Diminishing Risks to Retirement Financial Security by Taking SS at 70
Neoliberal Attacks on Social Security notwithstanding, one important risk is large time horizon during which you need support from your investments.
There is one way to make this time period shorter: to continue part time working till 70 and take
Social Security at the age of 70. In this case you need modest savings with total sum that is know in
advance. Which is realistic to save even if you lose your job at age of 60. From this moment and
until 70 you can rely on you saving plus part time job. At 70 you will get max possible Social security
check (and half for your spouse, if you have one) which provide modest standard of living even if you
do have personal savings at all.
Let's assume that you need to support yourself for 10 years period and your supplementary income
is just $12K. Assuming 3% interest in this case you need something like $530 to to get to 70 with total
$72K annual income.
Moreover this supplementary income permits some of us to realize untapped in regular work potential.
So this not only about maximizing the Social Security pension.
People do miss their jobs - even jobs they hated. I have never seen statistics,
but my experience suggests at least 50% of those who quit without another job regretted the decision.
One discussion list posted a note from a 40-something woman who had chosen enjoyable, low-paying
jobs in the personal growth field. Now she was ready to move on, with no nest egg to fund a career transition.
Couples have two key claiming strategies to boost the power of the spousal
benefit, which is worth up to 50% of a spouse's monthly benefit. One is called
"file and suspend," in which the higher earner immediately suspends his benefit so
the lower earner can take a spousal benefit. The other is known as "restricting an
application," in which the higher earner files for a spousal benefit, even though
his own benefit is larger.
SEE ALSO: 9 Worst Social Security Mistakes You Can Make
Both strategies enable a beneficiary to
delay his own retirement benefit, allowing it to earn 8% annual delayed retirement
credits until age 70. To use these strategies, a beneficiary must be full
With these strategies, couples can get the best of both worlds. "You get some
income in your sixties and you let the higher earner's benefit grow to the
maximum," says Judith Ward, senior financial planner for T. Rowe Price.
A major goal is to maximize the higher earner's benefit. If the higher earner
dies first, the lower earner will qualify for a survivor benefit worth up to 100%
of the higher earner's benefit. But it doesn't really matter which spouse dies
first, because the higher earner's benefit "will last until the second spouse
dies," says William Reichenstein, a professor of finance at Baylor University, in
Waco, Tex., and a principal of consulting firm Social Security Solutions.
The difference between the size of the couple's benefits is key in determining
which spouse takes what benefit when. "The amount of the benefit itself and who's
the higher earner matter," Ward says. Even a few dollars' difference in benefit
amounts between the two spouses can be important over the long term.
When to Employ Which Strategy
We asked Reichenstein to run the numbers for three hypothetical couples to show
the different ways the spousal benefit can be used to maximize lifetime benefits.
In each case, the higher earner is delaying his benefit until 70, and the
lower-earning spouse is waiting until full retirement age to claim the spousal
benefit. (If she claims before full retirement age, the benefit will be less than
50% of the other spouse's benefit.)
The spouses in each hypothetical couple are the same age. The wives are
expected to live to 90, while the husbands are expected to live to 85. We assume
the husbands are the higher earners, each with a full retirement age benefit of
$2,200. The wives' full retirement age benefits vary. (Results could change if the
spouses are not the same age.)
Disparate earners. In this case, the wife's full benefit is
$500. Couples whose benefits differ widely have a relatively easy claiming
decision. If the low earner has little or no earnings, the higher earner can file
and suspend, says Thomas Wiggins, a certified financial planner with Rehmann
Financial, in Farmington Hills, Mich.
A spouse can't claim a spousal benefit until the other spouse claims his. With
this strategy, the higher earner files for his benefit and then suspends it. That
enables the lower earner to claim a spousal benefit. And by suspending, the higher
earner can allow his own benefit to grow until he collects it later -- perhaps at
Avoid These Costly Social
Security Mistakes Play video
This is the best strategy for this couple, Reichenstein says, because the
wife's spousal benefit of $1,100 is much larger than her own retirement benefit.
