Book Review: Get a Life: You Don’t Need a Million to Retire Well

Alright I’m be honest now. I’m sort of lost count of the number of retirement/personal finance books I’ve read. Yet all this time I’ve been looking for something in a retirement planning book. Up until now I’ve yet to find a book that balances the money aspect of retirement with all the non-money emotional issues that arise on how to have a good retirement. Most seem to deal with one half or the other, not both.

So when I sat down to read Get A Life: You Don’t Need a Million to Retire Well by Ralph Warner I was so grateful to finally find a book that did deal with both sides. Ok, granted it is a US based book, but don’t let that turn you off. This book should be required reading in my mind while doing some retirement planning.

The first seven chapters of this book don’t deal with money. In fact calculating how much you need for retirement only comes up in Chapter 8. For the first seven chapters he deals with issues such as what will you do when you are retired, health and fitness, family, friends, loving life, reaching out for help to create a successful retirement and nursing homes: how to avoid them or pay for them if you can’t. You see he gets you to define what you want and what works for a successful retirement. I especially enjoyed the interviews with retired people at the end of each chapter and how each of them dealt with difficult times and still enjoy their retirement.

Then from chapter 8 until chapter 11 we deal with the money side of the equation. At first he gives some guidelines to estimate what you will need and then provides some useful information on where that money can come from as well as how to save it all even if you don’t think you can. Then Ralph wraps up the book with a basic investment guide. Perhaps the only weakness in the book is the lack of detail in the money based chapters. Ralph tends to keep the information a bit general and his rock solid belief that Social Security is completely fine (which is actually somewhat debatable).

So overall I was very pleased to finally read a book that deals with being happy and having money for retirement. Even if you don’t need a hand with the money side I still highly suggest reading this book for insights on what makes a great retirement. After all if you pull the plug early you will be at it for a long time, so we might as well be happy.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Get a Life: You Don’t Need a Million to Retire Well”

  1. That was the first book I ever read about retirement–I’m sure it was over 10 year ago–and it is still my favorite. That was the first time I thought, I really can retire by 45!

    (It’s a pretty old book–if her were writing it today, I wonder if he might hold different views on Social Security?)

  2. Take a look at “Your Retirement, Your Way” (McGraw-Hill) for a similar, updated aproach to “retirement life” planning.

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