Are you dreaming of that longed-for retirement?
That pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; the reward for working so hard towards achieving financial independence.
In the FIRE community, we tend to focus on the financial aspects of retirement – how to calculate how much we need to retire and how to achieve that financial independence.
Planning for an enjoyable retirement (early or otherwise) involves looking at more than our finances.
We may have all the money in the world at retirement and still be unhappy because we’ve lost our purpose in life. Conversely, we may have the most fantastic dreams for our retirement but not the money to make them happen.
As a late starter, I can attest to the anxiety that a lack of retirement savings brings – it is real.
But as I take action and implement FIRE strategies, the financial side of things are looking up. I am planning to retire early(ish) at 55. In fact, I’ve set my retirement date – Dec 31, 2026.
I recommend reading the following 3 books as you prepare for your retirement. You will learn that planning for retirement is an active process and involves more than just the finances.
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I’m a fan of Noel Whittaker because he can explain finances in simple terms. This is his third book that I’ve read. The other 2 are Making Money Made Simple and Superannuation Made Simple.
Quite simply, if you plan to retire in Australia, you should read this book. Although it is a book geared towards traditional retirement, I like it because of its focus on the Australian system.
In Retirement Made Simple, Whittaker explains about investing, taxation, superannuation, the age pension and estate planning. All this I expected from Whittaker.
What I didn’t expect was the non financial aspects such as choosing where to live, downsizing and looking after your health as you age.
Of course, the non financial parts may have financial implications. For example, if you look after your health, you won’t have to spend as much on medications, doctor visits, medical procedures etc.
He teaches you what to take into consideration as you calculate how much you need to retire and the sorts of risks that will influence how you get there depending on your time frame and return on investment.
He points out the 3 general sources of income available – you working for it, your money working to make more money and lastly, charity or welfare. And how to fund your retirement. He ephasises that access to welfare (the age pension) is progressively tightened so we may not be able to rely on it when the time comes.
What I like about this book is the specific advice for Australian retirees in particular the capital gains tax, franked dividends, how to catch up on superannuation contributions, using superannuation to pay off mortgage debt and so on.
How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free was published in 2009 but is still very relevant today. It deals more with the non financial aspects of retirement.
And challenges the traditional retirement timeline – as “you are never too young to retire.”
Zelinski’s philosophy can be summed up by this one sentence – “To not plan for an active retirement is to set yourself up for a difficult one.”
He writes about having purpose and creating a new identity in retirement. And to be a more creative version of yourself.
I especially like his ‘Get-a-Life Tree’ illustration, which is essntially a mind map.
At the centre is ‘Options for my Retirement’. Coming out from this centre are 5 sections or spokes –
1. Activities that turn me on now
2. Activities that turn me on in the past
3. New activities I have thought of doing
4. Activities that will get me physically fit
As a result of reading the book, I have started lists for the above categories. I confess that the category of ‘activities that will get me physically fit’ is woefully sparse. But it’s no surprise that my ‘Travel’ category is overflowing 🙂
The aim is to generate lots of ideas to explore and pursue in retirement. And in Zelinski’s words again – “To be bored is to retire from life”
I’ve been following Fritz on his blog The Retirement Manifesto since I found FIRE. And was thrilled when he wrote a book!
Keys to A Successful Retirement has a good combination of financial and non financial advice of retirement planning.
Gilbert likens retirement planning to baking a cake – just as you would choose the ingredients to include in your cake, so too should you decide on the ingredients that will make your retirement a successful one.
There are 24 tips scattered throughout the book – my top 5 are:
Tip 3 – Spend time thinking about the non financial ingredients of your retirement. In time, you’ll find they’re more valuable than money.
Tip 15 – Take as much time as possible preparing for retirement while you’re still working. It is the single biggest differentiator between success and struggle.
Tip 19 – Rather than thinking about seeking your passion, ask yourself “What can I do with my time that’s important?” Committing your energy to something that matters to you is the true frosting on your retirement cake.
Tip 21 – Seek to develop interests for all the spokes in your life. A wheel rolls best when the spokes are the same length.
Tip 24 – Never stop learning. Cultivate your curiosity, and apply what your’re learning
The financial parts are US centric but there are universal principles – how to save for retirement, setting up ‘buckets’ in your retirement plan and track your spending so you can more accurately work out your retirement needs.
Planning for your retirement is an exciting time.
We look forward with a little bit of trepidation – who knows what the future holds? But also with anticipation of a time of freedom, a time when we can do what we want whenever we want, for however long we want and with whom we want. What bliss!
Reading these 3 books –
Retirement Made Simple by Noel Whittaker
How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie J Zelinski
Keys to a Successful Retirement by Fritz Gilbert
will give you a solid start to retirement planning.
All three books will teach you to consider both the financial and non financial aspects of retirement. And exhort you to start planning as early as possible.