Even if she delayed her own benefit until age 70, it would only be $660. The
strategy also provides the couple with $350 more per month between the ages of 66
and 70 than if the wife had claimed her own $500 benefit and the husband had
restricted his application to get a $250 spousal benefit.
At age 70, the husband will get $2,904 (plus cost-of-living adjustments) --
$704 more than if he had claimed his own benefit at 66 without suspending. And the
wife will continue getting her $1,100 spousal benefit.
Unequal earners. In this
scenario, the wife's full benefit is $1,000. As the gap between benefit amounts
shrinks, the best strategy is not clear-cut. It's critical to calculate all
Say the wife claims her $1,000 benefit and
the husband files a restricted application to receive a $500 spousal benefit. That
gives the couple $1,500 a month. At age 70, the husband takes his boosted benefit
of $2,904, and she switches to a spousal benefit of $1,100, for a total of $4,004
But Reichenstein says the couple can do better with another strategy. At age
66, the husband files and suspends his benefit. The wife restricts her application
to a spousal benefit, enabling her own benefit to grow. (If she had simply claimed
a spousal benefit without restricting her application, she would not be able to
allow her own benefit to grow.) They will get $400 less a month for the first four
years. But the couple ends up doing better, Reichenstein says, because the wife
"can grow her own benefit past her spousal benefit."
Social Security Strategies
for Widows and Widowers Play video
At age 70, both spouses switch to their delayed benefits -- hers of $1,320 a
month and his at $2,904. That gives them a total monthly benefit of $4,224. This
strategy increases the couple's total lifetime benefits by $20,400. The lesson:
Couples should consider this route if the lower earner's benefit with delayed
retirement credits exceeds her spousal benefit, Reichenstein says.
Equal earners. In this case, the wife's full benefit is
$2,000. For couples with a narrow benefit gap, the best strategy may be for both
spouses to delay their benefits, with one spouse restricting an application to a
spousal benefit at full retirement age. Since both spouses in this case are the
same age, the one receiving the higher spousal benefit should file a restricted
The husband files and suspends his benefit. The wife files a restricted
application for a spousal benefit of $1,100 a month. That will give the couple
$52,800 for the four years they have to wait to switch to their boosted benefits.
At age 70, he switches to his boosted benefit of $2,904 and she steps up to her
delayed benefit of $2,640. That gives them $5,544 a month.
When deciding how to best employ the spousal benefit, consider using online
tools to run the numbers. One tool is T. Rowe Price's free Social Security
Benefits Evaluator (www.troweprice.com/socialsecurity).
For more personalized help, you can use a paid service such as Reichenstein's
Social Security Solutions (www.socialsecuritysolutions.com).
May 04, 2015
... ... ...
Deji Akintoye: Figuring out how much you need to accumulate gets
to the heart of the matter: the dollar amount you'll need to "afford"
... ... ...
By looking at a few factors (including your age, the amount you save, and
your anticipated rate of return), you can
project whether you're on track to meet your savings goals.
is to set realistic expectations for retirement and create a plan.
... ... ...
Kahlilah Dowe: I've heard people say that retirement starts to
seem "real" when it's about 5 years away. This can be a good time to think
how much income you'll need to make your vision of retirement a reality.
... If your portfolio will be your primary income source, it may be smart
to invest more conservatively to preserve the value of your portfolio.
focus on your asset mix. The level of risk you take on should correspond
with how much your investment portfolio will have to shoulder the weight of
supporting your daily living expenses in retirement.
... ... ...
Jane Simpson: For some investors, retirement means transitioning
to a life of relaxing and spending-from a life of working and saving. In the
midst of the transition, consider how your lifestyle changes can potentially
impact your finances.
Using projected fixed expenses (costs that are the same
every month) and discretionary expenses (costs that cover wants rather than
needs), come up with a
spending strategy to balance your expectations with your limitations.
Although it's prudent to plan ahead, it's also necessary to remain
financially flexible-you can make a plan based on what you know right now,
but you have to monitor your actual spending and make adjustments as needed.
