Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty

About the Book:
The financial world is more complex than ever, and people are struggling to make sense of it all. If you’re like most people moving into the phase of life where protecting—as well as growing-- assets is paramount, you’re faced with a number of financial puzzles.  Maybe you’re struggling to get your kids through college without drawing down your life’s savings. Perhaps you sense your nest egg is at risk and want to move into safer investments. Maybe you’re contemplating downsizing to a smaller home, but aren’t sure of the financial implications. Possibly, medical expenses have become a bigger drain than you expected and you need help assessing options.  Perhaps you’ll shortly be eligible for social security but want to optimize when and how to take it.

Whatever your specific financial issue, one thing is certain—your range of choices is vast. As the financial world becomes increasingly complex, what you need is deeply researched advice from professionals whose credentials are impeccable and who prize clarity and straightforwardness over financial mumbo-jumbo.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz and the Schwab team have been helping clients tackle their toughest money issues for decades.  Through Carrie’s popular “Ask Carrie” columns, her leadership of the Charles Schwab Foundation, and her work across party lines through two White House administrations and with the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, she has become one of America’s most trusted sources for financial advice.

Here, Carrie will not only answer all the questions that keep you up at night, she’ll provide answers to many questions you haven’t considered but should.

My Comments:
Over the years I've reviewed a lot of books on personal finance.  Some have been well-written; others, not so much so.  Nevertheless, they have all pretty much been variations on a theme--spend less than you make, save for the future and make wise investment choices.  While this book says all of those things, it says so much more.  

Yes, I'm over fifty.  I've worked more years than I expect to continue working.  I'm seeing people who were middle-aged when I started with my current firm retire,and people a few years older than me move into management.  My children are almost grown, my house is paid for, my Mom has passed on and my Dad's days are numbered.  My 401K balance is substantial, at least compared to what it was for  many years, and the contributions are bigger than they ever have been.  My husband and I both consider our jobs to be pretty stable, but neither one of us expects to make substantially more money than we are making now.  In short, we aren't  young adults anymore; we have reached middle-aged success and we are making plans for the next phase of our lives.  Planning for that stage is what is addressed in this book.

The book is divided into five  parts:  I) When Retirement is at Least Ten Years Out   II)Getting Closer:  Transitioning Into Retirement  III)Life in Retirement   IV) Maximizing Social Security and Medicare  V) Estate Planning and VI) The People in My Life.  Each chapter is arranged in question and answer format and addresses such questions as "I'm too busy to manage my money carefully.  Are there any simple strategies for someone like me", "My kids are grown, do I still need life insurance?" "Can I lower my income tax bill now that I am retired" "When should I file for Social Security benefits?" "I want to create an estate plan.  What do I need?" and "I have a child with special needs.  What can I do to make sure she will always be taken care of?".  The advice given seems sensible and lays out options with which I was not familiar.  For example, there is a section on annuities.  In general, the things I've read other places about annuities made them seem like products to avoid.  Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz describes annuities, the needs they can meet and the times it is appropriate to buy them.  She also gives a good description of your options when it comes to Social Security, but sensibly advises you to seek individual professional advice.

Most financial planning books go quickly to the discard stack.  This one is going into the "keeper" folder on my Kindle.  I may even spring for a hard copy.  Grade A.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelweiss.  


  1. My husband and I are in the over-50 group, too. I'll remember this book. It could come in handy.

  2. Like you, I have read through many that tell you the same thing our parents told us. Don't spend more than you make and invest only after due diligence. BUT... I just kept saying, "Mt pension will take care of me". Who knew ?? Have to rethink now, this late in the game. Anything is possible.


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