Session 23 – Emily Brandon

Session Notes

  • Has written about retirement for US News for over 11 years. Has interviewed a lot of experts.
  • She has collected their advice and has put it into a book titled: Pensionless: The 10-Step Solution to a Stess-Free Retirement
  • You can use the book as a reference whenever you reach a point where you have a question about a retirement topic
  • Her blog postings cover retirement planning and aging issues. It helps you figure out when you can (or want) retire and how to prepare.
  • The financial component of retirement planning is fundamental but social engagement and lifestyle is also very important and should be part of your retirement plan.
  • After transitioning into retirement many need to come up with a new answer to “what do you do” because we identify with our career.
  • Emily included “stress free” in her book’s title. The stress free part refers to understanding that you have options available to help you plan for your retirement.
  • Shift away from pensions means you bear the risk and if you underuse retirement accounts, then your retirement may suffer
  • While the book is primarily intended for people who are approaching retirement and trying to figure it out, younger people could benefit too because the sooner you understand the self-serve retirement landscape and begin to save, the better off you will be in the long run
  • Her book is not only a resource but also educational. It helps you understand how to use various retirement accounts, deal with Medicare, save on taxes and fees and how to reduce costs.
  • The financial side of the retirement equation has to be solved so you can do what it is you want to do whether it is travel, volunteer or whatever interests you.
  • The book can be used in collaboration with a financial advisor but be sure to select one who has a fiduciary responsibility to you the client.
  • The decision to retire is difficult because the longer you delay the more you can save, the more your investments can grow and the higher your SSA benefit will be. But you give up time to do what you want probably while still healthy. A lot of it depends on how much you like your job and how much your finances need to be improved.
  • Roughly 40% of people retire sooner than planned due to layoffs, health or caring for a family member. It is important to save as much as possible because “retirement is something that happens to you while making other plans”.
  • Emily recommends “stress testing” your retirement plan using “what ifs”. For example what if we have a health problem or a major unexpected expense or lose our job. Sometimes insurance or an emergency fund can help mitigate these events. It is important to come up with a strategy to deal with the “what ifs” and to include them in your retirement plan.
  • Couples need to communicate changing roles in retirement. You need to think about how you both want to spend your time and often some compromise is necessary.
  • You may be able to retire sooner if you’re willing to reduce how much you spend every month. Downsizing and taking equity can help fund early retirement. But you have to be willing to adapt to a different lifestyle.
  • Trying out new activities before you retire helps you figure out what you like and can help make the adjustment to retirement smoother
  • Some employers allow people to reduce their hours which present an opportunity to start up new hobbies, projects, volunteering, etc.
  • Her book, Pensionless, is available in bookstores and on Amazon. There is also an eBook and audio book.
  • Emily recommends that you create a mySSA account
  • Check out your annual 401K fee disclosure statement to see how much you’re paying and see if there are other comparable investment options with lower fees. Minimizing those fees will give you more money to spend in retirement.
  • myIRA is a new retirement account for people who don’t have a 401K through their employer. The myIRA is guaranteed not to lose money. It offers only one investment choice – government bonds. You can have part of your paycheck directly deposited into this account. The myIRA is a Roth account which means that contributions are after tax and withdrawals, including interest, are tax-free.
  • Emily receives a lot of feedback from readers many with questions. As a journalist, she has access to subject matter experts who can help her answer questions.
  • US News plans to publish a list of best places to retire by the end of 2017
  • If possible, consider renting first before buying in case you end up not liking where you’ve moved to
  • You can send retirement questions to Emily via her email or follow her on twitter
  • Pay attention to deadlines. Almost every program has deadlines which if missed can lead to penalties and fees.
  • In summary, this generation of retirees has to piece together their own retirement plan. The good news is that there are programs in place that make it possible.
  • The sooner you save the more options you will have when you retire

Links and References