Monday, June 14, 2010

Retirement: Myth or Reality?

My friend Evan (also a journalist) and I were talking the other day about retirement over a nice tall glass of Bluecoat Gin and tonic. Or, shall I say, the fading concept of retirement.

We somehow got on the topic of how the opportunity simply won't exist for us when we reach and surpass what's traditionally been the benchmark for retirement: 65. He and I both have parents still working past traditional retirement age, and our own working future stretches out beyond that.
Already, my Social Security statement tells me my retirement age is 70. By the time I get there, I expect that number will have crept upward.

On that happy note, Author Gregory Salsbury has written a book, "Retirementology," in which he encourages us to make sound financial choices now - no matter how far off or impossible the idea of retirement may seem.

That is just one of the three new personal finance books the Associated Press has provided brief reviews of here:

Bookshelf: Bee wisdom, retirementology

The Associated Press

Forget Harvard or Wharton. For author Michael O'Malley, the inner workings of beehives can teach managers everything necessary about running an efficient organization.

In "The Wisdom of Bees," O'Malley takes the habits of honeybees and shows readers how they're relevant to the business world.

Another new title, "Retirementology: Rethinking the American Dream in a New Economy," gives readers small financial challenges to engage them in preparing for life after work. "Your Money, The Missing Manual" is a compendium of personal finance tips and guidance.

The new titles:

TITLE: Retirementology: Rethinking the American Dream in a New Economy
AUTHOR: Gregory Salsbury
PRICE: $19.99 (paperback)

SUMMARY: The author, a financial services industry veteran, had the idea to write about applying behavioral economics to retirement planning. Then came the 2008 market meltdown, making the concept even more timely.

"Retirementology" delves into the importance of understanding our counterproductive financial behavior and making wise decisions about money at a time when the consequences of failing to do so can be dire.

The book touches all the bases of retirement issues and invites the reader to actively participate in each chapter, asking lots of questions and presenting various scenarios to choose from. Salsbury issues educational challenges to the reader, such as to put away their debit cards and checkbook and spend only cash for a week to get a grip on how much they're spending.

Advice ranges from the basics to things that might surprise some, such as declaring that taxation is emerging as the single largest financial challenge for boomers. This means it's particularly important to factor the impact of taxes into retirement planning.

It's presented in a brightly written style that includes a collection of clever made-up terms, from the title itself to "ohnosis" (realizing that you should have started planning for retirement years ago) to "retirewent" (what happened to the retirement hopes and dreams of Americans after the meltdown).

QUOTE: "Retirement isn't a single event — spending in your 20s, 30s and 70s has an impact on your retirement. Further, retirement isn't isolated — what you spend on a vacation or car may impact your retirement later."

—Dave Carpenter

TITLE: The Wisdom of Bees: What the Hive Can Teach Business about Leadership, Efficiency, and Growth
AUTHOR: Michael O'Malley
PRICE: $22.95

SUMMARY: Beehives are apparently teeming with life lessons. Coincidentally, it turns out many of those lessons are well-established principles of good management.
For example, one chapter deals with the importance of judging workers on merit rather than letting personal biases get in the way. Another chapter discusses the benefits of delegating authority.

Because the books' 25 lessons are illustrated through honeybees, however, even seasoned managers may find the book to be a unique refresher. At the very least, it is sprinkled with interesting tidbits about the habits of honeybees. The author, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, is also a beekeeper.

QUOTE: "As you look for ways to improve your organization, it would not be outlandish to take a step back and ask yourself, What would a bee do?"
PUBLISHER: Portfolio
—Candice Choi

TITLE: Your Money, The Missing Manual
PRICE: $21.99 (paperback)

SUMMARY: The founder of the website explains it all, starting with the principle that the mental part of money is just as important as the math.
In the first of three sections, author J.D. Roth explores the connection between wealth and happiness. He advocates "conscious spending," or choosing what to spend money on carefully to make sure it aligns with goals and values.

But it's not all about feel-good concepts. He goes on to offer advice on how to budget and stick to it; how to get out of debt and establish an emergency fund; and how to save on necessities such as utilities, medical care and drugs. There are tips on earning money, including how to negotiate a raise and the pros and cons of working for yourself.

Roth devotes the final section to investing, retirement and a chapter called "Friends and Family," with advice on how to deal with money issues linked to the ones you love. And the author doesn't claim to have all the answers: throughout the easy-to-read book there are notes about websites and other books for further reading.

QUOTE: "Even though there aren't any big corporations to sing its praises, frugality is an important part of personal finance. Packing a sack lunch may only save you a buck or two each day, but when you make many small changes over months and years, they really add up."

PUBLISHER: O'Reilly Media
— Eileen AJ Connelly


Anonymous said...

"A" glass of Bluecoat and tonic?
Just one?

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