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  • Writer's pictureRobert Ryerson

7 Retirement Planning Books You Need to Read This Year

Planning for retirement can be an overwhelming experience. Some financial experts suggest having at least $2 million set aside for a comfortable retirement. This figure includes costs such as housing and utilities, health care, insurance, travel, and day-to-day living expenses. You will also need to consider inflation and possible changes in tax policy.

The best and most efficient way to navigate these challenges and save for the future is by working with a financial advisor who holds at least one recognized professional retirement planning designation. If that’s not possible, there is a wide range of resources that you can leverage to become more familiar with the retirement planning process and learn how much you’ll need to save. These include 401(k) and Social Security calculators as well as online articles and blog posts.

You can also check out the following six retirement planning books to help you prepare for a comfortable post-retirement lifestyle.

1. The 5 Years Before You Retire

While it's best to start saving as early as possible, the most important saving years are the five years before retirement. In The 5 Years Before You Retire (2014), finance writer Emily Guy Birken provides critical guidance on financial, medical, and family decisions during this time and how those decisions might be affected by taking early 401(k) benefits or enrolling in Medicare. Birken also offers a range of budgeting techniques to help retirement planning and touches on complex government programs and the importance of medical programs.

Birken, who contributes to several financial blogs and personal finance sites, also authored Choose Your Retirement, End Financial Stress Now, and Making Social Security Work for You.

2. The New Rules of Retirement: Strategies for a Secure Future

The New Rules of Retirement: Strategies for a Secure Future (2016) declares the traditional retirement planning strategy of solely relying on a 401(k) and Social Security obsolete. Recognizing that life expectancy is increasing and today's retirees are living more fulfilling lives, author Robert C. Carlson presents tips and strategies for overcoming financial security threats such as higher taxes, low investment returns, and healthcare expenses. He also touches on sustainable spending strategies, estate planning, and investing.

"Bob Carlson shows that three trends—demographics (baby boomers), increasing longevity, and fewer offspring—have changed forever the landscape facing America's retirees," wrote former US budget director James C. Miller III in his review of the book. "Stereotypical retirement based on Social Security and employer pensions is out; making ends meet on your own is in. Better get yourself ready—and you can do so by reading this book."

3. Retirement Planning Guidebook: Navigating the Important Decisions for Retirement Success

Chartered Financial Analyst Wade D. Pfau is among the leading retirement researchers in the United States and is a professor of retirement income at The American College of Financial Services. His 476-page Retirement Planning Guidebook (2021) is considered one of the most comprehensive personal finance books ever written. It covers all aspects of retirement planning, including identifying post-retirement income needs, navigating Social Security, and understanding investment and insurance options.

4. How to Retire with Enough Money: And How to Know What Enough Is

In her book How to Retire with Enough Money (2015), economics professor and savings specialist Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci presents in plain language the complexities and state of retirement planning in the US.

Estimates suggest that most Americans over 50 years old have $30,000 or less saved for retirement. Dr. Ghilarducci delves into how poor policy has made Social Security unreliable as a sole source of retirement income and how certain reforms have made Americans save poorly or spend excessively.

Among other common-sense tips and strategies, Dr. Ghilarducci suggests workers save as much as eight times their annual salary and presents the benefits of paying down a mortgage and other debt, downsizing before retiring, and moving investments to low-cost index funds.

5. How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide

Best suited for those who are already retired or nearing retirement, How to Make Your Money Last (2017) is 384 pages of financial tips and advice for getting the most out of your retirement savings and alleviating personal anxiety and financial insecurity. Specifically, author Jane Bryant Quinn provides direction on Social Security, life insurance policies and supplemental health coverage, and how to manage the home as an asset.

6. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Success

A nationally syndicated radio host, Dave Ramsey details seven “baby steps" to help individuals achieve financial security in The Total Money Makeover (2003). These easy-to-follow steps include establishing a $1,000 emergency fund, using the debt snowball strategy to pay off debt, and investing 15 percent of income for retirement. The New York Times and Amazon bestseller also includes more than 50 stories from people who have followed and succeeded with these strategies. More than 5 million copies of the book have been sold since its release.

7. Mama’s Secret Recipe for Retirement Success--Let me know if you would like a copy of my 2019 Amazon best seller—Mama’s Secret Recipe for Retirement Success” which I co-authored with Jack Canfield ( of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series fame) and 24 other top advisors.

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