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The Book

The essence of the book, the main idea of the book, is to get people to think differently about retirement. To get them to realize that the old rules of retirement no longer apply, since forces beyond their control are changing the shape of retirement itself. Forces such as increased life expectancy, the sheer size of the baby boom generation that is just beginning to enter retirement, and the massive replacement of pensions with 401(K) plans, that shifts the risk away from the corporations, where it used to be, and onto the shoulders of individuals.

The impact of these radical changes on retirement makes it critical to redefine retirement, to understand all the risks involved, both old and new, and to think more pragmatically about the meaning retirement and best methods for generating reliable retirement income.

It wasn’t that long ago that the average retirement lasted no more than 10 years. For the boomer generation, ten years marks the first stage of a retirement that can easily last 30 years or more. Longer lives mean increased risk of outliving your nest egg. You might say that longevity is killing us.

The other inescapable stress that the boomers are creating for retirement is the result of the huge demographic bulge they represent. With upwards of 80 million members, the boomer generation is destined to reshape retirement as they reshaped the institutions of school, college, and the workplace. The trouble this spells for Social Security is only made worse by the boomers comparatively low birth rates, which means the largest generation ever to become eligible for Social Security will have to depend on a comparatively small generation to keep it solvent. So the question is how to make sense of all of these changes within the context of a concrete plan that prepares you for a secure retirement, however long it lasts.

The demise of the old pension plan and the rise of the 401(k) represents a new retirement risk; now, individuals must cope with the risk that bad investment decisions can have catastrophic consequences for their lifestyle in retirement. So a useful redefinition of retirement will dispel the myth that investing is always safe and, as long as you stay invested, no matter what the circumstances, you will come out ahead. Redefining retirement means taking a fresh look at all the assets to which individuals have access, and thinking in new ways about how to put those assets to work to generate lasting retirement income.

The essence of the book, the main idea of the book, is to get people to think differently about retirement. To get them to realize that the old rules of retirement no longer apply, since forces beyond their control are changing the shape of retirement itself. Forces such as increased life expectancy, the sheer size of the baby boom generation that is just beginning to enter retirement, and the massive replacement of pensions with 401(K) plans, that shifts the risk away from the corporations, where it used to be, and onto the shoulders of individuals.

The impact of these radical changes on retirement makes it critical to redefine retirement, to understand all the risks involved, both old and new, and to think more pragmatically about the meaning retirement and best methods for generating reliable retirement income.

It wasn’t that long ago that the average retirement lasted no more than 10 years. For the boomer generation, ten years marks the first stage of a retirement that can easily last 30 years or more. Longer lives mean increased risk of outliving your nest egg. You might say that longevity is killing us.

The other inescapable stress that the boomers are creating for retirement is the result of the huge demographic bulge they represent. With upwards of 80 million members, the boomer generation is destined to reshape retirement as they reshaped the institutions of school, college, and the workplace. The trouble this spells for Social Security is only made worse by the boomers comparatively low birth rates, which means the largest generation ever to become eligible for Social Security will have to depend on a comparatively small generation to keep it solvent. So the question is how to make sense of all of these changes within the context of a concrete plan that prepares you for a secure retirement, however long it lasts.

The demise of the old pension plan and the rise of the 401(k) represents a new retirement risk; now, individuals must cope with the risk that bad investment decisions can have catastrophic consequences for their lifestyle in retirement. So a useful redefinition of retirement will dispel the myth that investing is always safe and, as long as you stay invested, no matter what the circumstances, you will come out ahead. Redefining retirement means taking a fresh look at all the assets to which individuals have access, and thinking in new ways about how to put those assets to work to generate lasting retirement income.

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Robert J. Krakower, CFP