best retirement books for christmas

My List of The Best Retirement Books


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If you, or someone you know, is within 5 years of retirement, I can think of no better holiday gift than giving them one of the best retirement books available.  I’ve read a lot of great books on retirement, and I’ve found them extremely helpful as I planned for, and transitioned into, retirement. 

To help in your journey to “The Starting Line”, today I’ve compiled a list of the best retirement books I’ve read.  I strongly recommend you read a few books as you’re planning your retirement – they’re far more comprehensive than what you can read on a blog.  Having written a book myself, I appreciate the amount of work that goes into their construct, the consolidation of ideas, the building of a flow of thought, and the extensive editing that’s required to produce a book. 

In short, you will capture years of someone else’s learnings by spending a few hours reading any of the best retirement books I’ve summarized below.  Do yourself or a loved one a favor and consider gifting a book this holiday season. 

From personal experience, I’m confident that retirement will be better as a result.

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the best retirement books i've read


My List of The Best Retirement Books

I have read every one of the books below, from cover to cover. Each has their own strength, their own voice, their own focus.  Each of them is of the caliber to be included on this list of the best retirement books.  There are certainly other great books out there, but if I haven’t read them, I’m not including them on my list.

To simplify your search, I’ve created four categories for my summary of the best retirement books. 

  • Financial Focus (the “hard” side)
  • Retirement Lifestyle Focus (the “soft” side)
  • Financial & Lifestyle (a blend of “hard” and “soft”)
  • Philosophy of Investment  (three great books that didn’t fit in the other categories)

Pick a category that resonates with you, or read a book from each to ensure you’ve thought about both the financial and lifestyle issues which are so critical to a successful retirement.

Note:  If you’d like to view the books on Amazon, simply click on the book’s image or the highlighted text in the opening line of each review. (both are Amazon Affiliate Links and I’ll receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you order thru this link).


Best Retirement Books – Financial Focus

Most folks start their retirement planning with a focus on the financial aspects of retirement.  That’s necessary but insufficient.  If you have an interest in the financial, I’d encourage you to pick up one of these books, but don’t stop there.  Keep scrolling, and pick up a second book from the Retirement Lifestyle section to ensure you’re thinking holistically about your retirement plan.

 

Retirement Planning Guidebook – Wade Pfau 

Dr. Pfau’s latest book, Retirement Planning Guidebook: Navigating the Important Decisions for Retirement Success (Amazon Affiliate Link, I’ll receive a small commission if you order thru this link) is the most comprehensive book on retirement I’ve ever read.  To see a detailed overview, read my full book review here.  A note of caution:  this is an advanced piece of work, best suited to the intermediate to advanced student of retirement planning.


 

Control Your Retirement Destiny – Dana Anspach

When I was preparing for retirement, the most helpful book I read was Control Your Retirement Destiny: Achieving Financial Security Before The Big Transition (Amazon Affiliate Link). This book is more easily consumed by the novice investor and is particularly strong in highlighting the taxation issues you’ll face in retirement.  I’ve recommended this book many times, and consider it the single best book for a soon-to-be retiree trying to get their head around the issues they need to address prior to retirement.


 

The WSJ Complete Retirement Guidebook – Ruffenach & Greene

My sister gifted The Wall Street Journal. Complete Retirement Guidebook: How to Plan It, Live It and Enjoy It (Wall Street Journal Guides) (Amazon Affiliate Link) to me for Christmas 5 years before I retired, and it was the first of these best retirement books I read.  I took a lot of notes, and applied some of the lessons as I was planning my retirement.  The best tip I received from this book was how to handle the unplanned expenses you will inevitably face in retirement (what I now call the “Expected Unexpected” expenses), and I built their proposed methodology into the Bucket Strategy I’ve been using successfully for 3+ years now in retirement.


Can I Retire Yet?  Darrow Kirkpatrick

Aimed at the DIY investor, Can I Retire Yet?: How to Make the Biggest Financial Decision of the Rest of Your Life
(Amazon Affiliate Link) does a great job of helping you “navigate your journey” from the accumulation phase of your working years into the withdrawal phase of your retirement years.  Darrow was one of the first retirement bloggers I followed, and this book is a great compilation of his best work.


Best Retirement Books – Retirement Lifestyle

 

Retirement Heaven or Hell – Mike Drak

Mike Drak ended up in Retirement Hell, survived his journey, and climbed his way to Retirement Heaven.  Retirement Heaven or Hell: 9 Principles for Designing Your Ideal Post-Career Lifestyle (Amazon Affiliate Link) is the story of that journey, and the lessons he learned along the way.  If you’re concerned about making a successful transition to retirement, this book is for you.   Read my full book review here.


Growing Young – Marta Zaraska

Marta is a science journalist, and Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism, and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100 (Amazon Affiliate Link) is a fascinating look at what happens inside the human body.   More importantly, it represents a shift in Marta’s writing.  She’s realized what really matters.  She’s discovered some secrets of youth.  Read my full book review here.


