(Articles, observations, and items of interest pertaining to financial & retirement planning)
Last updated: 5 September 2014

(DISCLAIMER: Over time, I hope to include articles, web links and other references, and my own observations and musings, that pertain to retirement in general and retirement planning in particular. I am not a financial planner, not affiliated with any financial entity, and get no compensation for anything included here. I have no certifications nor am I in any way professionally qualified to make recommendations about investments.. What I will write about includes only my opinions based on my experiences, what I've read (that makes sense), what has worked for me (and what hasn't), and some of the choices I've made and the reasons behind them. I hope you will find them of some value.)

One of the benefits retirement brings is "freedom" -- to do what whatever you want, travel wherever you want, control how you spend your time. Sounds great, but it's not that simple. It takes planning, and the earlier you start, the more likely you'll be able to enjoy a happy and healthy retirement. (After that, it IS pretty simple!) From the start of my professional career, I expected to retire one day, but I had no idea when that might be, or what I might do in retirement. Although I didn't realize it, my retirement planning began with my first job, when I allocated a percentage of every paycheck to "savings": an interest-earning savings account and participation in my company's employee stock purchase plan at first. Later, my savings became more sophisticated: equity market investments, contributions to an IRA, and ultimately participation in the 401(k) plans of every employer I ever worked for. I credit the habit of saving to my father--it was probably the best thing I ever learned from him.

For me, "formal" planning began in earnest about three years before I "officially" retired on March 31, 2006. This was by no means too soon. It began when I read Paul & Vicki Terhorst's book "Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35". Although I was quite a bit beyond my 35th year, what I got from reading their book was the idea of how I wanted to spend the rest of my life and the basics for how to structure my retirement to enable this. Knowing what you want to do in retirement is the first requirement. IF YOU DON'T KNOW, DON'T RETIRE!!

Here are the links to articles I've written:

Personal Finance
..."How We Got from a Full Service Broker to Doing it Ourselves" (last modified: 8/9/2014)
..."Investments & Golf Clubs: It's All Marketing" (last modified: 8/9/2014)

Life/Retirement Planning
..."What Do You Want to Do and How Are You Going to Do It?" (last modified 8/9/2014)

The Great Recession of 2008
...The Economy--How We're Coping (last modified 12/17/2008)

Outlines for two seminars I presented at The University of South Carolina School of Music (September 5, 2014):
..."Personal Financial & Retirement Planning" (for faculty & staff)
..."6 Habits for Personal Financial Success" (for students)

Here's a short email I wrote in response to some questions about retirement planning I received from a reader of the Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine article (Oct 2005) in which we were featured.

One of my re-discoveries in retirement is the public library. I have read several books on retirement in general and early retirement in particular. Here are some recommendations along with my editorial comments:

The Smartest Money Book You'll Ever Read by Daniel R. Solin. (It is. You can read it in a couple of hours. I own it and refer to it often.)
The Smartest Retirement Book You'll Ever Read by Daniel R. Solin. (So is this, and I own it, too.)
Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel. (A classic--debunks all the industry investment hype; and an easy read.)
How to Retire Early and Live Well With Less Than A Million Dollars by Gillette Edmunds (The last of my top five. I own this one, too.)
The Number : A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life by Lee Eisenberg. (Very entertaining, but it won't tell you what your "number" is.)
Retire Early - Make the Smart Choices by Steven Silbiger (One of the most valuable I've read; I bought a copy for reference.)
The Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder (A little Buddhism combined with practical insights about money.)
Retire on Less than You Think by Fred Brock (His main message: how much you need to retire is a function of your expenses; NOT your current income: downsize and reduce expenses.)
You Can Retire Young: How to Retire in Your 40s and 50s without Being Rich by Larry Ferstenou. (A bit extreme, but the message comes out loud and clear.)
Cracking Your retirement Nest Egg by Margaret A. Malaspina (25 things to know before tapping any retirement savings plan. Another good reference, what Silbiger's book does for social security decisions, this one does for 401(k) and IRA accounts.)
25 Myths You've Got to Avoid If You Want to Manage Your Money Right by Jonathan Clements. (Thought provokling and mostly "right on". Written in 1998, it's a bit out of date, especially since it was written before the dot com bubble burst.)

The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement a CD available for purchase from the authors, Billy and Akeisha Kaderli. They retired in their late 30s and have been traveling the world ever since. They cover everything from finances to medical care. (My main page has the link.)

and, of course, the one that got me started back in 2003: Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35 by Paul Terhorst. (Written over 20 years ago and out of print, but you can find it on the internet if you look hard.)

You'll find many of these books make reference to each other. They all read pretty easily--they won't put you to sleep.

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