I had been retired a couple years or so by then and somehow I got on the “kick” of reading retirement books.
By that time I was an “old expert” at the retirement thing and I wanted to see who knew their stuff and who was simply blowing smoke. (And believe me, there are plenty of people out there who are writing about retirement who don’t know bupkis about it.)
Tangent: Why do people buy things from others who talk a good game but have absolutely zero background in the subject? I see this in many different subjects and it blows my mind. Anyway, I’m getting off track…
Since I started reading this reading binge I have completed about 40 of the best-selling and “best” books on retirement.
To find these, I did a couple things…
First, I went to Amazon and typed in “best retirement books”.
Then I looked for ones that had strong ratings (above 4.0 stars) and a decent number of reviews (at least 50).
Initially I simply ordered the best ones and read them. But once I had several under my belt I added another step: I looked through the table of contents on potential purchases to see if they offered anything new to the conversation.
If they did, I bought them. If not, I passed.
Second, just to cover my bases, I asked the millionaires and members of the Millionaire Money Mentors for their best retirement books and I started reading those.
Now that I’ve read so many (and re-read several) and have over four years of retirement under my belt, I feel qualified to recommend to you the best retirement books out there today.
Note, this is not a final list. I’m still reading a lot and some new ones are bound to be great. When I have enough new books to add, I’ll do an update post. But the ones below are good for sure and will keep you busy for now. 😉
And in the event I missed your favorite, you can tell me about it in the comments below. Haha!
In addition to recommending the top books, I’m including the posts I’ve written on each one for more information.
I’ve also added an “honorable mention” list in case you’re an over-achiever and want to read as many retirement books as possible.
Importance of Retirement Education
Before we get into the list, let’s discuss why people should read retirement books.
In his comprehensive study of millionaires, Wes Moss, author of You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think found the following:
[Happy retirees] spend at least five hours per year planning for retirement, usually more.
There’s a lot to unpack here for such a short sentence:
- Moss knows what makes people happy and unhappy in retirement because he’s surveyed over 1,350 retirees.
- If you want to be a happy retiree, you should spend at least five hours a year planning for retirement before you make the leap.
- Five hours a year is NOTHING. It’s literally less than a minute a day. It’s so very easy to meet this requirement.
- Reading is a great way to get your five hours a year in. One (short) book a year is all it will take!
Of course there are more ways to educate yourself than reading, but reading is one of the easiest IMO. But if it’s difficult for you, then listen to a book while mowing the yard, working out, or driving to work. Easy peasy.
I personally would shoot for the “usually more” part. Retirement is the largest financial decision you’ll ever make (with maybe the exception of choosing your career) and can last 20-30 years. Surely you want to put some effort into learning about it, right? Maybe you can become a retirement super hero and spend a whole ten hours a year educating yourself on it. Wow!!!!
Anyway, it’s important to learn about retirement for several reasons and reading is a great option for that.
And with my list below, you can jump straight to the good stuff! 😉
Two Parts of Retirement
There are two parts everyone needs to master to have a great retirement:
- The financial side
- The life side
Some books cover one or the other and some cover both. You’ll find a mix on my list.
My main criteria is that whatever aspect of retirement they discuss, they need to do it well.
In addition, I didn’t want my list to be 100 miles long, so there are some “good” books out there not on this list (some made the honorable mention list).
My list is simply what I’d consider to be the best of the best.
So with that said, let’s get to them.
The Best Retirement Books
Here they are in no particular order…
You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think
Regular readers won’t be surprised to find You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think on this list. After all, I’ve written enough posts about it (and have more to come).
It’s simply a great overall retirement book that covers both sides of the issue.
Here’s what I like best:
- The author provides research-based answers to what makes people happy in retirement. It’s very eye-opening and sets up a solid framework for what anyone should do to have a happy retirement.
- Much of the financial advice centers around generating income and income investing, a topic that many other retirement books don’t cover (they focus on saving large sums and withdrawing from that in retirement).
On the downside, the book isn’t the best IMO with general investment advice. It gets deep into stocks and bonds and doesn’t mention index funds much.
Still, the coverage of what to do to have a happy retirement is worth the price of this book alone (FYI, I have read this book twice and listened to it once on Audible if that gives you any idea how much I liked it.)
