I have to confess that a new book called 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Retirement by Rein Selles, Jim Yih and Patricia French did not leave me gasping. But I did find the book to be very impressive because it contains the kind of straight talk that you usually don’t hear — certainly not from financial institutions that loves to project retirement as a time to laze around the cottage or walk carefree on a beach or indulge in a favourite sport, something quite different from the reality. One of the authors, Jim Yih, quite apty, calls this retirement pornography.

Canadians who are starting to plan for their retirement or already planning it will find this book to be invaluable. Topics discussed include what to expect in retirement both from a lifestyle and financial point of view, debt reduction, investments, insurance, taxes, generating income in retirement and estate planning.

The book has an interesting structure. One author kicks off the discussion on a topic and the others chime in later in a roundtable format. As each author works in a different field — Rein Selles is a Retirement Planner, Jim Yih is a Financial Expert and Patricia French is a Family Finance Expert — they each bring an unique perspective to the subject under discussion.

Here’s a sampling of some of the straight talk I found in the book:

On the topic of how much to save for retirement — “Live frugally, save what you can, retire when you can afford to, and manage to a budget thereafter.” [Quote from Malcolm Hamiltom] So the key is to stay flexible. Be the tree that bends with the wind and you may live to retire at a ripe and rich old age.

On the topic how spending changes in retirement — “Despite all the stories regarding the cost of healthcare in retirement, seniors in 2005 spent an average of $1,733 per person, an amount $487 less per person than that spent by Albertans under 65″.

On borrowing to invest: “[However], I think leverage as we call it, is over-promoted and oversold. It is time to change the way we think about debt. Instead of going into more debt — even if it is good debt — we should start focusing on paying down our other debts first”.

The book is available for $30 (taxes and shipping included) through Jim Yih’s website. A review copy was furnished by Jim Yih. I should also mention I know Jim through our blogs and on Twitter.

This article has 23 comments

  1. Thanks for the review Ram! I really appreciate the reviews even if it did not make you gasp!

  2. Thanks for link. That gasping was in the metaphorical sense!
    I liked the advice in the book to try out, before retiring, those places you dream of spending your golden years at and/or the things you envision doing.

  3. Vanguard recently published an interesting article with a similar title: Lessons About Retirement–Learned in Retirement, by Stan Hinden, a former reporter for the Washington Post. Some of his lessons are US-specific, of course, and none of them were big surprises, but it’s always interesting to get the perspective of someone who’s “been there.” Here’s the link: https://retirementplans.vanguard.com/VGApp/pe/pubnews/StanHinden.jsf?SelectedSegment=BuildingWealth

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  5. Good post about a good book. I have a lot of respect for Jim Yih in particular. “Retirement pornography” is a great descriptor of much of the current approach to promotion of financial products available today — – especially expensive ones like Guaranteed Minimun Withdrawal Benefi plans, annuities, equity-linked notes etc.

  6. The book sounds like it is worth a read. The quote “retirement pornography” is apt. Commercials with 40-year-olds with their hair died gray playing tennis are annoying. I’ll see if this book ever breaks into my list of about 20 books I haven’t yet read but intend to read.

  7. “[However], I think leverage as we call it, is over-promoted and oversold. It is time to change the way we think about debt. Instead of going into more debt — even if it is good debt — we should start focusing on paying down our other debts first”

    I think this is an understatement. Not a few financial institutions base their business plan on having financial salespeople talk customers into mortgaging their house to buy investments, creating a huge payday for the saleperson and his firm, but putting the financial plan of the customer and their family at greater risk. Even “good debt” is a two-edged sword. Anyone contemplating using debt in their financial plan should get two second opinions: one from your parents and one from a financial advisor (who you don’t plan to work with).

  8. @Jim: I was deeply impressed with this book. You and you co-authors have done a wonderful job.

    @Larry: I had a co-worker who did just that. He liked to call it retirement on an installment plan. Given that a retired lifestyle is reportedly quite different from a working lifestyle, it makes a lot of sense to have a trail run first.

    @brad: Interesting interview. We are hearing a lot about annuities these days, aren’t we?

    @Dale, @Michael: Yes, retirement porn is a very apt term. Not to pick on TD Bank, but here are some retirement imagery from them:

    http://www.tdretirement.com/pictureyourdreams.aspx

    @Robert: My opinion of leverage is closer to yours as well. But, I still give points to this book for not falling for the usual rah-rah about leverage.

  9. The TD images are funny. Perhaps as a counterbalance we should ask them to include pictures of a colonoscopy and hip-replacement surgery.

  10. Thanks to everyone for the comments. Writing this book was a lot of fun and special thanks goes out to my two co-authors. When I use the term ‘retirement pornography’ in my workshops it always gets a chuckle and creates quite a discussion.

  11. Nice points. Retirement really should be about achieving personal freedom, not achieving whatever it is that the advisor is trying to paint for you. I am also wondering about borrowing to invest. With interest rates as low as they are, that could easily be the next bubble to come.

  12. I’m looking forward to reading it. I will add it to my growing list!

    @Michael James – totally agree – ads with 40-somethings playing tennis or sailing their boats drive me bonkers.

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  14. Michael James……”The TD images are funny. Perhaps as a counterbalance we should ask them to include pictures of a colonoscopy and hip-replacement surgery.” …..maybe TD could show us how to move up waiting list!…..but the real funny TD ad’s are the one’s targeted to Gay’s …I’m just waiting for those two old guys too lock lips.

  15. Thanks for the review,

    I plan to purchase this book and read it. I’ve been to one or two presentations by Jim Yih and he knows his stuff. Also attended a retirement course taught by Rein Selles (one of the co-authors) and I have plans to attend this course again get an update on the various retirement trends.

  16. @tw – Thanks for the compliment! I can fool some but not all!

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