The facts aren’t encouraging: fewer people are saving money these days and those who are, are saving less than in the past. Many employees are planning to work more years than they’d hoped in order to prepare for a comfortable retirement.
Author James C. Molet has written a book filled with advice to help people plan for a financially happier retirement. Rendezvous with Retirement – A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit is a treasure trove of information on controlling debt and investing wisely, his definition of being fiscally fit.
In 1994, the author was broke. He and his wife had separated and it left him in a financial mess. His parents helped him financially and he even donated plasma for cash. In 2001, he finally was divorced, had been in active duty in the Army for 17 years, and was still living month-to-month. But he vowed to change his financial picture, spending two to three years doing intensive reading, researching and taking courses in finances.
Indeed he did turn his life around and has now written Rendezvous with Retirement to share his wealth of knowledge. He covers a wide range of ideas, beginning with the advice to conduct an honest analysis of one’s financial obligations. In other words – develop a budget. Don’t estimate your expenses – be as exact as possible. Write it all down, he advises – car loan, child support, rent, food, utilities. Seeing these numbers on paper seems to make your situation more real and tangible. The next step is to find ways to eliminate or lower these obligations. Readers will be surprised how many ways there are to do just that.
Molet uses a fictional “Smith Family” throughout the book to illustrate how to do what he advises, so that readers can see the spreadsheet “the Smith’s” used, how they began cutting expenses and so forth. It’s a clever device.
The author addresses a wide array of issues, offering not only opinions but methods to improve the problems related to those topics. A few areas include credit cards (a huge enemy for consumers), social security, credit reports, financial advisor pros and cons, retirement savings plans and establishing an emergency fund.
This last topic is basic but often overlooked. Emergency funds, he explains, aren’t just to cover unexpected health expenses. Consider the age of your car, your household items or household appliances. Work on building a suitable fund to cover repairs on these items before going full steam ahead with your retirement plan.
The volume of information in the book is staggering and the only criticism is that the amount of numbers and percentages presented is staggering, too. Molet is obviously a smart and savvy financial person. But the sections of Rendezvous… dealing with numbers and percentages will have to be read slowly by the average reader, who should have pad and pen in hand for taking notes. It’s a bit complicated and for those who suffer from lack of understanding about money managing anyway, it might be overwhelming.
Thankfully there’s much to be learned that doesn’t involve strictly facts and figures. He does include a glossary at the back of the book to help with any terms that are unfamiliar, too.
Rendezvous with Retirement… makes no flashy promises to provide an easy path to acquiring wealth and preparing for a comfortable retirement. But it does offer an abundance of guidelines and tools to make the process a lot less unpleasant.