I encourage all newly retired clients to remember that the first few years
of retirement are often about fulfilling lifelong dreams (like relocating or
taking a trip of a lifetime), so it's unlikely that subsequent years of
retirement will include the same expenses. It's okay to take some time to
figure it out.
Julie Edwards: About 5 years after you retire, consider asking
yourself whether or not retirement is what you thought it would be. Compare
the vision you had for retirement with the reality of being retired. But
before you place the blame on your finances for any unmet expectations,
review your budget. Is your spending on track?
If you're overspending, you can either supplement your income (by getting
a job) or reduce your expenses. Because you're on a fixed income, it's a
good idea to periodically review your discretionary expenses and potentially
give up or cut back on a membership, an activity, or a recurring expense
that isn't crucial to your happiness.
... ... ....
Even if you have never been subjected to an investment fraudster's sales pitch, you probably know
someone who has. Following the legendary Willie Sutton principle, fraudsters tend to go "where the
money is"-and that means targeting older Americans who are nearing or already in retirement.
Financial fraudsters tend to go after people who are college-educated, optimistic and self-reliant.
They also target those with higher incomes and financial knowledge, and have had a recent health
or financial change. If you believe you've been defrauded or treated unfairly by a securities professional
or firm, file a complaint. If you suspect
that someone you know has been taken in by a scam,
send a tip.
To entice you to invest, fraudsters use high pressure and a number of "tricks of the trade."
Here are some common tactics:
- The "Phantom Riches" Tactic-dangling the prospect of wealth, enticing you
with something you want but can't have. "These gas wells are guaranteed to produce $6,800 a month
- The "Source Credibility" Tactic-trying to build credibility by claiming to
be with a reputable firm or to have a special credential or experience. "Believe me, as a senior
vice president of XYZ Firm, I would never sell an investment that doesn't produce."
- The "Social Consensus" Tactic-leading you to believe that other savvy investors
have already invested. "This is how ___ got his start. I know it's a lot of money, but I'm in-and
so is my mom and half her church-and it's worth every dime."
- The "Reciprocity" Tactic-offering to do a small favor for you in return for
a big favor. "I'll give you a break on my commission if you buy now-half off."
- The "Scarcity" Tactic-creating a false sense of urgency by claiming limited
supply. "There are only two units left, so I'd sign today if I were you."
Protect yourself with these strategies:
- End the conversation. Practice saying "No." Simply say, "I'm sorry, I'm not
interested. Thank you." Let them know you'll think about it and get back to them. Have an exit
strategy so you can leave the conversation if the pressure rises.
- Turn the tables and ask questions. Before you give out information about
ask and check.
- Talk to someone before investing. Be extremely skeptical if the salesperson
says, "Don't tell anyone else about this special deal!" A legitimate professional will not ask
you to keep secrets. Even if the seller and the investment are registered, discuss your decision
first with a family member, investment professional, lawyer or accountant.
- Take your name off solicitation lists. To reduce the number of sales pitches
you receive, use the Federal Trade Commission's
National Do Not Call Registry.
FINRA offers an array of information and resources to help you outsmart investment fraud.
- Red Flags of Fraud
Knowing the important warning signs of financial fraud puts you in charge.
Ask and Check
Ask the right questions and verify the answers before you work with an investment professional
or buy an investment product.
Pressure Cost One Family $30,000
It's often hard to resist an investment tip from someone in your social circle. Before
handing over any money, you need to check out the investment and the person selling it.
- Spot a Scam
in 6 Steps
Financial fraudsters use sophisticated and effective tactics to get people to part with their
money. Here are six steps you can take to help you spot an investment scam.
- Investor Alerts
Don't be taken in by these frauds and scams. Learn how to protect yourself and your money.
- Risk Meter
Use our Risk Meter to see whether you share characteristics and behavior traits that have been
shown to make some investors vulnerable to investment fraud.
- Scam Meter
In just four questions our Scam Meter will help you tell if an investment you are thinking about
might be a scam.
