The Best Retirement Planning Books in 2023
By Pete Benson, Co-founder of Beacon Capital Management.
A quick note from Beacon: These retirement planning books are suggested readings, not all-encompassing financial advice. Additionally, Tony Robbins is the only author on our list who is not a fiduciary or governed by the SEC. We always recommend meeting with an experienced, fiduciary advisor before making adjustments to your financial plan.
Have you ever searched the internet for an answer to your financial question, only to wind up down every random rabbit hole except one where you find a clear solution?
Yep, me too.
The amount of information available online, right at our fingertips, is limitless—and sometimes overwhelming. That’s why when it comes to complex topics around money, and especially retirement planning, I still prefer to pick up a book (or download one on a mobile device). There’s a level of deep, holistic learning and “aha!” moments you get from books. They make it easy to follow a step-by-step process and the information tends to be more reliable.
When it comes to the best retirement planning books on the market, here’s what I recommend to family, friends, and clients alike:
1. “Stress-Free Retirement” by Patrick Kelly
At our firm, we love Patrick Kelly’s retirement books not only because he knows his stuff, but also because of his approachable, conversational writing style. In Stress-Free Retirement, Kelly breaks down complex retirement topics with clear illustrations and practical examples galore.
- What are your retirement assumptions based on, and do they need to be re-evaluated?
- There is a huge difference between the average return and the actual return within an account—and the average could be misleading.
- It is actually possible to protect against loss and feel at peace throughout retirement.
2. “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins
No list of the best retirement planning books would be complete without the world-famous self-help guru’s Bible on building wealth. It’s actionable, strategic, and highly motivating. Filled with graphs, charts, “money myths” and “power principles,” Robbins’ book even features exclusive conversations with Jack Bogle, Warren Buffet, and more.
- The game is rigged in Wall Street’s favor, but you can win using a passive allocation-, diversification-, and indexing strategy.
- Complexity is the enemy of execution. I.e. single stocks and macro conditions shouldn’t be your focus; portfolio and asset allocation principles should be.
- According to Robbins and the experts he interviewed, index funds are the best and most cost-effective investment vehicles.
3. “Money Enough For Life?” by Pete Benson and Jon Maxson
It’s still the number one fear we hear around retirement: “Will I have enough money?” It’s understandable because, these days, life costs more and we’re living longer than ever. Our book addresses the question for you head-on while providing tried-and-true directions to financial success to and through retirement.
- This book was written for everyone in every life stage, with chapters that simplify budgeting, credit cards, compounding interest, inflation, and more.
- Adjusting your risk tolerance in the “red zone” of retirement is crucial—and this book shows you how.
- Inflation remains one of the biggest threats to your security in retirement, but only 55% of retirees having calculated the effects of inflation into their retirement plan.
4. “Start Late, Finish Rich” by David Bach
Adults within a decade or two of retirement who don’t have much saved have a different (and bigger) problem than professionals in their twenties and thirties: they have some catching up to do. Bach’s shoot-you-straight, step-by-step guide makes that achievable based on the premise of paying yourself first. This book offers real hope and practical solutions to anyone feeling behind.
- Good things in life don’t just happen. You have to make them happen.
- If you’re in your forties or beyond, you should be putting two hour’s worth of your pay into a pretax retirement account.
- Toward the end of the book, Bach offers several ideas on how to earn big bucks as you approach retirement—including real estate investing, direct sales, franchising, and more. The reality is these ideas won’t be for everyone, but he makes an excellent case for real estate investing especially.
5. “The Power of Zero” by David McKnight
Higher taxes are one of the biggest threats to your retirement lifestyle—and they’re all but inevitable. This retirement book includes a straightforward history lesson on tax rates in the United States and reveals exactly how to get to the zero percent tax bracket.
- This book is full of specific, strategic advice; for example, ideally you want an IRA balance big enough so that RMDs are equal to your standard deduction.
- If your investments aren’t keeping up with the rate of inflation, you’re just “going broke safely.”
- There are three investment tax buckets: taxed now, tax-deferred, and tax-free. Striking the right balance of those buckets is the only way to protect yourself from the impact of rising taxes.
6. “Tax-Free Income for Life” by David McKnight
David McKnight’s sequel to his bestselling The Power of Zero highlights what to do when traditional retirement distribution strategies won’t provide sufficient income in the face of higher taxes.
- Many Americans will likely be paying more in taxes than they originally planned, due to rising tax rates and tax-deferred investments.
- If you and your financial advisor aren’t working proactively to mitigate both tax risks and longevity risks, your financial future is shaky at best.
- McKnight illustrates how lifetime income in the form of a single premium immediate annuity offers “psychological, mathematical, and longevity benefits that can smooth out an otherwise rocky road in retirement.”
7. “Retiring Well” by Michael Reece, CFP
This book promises to show you how to achieve financial stability regardless of what the market does, and I believe it does an excellent job. What I really love is the in-depth, holistic approach Reece takes to retirement planning (we do that here at Beacon Capital Management, too)—emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive plan; one that includes taxes, Social Security, healthcare, estate planning, and more.
- Keeping 100% of your money in the market after retirement isn’t a good plan.
- Building a personalized retirement plan is the most important thing you can do.
- A Certified Financial Planner is often better suited to handle your tax planning for retirement than a CPA. That’s because proper tax management can make or break your retirement income plan.
Retirement Books Are Just the Beginning
Retiring successfully is never an accident. Reading one or more of these retirement planning books is a great start to making sure your financial future is on track. I’m guessing retiring is something you’ve never done before, and I want you to be 100% certain you haven’t overlooked or underestimated anything.
Our Retirement Planning Checklist is the result of decades of financial planning experience from working with thousands of people just like you. Downloading this free tool (below) could be the difference between missing something crucial and living the lifestyle you want in your retirement years.
Can you check the boxes in all 31 areas? Find out by downloading the free Retirement Planning Checklist now:
Photography courtesy of Nashville Family Photos.