Book Review: The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning

I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. About this time last year, the leaders of the Bogleheads investment forum announced a book project and asked for volunteers. I was selected and assigned to write a chapter on defined benefit pension plans. The book was finally published in September and I got my free book from the publisher last week. This is the first time I got the chance to read the whole book.

The title is The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning. It covers a wide range of topics on planning for retirement. The emphasis is on planning, not saving or investing for retirement, although there are still a few chapters on investing. It starts off with the planning process. Then it goes over the different savings and investment vehicles, investment strategies, how to make the most of social security, withdrawal strategies once you are retired, insurance, estate planning, how to find help if you need it and what to do if you face divorce or too much debt you can’t repay.

I like the broad approach in this book. Retirement planning is a complex subject. There can be full-scale books on each of the topics covered in this book. Every chapter covers the main points in about 15 pages so the size of the book stays manageable. If the reader wants to read more about a particular subject, there are a list of additional resources at the end of each chapter. The book serves as a good roadmap for retirement planning.

My most favorite chapters in the book are "Single-Premium Immediate Annuities" by Dan Smith and "Early Retirement" by Jeff McComas.

Most (all?) of the chapter authors are not professional writers. All the royalties from the book are to be donated to charity. The authors invested their time and effort into this book only because they wanted to help the readers. There is no hidden agenda to sell anything. I appreciate the wealth of information shared in this book.

Despite whatever impression you may get from this blog, writing is one of my weakest skills. English not being my first language does not help either. It took me several weekends to write my draft chapter. Without the great help from the editors, it would not be publishable as it is now.

You can tell this is still a finance book. It does not cover much non-monetary aspect of retirement planning such as finding the ideal location one would like to retire to. It’s heavy in information but light in step-by-step guides. There is no worksheet that helps one figure out the big numbers:

  • Given what I have now and what I’m saving, when can I retire?
  • If I want to retire in age X with a lifestyle budget of Y, am I saving enough now?

These are the things I will try to find out because I’ve set a goal for myself of retiring in 2020.

I would say this is a great book even though I’m biased because I participated in its creation. One of the best kept secret until now is the Bogleheads Wiki. The book mentioned the Wiki in many places. If you are not getting the book, at least bookmark the Bogleheaads Wiki. The depth of information on the Bogleheads Wiki is unbelievable.

[This post contains affiliated links to Amazon.com. Amazon.com will pay a commission of 4% - 6.5% to me if you make a purchase within 24 hours after you click on the link.]

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Comments

  1. enonymous says

    english isn’t your first language!

    I am incredibly impressed. And perhaps a bit deflated that English is my first language and I write poorly compared to you.

    Also, your honesty is always highly appreciated. Disclosing the bit about Amazon paying you for clicks goes way above the cal of duty, but it is that honesty that which makes me always trust your advice.

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