Level of corruption of the system is just staggering...
From the event at the Philadelphia Fed on April 17th, 2013 (04/17/2013) conference segment "Fixing
the Banking System for Good" .
This is probably the only reasonable way to buy annuity; otherwise you can emulate annuity by putting
the savings in Roth account and investing in mixture of Tips and junks bonds portfolio.
The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has just released a new study
that shows that the best way for people to turn their 401(k) balances into a stream of income is
to "buy" an
annuity from Social Security. Many people don't recognize that Social Security is in the annuity
business, but it is and it has the cheapest product in town.
As more people approach retirement with 401(k) plans as their only supplement to Social Security,
they face the challenge of how best to use their accumulated 401(k) assets to support themselves
once they stop working. They could invest in safe assets and try to live off the interest, but the
value of the assets would erode as prices rise and interest income would fluctuate as nominal interest
rates rise and fall. They could invest in a portfolio of stocks and bonds and draw out some percent
each month, but to avoid outliving their assets that draw is now about 3 percent. They could take
some of their money to an insurance company and buy an annuity, but commercial annuities tend to
be expensive because they are designed for people with above-average life expectancy and involve
considerable marketing costs.
[Related: What's a Realistic Retirement Age?]
A much better alternative is for the household to "buy" an annuity from Social Security. They can
make this "purchase" by using their savings to pay current expenses and delaying claiming to get
a higher monthly benefit at an older age. The savings used is the "price" and the increase in monthly
benefits is the annuity it "buys."
For example, consider a retiree who could claim $12,000 a year at age 65 and $12,860 at age 66 –
$860 more. If he delays claiming for a year and uses $12,860 from savings to pay the bills that
year, $12,860 is the price of the extra $860 annuity income. The annuity rate – the additional
annuity income as a percent of the purchase price – would be 6.7 percent ($860/$12,860). Remember
that Social Security benefits are indexed for inflation, so the retiree is buying a real annuity.
Vanguard – a wonderful company – also sells real annuities but it pays much lower rates.
The reason that Social Security annuities are a better deal than those in the private market is
that Social Security can offer a product that is actuarially fair – they are based on the life expectancy
of the average person (not those people whose parents lived into their 90s) and Social Security
doesn't have to worry about marketing costs or profits. Moreover, in this period of very low rates,
Social Security is an especially good deal because the increase in benefits is not based on current
rates but rather is a basic feature of the system. So buying an annuity from Social Security, especially
in today's low interest rate environment, is the best deal in town.
So read the
study and tell your friends with some 401(k) assets to use them to delay claiming their Social
Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, is a weekly
contributor to "Encore.
Way too simplistic. People are social animals, and organizations are our herd. It's tough to be
outside the herd. But if the current workplace is a hell it is your duty to survive and espcape.
Creating a war chest early to survive possibly long (a year or more) period of unemployment is a must.
And if frugality is the price, so be it.
TOP 500 REVIEWER
working is not always joyful April 29, 2007
Believe it or not, I have the soul of a lazy person. I have enjoyed time off from 6 weeks to
a year. I've enjoyed freedom in my work, especially now. So I totally understand the joy of
Zelinski's book has many things going for it. For example:
(a) Too many of us are workaholics.
(b) We need structure, purpose and a sense of community, with or without a job.
(c) Work smart, not hard ("peak performance").
(d) The checklist on page 54 can be a wake-up call.
(e) We can gain several hours a week if we give up television.
But as a career consultant I am concerned about the book's core advice. Page 55:
"The first day your job does not nourish and enthuse you is the day you should consider leaving.
Indeed, I advise you to quit." --[That's simply stupid,
ridiculous advice, that discredit the author -- NNB]
Pretty strong stuff! In my experience, few jobs provide daily nourishment and enthusiasm
every day or even every week. I would say, "If you've outgrown your job, begin a search for
alternatives. Don't do anything until you have a plan."
