The basic idea behind this book is simple and straightforward: you can retire sooner and on less money than you think, and live quite well, if you are willing to make a few relatively painless lifestyle changes.
Various polls in recent years by AARP, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and USA Today have shown that some 60 percent of working Americans dream of early retirement. Yet every time there is some jarring economic news—declining stock prices or a slump in the housing market—many people feel they must postpone retirement as they contemplate their shrinking investments and how much money they still need to save.
This is a book for those dreamers who want to retire sooner rather than later but are afraid they can’t afford it: people who yearn for the time to realize a lifelong dream or avocation; people who have reached a dead end in their careers or who are burned out after years of doing the same thing and want to move on; or people who simply want a change. It is also for those who are at or past the traditional retirement age of sixty-five but continue to work because they are convinced they don’t have enough money to retire.
Also, of course, it is for those who suddenly find themselves involuntarily retiring early because of employer cutbacks. Such forced retirements usually involve so-called incentive packages that may include a lump-sum payment or extra years credited to your retirement account—or both. Many forced retirees are equally apprehensive, perhaps even more so, about whether they can afford retirement.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
Whatever the situation, most people are victims of “data” circulated by the financial services industry—mutual fund companies, stockbrokerage firms, and banks—which hold that you need at least 70 to 80 percent of your preretirement income in order to retire without becoming a charity case. This estimate has become conventional wisdom and is routinely and endlessly repeated in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television shows that offer financial advice. Little wonder people have come to believe it. It has struck fear into the hearts of baby boomers, who are known for spending, not saving.
There’s only one problem: it’s not true!
Worse, people in the financial services industry know it’s not true. It is clever advertising bait to lure investors.
Copyright © 2004 by The New York Times Company, © 2008 by Fred Brock. All rights reserved.