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Book Review: Keys To A Successful Retirement By Fritz Gilbert

Book Review: Keys To A Successful Retirement By Fritz Gilbert

By Mike Drak

I read a lot of retirement books while doing my research and it’s not often that I find one I really like, but Keys To A Successful Retirement by Fritz Gilbert is well worth the money.

When I was planning my own escape from my thirty six year banking career I went out and read every retirement book I could get my hands trying to figure things out. I became a little frustrated because most of the books focused on the financial side but none of them gave me the answer to what I was really looking for, and that was what exactly would I do in retirement?

Fritz’s book thankfully answers that important question as well as many others. It is a book filled with common sense wisdom that you won’t get from your average financial advisor.

Fritz retired at age 55 and he and his wife Jackie are having a ball. The reason their retirement is so successful is that they took the time to prepare properly beforehand, and there was a lot of open communication about what each of them wanted to do and experience alone and together.

I’m fond of saying that retirement planning fails without lifestyle planning and after reading this book it’s evident that Fritz holds a similar view.

Three years prior to retiring he and Jackie started figuring out what they wanted their retirement to look like, and then exactly how much that lifestyle would cost. In the book he describes how for one year pre-retirement he tracked every dollar they spent so they would know exactly how much their lifestyle cost. And then he tweaked that number making adjustments for what their retirement lifestyle goals were, and how much that would add to their anticipated expenses. Once he was confident that he knew exactly how much their retirement lifestyle would cost it was easy for him to go back to their financial plan and see if they had sufficient retirement assets on hand to support that chosen retirement lifestyle.

I also liked reading about how he and his wife had created a “retirement activity jar” a year before they retired. They each would fill out slips of paper with activities they wanted to do alone or together in retirement. They came up with a new idea every week on their own which gave them two years of weekly activities to do right out of the gate.

Retirement Shock And The Importance of Finding Purpose

In the book Fritz writes, “finding a passion or purpose is the most important thing you can do for a successful retirement.” Truer words have never been written. If you can’t find new purpose(s) in retirement you are not going to be very happy period.

While Fritz never experienced any retirement shock his wife did and he tells the story about how she recovered from it. Retirement shock is a terrible thing to go through and both my father and I suffered from it, and it’s not a lot of fun let me tell you.

While Fritz worked in the corporate world Jackie spent most of her life caring for others. She was a stay at home mom and also the primary caregiver for her mother who was suffering from dementia. When her mother passed she was left purposeless, and this is when the retirement shock set in. But I was happy to read that she found the cure when she established her own non-profit called Fences for Fido. Finding new purpose was just what the doctored ordered, and now she is happy being able to contribute and make a difference in this world.

They also bought a RV and go on many adventures across the country which are described on his blog The Retirement Manifesto. To be honest sometimes when I read his blog I get a little jealous because they are really living the life of Riley.

In his book Fritz perfectly captured many of the non-financial challenges most retirees will face when they transition, and I just wish I had a copy of it when I started my own retirement. It would have made my retirement transition so much easier, and I could have avoided some of the mistakes that I made.

If you are starting to plan your own exit get yours hands on a copy of the book. You will be glad that you did!

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Mike Drak

Author, Retirement Coach and Public Speaker at Victory Lap Retirement
Mike Drak is a thirty-eight year veteran of the financial services and lives with his wife Melina in Toronto, Canada. Mike is the Author of the best-selling book Victory Lap Retirement and also an award winning blogger, retirement coach and public speaker. Mike has also appeared on BNN, CBC Radio and iHeart radio.