People do miss their jobs - even jobs they hated. I have never
seen statistics, but my experience suggests at least 50% of those who quit without another job
regretted the decision. One discussion list posted a note from a 40-something
woman who had chosen enjoyable, low-paying jobs in the personal growth field. Now she was ready
to move on, with no nest egg to fund a career transition.
Job dissatisfaction actually can be a misleading signal. Many
people who seek a career change actually need to relocate geographically or work on relationships.
My biggest criticism of the book is the potentially misleading presentation of information.
For example, the author mentions "a research study conducted in 2001 by Florida's Nova Southeastern
University" which found that over 38% of stockbrokers making $300,000 - $1,000,000 suffered
from "subclinical depression" while 28% reported "clinical depression." (Overlap? Additional?
We're not told.)
Most studies are conducted by individual researchers, not universities or even departments.
The author does not cite his source or indicate whether this study was actually published in
a reputable peer-reviewed journal.
How was this sample of brokers chosen? What methods were used to assess "subclinical depression"
or "clinical depression?" Was the depression long-term or situational? Was this study carried
out in 2001 before or after 9/11? Where's the cause and effect: does the field attract individuals
with a propensity to depression?
Other studies are mentioned but not cited or described in detail. For the Schnore study of
retirees, I'd want to know how their satisfaction was reported and tested.
Additionally, throughout the book, Zelinski presents letters from readers. He seems to suggest
that, "If these folks can do it, you can too."
But nearly all his examples come from people who took only the very first step: quitting
or deciding to retire. On page 96, Zelinski writes, "Perhaps you will [say]...married people
can't possibly quit their jobs like Ian did. Then go back to page 57 and read the letter [from
a married man with 2 kids who quit his job]...Case closed!"
Unfortunately, the letter on page 57 was written by someone who had just marched in to his
boss and quit. We don't know what happened afterward. Case not closed, in my opinion!
We do get a few examples of success: a professional who became a music busker in Toronto,
someone who moved into a friend's trailer to live on $6000 a year, someone who travels cheaply,
and several people who saved a stash of cash and now live comfortably from investments or a
spouse's salary. Many readers (and most of my clients) will not relate to those examples.
We should also realize Zelinski writes from Canada, a country
with national health care. It's not perfect, but it does open up career options. Those happily
unemployed are subsidized by taxes from those who face a 50% tax bracket at surprisingly low
I also believe that not everyone will enjoy a life of hobbies and volunteer work. Working
for money gives you an edge, changing your thoughts, habits and conversations. Zelinski himself
is neither unemployed nor retired: he is a full-time writer. His four-hour-a-day schedule is
actually quite typical of professional authors of books. I once heard best-selling mystery author
Jon Kellerman speak about writing 3 pages a day. Zelinski aims for four.
Bottom Line: Joy of Not Working is worth skimming to experience a philosophy that can be
adapted to many lives. Unfortunately, the adaptation will be up to you.
Olson September 9, 2004
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE™
"The Joy of Not Working" is a welcome antidote to the workaholic mentality. A former engineer,
Mr. Zelinski dropped out of the corporate rat race in favor of "The Life of Riley." He does
what he loves (consulting, speaking, and writing) to make a living
[ I wish we all can do it and have a bread on the table -- NNB],
and indulges in leisure the rest of the time. That doesn't mean he loafs around all day watching
TV or playing video games. He discourages such empty distractions in favor of well-rounded activities
like learning another language and volunteering at a homeless shelter.
Mr. Zelinski makes
an excellent case for living a full life free of regret. [Oh, yes,
how we never though about it; this way we peobably would never marry and have children --NNB]
I liked his positive attitude and constant motivation towards discovering and embracing my passions.
His examples of persons who left a dreary job in favor of pursuing their dream occupation might
be just the prodding some folks need to make their own leap (a similar book had that effect
on me, and earned my eternal gratitude). Overall, the book's lighthearted tone and numerous
applicable quotes were uplifting, and every chapter brightened up a break or lunchtime at work
(although displaying a book with this title on your desk might upset a Bill Lumbergh-type manager).
