Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well

Overview

Retire happy and healthy without keeping a million bucks in the bank!

The financial-service industry wants you to believe that in order to avoid financial destitution, you need to put aside huge amounts of money that you — let's say it together — "should have begun saving years ago."

Not true, states Ralph Warner, Nolo co-founder and the author of Get a Life. Although a sensible savings plan makes good horse ...

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Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well

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Overview

Retire happy and healthy without keeping a million bucks in the bank!

The financial-service industry wants you to believe that in order to avoid financial destitution, you need to put aside huge amounts of money that you — let's say it together — "should have begun saving years ago."

Not true, states Ralph Warner, Nolo co-founder and the author of Get a Life. Although a sensible savings plan makes good horse sense, many other actions and decisions will determine whether you enjoy your retirement years.

Get a Life shows you how to beat the anxiety surrounding retirement, and to develop a plan to make your golden years the best of your life by:

- developing family relationships
- maintaining and creating friendships
- improving health
- keeping active
- developing a robust curiosity for the world
- realistically calculating how much money you need and how to secure it

The 5th edition provides the latest research and studies that show physically and mentally active retirees live longer and enjoy happier lives.

Get a Life shares with readers sensible ways to ensure a fulfilling retirement ways that have little to do with accumulated wealth and everything to do with quality of life. Warner stresses the importance of: developing family relationships; maintaining and creating friendships; improving health; keeping active; developing a robust curiosity for the world. Conversations with a variety of active, older individuals also featured.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Offers sound advice for achieving both financial success and developing areas of your life that will truly make a difference in retirement...
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Some books slice through the media noise with clarity. Get a Life is one of them. Its author advises a life-enriching retirement plan.
Houston Chronicle
If you're in your 40s or 50s and find yourself spending too much time worrying about how many hundreds of thousands (or millions) you will need to retire, I have a suggestion. Do what I did... Put in a rush order for [Warner's] book Get a Life.
— Scott Burns
Los Angeles Times
This inspirational book discusses how people can have a successful retirement without a lot of money as long as they have strong relationships, decent health and absorbing activities to keep them going.
— Liz Pulliam Weston
Reuters
One of the best retirement books to come out in recent years... puts money and the other essentials of retirement life in its place.
— Linda Stern
San Antonio Express-News
Those who really want to retire can figure out ways to live that will cut their expenses while enhancing their experience of life.
U.S. News & World Report
Hard work and a lifetime of savings are the prescription for a good retirement, right? Think again...
From the Publisher
"On my scale of one to 10, this great book rates an off-the-chart 12." Robert Bruss "Offers sound advice for achieving both financial success and developing areas of your life that will truly make a difference in retirement..." Chicago Tribune"Some books slice through the media noise with clarity. Get a Life is one of them. Its author advises a life-enriching retirement plan." Fort Worth Star-Telegram"If you're in your 40s or 50s and find yourself spending too much time worrying about how many hundreds of thousands (or millions) you will need to retire, I have a suggestion. Do what I did... Put in a rush order for [Warner's] book Get a Life." Scott Burns, Houston Chronicle "This inspirational book discusses how people can have a successful retirement without a lot of money as long as they have strong relationships, decent health and absorbing activities to keep them going." Liz Pulliam Weston, Los Angeles Times"One of the best retirement books to come out in recent years... puts money and the other essentials of retirement life in its place." Linda Stern, Reuters "Those who really want to retire can figure out ways to live that will cut their expenses while enhancing their experience of life." San Antonio Express-News "Hard work and a lifetime of savings are the prescription for a good retirement, right? Think again..." U.S. News & World Report
From The Critics
