Positive Aging: Are Your Finances in Order?
My new personal hero is New York Times science writer John Schwartz, but the reason I admire him so much has nothing at all to do with science. He is on my hero list because he was brave enough to honestly admit that he was "financially squeamish" and then (as a public service) decided to share his story -- and his money issues -- with the rest of us. The result is the least didactic (and possibly the most enjoyable) advice book you will ever find: "This Is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order."
One all-too-common trait among baby boomers is the tendency to be a little money-phobic. And after decades of chasing dreams, caring for our kids and doing our best to build a worthwhile career, one thing that can kind of slip through the cracks is putting our financial lives in order. That's exactly what happened to Schwartz, and so -- like any seasoned journalist -- he tackled the issue the same way he would have approached a front-page assignment: with analysis, authenticity, discipline and painstaking research.
Like so many of us, Schwartz could see retirement peeking over the horizon and was worried about his ability to stay financially afloat without a regular paycheck. When he expressed to a monetary expert (he suggests only using a certified financial planner) his concern that it was too late to get started, this is the advice he received: "The best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago. The second best time is today."
Part of what makes Schwartz's advice so palatable is the fact that he breaks the topic of fiduciary well-being down into small, easy-to-digest morsels. It took him over a year to accomplish everything that needed to be done, and in his book he walks us through the entire process. Those steps are revealed to the reader in 13 chapters:
1) The Project.
2) Starting Out.
3) Your Investing Primer.
4) Getting Advice.