There are many articles, books, websites, apps, etc. to help the average person prepare for retirement. When I picked up this short book—95 pages including questions at the end to challenge the reader—I wondered how it could be of much benefit. After reading Never Worry About Retirement Again, I believe this is a welcome addition that cuts to the basics.
A fundmental, oft-forgotten beginning
The book begins with something that’s obvious for successful planning but so often skipped: laying a foundation.
Seven steps are listed to build that foundation.
1. Educate yourself about how money works.
2. Pay yourself before you pay any other person or company.
3. Do not spend more than you make.
4. Pay off debt as quickly as possible.
5. Invest the money you pay yourself so it will provide a future income and will not be lost.
6. Buy insurance to protect the things you cannot afford to lose.
7. Trust yourself to make a good decision.
These seven steps are so very basic but also very much what is needed to accomplish the goal. My comfort level with the book immediately skyrocketed as this indicated to me that the author, Aaron Campbell, was not trying to bring in personal business but truly trying to help the reader. The remainder of the first chapter expands on each of these seven steps and provide straightforward information on each topic.
Applying 7 lessons
By far the most important step is the first, as the items two through seven would most likely follow if someone is educated about how money works.
I liked the focus on paying off debt as quickly as possible. The expansion of this topic stresses the deterrent debt can be to the growth of wealth in many examples, but also features a key example showing that at times, debt can be used to the advantage.
The remaining five chapters cover many of the usual concerns we have when just grasping the need for some serious study time on financial planning.
The rise in the importance of retirement planning and saving is called the “shift/ shaft,” a section in which in which the loss of defined benefit is discussed and the “revered” 401k is profiled. Campbell traces how pensions disappeared and were replaced by self-savings through 401ks, which were walloped by the likes of 9/11 and the financial crisis. The task that boomers have, to save for themselves, does not look good with a lack of investment experience and volatile markets.
Other chapters provide insight on the type of investor the reader might be, followed by explanations of investment tools such as CDs, bonds, stocks, and annuities. This is not a chapter that will provide all the answers, but will give enough information for the reader to become curious and seek additional information.
Knowing what you don’t know
Campbell’s desire to inform the reader is clear, as is his target: Those who are beginning to seek answers.
Chapter Six—“The Stress Free … Happy Retirement Process”—provides a good summary of Campbell’s approach. It is aimed, again, not at a money professional but at a pre-retiree starting to ask questions. The simple answers are: 1. Secure and Maximize Your Sources of Guaranteed Income; 2. Do Not Lose Money; and 3. Buy Insurance to Protect Your Life’s Work.
Campbell’s information is good and the book is an easy read. I hope the reader beginning to look for help will not start and stop with this book but will begin to see that more information is needed in search for the best retirement. The author’s concern for his reader is obvious.
In fact, one of the best takeaways from anyone to whom you recommended this book would be to learn how much they do not yet know—and need to learn.