can turn into the most fulfilling period of your life. This book will become a reference guide to retirement planning that you will turn to over and over again.
Choose Your Retirement: Find the Right Path to Your New Adventure is written by Emily Guy Birken, published by Adams Media, and is 256 pages. It is available for purchase in paperback as well as Kindle formats starting today.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to provide this review, but all opinions are my own.