A virtual stroll through Amazon’s retirement gifts section brings up a bevy of tchotchkes, from the “officially retired” tiara to the “I’m retired you’re not” T-shirt.
But if you actually care about someone who has recently retired or is getting close, consider giving a book this holiday season that can help them stretch their nest egg, organize their financial life or contemplate the biggest unknown of all: How to find passion and purpose for the literal and figurative space once dominated by work.
Is your spouse, friend or parent mostly concerned with the financial end of retirement? If so, you might consider “How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide” by Jane Bryant Quinn.
The 2016 book dives into how to craft a strategy for claiming Social Security benefits, offering tips for couples, widows and widowers, and singles. Not sure how much you can safely spend once retired? The book runs through the common rules of thumb but also walks readers through newer theories about safe spending rates.
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Quinn also steps into the complex world of annuities, sorting out variable versus fixed-type products, new longevity annuities for retirement accounts that can satisfy required minimum distribution rules, and what types of annuities might be right for certain retirees. She offers tips on buying health and life insurance, too, as well as deciding whether to stay in a longtime home or downsize.
Can your loved one glean similar information from keeping up with personal finance articles offered as part of subscription personal finance sites and newspapers, or at free online sites? Frankly, yes. The advantage is having these wide-ranging retirement topics discussed in plain language and in a cohesive package. The book weighs in at nearly 350 pages, but is broken into topics for easier digestion.
Another practical gift for a soon-to-be or actual retiree is “Manage Your Financial Life: A Thoughtful, Organized Approach for Women,” by Nancy Doyle, a finance industry veteran who splits her time between advising a wealthy family on personal finance matters and running a website based on the book.
Though the just-published book isn’t specifically about retirement, it makes the point that saving, investing and managing money should be a lifelong pursuit, and gives tips on the very practical steps to getting your finances organized – down to the folders and paper clips you’ll need for the job.
After walking readers through a spring cleaning of their financial lives, she offers instructions for creating ICE (in case of emergency) plans to keep households running when disaster strikes.
She also covers how to create an income and cash flow statement, as well as a personal balance sheet. And she walks readers through the process of analyzing investments to assess how much risk they are taking in their portfolios.
Again, there are myriad ways to get the same information for free online, but these basic tips offer an accessible, low-tech way to think about clearing the clutter from your financial mind.
“A lot of people don’t really understand the risks they are taking” with various investments, Doyle said in an interview. “A big part of managing a financial life is being comfortable with the risks you are taking.” These are exercises that both women and men can benefit from.
If your giftee is one of those rare birds who already has the financial end of retirement well under control, perhaps a discussion beyond the Xs and Os is in order.
“Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife,” by Barbara Bradley Hagerty walks those from their 40s through their 60s through the process of mid-life renewal. How does this fit into a discussion of retirement personal finance? Depression at middle age can derail careers and stymie new job searches among older workers, not to mention add to ever-mounting health care costs.
Janet Kidd Stewart writes The Journey for Tribune Content Agency. Share your journey to or through retirement at firstname.lastname@example.org.