My favorite part was his short section on becoming an author. Every
aspiring or discouraged writer should keep it handy as a pick-me-up.
However, the Life of Riley is a subjective thing, and finding your version of it might take
some time and testing. Yes, it would be ideal to immediately discover and make a living in one's
passion twenty hours a week. However, it may take awhile to actually discern your calling and
develop it into a viable occupation. Until then, having a decent
job that provides time and funds for investigating potential passions off-hours doesn't suck.
Indeed, that place in life can serve as a transitional period to test the waters while preparing
for the risk of a deeper plunge. But if the thought of showing up
to work makes you want to take a hostage, then it's time to jump ship right now.
From experience, I can second Mr Zelinski's claim that it's worth it in the long run.
Unfortunately, anyone who's not Western and single might find the Life of Riley difficult
to achieve. I'm an American singleton, so I have the luxury of finding myself without having
to worry about supporting a family, where my next meal is coming from, or if another car bomb
will explode in my neighborhood this month. I doubt that a minimum-wage earner with a spouse
and two young kids to feed or a woman who lives in Iraq would be able to imitate Mr Zelinki's
lifestyle. Perhaps in those situations the Life of Riley will need to be redefined.
At any rate, "The Joy of Not Working" is a great read that provides a much-needed reality
check for the average 9-to-5 person. FYI: I've checked out a couple of Mr. Zelinski's other
books, and there's some repetition between them. For example, this one and "How to Retire Happy,
Wild, and Free" are different in focus, but often similar in content. Keep that in mind before
making your purchase sight unseen.
Possibly The Most Positive Book Ever Written on Retirement December 26,
The following is a review I did years ago of the first edition of this book. There are later
editions that are not out of print, so the book is still very much in print and I still highly
recommend it. It think Zelinski is the best there is when it comes to writing about retirement
in a positive, helpful light. George Fulmore.
As an instructor in adult education on the subject
of retirement, I have looked for books on the subject that cover the major areas of retirement
in a positive vein. I think The Joy of Not Working is an absolute classic. I use it as the basis
of my class, and I get nothing but positive feedback from those who buy it and read it. As a
start, it is clear that retirement is not for everyone. Many people will hate it or not even
consider it for various reasons. This book is not really meant for them. It is for the rest
of us who are looking for reinforcement and encouragement in making the retirement decision.
The author helps us through any thoughts of feeling guilty or fearing bordom in retirement.
Then, he is off on a great section that provides very practical ways of filling our increased
leisure time. His Leisure Tree chart is worth the price of admission alone, and this is followed
by pages of detailed activities in case one has not come up with enough on his or her own. Additionally,
there are sensible suggestions on finances, happiness and all kinds of other things that relate
to getting on with the joy of retirement and leaving the workplace behind. I highly recommend
The Joy of Not Working as THE retirement primer for those who want a positive outlook on life
and one's future in a world that does not evolve around work. As I said in the begining, such
a life will not appeal to all. But to those of us to which it does, this book will be prized
on our bookshelf. Bravo Ernie Zelinski. I truly believe this book is a classic that will wear
well with readers for decades to come.
"He tells us that the retirement is another part of our lives, and that
we should dedicate it to discovering creativity within ourselves and enjoying it."
A Great Argument For Leading a Balanced Life, August 2, 2010
In today's world of workaholics, greed, and materialism, Mr. Zelinski offers a fresh voice
of moderation and living life.
Mr. Zelinski gives case examples of many people who have eschewed a lifetime of corporate
servitude, and have chosen the road less traveled. Some people have learned to live on less
money. Others retire early to pursue their dreams before the onset old age. The book is a compendium
of people choosing to ignore the Pied Piper of Capitalism, and have created their own trail
The road to a life of fulfillment has few signposts, and is difficult for even those of intelligence
and independence. Knowing that others strive for independence, and the efforts they needed to
achieve their goals has given me new ideas for my own life.
Mr. Zelinski, thanks for your breath of fresh air.
C. Wagner "cecilkunkle" (On the banks of the Wabash far away)
A cornucopia of anecdotes and quotations.
