4 books to prepare for Your Victory Lap

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A question that frequently comes up is what books we would recommend people read to help prepare themselves for a successful VL (Victory Lap). I think this happens because many of our talks are held at libraries and people there are accustomed to doing their own research. There are a lot of good books out there, including Victory Lap Retirement, but the following four will do the job getting you both mentally and financially prepared to launch your own VL.

1)   How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, by Ernie Zelinski.

This is the book that helped convince me it was ok to leave my stressful banking job. If you are in a similar position, you know it is hard to leave a well-paying job late in your career. However it is just as hard staying in a job that makes you miserable just to save some extra money for a retirement that you have no idea what it will look like. When you are in a job you hate, something has to give and I hope it’s not your health. If you lose your health,  does it really matter how much money you have? You might want to think about that one a little before it’s too late.

We give out a copy of Ernie’s book at our presentations, as there is usually at least one person in attendance who is willing to admit they are struggling with the “should I stay or should I go?”  decision.

Having been there myself I feel for them and know Ernie’s book will help them, just like it helped me.

2)    The Essential Retirement Guide, by Frederick Vettese

I like to sleep at night and after reading this book I was able to sleep a lot better. Most of us are stressed out about the possibility of running out of money in retirement. I can’t speak for any of you but I worried about money, making the mortgage payment, getting the kids through school for most of my life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste any more of my life worrying about money during my Victory Lap. Life is too short for that and I have better things to do with my time.

The problem is we have been scared into thinking we will need millions of dollars in retirement assets to make it through to the finish line and in the majority of cases this is just plain wrong. The challenge is that we don’t have a good handle on the numbers and what costs we are actually looking at in retirement. After reading this book you will finally come to realize that:

  • Most people never spend more than 50% of their gross income on themselves while working; hence in their retirement this income target is usually much less than 70%.
  • Your spending in retirement will almost certainly decline at a certain age so you may not need to save quite as much as you think.

Bottom line, this book will show you that retirement financing may not be as bad as we have been led to believe. After reading The Essential Retirement Guide you will start sleeping better too.

3)  Your Retirement Income Blueprint, by Daryl Diamond

We have spent years accumulating wealth but in Victory Lap we switch gears to de-cumulating. Many of us will struggle with this process. It requires a change in mindset from saving to spending all of the hard-earned money you have carefully invested for so many years.

People normally go from having one source of income (their job) to multiple sources of cash flow, both passive (pensions, government benefits, investment income) and active (revenue from a part-time job).

This book outlines the things we need to think about before the de-cumulation process begins such as:

  • Which income streams should be assessed and in what order?
  • Which assets should be used first and which ones deferred for later use?
  • How can we minimize taxes paid and preserve government entitlements?

The single biggest expense that most of us will have in retirement is taxes, so it’s important to understand how to draw income from multiple sources in a tax efficient manner. It might also be a good idea to ask your advisor if they have read Daryl’s book! 

4)    It’s Your Time, by Donna McCaw

This is a fun read about a serious topic. I like it because it makes me think as well as laugh and we all need to laugh a lot more. It’s full of useful information and exercises that will ensure you have covered off all the retirement bases.

I would recommend that you read this book after reading the others and after you have come up with your own plan for Victory Lap.  Use it to test the adequacy of your preparation.

Reading these books will give you confidence in your plans. You will learn what to do in order to minimize your risks and how to create a low stress, fulfilling lifestyle.

But just remember, knowing is not enough. You need to execute; that’s when you will see the magic happen.

Mike Drak is an author, blogger and speaker based in Toronto. He can be reached at michael.drak@yahoo.ca. Victory Lap Retirement, co-authored with Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau, is a Globe & Mail bestseller available for orders online and on Kindle and Kobo ebooks. The paperback edition is available in Chapters Indigo and many independent bookstores, as well as Costco. This blog originally ran on Mike’s site on July 6th and is reprinted here with permission.

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