"On my scale of one to 10, this great book rates an off-the-chart 12." Robert Bruss "Offers sound advice for achieving both financial success and developing areas of your life that will truly make a difference in retirement..." Chicago Tribune"Some books slice through the media noise with clarity. Get a Life is one of them. Its author advises a life-enriching retirement plan." Fort Worth Star-Telegram"If you're in your 40s or 50s and find yourself spending too much time worrying about how many hundreds of thousands (or millions) you will need to retire, I have a suggestion. Do what I did... Put in a rush order for [Warner's] book Get a Life." Scott Burns, Houston Chronicle "This inspirational book discusses how people can have a successful retirement without a lot of money as long as they have strong relationships, decent health and absorbing activities to keep them going." Liz Pulliam Weston, Los Angeles Times"One of the best retirement books to come out in recent years... puts money and the other essentials of retirement life in its place." Linda Stern, Reuters "Those who really want to retire can figure out ways to live that will cut their expenses while enhancing their experience of life." San Antonio Express-News "Hard work and a lifetime of savings are the prescription for a good retirement, right? Think again..." U.S. News & World Report
Chicago Tribune
Get a Life offers sound advice for achieving both financial success and developing areas of your life that will truly make a difference in retirement: good health and fitness habits, strong ties with family and friends, and a plate full of interesting things to do.
Linda Stern
One of the best retirement books to come out in recent years, Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well puts money and the other essentials of retirement life in its place.
Reuters
Chicago Tribune
Get a Life offers sound advice for achieving both financial success and developing areas of your life that will truly make a difference in retirement: good health and fitness habits, strong ties with family and friends, and a plate full of interesting things to do.
Ft. Worth Star Telegram
Some books slice through the media noise with clarity. Get a Life is one of them. Its author advises a life-enriching retirement plan.
Ft. Worth Star Telegram
Some books slice through the media noise with clarity. Get a Life is one of them. Its author advises a life-enriching retirement plan.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Warner, attorney and founder of Nolo, the do-it-yourself legal publisher, has written a unique retirement guide which, despite its title, focuses on non-financial issues as well as the traditional retirement concerns. The book also includes conversations with notable people who have led productive "retirement" lives, including environmental activist and writer Ernest Callenbach and mathematician Arthur Levenson. By focusing on important concerns such as broadening circles of friends, relying on one's extended family, turning to hobbies and nonwork activities, the book will help readers gain a healthier perspective on retirement. The sections on friendship and love are particularly compelling. The chapters on specific financial planning are not as complete as readers might want; for example, there's only one brief chapter that explains how investments work. Warner can also be something of a contrarian in his financial advice. He maintains that experts who say people need roughly 80% of their pre-retirement income are wrong. In addition, Warner says (arguably) that the Social Security system is not actually in precarious shape and will be around for many years to come. Still this is one of the freshest and most practical approaches to retirement planning in a long time. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413300840
  • Publisher: NOLO
  • Publication date: 1/1/2005
  • Edition description: Fifth Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 485,366
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Ralph "Jake" Warner, a pioneer of the do-it-yourself law movement, founded Nolo with Ed Sherman in 1971. Nolo began publishing do-it-yourself law books written by Jake and his colleagues after numerous publishers rejected them. When personal computers came along, he added software to many Nolo books. When the Internet arrived, he championed the move online, where Nolo published huge amounts of free legal information.
In addition to running Nolo for much of its first 40 years, Warner was an active editor and author. He wrote many books, including Retire Happy: What You Can Do Now to Guarantee a Great Retirement and Save Your Small Business: 10 Crucial Strategies to Survive Hard Times or Close Down & Move On. Today, he operates a storytelling repertory group, Jake's Tales, devoted to keeping alive the tradition of telling children wonderful stories.
Warner holds a law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton.

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Read an Excerpt

What Will You Do When You Retire?
Introduction
"Old age ain't for sissies, honey." -- Bette Davis

Many Americans already in midlife will live from one-quarter to one-third of their lives after the traditional retirement age of 65. In short, even if after you officially retire you continue to work part-time, travel widely and participate in sports or other leisure activities, you will have plenty of time to do many other things. After talking to hundreds of older people, I'm convinced that the degree to which most people's retirement years are fulfilling has a great deal to do with how they spend this large chunk of discretionary time. People who are busily involved in a wide variety of activities -- both mental and physical -- are likely to do well. That may not surprise you. But what you may never have considered is that if you wait until retirement to start figuring out how to stay happily occupied, it may be too late.