That gets a bit old after the first hundred pages. However, the cartoons, reminiscent of
Jim Unger's "Herman", are somewhat entertaining. The cartoons are apparently drawn by the author,
since no credits are given.
So, hey, I'm gonna retire, write a book about how being employed is not peachy and you can
buy the multiple variations, systems and attend my seminars. Why don't we all retire now and
sell our books about not working? Heck! Your job is probably being outsourced anyhow. We have
the makings of a virtual perpetual motion machine. But, to cut to the chase, turn to page 161
for the 7 essentials of a happy retirement. Health and cash flow are the biggies. Page 161 pays
for reading all the quotes and anecdotes. I suggest you don't wait until you retire to write
the book, draw cartoons, or create art. These activities will make your life more pleasant,
if you work or not! The author is quite right that you will not get this wisdom from a financial
advisor. This book is not intellectual groundbreaking, but the reader should leave realizing
that retirement is more than collecting a check the first of the month.
wannabe writer (Longmeadow, MA)
The most helpful book I ever read, November 3, 2009
I am retiring in a few months, and bought this book to steer me through the shoals of a dramatically
changing life situation. First of all, the author is brilliant. No I am not related to him,
and don't even live in the same country. I normally can't pay attention to anything but crappy
novels, despite my Ivy League education. By interspersing his text with hilarious quotes from
famous people, he completely held my interest. Some of the quotes were so amazing that I question
whether he made them up himself, and attributed them to people long-dead who couldn't dispute
their origin. I agreed with what he says almost totally, except that he doesn't think housework
qualifies as real exercise. He obviously has never experienced power-mopping. There is so much
information in this book, that I'll be researching the links for months. The book is actually
not about retirement at all, but about how to be happy, wild and free no matter your circumstance.
He just sneaks in the retirement bit to lure unsuspecting customers such as myself into reading
what they should have been reading about all
I originally found this book while on vacaton in Maui. I'm an entrepreneur/business coach/
semi-retired 41 year old guy.
I teach business owners how to work less and make more, and I lead by example working an
average of 15-20 hours per week. After reading this book I bought 100 copies, one for each of
my coaching clients and a few for friends.
This book has an excellent combination of philosophy and practical strategies. I was familiar
with the author because of one of his other books which I read over 10 years ago "The Joy of
Not Working". That book helped me form a strong philosophy that has allowed me to live more
and work less. How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free is a must read. If you are actually reading
this review, that means you are thinking about buying the book. Just order it! The longer you
wait to read it, the less time you will have in your life to reap the benefits of the ideas
it will give you.
Lucasta (Towson MD)
Pep talk for the clueless, June 6, 2011
This book doesn't offer much in the way of nuts-and-bolts financial advice, other than to
suggest (as others have) that you don't need piles of money to find happiness in retirement.
Instead it focuses on how to craft a meaningful life, as opposed to vegetating in front of the
TV for the next 20 or 30 years. Many bits, e.g., the value of friendships and the importance
of diet and exercise, seem painfully obvious, though others may prove helpful. If retirement
is drawing nigh and you're fretting about how to fill all those empty hours,the author provides
an exhaustive pep talk. For the more resourceful and imaginative reader, it's heavy going.
Almost every book on retirement seems to focus almost exclusively on the monetary aspects
of retirement, and completely neglects one of the most important questions that people need
to consider -- i.e., what do I want my life to look like after I
stop working? This book fills that niche, covering topics such as social interaction,
creating structure in your day, lifelong learning, travel, and health.
Zelinski's main proposition is that without planning and creating
structure, people are at risk of spending their retirement years sitting in front of the television;
however, with planning and creativity, retirement can be the most rewarding time
of life. I especially liked Zelinski's "Get-A-Life Tree," which challenges readers to think
about what they enjoy doing now, what they have enjoyed doing in the past and what they have
thought of doing in order to give them ideas on what might be rewarding for them in retirement.