Younger Next Year – Crowley & Lodge

This book inspired my dedication to exercise in retirement more than anything else I’ve ever read in my life. Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, Sexy, and Smart–Until You’re 80 and Beyond (Amazon Affiliate Link) is an amazing book written by a physician who specializes in longevity and a patient who is applying the doctor’s orders.  If you want to add more active years to your retirement, this book is for you.  Read my full book review here.


Best Retirement Books – Financial & Lifestyle

Keys to a Successful Retirement – Fritz Gilbert

I’ll admit I may be biased, but how could I write a list of the best retirement books without including the one I wrote?  Keys to a Successful Retirement: Staying Happy, Active, and Productive in Your Retired Years (Amazon Affiliate Link) was a labor of love for me, and captures everything I learned as I planned for, transition into, and lived my life in retirement. If you enjoy this blog, I trust you’ll find the book of value.


 

Rock Retirement – Roger Whitney

I was a big fan of Roger’s podcast, The Retirement Answer Man, long before I started this blog.  His work has been instrumental in my successful transition into retirement, and Rock Retirement: A Simple Guide to Help You Take Control and be More Optimistic About the Future (Amazon Affiliate Link) captures all of his key lessons in learning how to “rock retirement”. 


Best Retirement Books – Philosophy of Investment

The following three books aren’t really “retirement books”, but I found them to be great books that should be of interest to anyone who studies personal finance.

 

The Psychology of Money – Morgan Housel

Housel is my favorite financial writer, and his blog is one I never miss.  Just like the writing on his blog, you’ll find The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness (Amazon Affiliate Link) to be a fresh take on an old subject. I just love the way this guy thinks, and his excellent writing makes it a true joy to peer inside his brilliant mind.


 

Money For The Rest of Us – David Stein

David Stein’s podcast has long been one of my favorites, and his book Money for the Rest of Us: 10 Questions to Master Successful Investing (Amazon Affiliate Link) captures his best content in a thought-provoking way to think about investing.  With a career as an investment strategist who managed billions of dollars for his clients, his focus on valuations and market cycles is second to none.  Read my full book review here.


The Simple Path to Wealth – JL Collins

A true legend, JL Collins has one of the best personal finance blogs on the planet.  His Stock Series collection of posts was written to educate his daughter on how to manage her money, and became the basis of The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life. (Amazon Affiliate Link) If you’re a parent or grandparent searching for the perfect gift to teach the next generation how to manage their money, this book is for you.  Read my full book review here.


Conclusion

After 6 1/2 years of blogging, I was well past due on putting together this summary of the best retirement books I’ve read during my journey.  The books above have all played a major role in my successful transition into retirement.

I trust they’ll do the same for you.

Your Turn:  I know I’ve missed a bunch of great books, but I only included books I’ve personally read.  What other books have you read that I should add to my reading list?  If you’ve read any of the books above, which was your favorite?  Why?  Let’s chat in the comments…

28 comments

  1. The book that help me reach and surpass my first (and second) million dollar mark in retirement saving was/is Andrew Tobias “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need.”

  2. Fritz,

    Thanks for this list! I already have most of these books in my personal library, but there were a few that I needed to add to my Christmas list. Two of my favorites on your list are: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel (I too would rank Morgan Housel at the top of my list of favorite financial writers) and The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins (this book is probably the one that I recommend the most to friends and family).

    In addition to The Psychology of Money and The Simple Path to Wealth, the one book that was most impactful on my journey to Financial Independence was The Millionaire Next Door. This book was first published the same year (1996) I got married and started a new job with Pfizer. More than anything, The Millionaire Next Door taught me that anyone can become a millionaire (or multi-millionaires) by applying a few financial principles and simple money behaviors.

    Thanks again for putting this list together. I look forward to reading the few books on your list that I have not yet read.

    Take Care,

    Tim

  3. This is a great list. My only caution is about reading all the books and trying to incorporate all the best ideas which could lead to analysis paralysis. If you approach it from a tools in the tool box mentality, you will find the useful ideas and lessons will help you build your own plan. No one’s plan is ever the same and the plan must remain fluid and dynamic. Paraphrasing General Patton and boxer Mike Tyson…no plan survives the first encounter with reality. Having these references (and your own) available, will help you check and adjust your plan as “life” gets in the way.

    1. Great point, Dom. I agree with your comment about “incorporating all the best ideas” into your own plan and recognize that your plan must remain fluid. Don’t get obsessed on getting it down to 99.9%, recognize when it’s “close enough” and enjoy life!

      1. That is precisely why I came here (and a few other blogging sites) to get the abridged versions of these books in blogs. Thanks Fritz for doing a lot of the hard work to give many of us some shortcuts.

        Full disclosure, I’m not much of a book reader (less than 1 per year) but o do lots of reading on the internet and researching via YouTube .

