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Book review: 'Retire in a Weekend'

Who should read it
"Retire in a Weekend" is specifically targeted at baby boomers, and addresses the decisions that should be thought out prior to retirement.

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Synopsis
Author Bill Losey begins by taking an inventory of values to help readers define what retirement means at the individual level. One point made throughout the book: "My view is not that 'life is too short,' but rather that 'life is too long not to be doing those things that are fun and rewarding.'" In other words, if you get paid for doing what you love to do, what energizes you, then you really aren't working but rather pursuing your passion. In that case, maybe you don't need to retire at all.

The book goes beyond navel gazing -- for which boomers are renowned -- and discusses investment risk, dispels retirement myths and explains asset allocation as well as the composition of a "skill-weighted portfolio" designed to lower costs and maximize returns. Instead of the conventional pie chart broken out into various asset classes, Losey's portfolio resembles concentric circles, with low-cost index funds constituting the portfolio's core, surrounded by an "active ring" and an "alpha rim" that may be composed of more expensive investments with higher return potential. The bases are covered, just designed a little differently.

Book review
"Retire in a Weekend: The Baby Boomer's Guide to Making Work Optional"
 
 
 

There's a chapter devoted to creating income for life using various financial instruments including annuities. And Losey shares his "safe-money benchmark strategy," which calls for the liquidation of assets that exceed a predetermined level. A brief discussion on when to begin taking Social Security payouts is followed by an exhortation on the importance of buying long-term care insurance.

The book concludes with the importance of pursuing activities that provide satisfaction and fulfillment. Boomers are back to pondering the meaning of life as it applies to them personally. Recommended resources listed at the end of the book revert to ones the author himself offers, whether readers are interested in help with money management, attending a retreat, hiring him as a planner or perusing his Web site, which is referenced throughout the book, as well.

Strong/weak points
Because little in the book actually suggests that one should retire in a weekend, Bankrate asked the author point-blank why he chose that name for it. Losey cited several reasons. "First, it's real catchy and grabs a person's attention. Second, the name coincides with the name of a daylong retreat I put on for people. Lastly, I've kept the book short on purpose so baby boomers can read it in a matter of hours over the course of a weekend."

This is true -- it's a quick read, and you don't need sophisticated knowledge of finance and investments to plow through it. The obvious shortcoming is that the book doesn't delve deeply into all the issues confronting people as they approach retirement. But it covers the basics, and if an encyclopedic treatment of retirement issues would prevent boomers from actually reading the book, that would defeat the author's purpose.

Takeaway
The book contains some good ideas and helps demystify some of the financial concepts and products out there. It's a good way to ease into the idea of retirement and learn enough jargon to facilitate dialogue with a financial adviser. In short, the book whets the appetite, but it doesn't satiate one's hunger for more complete information about retirement planning. But that seems to be the author's intention.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: April 30, 2008
 
 
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