How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Money Guide – Book Review

How to make your money last
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Jane Bryant Quinn’s How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide is one of the absolute best resources to help you bridge the gap between working and retirement/financial independence.  In this review, I go over the highlights of How to Make Your Money Last, and review what you can and cannot expect this book to provide.

The Book’s Focus – Making the Switch from Working to Retirement (or Financial Independence) and Making Your Money Last

You often hear that the top three concerns among new retirees is (1) running out of money too soon, (2) health care costs and other health-related issues, and (3) boredom.  Quinn’s new book takes the first of these concerns head on.  It also even has a little to say about the other two issues.  Its focus, however, is on the first concern, and it does an excellent job on that front.

The book is not aimed at a younger audience.  Nevertheless, anyone planning to use their savings and investments to fund some or all of their ongoing living expenses – something many younger people now do – will likely find Quinn’s book helpful.  So if you are within 5 years or so of retirement or your FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) goal date, this book is for you.

In particular, the book focuses on what happens when you make the transition from working and accumulating assets to using your savings and investments to fund your lifestyle. As Quinn explains in the introduction, your perspective on your finances changes dramatically as you switch from saving and accumulating assets  to living off of your assets:

The way you look at your finances changes as you move from preretirement to your postretirement years. While you’re still working, you focus on accumulating a satisfactory pile. You might have a dollar target in mind. More likely, you’re saving whatever you can, aiming every year for “more.” You’re paying down debt (I hope) and focusing on investments that can make your money grow.

That flips when you enter retirement’s door. Suddenly, you have to take the money you’ve saved and turn it into a reliable income for life. How large will that income be?

I definitely began experiencing this change in perspective when I began to solidify my plans for early retirement.  Quinn’s helpful perspective on this topic is what makes the book stand out from others.  The book is filled with practical tips to help make that transition.

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Overview of the Chapters

Not all of us face the same issues as we transition into retirement/FIndependence.  Some of us, for example, have built up pensions that can do some or all of the work.  Others may have life insurance policies.  Quinn covers many of these common situations, which means not every chapter may apply to you (which is fine because you can skip it).

  1.  The Joy and Challenge of Life After Work. Discusses the non-economic issues concerning retirement, the “five stages” of retirement, and what you can do to make the most of your new adventure.  Also includes information on some lifetime learning classes and other resources for retirees.


  1. Rightsize Your Life. Focuses on the importance of managing your spending in retirement and “rightsizing” your lifestyle to match your lifestyle with what you can afford.  This chapter also includes a four step retirement spending plan, and covers a variety of special situations that may affect your budget such as real estate, health care, etc..


  1. How to Double Your Social Security Income (Well, Almost). Covers the latest social security strategies (which keep changing so make sure they are current).


  1. Getting the Most from Your Health Insurance— Before and After 65. Provides a quick health insurance “primer,” discusses the different types of plans, the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, etc.


  1. Pensions Are for Stre-e-e-etching. Covers the generally available benefit options one must choose, considerations for when to take a lump sum, considerations for couples, the dangers of so-called “pension maximization,” etc.


  1. Should You Buy Yourself a Pension? Covers annuities, and the benefits of single premium immediate annuities in many situations.


  1. Powering Your Retirement Savings Plans. Delves into what to do in the event you have not saved enough to meet your goals, and  must go into savings overdrive.


  1. The Speed Limit on Retirement Spending: Still 4 Percent? Provides a thorough analysis of William Bengen’s 4 percent spending rule and covers some of the more recent research, criticisms of the 4 percent rule, and more.


  1. Investing for Income: Not What You Think. Debunks the common view that retirees should focus on investing for “income” rather than investing for total return.


  1. Home Sweet Income-Producing Home. Covers strategies for unlocking home equity and reasons why you might want to do that (or not) at various stages.


  1. Living on Your Life Insurance. Notes how life insurance may no longer make sense in retirement (e.g., if no one still depends on your income), and reviews how to extract more value from various types of life insurance policies.


  1. Just Tell Me What to Do. Provides detail on the precise “to dos” to bring your plan together and make it work, and includes a detailed “retirement checklist.”  Also covers the all-important part of putting together a plan to defend your assets if/when you begin to decline mentally.

Each of the chapters is surprisingly thorough.  And, although one might quibble at the margins with some of details, Quinn does a nice job of also noting those areas.  For example, Quinn notes that she is using a 4.5% withdrawal rate.  Although I, for one, would not be comfortable with that rate with current market valuations, Quinn notes that individuals like Wade Pfau have raised concerns about that spending rate.  As I did in my article on retirement spending, Quinn also notes the importance of tracking performance and minding the gap.

You May Already Know Everything in How to Make Your Money Last, but the Book Still Makes a Great Gift

If you have been researching spending in retirement and other related issues, you will likely have come across some or even all of the advice in this book.  But I doubt you will have seen the information in in one place in such a well organized fashion.

If you already know this stuff cold, this book also makes a great gift.  I purchased a copy for a friend in his early sixties who only recently began to think seriously about retirement (after some prodding from yours truly).  We discussed retirement planning over several lunches, and it became clear to me he would benefit from the book.  So I gave him a copy.

Conclusion – Get Your Copy of Quinn’s Book Today

In sum, I highly recommend Quinn’s How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide for reader’s of this site.  It is well written, it is filled with useful information, and for a topic like this fairly fun to read.  Get your copy today by clicking on the above link, and by doing so you will also help support this site as well!

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