Friday, February 24, 2012
Retirement Quest: Book Review
Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions by John Hauserman, CFP
Click here to purchase book
Unless forced to, most of us never quite take the time to consciously think through our plans for retirement. The blessing of our longer life spans has proven to be a curse for the Social Security system which planned for helping senior citizens for a much shorter time. Subconsciously, I tell myself that everything will be all right, that retirement is in the future and I might get around to thinking about it tomorrow. In my mind, I am still young, but in human years, I am fast approaching that magic age. I need a plan of action. Now.
Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions (RQ) looked like a good place to start. A better sub-title for this book might have been “Make Better Financial Decisions, since it does nothing to address the issues of health care, assisted living, which type of Depends is better, etc. Still, for finance information, it held some valuable information.
The author, John Hauserman, is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) based in Maryland and was named a five-star wealth manager by Baltimore Magazine. His own business card reads “Retirement Quest: Wealth Management.” Oh, how I would love to be wealthy (and healthy) in my retirement.
Beyond giving background into the need for financial planning, RQ is a basic primer for investors, explaining stocks, bonds, insurance, etc., The explanations are simple and easy to understand, with a little bit of effort, nothing too deep or intimidating. Except that technical books of any type can be a little bit intimidating and require more thought than your everyday romance.
RQ points out, explains and gives examples of how young and old alike need to be actively engaged in planning for their own financial future. Formulas are given for figuring out current assets and projecting necessary funds for the future. The differences in the types of insurance, and in the types of financial planners and brokers are explained.
Mr. Hauseman gives information and general suggestions for investment but avoids giving any specific recommendations, noting that too many variables such as individual needs and assets and market volatility affect what the best investing strategies are.
The end of the book moves quietly into politics and its role in economics and market cycles then explains how the US got into its current economic state. I especially enjoyed this part of the book and its depiction of a generation who went through depressions and wars and came out fighting and working for everything they had then raised a generation who didn’t have a concept of what being needy was.
The analogy of the “frog in a pot” was especially apt. We have gone our merry way without a care until we are in big financial trouble. (My expanded version: A frog was put into a pot of water and thought everything was great. He was happy and could swim around without a care. He continued to feel secure as the water heated up until, before he realized anything was wrong, it was too late....he was cooked.)
I had to say “amen” to many of the observations in this book. My own dubious investment history bears out many of his cautionary tales. I could see myself in his “dot.com” scenarios and his stories of people hanging onto too much stock for sentimental reasons. For those who haven’t found themselves in these situations yet, his advice is priceless.
A technical book is difficult to review because there is no plot to summarize and condensing technical matter just doesn’t work. The best thing I can say for this book is that I highly recommend it because it gives the reader the knowledge she needs to make informed decisions.....hopefully with the help of a professional.
As for using this as a book group discussion, I can only say that while it sounds like a good idea on the surface, it would be like supplying a group of teen-age boys with a bunch of illegal fireworks. Without the experts to help, someone would end up getting his hand blown off.
To read more about the author, click here.
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