One important caveat -- although Zelinski does briefly cover
the financial aspect of retirement, I found his attitude toward finances to be cavalier to say
the least. His basic premise is that you should retire as soon as possible and if it turns out
that you cannot afford to get by working part-time or less, just go out and work full-time for
awhile. I think in today's economy, such an approach is reckless. Therefore, I would NOT recommend
this book for people looking for guidance on financial planning for retirement. However, if
you are looking for some thought-provoking ideas on what to do with your retirement years, this
book will get you thinking.
Vera Kolb "Vera Kolb" (Kenosha, WI)
See all my reviews
How I got this book is a story by itself. I was vacationing in Belgrade, Serbia, and this
book was brought to my attention as the best thing since the slice of bread, as judged by the
on-line book version in which one could read only half of each page. I promised to buy the book
upon my return to USA and ship it. I did this, and I also purchased a copy of the book for myself.
This book is for anyone who is retired, but it is of equal value for somebody who has not retired
yet, which is my case.
The book is essentially a guide to living in which one is true to oneself, gets in touch
with one's creative potential and lives life to its fullest. Chasing money is not the way to
do it. The book is packed with practical advice, such as how to fight boredom, how to be grateful
for what one has, how to structure the free time, how to contribute to the welfare of others,
how to travel without luxury, you name it, it is there.
In a sharp contrast with depressing books which tell us how much money we need to save so
that we can safely linger in an old age home, where we would be engaged in the safe activity
of watching TV, Zelinski takes the bull of the old age by its horns.
He tells us that the retirement is another part of our lives, and that we should dedicate
it to discovering creativity within ourselves and enjoying it.
This is an extraordinary book. After I have read it (it took me one month, as I took copious
notes) for the first time in my professional life I do not feel guilty doing things that please
me deeply, and yet are not helping my career and are meaningless to anybody else. The point
in case: coloring mandalas.
Thank you Mr. Zelinski for opening our eyes to the art of living our lives in the mature phases
of our lives!
Tom K. (Carmel, IN United States)
Ernie Zelinski has a contagious positive spirit, ideally suited for a book emphasizing the
non-financial dimensions of successful retirement. This is a comprehensive guide to the many
issues and options for retirement planning and living.
The author stresses the need for a personal mission statement to shape choices and engagement.
He illustrates why this is necessary and shows how to create one. He shows that without a deeply
felt sense of direction, odds are high that retirement will be a failure. He covers the importance
of health, friends, structure, variety, self-expression, mental activity and experience, noting
that those who ignore these core human needs struggle with retirement.
This is a possibilities thinking book, promoting self-awareness, responsibility and self-actualization.
Each person needs to tailor their plans and activities to match their own dreams. Some activities
can meet many needs. Goals can be pursued through semi-retirement, volunteer work, extended
travel and education options.
The author provides many stories, quotes, sources, examples and checklists. Unfortunately,
he rambles at times and repeats points.
Mr. Zelinski effectively challenges the reader to assume control of his life and look past
the conventions of society. But, he overreaches in his criticisms
of corporations, work and achievement, oversimplifies the retirement timing decision as "just
do it" and underestimates the financial resources needed for requirement, asserting that an
enlightened individual can easily cut living expenses in half.
This book is a good complement to the many financially oriented retirement guides. The important
topics are covered, a strategic approach is outlined and practical advice is shared
With this book Ernie Zelinski is providing a valuable service to anybody even thinking about
retirement. The focus is mostly on the non-financial issues, which probably turn out to be even
more important than financial planning. I don't know of another book that approaches the topic
in quite the same way. My only criticism is that if there are twenty ways to say something it
doesn't mean you need to use all twenty to make your point. I read the first two chapters word-for-word,
but found myself doing a lot of scanning and skipping after that. If you have the patience to
sit down and read every word of this book, cover to cover, then you're a better man (or woman)
than me. One of the highlights was all the quotations: there's a relevant quote or cartoon on
almost every page, over two hundred of them. Researching and assembling all of those is quite
an achievement in itself. Read this book for sure; just be prepared to exercise a lot of patience
or do a lot of skimming.
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