Retire Smart: Give A Gift of New Ideas on Retirement
Sunday, January 16, 2011

By Mark Miller
Tribune Media Services

The word retirement needs reinvention, especially in our post-crash economy.

For the huge generation of baby boomers now approaching the traditional retirement years, achieving security will depend on working longer-often in new careers. We'll also need to reexamine our traditional notions about investing and spending.

For anyone approaching this profound life transition, the first challenge is one of orientation-where to start. Here's my holiday season roundup of favorite books on re-thinking retirement. Any one of them will make a great addition to your gift list.

"Shock of Gray" (Scribner, 2010). When we talk about retirement and aging, the discussion often focuses on the nuts and bolts of finance and policy. But Ted Fishman is a big picture writer who possesses a deep understanding of global economic and social trends. In "Shock of Gray," he explains how the global aging phenomenon will drive globalization and immigration patterns in the years ahead, and determine the economic destiny of nations. "Shock of Gray" grew out of the work Fishman did for his first book, the New York Times bestseller "China Inc." (Scribner).

"What's Next: Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job" (Chronicle Books, 2010). Journalist Kerry Hannon specializes in careers, retirement and personal finance. For "What's Next," she traveled the country interviewing people who've made successful midlife career transitions, often into very colorful and happy new lives. This is an indispensable guide to anyone aiming to pull off a midlife reinvention.

"What Color is your Parachute-For Retirement?" (Ten Speed Press, 2007) John Nelson co-authored this retirement guide with Richard Bolles, who wrote the best-selling career books ever published under the "Parachute" banner. Their retirement book was re-issued this year in a revised and enhanced second edition. It's one of the most thoughtful, valuable retirement books around, and includes a specific Retirement Well-Being Model that can help you make a plan.

"Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life" (Public Affairs, 2008). Marc Freedman is one of the country's leading thinkers on how Americans can redefine the second half of life with a sense of social and individual renewal. The non-profit group he leads, Civic Ventures, is in the forefront of the encore career movement - the idea that older adults can blaze new career trails that can transform the country. Freedman's book explains what it's all about by telling stories about people on the front lines of the movement.

Also keep an eye out for Freedman's new book next spring, "The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage between Midlife and Old Age" (Public Affairs).

"Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years." Steve Vernon is a respected retirement educator and a blogger for CBS MoneyWatch, and one of the straightest shooters in the field of retirement advice. He's a former actuary and consultant to big companies who now devotes his efforts to helping average Americans learn to build retirement security for the long run. This self-published short volume describes 10 steps to retirement security, such as protecting against catastrophic risk, maximizing Social Security and adjusting your thinking about living expenses. Buy it from Steve's website:

 "Stop the Retirement Rip-off: How to Avoid Hidden Fees and Keep More of Your Money" (John Wiley and Sons, 2009). A growing body of research-and regulatory trends-suggests that the fees charged by mutual funds are the most important predictor of investor success. And expenses are an especially big problem confronting investors in workplace retirement accounts. Author and investment advisor David Loeper has been sounding the alarm bell on this issue for years; this terrific book narrates Loeper's quest to understand the fees in his own money management firm's small 401(k) plan. Then, he explains how the average investor can get to the bottom of workplace plan fees and do something about them.

"The New Frugality" (Bloomsbury Press, 2009). Chris Farrell, the economics editor for public radio's "Marketplace Money," thinks the Great Recession has ushered in some very healthy changes in our consumer behavior and personal financial habits. In "The New Frugality," he explains how the debt-and-consumption driven '90s is giving way to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Farrell says the new spending ethos will be based on values that are good for pocketbooks and for the environment. The core of his argument is that a conservative approach to consumerism leads to green decision-making, such as downsizing your home, using energy-efficient appliances, recycling and using public transportation instead of cars.

(Mark Miller is the author of "The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living" (John Wiley & Sons/Bloomberg Press, June 2010). He publishes, featured recently in Money Magazine as one of the best retirement planning sites on the web. Contact him with questions and comments at:




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