Pensions are becoming less and less common, leaving workers from baby boomers down to millennials struggling to figure out the best strategies to save for their eventual retirements. As senior editor and retirement columnist for U.S. News & World Report, Emily Brandon has become the go-to financial expert for millions of readers. Now she’s sharing her insights and advice in her first book, Pensionless: The 10-Step Solution to a Stress-Free Retirement.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, only 22 percent of Americans have a traditional pension plan. This leaves the rest of us with a sometimes confusing array of options to sort through in our individual quests for a secure financial future. To help with this process, Pensionless presents 10 essential steps, ranging from “Make the Most of Medicare” to “Add Tax Diversification with a Roth IRA” and “Control Your Housing Costs.”
One of the steps, for example, urges us to be sure to take advantage of all available retirement tax deductions and credits. “How well you use your retirement accounts, and avoid the taxes and penalties associated with them, will ultimately determine your retirement lifestyle,” Brandon says. No pressure, right? Luckily for us, she takes the “stress-free” part of the book’s title seriously by offering multiple easy-to-follow action items in each of her ten steps.
What I liked: Brandon’s understandable overview of the many facets of Social Security and Medicare, both programs almost all of us are currently or will someday participate in. Strive to pay into the Social Security system for at least 35 years to maximize future benefits is just one of her many tips in this area.
What I loved: The book’s emphasis on reducing the expenses of whatever retirement option we ultimately choose while also reducing the expenses of our current lifestyle to make our retirement savings last even longer. “Many of your costs may go up in retirement,” the author warns. “Try to budget for these in advance so they don’t disrupt your financial planning.”
What makes Pensionless worth buying: Brandon’s final step, “Reinvent Your Life.” “Retirement is a beginning,” she reminds us. “You get to leave all the judgment [of your work and career] behind to pursue your own fulfillment.” Besides the expected advice on transitioning from full-time work to whatever it is you decide to do next, she also spends time on the process of deciding when to retire, as well as how to manage an unexpected retirement.
Read Pensionless if: You’re feeling hopelessly behind in preparing for retirement, whether that’s happening in months, years, or decades. No matter how overwhelming retirement planning can seem at times, Brandon’s 10-step process should leave you the feeling of peace of mind instead. Chances are, if you pay attention to her guidance, you won’t ever miss that pension you were never going to get anyway.