Three retirement books every Boomer should read

Why you need to read books about retirement

For most of us, retirement is a subject we know little about. No one gave us any training in how to retire.

Probably the only thought we gave (or are giving) to retirement in our 30s and 40s was that we believed we’d be retired “some day.”

And maybe a Human Resources person at work told us we should contribute to our 401K or 403B or other form of retirement account.

And maybe our dad told us to “be sure you are saving for your retirement!” along with other advice we listened to and then immediately forgot about.

Who wants to think about getting older? Old enough for retirement!

Yikes! That means 55 or 60 or 65 or even older!

Many of us don’t want to think about it.

So we don’t.

But this is a HUGE mistake.

If you began planning and saving for retirement in your 30s and 40s, you would have hundreds of thousands of dollars more than you would have if you waited until you were 55 or 60 to plan and to save!

Who wouldn’t want to have that much more money?


Whether you’re a member of Generation X, Generation Y, or are  a Millennial, you’ve got to think about this.  There are some hard, cold facts that may explain why.

Here’s the current situation for Baby Boomers:

Baby Boomers are those people born between 1946 and 1964.

Baby Boomers began retiring in 2011 when the first of them turned 65. Estimates say that over 10,000 Americans per day are turning 65. And most of them do not have enough money to fund their retirement, according to

In actual numbers from the Employment Benefit Research Institute, the median employee in the top 10% of wealth has about $200,000 saved for retirement compared to $22,000 for a middle class employee. The median worker with an income over $100,000 has saved about $100,000, but the average is $360,000. That means that there are some higher-income workers who are saving a lot, but most workers aren’t saving enough. In fact, only 64% of workers between the age of 55 and 64 have saved an amount equal to one year of income.

Who wants to be in that position – facing retirement without enough money to live on? Or facing retirement having not made a plan for how to spend the next 20 years?

Yes, that’s how long the average person will live, who makes it to age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old American is 17.7 years for a male and 20.3 years for a female.

So what should a person do?

A person should read these three retirement books! It’s not too late.  You can still make adjustments that will improve your retirement situation.

These books should be part of your retirement planning reading list!


   The Five Years Before You Retire  by Emily Birken

    Sound Retirement Planning byJason Parker

      How to Retire Happy by Stan Hinden


I’ve read and studied these retirement books.  I know they would be worth your while to purchase or get from your library. I ordered mine from

Here are my book reviews:

The Five Years Before You Retire by Emily Guy Birken

Birken bookThis book, published in 2014, contains three sections, totals 240 pp, and has an Index and Bibliography. In addition to the chapters of discussion, the author has provided a 5-year syllabus of tasks for prospective retirees to complete.

The author is a personal finance expert and blogger.  She knows what she is writing about.  Using Birken’s 5-year syllabus, readers will know what should be done in each of the five years before they retire.

Birken’s chapters are packed with useful information. Regarding the financial aspects of retirement, she offers many ways to determine your current income and expenses – the starting place for any budget. Then she helps you analyze the difference between needs and wants so that you can plan to spend your money on your priorities, once you retire. Finally, she helps you create an action plan to reduce your expenses now so you can save more and reduce your consumer debt before you retire.

Birken discusses many forms of income you may have when you retire, based on your individual needs. She explains the different types of financial advisors who are available to help you, and their fee structures. She explains Social Security benefits and how they are calculated. She points out how your retirement income will be taxed (yes, unfortunately, it will be taxed, but you can plan for that in advance so you won’t be shocked or disadvantaged by taxes).

Birken presents a comprehensive discussion of Medicare and what it will and won’t do for you. She suggests ways for you to plan for health care expenses that may occur once you are retired. Retirees generally use the healthcare system much more than younger people do.

Housing choices are discussed, with their advantages and disadvantages. Will you stay in your current home? Will you buy a smaller home or condo?   Will you give up ownership of a home and move to an apartment? What about assisted living? All these topics are covered.

Estate planning is another area that anyone should consider and act upon. This topic is briefly presented in the book.

Creating a budget on a retirement income is explained.

And finally, what to do if you don’t have enough money – a frightening prospect but one that Birken discusses rationally.


Sound Retirement Planning by Jason R. Parker

Parker bookThis book, also published in 2014, contains 12 chapters and an Introduction, and totals 246 pages. The author is a financial advisor who specializes in helping retirees. His website can be found at

Parker’s stated purpose in the book is “to help retirees develop a plan for diversifying their investment assets in retirement” (p. 32). Thus it is directly focused on financial matters.

Certainly finances are not the only thing to be concerned about for your retirement, as I have written in other posts.  But finances are important and your action or inaction will determine how much money you have for retirement.

Parker recommends that every retiree plan for retirement based on the worst-case scenario he or she can think of.

Then a retiree will be prepared for almost anything that could happen. Parker offers a retirement planning checklist of 7 financial issues that every person should deal with. He recommends that retirees focus on what’s important to them, and outsource chores that don’t appeal to them or that they can’t do effectively themselves. This leaves plenty of time for retirees to do the things they really want to do.

The book is Bible-based, with plenty of Bible verses quoted throughout as justification for the recommendations that Parker makes.

The main part of the book explains the investment strategies that people should follow AFTER retiring, no matter what their financial situation is. Parker offers examples from his personal experience as a financial advisor working with retirees or those soon to be retired. He shows how he helped people reach their financial goals.