A. Plan to Keep Busy

Many retirees report experiencing a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, they have the sense that time is short and their life is running out. On the other, they don't have anything interesting to do after lunch. Even the most avid fisherman, gardener, traveler or dog lover is likely to find plenty of time to both follow her passion and do many other things -- including, if she isn't careful, becoming bored, depressed and prematurely dependent on others. As my friend Babette Marks, now in her 80s, puts it, The ability to maintain an active involvement in life in a number of different ways is one key to leading a decent life when you're older. Face it, what else have you got? Your health probably isn't great, half your old friends are dead and you don't recognize yourself in the mirror. If you don't keep interested and involved with lots of activities and interests, you'll end up a depressed old vegetable.

Marks is as right as she is blunt. In my observation, most people -- especially those who have been busy earlier in life -- make a successful transition to a reasonably fulfilling retirement if, and only if, they stay busy doing things that reinforce their sense of self-worth. Usually this means being involved with others in activities that are felt to be meaningful. I can't find anyone in their 60s and 70s who tells me it's fun to spend most of their time watching TV, sitting on a park bench, sleeping late, or even reading. And even many people who are more active -- jogging, walking, bike riding or swimming -- report that continually doing these things alone can quickly become joyless. To the contrary, people whose lives revolve almost exclusively around these types of passive activities seem to be sicker and more depressed and tend to die sooner than those who are more actively involved with life.

One example of how keeping busy seems to correlate with long life and intellectual vigor can be seen in the careers of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the few jobs in America where people have never been required, or even officially encouraged, to retire until they are obviously no longer able to do the work. Out of the more than 100 justices who have served on the Court since it began to function in 1789, over 50% have served into at least their middle 70s, an astonishing age when you remember that over half died before the year 1900, when the average U.S. life expectancy was less than 50.

You may think I'm belaboring a fairly obvious point. Chances are you don't want to be an old couch potato anyway, and accept that staying involved in life's daily affairs probably does increase the odds of enjoying a fulfilling retirement. Great, but can you back up your conviction by answering this simple question: "How are you preparing now to be able to lead an interesting life after you retire?"



B. The Importance of Thinking Ahead

Some of us look forward to retirement with an almost childlike sense of anticipation: "This is what I've waited for all my life -- a really long summer vacation!" Depending on our particular retirement fantasy -- gardening, travel, woodworking, painting, golfing, spending time with grandchildren or simply having the freedom to take a daily nap -- leisure-time activities are likely to figure large. Finally we will be free to enjoy every bit of personal gratification we have postponed since the day our parents first said, "If you don't stop playing and do your homework, you'll never amount to anything." Lots of other people in midlife, however, simply refuse to think about retirement. The idea creates a strong sense of unease because they can't conjure up any clear vision of what their lives will be like as they age. This inability to confront the inevitability that work, family and even recreational patterns will change later in life is especially common among people whose lives center around their jobs. As one midlevel manager I talked to remarked, "Once they take away my employee ID number, I'm not sure what I'll do or how I'll define myself."

At 65, Lots of People Are Just Getting Started The notion that older folks are supposed to sit on a park bench and feed pigeons while they wait for the Pearly Gates to open is increasingly seen as baloney by people of all ages. Many people do their best and most creative work after normal retirement age, a fact that is finally gaining wide recognition.

