Well it really is becoming a formula to read some of these retirement books. So in that case Fred Brock’s Retire on Less Than You Think is obvious in some ways. It talks about downsizing your home, cutting small costs like buying a lunch out and talks about the fact that Social Security isn’t as bad as everyone thinks (it’s a US based book and a bit old).
Perhaps the most important idea I learned from the book was don’t assume you want to retire in the location your are currently living in. A move to a cheaper location might be just want you need to pull the plug early. He was also smart enough to point out the downsides of doing this like being further away from family and how this can backfire is you are not careful. Lots of research is key to use this tool to retire early. You have to consider property and provincial taxes and know where your retirement income will be coming from (interest, dividends or capital gains).
Despite the formula of the book, it did manage to hold my interest in a few sections with stories of retirees and how they left the work force early without a huge fortune. Perhaps the one quote from a retiree that really got my attention was this:
There are two ways to live at my age, you can have financial security or you can have a meaningful life. A combination of both in my experience is rare. Many financially secure people I’ve met are not leading meaningful lives – they are looking for distractions and external meaning. They spend a lot of time rattling around or watching TV.
Now that is food for thought. How much financial security do we need in our retirements? Life during work is hardly predictable so why do we spend so much time planning the money in retirement? Are we missing out on the meaning in our lives because of this? If nothing else that quote made me think a bit and made my time reading the book useful.