As part of his work as a financial advisor, Parker learned about many different investment and cash flow vehicles that help retirees live on the money they have available. He provides ideas for arranging the maximum Social Security payments that are allowed for each person’s individual situation.

Parker stresses that retirees must find ways “to create a retirement plan based on your financial reality”, not on someone’s “one-size fits all” strategy.

Parker’s expertise is unique.  Very few people write about what to do with your money AFTER you retire.

Parker’s mantra is repeated frequently in the book:

“Retirement is all about cash flow, not your net worth.”

He explains many ways that retirees can make their money work for them so that they do not run out. He also discusses ways to structure investments so that there is money that can go into an estate for children and grandchildren.

This book was an eye-opener for me. I learned about investment vehicles and strategies that I had never heard about before, and which I plan to make use of when I sell my home and have the net proceeds to invest.

How to Retire Happy (4th ed) by Stan Hinden

Hinden bookThis book, published in 2013, is 246 pp including an Index, Preface, and Foreword.  The author is a long-time former financial and retirement columnist for the Washington Post newspaper.

Hinden organized his book around 12 crucial decisions that a person must make before retirement.  Here are 6 of them:

  • Am I ready to retire?
  • Can I afford to retire?
  • What should I do with the money in my company savings plan?
  • How should I invest during retirement?
  • Where do I want to live after I retire?
  • What should I do to prepare for an illness that requires long-term care?

These 6 decisions and 6 additional decisions are the subjects of Hinden’s book.  He presents frequent, detailed examples of how he and his wife made their retirement decisions, along with examples from other people.

Hinden’s examples are not just two or three sentences long.  Some of them go on for pages and pages.  His discussion of how he and his wife decided not to move to Florida is especially poignant.

The point Hinden makes repeatedly is that these decisions are complex and have consequences, for each person is different.

Here are a couple of Hinden’s most important statements about retirement planning:

“…(T)o make the most of your new freedom, you’ll need a plan.” (p. 3)

“…(Y)our plan should have one main objective:  to keep you mentally and physically active and in close contact with other people.”  (p. 4)

Hinden provides you with the basics for making each of the 12 decisions from his personal experience and the experiences of other people he knows.  Especially useful is his experience with long-term care when his wife developed Alzheimer’s Disease and had to be placed in a care facility.

Hinden’s book is the only one (other than the great book Still Alice)  I have read that explains bluntly what is involved in making a long-term care decision and how to go about it.  That chapter alone is worth the reading of the book.

Hinden’s final chapter gives a passing reference to other retirement issues like exercise and eating right.  If this information is what you’re looking for, you won’t find it in Hinden’s book.  But that’s OK, because what Hinden does provide is well worth the reading.  You can get exercise and nutrition information in many other places.

So why should you read all three books?

You should read all three retirement books because each offers as different approach to retirement issues and discusses different perspectives.

  • Birken’s book has strong chapters on Medicare and Social Security.
  • Parker’s book has dynamite sections on how to invest AFTER you retire, as well as before.  These aspects make his book unique.
  • Hinden’s book is strongest on  deciding whether and when to retire, and where.  His long-term care discussion makes his book unique.

If you get all three of these retirement books – along with some of the many others available – and read them carefully, you will become educated about how best you can prepare for your retirement.

You’ll learn what you should be doing NOW, depending on your age and situation.

You’ll learn what you should do about housing, health insurance, Social Security, Long-Term Care Insurance, investing, and many other issues in the five years before you retire.

And you’ll learn how to plan as best you can for the UNKNOWN, which is one of the most difficult aspects of retirement, for Baby Boomers and everyone else.

Let me know which book met your needs the best.  I’d love to hear your opinions!

I’ll be reviewing other retirement books.  Do you have a favorite one I should read?  Let me know.





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10 thoughts on “Three retirement books every Boomer should read”

    1. Hi Cindi,
      It IS a great book! Like you, I wish I had read it years ago, before I took early retirement. I hope you enjoy the other two books as well. Each of them has something important to offer, along with some topics that will become repetitive after the third go-round. Thanks for your comment!

  1. Retirement is a global issue. One way to solve this is compulsory saving from day 1 of everyone’s career/ working life. If everyone puts away at least $10-20 a week for 35-45 years, plus 0-5% interest, there would be no problems at retirement. Some countries have the likes of this in place.

  2. Excellent post, Dr. Rin!

    Nice to see you endorsing some great reading material… hopefully the authors take note!

    Also, looks like your website got a bit of a makeover. Looking good! 🙂


  3. I’m in my 20s. I was wondering if you could reccomend me any good books that could maybe set me on the right path to retirement. I know most people my age aren’t thinking about it but I am and I’d like to be able to retire sooner rather than later.


    1. Hi Peter,
      It’s great that you’re thinking ahead! What I would recommend for you is to get the Parker book, “Sound Retirement Planning,” and read the first half or so. Then ask your older friends to recommend the financial planners they use. Or if none of them have a financial planner, go to your bank and ask for recommendations. You want someone who is not affiliated with any of the major insurance companies or investment companies – an independent person. Then hire this person for a one- to two-hour meeting with you to discuss what you should be doing now, in 10 years, in 20 years, etc. This will give you a tremendous amount of knowledge and specific steps you should take. Let me know how it goes!

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