  4. I’ve read many books over the years, but the one I always go back to is the “free” book that I received at a A.L. Williams, now Primerica, sales pitch. The name of the book was “Common Sense”. Only about 40 pages, it basically summarized all of the basic concepts that all these other books take pages and pages to explain. I got that free book when I was about 22, and while I had already started investing, it put into perspective, what I was trying to achieve. And, now at 62, I have, in spades. Also too, I will say that the chase was more fun than having the money now.

  5. That’s a great list, Fritz. I agree with all of them. One that you didn’t list that I recommend is Your Complete Guide to a Successful & Secure Retirement by Larry Swedroe and Kevin Grogan.

  6. Fritz, I know a lot of your readers are more advanced, but I was such a novice in 2016 as I jumped into retirement (not a well thought out plan) , that I really enjoyed a primer from Jane Bryant Quinn “How to Make your Money Last”. It started my journey and I found you and some others (including David Stein) . Thanks for what you do.

    1. ^This. Quinn writes simply but effectively and puts forward an easy to understand approach to the financial side of retirement. Much of her philosophy reflects your approach, Fritz, and serves as a great intro to retirement planning.

  7. Another vote for Jane Bryant Quinn’s “How to Make Your Money Last”. I was post-retirement when I read it, and the lesson I needed to learn was the risk I faced if I DIDN’T have some of my stash in the stock market.

  8. Great list Fritz. With so many books now being written on the topic it is difficult for people to find one or a few books that cover both the financial AND non-financial topics of retirement that both need to be understood and planned for. It’s hard to know where to draw the line on the list- kudos for creating the list! Most books have really good chapters on some topics but don’t cover each topic that needs to be covered with the breadth and depth the reader needs. Your book and Mike Drak’s book Retirement Heaven or Hell- are at the top of my recommended short list.

    Here are a few other books that cover the financial side of retirement (primarily) that I reference- with slightly different approaches- all written by financial industry experts: Rewirement: Rewiring the Way You Think About Retirement by Jamie Hopkins, Retirement Fail: The 9 Reasons People Flunk Post-Work Life and How to Ace Your Own by Greg Sullivan, 4th Quarter Fumbles: How Successful People Avoid Critical Mistakes Late In Life by Dennis Stearn, CFP, and Your Complete Guide to a Successful & Secure Retirement by Larry Swedroe and Kevin Grogan.

  9. I was surprised that “Bogleheads Guide to Investing” (Laramore) was not listed. I often recommend this to folks who are clueless about where to start. I often add ” Investment is simple, but it is not easy”.

  10. Too Young To Be Old (Love, Learn, Work and Play As You Age) by Nancy K. Schlossberg. Reviews the “love-hate relationship” with aging and discusses embracing life’s many transitions.

  11. I like Die With Zero. Focus on the experiences. Give while we are alive. Pass on nothing. Die With Zero helps me enjoy, more. I don’t plan to be the richest in the graveyard.

  12. I’m reading Wade Pfau’s latest book after you recommended it. I read his “Safety First” book earlier this year after Roger Whitney recommended it on his podcast. I just can’t get over the feeling that he’s trying to sell me an annuity…that he thinks every retiree should have one…if we were only smart enough to realize it.

    I’ll finish the book. It’s a tough read, but it does have some good info in it. But I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone else, and it’s the last of his books I’ll read. I did enjoy your book, as well as some of the others mentioned here, “Money For The Rest of Us”, “The Simple Path to Wealth”, and the Bogleheads books. I also have “The Essential Retirement Guide: A Contrarian’s Perspective” by Frederick Vettese on my shelf to read that someone recommended to me. I’ll read that after I slog through the rest of the Pfau book.

    1. I’m with you on Pfau. “Slogging through” is right. It reads like a text book for financial planners. It needs a good “human” editor and a lot of Ctrl-X.

  13. Not specific to retirement, but with my own kids and with college students I know now, I recommend these books (in order)…
    The Richest Man in Babylon–Clason
    The Wealthy Barber–Chilton
    The Simple Path to Wealth–Collins
    The Millionaire Next Door–Stanley/Danko
    The Millionaire Mind–Stanley
    …and tell them that no one book is perfect or absolute, but they all have some gem of information that should stick with them for life.

  14. I appreciate the concise reviews. I really like the blog and I thought I should check out your book. I recently found the blog (from a podcast) and I have read a couple of books I really liked. When I looked it up, your book was the one I’ve been raving to my wife about…..all summer. Hey, great stuff. Thanks again.

  15. Thanks for the recommendations! Some of these books are free in Kindle Unlimited, so it makes an inexpensive education for those who want to learn. I appreciate it!

  16. “You can retire sooner than you think “ Wes Moss. First book that really made me realize that I could actually retire one day. And more importantly, that the non financial aspect of retirement needs as much or more planning.
    Appreciate the list of great books to add to my list.

  17. “Life Two” by Don Ezra was an essential guide through my first years ‘after full time work’. Don walks the reader through the financial and non-financial aspects of retirement and sets useful exercises at the end of each chapter to make it relevant to the reader’s personal situation. The book can be read as a standalone guide or is even more useful when read with reference to his blogs on his website: donezra.com.

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