12 Ways to Retire on Less: Planning an Affordable Future

12 Ways to Retire on Less: Planning an Affordable Future

Retirement Wisdom · Dec 8, 2021 ·

by Harriet Edleson

Because of my work as a retirement coach, I read more books on retirement than most people. I found 12 Ways to Retire on Less to be a breath of fresh air. It’s a well-written, no-nonsense, comprehensive guide to planning for retirement in today’s challenging environment.

Planning for retirement today entails navigating a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety. Journalist Harriet Edleson highlights the practical considerations for the big decisions you’ll face in planning for retirement, including when to retire or work longer; budgeting; generating income in retirement; when to file for Social Security; moving or staying in a place; housing options in later life, and the often-overlooked issue of transportation. It’s a pragmatic, reality-check on retirement today that shows how there are still ways to make it work.

The strength of the book is on how to make savvy moves to optimize your resources in funding what for many people promises to be a longer retirement than previous generations enjoyed. However, my favorite parts of the book were when Edleson goes beyond those core financial topics to emphasize the importance of keeping the dreams you have for retirement in focus. In several chapters, she explores viewing retirement as an adventure and writes of discovering a new purpose and honing in on what you really want to do in this phase of life, including envisioning your dream locations and where you want to travel. Starting with this vision of retirement as an adventure sets the stage for then finding smart ways to fund your vision.

I recommend this book as a valuable resource that will help you reframe how you’re thinking of your next chapters and retire smarter.

Listen to our conversation with Harriet Edleson here


Book report

New works by Bethesda-area writers


After years of writing about retirement for magazines and newspapers, Bethesda journalist Harriet Edleson pulled together the advice she’s learned in 12 Ways to Retire on Less: Planning an Affordable Future (Rowman & Littlefield, May 2021). She encourages readers to create a budget, consider the best time to claim Social Security, and carefully review housing options—which will likely be their biggest expense. “People are fearful of running out of money in retirement,” says Edleson, who is a regular contributor to Marketwatch.com and The Washington Post. “If you plan, then you will be more likely to know what you have coming in, how much you are spending, how much you are earning, what is your guaranteed income, and you can sleep better.”

“A compelling read”
— Margaret Wylde, CEO, ProMatura Group, LLC


Wednesday, Nov. 3, 5:30-6:30 pm, Guest Speaker at Georgetown Village, virtual,

Wednesday, Oct. 5, Guest on Retire with Purpose Podcast with Casey Weade

Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, Retirement Wisdom
with executive coach/retirement coach Joe Casey,
LISTEN: https://www.retirementwisdom.com/the-retirement-wisdom-podcast/

Tuesday, July 20, 20217 p.m.BOOK SIGNING

Friendship Village Center,
 Village of Friendship Heights, 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 – (301) 656-2797

Thursday, July 22, 2021, 9 a.m. Podcast
Retirement Wisdom with Joe Casey


Thursday, June 10, 2021
Thursday 6/ 10 Your Retirement Dream: How Planning Can Make It Come True with Harriet Edleson, author and journalist. Retirement! Have you imagined you’d be lounging on a beach in the south of France or Bethany Beach? Riding a luxury train through the White Towns of Southern Spain? Cruising the Danube on a luxury riverboat? Or, taking courses with others like yourself? Serving on a nonprofit board? Buying a vacation home in the mountains? Spending more time with the ones you love? Relocating to be near your grandchildren? Whether you are already retired or thinking of retiring in the next five or 10 years, planning will make the journey more enjoyable and secure! What do you really want to do? Think about all the resources you have or will have at a time when you may no longer be working. Will you have a pension or will you be relying on Social Security and savings? Whatever your situation, the best way forward is knowledge. Learn about the optimal time for claiming your Social Security retirement benefits and how to decide whether downsizing is for you, since housing can be the largest expense in retirement. Harriet Edleson is an expert on baby boomer retirement strategies. She has written the Retiring feature for The New York Times and the Where We Live feature for The Washington Post. A former writer/editor/producer for AARP where she specialized in Social Security, she now writes for Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. Her forthcoming book, 12 Ways to Retire on Less: Planning an Affordable Future is to be published in May 2021 by Rowman & Littlefield next year. Visit her website at https://www.howtoretireonless.com.
Registration Link: www.littlefallsvillage.org/RetireOnLess

Latest from the Blog

Excerpt from CHAPTER THREE
Reframing Your Golden Years as an Adventure
What Do You Really Want to Do?

Satisfaction in retirement varies. A lot depends on your expectations: What did you anticipate retirement would be like, and what is the reality? It also depends on what life has been like before you make the transition into retirement.
If your expectations are unclear, you may find entering an unstructured period of your life unsettling, even disappointing. Often those who have worked intensely for 30 to 40 years look forward to a time when they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Or they choose to spend more time with their grown children and grandchildren. Others prefer to work at their own pace, no longer commuting to an office each day. Some want to give back in one way or another such as through pro bono work or serving
on a board. Overall, the key to the next part of life is attitude. Health plays a big role too. There are many unknowns, so focus on the certainties. Unless you keep working or have significant resources, your options may be limited.
Be realistic, and you will be better able to plan and enjoy your life.

Find Your Purpose
To make the most of the years ahead, define your purpose. What will you do?
What will make your days meaningful? Enjoyable? The answers are different for everyone.
I spoke about setting expectations for retirement with Bob McDonald,
retired chair, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “The most important thing is knowing your purpose,” he told me. This means knowing where you are going rather than “meandering through life without direction.”1
McDonald is one of those fortunate individuals who knew from an early age what he wanted to accomplish. In sixth grade, he applied to West Point, the US military academy, and ultimately matriculated there when he was 18, in 1971, graduating in 1975. He was keenly aware that he wanted to “free people from communism” and believed by filing an early application to West Point he would increase his chances for acceptance to the elite academy.2
At age 67, as of this writing, McDonald says that, if anything, he is too
busy, even in retirement. He still maintains leadership roles in companies, serving on the board of directors of the Xerox Corporation, the McKinsey Advisory Council, and the Singapore International Advisory Council of the Economic Development Board.
Not everyone will accomplish what McDonald has in retirement, yet
each person can find meaning in their own endeavors. It may take some soul searching and self-evaluation to figure out what you like to do, what you have access to, and what your skills and talents are beyond working.
“You don’t have to set the world on fire,” McDonald says. “Don’t allow
other people to define your success for you.” Helping one other person in a day can represent success, McDonald says.3

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