Ronald Reagan served two terms in the White House after age 65, and George Bush served most of one. Michelangelo designed St. Peter's cupola at 83. Ben Franklin helped draft the U.S. Constitution when he was over 80, and Oliver Wendell Holmes served on the Supreme Court into his 90s. Many painters and musicians, including Picasso, Matisse and Casals, continued to create inspirational work well into old age. When, at 93, Georgia O'Keeffe could no longer see well enough to paint, she took up sculpture. May Sarton finished her last book, At Eighty-Two: A Journal, just before she died at age 83. And as we all know, septuagenarian John Glenn retired from the U.S. Senate in order to have enough time to rejoin the space program.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. What Will You Do When You Retire?
Plan to Keep Busy
The Importance of Thinking Ahead
Making an Action Plan
Working Part-Time
Volunteering for a Good Cause
Pursuing Personal Interests
Continuing Your Education
Can You Buy an Action-Packed Retirement?
A Conversation With Ernest Callenbach
2. Health and Fitness
Some Immediate Ways to Improve Your Health
Stop Smoking
Clean Up Your Diet
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Control Your Blood Pressure
Control Your Cholesterol
Prevent Brittle Bones
Manage Stress
Get Needed Medical Tests
Embrace Sex and Prayer
Exercise Often
Finding Time to Exercise
Make the Commitment
Work Less
Cut Down Commute Time
Squeezing Out a Few Hours to Work Out
3. Family
The Value of Close Family Ties
How Healthy Is Your Family?
Ways to Improve Family Functioning
Spend More Time With Your Children
Work for a Family-Friendly Employer
Keep Your Family Unit as Extended as Possible
Don't Take Family Leadership for Granted
Try to Develop a Sense of Humor About Lifestyle Differences
Don't Give Up on Black Sheep
For Couples: Improving Your Relationship
Bernie and Bob Giusti
Getting Close Again
For Men Only: Look Beyond Your Paycheck
For Women Only: Avoid a Lonely Old Age
A Conversation With Henry and Althea Perry
4. Friends
Make Some Younger Friends
Make Friends Outside of Work
Forming New Friendships
Couples: Make Sure Your Friends Are Really Yours
Why It's Wise to Join Early
A Conversation With Yuri Moriwaki Shibata
5. Loving Life
Embrace Life, Not Money
Retirement Role Models
Dare to Be Authentic
A Conversation With Hazel Peterson
6. Reaching Out for Help to Create Your Successful Retirement
Find Positive Mentors
Look Inward
Participate in a Group Process
Forming a Geezer/Geezelle Group
A Conversation With Carol Thompson
7. Nursing Homes: How to Avoid Them, or Pay for Them If You Can't
Staying Out of a Nursing Home
Guard Your Health
Strengthen Your Family Relationships
Support Community Efforts to Provide Senior Services
Long-Term Care Insurance
The Cost of Long-Term Care and of Long-Term Care Policies
Are Long-Term Care Policies Lousy Deals?
Who Should Consider Insurance?
How to Find a Good Long-Term Care Policy
8. How Much Money Will You Need When You Retire?
A Closer Look at the Retirement Industry
How Much Retirement Savings Is Enough?
Estimating Your Retirement Needs
A Conversation With Afton Crooks
9. Where Will Your Money Come From After Age 65?
Social Security Retirement Benefits
How Much Will You Receive?
Social Security and Working After Retirement
Pensions and Individual Retirement Savings Plans
Employer Pension Plans
Individual Retirement Savings Plans
Continuing to Work
Income From Savings and Investments
Why Many Scare Stories Are Wrong
How Much Extra Do You Really Need to Save?
Inheritance
Talking to Your Parents
How to Think About Inheritance Uncertainties
Gifts
Early Retirement Incentives and Buy-Outs
Withdrawing Equity From Your House
Rent Out One or More Rooms
Move to a Less Expensive House
Sell Your House and Become a Renter
Get a Reverse Mortgage
10. How to Save Enough—Even If You Think It's Impossible
Credit Card Interest: How the Poor Pay the Rich
Looking at Your Credit Habits
Practical Ways to Break the Credit Habit
Using a Home Equity Loan or Borrowing From a 401(k) Plan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Plan to Avoid Car Payments
How to Buy a Decent Used Car for Cash
Prepay Your Mortgage
Comparing Mortgage Prepayments to Other Investments
Where Will Money to Prepay Your Mortgage Come From?
Adding Up the Savings
A Conversation With Peter Wolford
11. The Savvy Peasant's Investment Guide
How to Invest Like a Savvy Peasant
Your Investment Choices
Bank Savings Accounts
Bank Certificates of Deposit
Money Market Accounts
U.S. Government Inflation-Adjusted Securities
U.S. Treasury Bills
U.S. Government Bonds and Notes
Municipal Bonds
Corporate Bonds
Stocks
Stock Mutual Funds
Mutual Fund Basics
Variable Annuities
Immediate or Fixed Annuities
Real Estate
Precious Metals and Exotic Investments
Index

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