Retire on less than you think - buy this book!

Some of you will already know all this. I certainly didn’t.

Not politically controversial stuff:

  1. The financial advisors recommending that you’ll need 70% of your income to retire are completely full of it. You should base your retirement planning on post-retirement expenses, not pre-retirement income.

  2. Moving in retirement, often not very far, will save you an absurd amount of money.

  3. Cars are an amazing money sink, but there’s options.

  4. Related to #2, you need to watch the post-retirement local, state, and federal tax situation like a hawk. Mostly local and state, because there’s very large variations.

  5. If you retire before 65, you absolutely must figure out at least a catastrophic insurance plan to tide you over until Medicare arrives.

Politically controversial stuff:

  1. The US health insurance system totally sucks, and the corporate/conservative opposition to a single-payer plan (at least for catastrophic) like the rest of the first world has is totally inexplicable.

  2. The Social Security “crisis” is completely overblown. “The changes we’ll need to fix SS for the entire 21st century amount to .75% of GDP” is clarifying. There’s a related funny bit where Reagan says back in the 1960s that if Medicare passes Americans will “spend their sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.”

  3. The likelihood Social Security won’t be there when you retire is zero. The fixes are cheap, and seniors run politics.

The book has lots of amusing viginettes. A retired couple that moved to a nice suburb of Vegas from NY mentions that they call the planes coming in overhead as “visitors paying our taxes for us.”

Anyway, it’s a good counterweight to the “you must invest an absurd amount of money to retire” hysteria. You’ll need to invest, yeah, but there’s no way in hell you’ll need 70% of your retirement year - 1 income.

We actually have a very patient-friendly “no payer” system for catastrophic health care in the US. EMTALA.

While I am opposed to social security (not trying to enter political debate here) I think that is an interesting point about the possibility of fixing the system. I suppose most of the people who say it has to go are also opposed to it and thus simply don’t want to try to fix it?

At any rate, I tend to agree with Dave Ramsey’s suggestion that you can save up your own money to retire if you work on getting rid of your debt first. If your house is paid off, or you can afford to buy one (a cheaper one, as the book suggests, according to Jason) then you can live on a lot less than you are now (assuming you are in debt, as most Americans are).