Thinking About Retirement? Start with a Book

If you are over 50, you are probably starting to think seriously about retirement – the when, where, how of it. Fortunately, over the last decade, many informative books have been written that help us grapple with the tough questions we all have. There are so many out there that it would be impossible for me to capture them all in this blog, but I want to give a shout out to some of my favorites and tell you why I picked them. 

Great retirement reading – SZG

The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to The Rest of Your Life, by Jan Cullinane and Cathy Fitzgerald.

This one is actually a little more than a decade old, but it still has great relevance for boomers. The authors were some of the first to write about retirement and they did a fine job of dissecting a successful retirement and chronicling the stumbling blocks to be avoided. They make many of their points by including stories––of people who have been successful with their retirement strategies and some who have not.

One of the unique qualities of this book is the amount of space the authors devote to discussing the pros and cons of different retirement locations. They include information on the top U.S. locations for retirees and included their personal research on these locations, which adds a lot of color to their descriptions.

In addition to the location chapter, Cullinane and Fitzgerald discuss the challenges of reprogramming your time allocations, making your money last as long as you do, and a discussion of the tax implications of retirement.

The Roadmap to 100, by Walter Bortz, M.D.

Bortz is a well-respected geriatrician and faculty emeritus at Stanford University. He has been writing and lecturing about healthy aging for several decades. He is also a marathoner in his 80s and believes passionately in staying active and exercising our heart and other muscles every day. His book, however, is not limited to the physical side of aging healthfully. He shares his wisdom and experience with the psychological side of the transition––from someone who has been there.

Roadmap to 100 is a well-documented prescription for how to feed and care for our aging bodies in a way that will keep us functioning at peak capacity well beyond the age expectations of previous generations. Bortz is a great motivator for putting together a later-life diet and exercise program that will keep aging bodies healthy and moving.

Project Renewment, by Helen Dennis and Bernice Bratter

This is a book written especially for women and it was one of the first books to address womens’ retirement issues. The writing was a collaborative effort and draws on the experiences of not just the authors, but many women who participated (and in some cases are still participating) in “Renewment Groups.”

The first part of the book is a series of short, thought-provoking essays that stimulate thinking in a variety of areas. Each essay is followed by questions that help the reader go deeper into their own psyche to unearth personal fears and questions about this stage of life. The questions also lead to discovery, goal setting, and clarifying a vision for the future. Some of my favorites are “Is Busy Better?” “Forever Guilty,” and “A Sorority House, Not a Nursing Home.” All of the essays are built on the wisdom gleaned by the authors from the women in the Project Renewment groups.

The second, and much shorter, part of the book is a guide to creating a Renewment group. Here the authors recommend ways to find potential members, offer a guide to running effective meetings, and talk about their own experience in keeping their Renewment groups functional and meaningful for years.

The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle, but Roberta Taylor and Dorian Mintzer

This is go-to book for my married clients, especially if I am working with them as a couple. In the late 1960s Maryon Pearson, the wife of the Canadian prime minister, uttered the following words when asked about her husband’s retirement: “I married him for better or worse; I didn’t marry him for lunch!” It resonated with a lot of women and the expression took on a life of its own and is still used today. I have found that one of the toughest dilemmas to resolve around retirement is when a couple disagrees with each other about what retirement should look like, when it should start, or where to enjoy it. This book is terrific at helping couples sort out those differences. The authors are both therapists and their years of experience and wisdom shines through in this work.

The book is structured around what Taylor and Mintzer call the “ten must-have conversations” about retirement. Through those ten conversations, the authors cover money, changing roles, time together versus time apart, relationship with family, health and wellness, where to live, and other areas where discord may brew. Ultimately, they guide their readers toward planning together and creating a shared vision.

Navigating Your Later Years for Dummies, by Carol Levine

Yes, it’s part of the Dummies series and it’s VERY comprehensive. AARP co-branded this 2018 release and I reviewed it when it first came out.  I’m not a big fan of the Dummies series of books––too dense and choppy–– but I thought this one was quite readable. Unlike the other books I am recommending, this one is not as much about retirement as it is about aging. The focus is on making solid decisions about whether to stay or move, doing the necessary legal and financial planning, managing health care, deciphering the rules around Medicare and Medicaid, and how and where to receive caregiving. It is rich with resources and state-by-state information. This is an excellent source book on just about everything imaginable related to navigating our later years.    

Books can give you a huge head start on making good plans for an enjoyable, satisfying life after 60. You aren’t the first person to have questions about later life and these author-experts can be an excellent introduction to the retirement and aging arena. It also helps to engage a retirement coach. He or she will help you wade through the mountain of resources we now have for understanding our future and help you make good decisions about all the issues raised in these books. 

By Dr. Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D., CRC

Read more from Sara by purchasing her book : Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.  

Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D., CRD, a preeminent retirement and aging expert offers a revolutionary guide to second and even third acts for aging generations that are single, divorced, childless or who live a long distance from family.

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