ESI Money posts on this book include:
- How to Have a Happy Retirement
- The Top Five Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees, Part 1
- The Top Five Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees, Part 2
- The Top Five Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees, Part 3
- How to Avoid an Unhappy Retirement
- 18 Traits of the Happiest Retirees
- Eight Great Learnings from You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think
Your Complete Guide to a Successful and Secure Retirement
This book covers both sides of retirement as well, though its main strength is on the financial issues.
IMO Your Complete Guide to a Successful & Secure Retirement is one of the most complete books covering the financial side of retirement.
It’s close to being a text book (it flirts at times with the lingo that makes books written by most academics dry as toast) but is much more enjoyable and easy to read than a text book. It covers all the topics anyone needs to plan for in retirement and is simply an excellent all around book. To say it is comprehensive is almost an understatement.
If I had to find something wrong with it (other than the occasional dryness) it would be that the print is way too small for my aging eyes. LOL! They should know that older people are reading this book and make the text bigger. Ha!
It also doesn’t spend enough time on knowing what your retirement spending/budget will be. It sort of assumes you know your spending (which many people don’t) and goes from there.
My only post on this book so far has been The Seven Steps to Discovering a Great Retirement, but this will be changing. I just re-read the book a couple months ago and underlined a TON of passages I want to share and comment on.
How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?
This book is written by my friend, Todd Tresidder, who blogs at Financial Mentor. It’s simply excellent!
I have literally read it at least five times — probably more.
In How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?, Tresidder says the following in the foreword:
Academic journals have great research, but it’s written in an inaccessible style using financial geek-speak so only a trained expert can decipher the encrypted meaning.
Believe me, I have read (or at least skimmed) far too many books that fit this category.
And that’s what I love about Todd’s book: it’s an easy read — both in length and style — but it is FULL of meat. Just what you need to know about the financial side of retirement planning and nothing more.
But don’t let any of this fool you. Tresidder is a big-brained money thinker who has forgotten more than most financial experts know about money. He’s taken the best stuff and synthesized it into an excellent book about retirement planning.
The only problem with this book is that if you read it you won’t get your five hours a year in. At just over 100 short pages, it only takes a couple hours to complete.
ESI Money posts on this book include:
- Four Steps to Determine Your Retirement Number
- Why is Inflation the Single Biggest Retirement Threat?
- The Only Five Money Books You’ll Ever Need
- 12 Books that Will Make You a Financial Expert in One Year
How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free
This book is about the life side of retirement and does a great job offering ideas on what you can do to make the most of your retirement time.
If ever there was an ambassador for retirement, How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free would be it. It’s even more gung-ho on retirement than I am!
It’s a very fun and entertaining read and somewhat quirky, so if that’s not your style you might not like it as much as I did. But even then, it’s full of great suggestions and thoughts on how to have an awesome retirement.
ESI Money posts on this book include:
- How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, Part 1
- How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, Part 2
- How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, Part 3
What Color Is Your Parachute for Retirement
Here’s another book that does a wonderful job of covering both the financial and life sides of retirement.
What Color Is Your Parachute for Retirement is a well-rounded look at retirement and gives a great ground-level education on the subject. I also found the writing style to be easy to read and enjoyed it immensely.
The book also has some useful questionnaires and fill-in-the-blank questions to help you work through the issues in creating a great retirement. So it’s partly a workbook.
It’s not as deep or specific as some others on either topic (especially on financial issues) but IMO is a very well-rounded look at the subject of retirement.
So far, the only post I’ve done on this book is How to Create a Great Retirement but it was a very comprehensive post.
Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement
I really debated on whether or not to put this book on the list.
I have included Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement because it’s an awesome book and I think people need to read it. In fact, the earlier they read it in their financial journey, the better. I wish I had read it when I was 30.
On the other hand, it’s not really a retirement book IMO, even though “retirement” is in the title.
In the end it’s on the list because the book is simply too good not to include. Anyone will be better off for reading this book.
ESI Money posts on this book include:
- Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement
- Five Categories of Passive Income and How to Evaluate Them
- 28 Ways to Create Extra, Passive Income
There are several books that I enjoyed and are certainly good IMO, but they don’t crack the “great” barrier.
- The New Retirementality
- Retire Inspired
- How to Retire Happy
- Purposeful Retirement
- 20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now
This list will probably see many more additions as I’m reading several books now that I think could fit as honorable mentions.
Anyway, so that’s my list. What’s your opinion of it? Are there any you think I missed?