Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Review: How I Stopped Worrying About Retirement

During the weekend I finished reading How I Stopped Worrying About Retirement (without alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or other artificial stimulants) by Bruce McDougall which was an entertaining read. As you can tell by the title there is a fair amount of humour in the book which is a nice change from the typical personal finance book.

The other two thing that really sets this book apart from its peers. They are:

1) The entire book is told as a series of conversations between friends, similar to the Wealthy Barber. So it's easy to read as compared to the typically dry reading some personal finance books can be. Perhaps what is more amazing is there is a plot to the story rather than just a nice way to present information.

2) The author uses the characters to show different points of view and allows the reader to make up their own minds. Also the characters don't have perfect retirements. One had to cash in $50,000 of his RRSP's to cover the legal defense for his son's run in with the law, while another lost a pile of money with a junior mining company fraud.

As much as I enjoyed reading the book I'm left with a few problems with it. First the cast of character is large and you are dumped into a scene with all of them fairly shortly, so it's a bit confusing in the beginning to remember who is who (For example, is Richard or Cecil the penny pincher?). The second problem is the conversational style doesn't let the author touch on too many details for each topic so your left wanting more in some cases.

Yet despite the flaws, overall its a good read. It must be if my wife is thinking about reading it, since she almost never touches my personal finance books.


Already Retired said...

Getting younger people to think about retirement is a challenge. Maybe this book will help a few.

In hindsight, I now see that random chance can play a big part in things.

I know one person who retired at 49 and died before he reached 55. I worked with a few guys who never made it to retirement. They died "in the harness" so to speak. I had more than one guy chat with me in good humour on the friday, then I would hear on Monday that he had died over the weekend.

Health, physical or mental, for either spouse, can shoot holes in the best of retirement plans.

I think the most intelligent plan is to try and enjoy every day while you are working. Try to strike a healthy balance (for you and your spouse/family) between preparing for retirement and living for the day.

Enjoy the journey. Find things to be passionate about. Blogs are great!

A book that I found very helpful was:

"The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen R. Covey


Canadian Dream said...

Already Retired,

I agree that most people don't think about retirement until they are sitting right on top of it.

Health (mental and physical) is mostly overlooked in retirement planning as a rule. People get so worked up by the numbers that they tend forget you still have to live their life until retirement and have a plan for all that time they will suddenly have to fill when they are retired. That is why I often complain to my wife I have yet to see a book that cover it all well.

Thanks for your comments. It is great to hear from someone who has already taken the jump into early retirement.