Book Review: The 5 Years Before You Retire

5 Years Before You RetireThe 5 Years Before You Retire: Retirement planning when you need it the most, just hit bookshelves. As you would expect, it’s perfect for anyone around 5 years away from retirement.

So if that’s you, or if you know someone in that category, then pay attention. I read the book so I could confidently pass it along to my parents and in-laws. And since I have my own early-retirement aspirations I enjoyed looking for the parts that might apply to me now.

I wouldn’t normally review a book like this. I typically try to speak to folks around my age (38) or younger on this blog. But this book is certainly an exception. It was written by Emily Guy Birken, who’s written here and on the FinCon blog for several years now.

Emily has put together a fantastic book. In short, it’s the complete guide for anyone 5 years or less from retirement. The book is lazer-focused on the pre-retirement audience and it covers everything you could think to include in such a book.

Emily draws from her own knowledge, as well as expert voices from folks like yours truly. So you know I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to review it. I’m in the acknowledgments, after all. Congrats to Emily for completing this book and thanks for allowing me to be a part of it.

The book is a little over 200 pages. It’s available in paperback or kindle on Amazon. The 13 chapters in the book are broken into 3 sections: retirement finances, government issues, and home and family issues. This makes it easy to consume and it allows you to come back to certain sections when the time is right.

Although the book certainly delivered in the tactical sense (e.g. calculating how much you need to have saved, social security expectations, and other tax and insurance concerns), it also includes information and advice on dealing with family financial boundaries, renting vs buying in retirement, and other tangentially related issues.

This gives the book a comprehensive and well-rounded feel that gave me many, “oh, I would never have thought of that” moments.

My words even made the book. Here’s my contribution on the subject of earning money in retirement:

“Continuing to work in the same field after you retire is an excellent way to put your years of experience to use. Your employer may be interested in having you work part-time or as a consultant, which will keep you feeling connected to your work and your colleagues. Another option is to take whatever you did full-time before your retirement and find a way to become a freelancer or work independently. This will allow you to create your own flexible schedule and choose the projects that most interest you.

If you’d prefer a more traditional part-time job, look for opportunities where you are going to be anyway. For instance, if you love to golf and know you’ll be playing regularly, look for part-time positions at your local golf course. Not only will that help you increase your retirement income, but it will also reduce your expenses since you’ll be able to golf for free.

Other options along those lines include working for a cruise line if you’d love to travel in retirement, or working for a college if you’d like to take classes while you are retired. With the economy headed towards more part-time jobs, you should be able to find a fun, part-time working experience where you know you’ll already be spending time.”

I imagine the 5 years before retirement can be a stressful time. So much to think about, so little time to make up any differences or correct mistakes. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy or two for yourself or a loved one. When you’re kicking back in retirement more-comfortably and confidently enjoying the fruits of your labor, you’ll thank me.

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. My boyfriend and I are working on early retirement.  We hope to retire within 5 years.  This book would be very helpful for us!

  2. Looks like a great book – thank you for giving it away! 🙂
    *crosses fingers and toes*

  3. PT, love your post. It’s relevant to our current situation and the topics look spot on. Thanks for the opportunity!

  4. While I’ve been investing and saving with the idea of an early retirement, I’ve been thrown a few curve balls — a divorce and raising two kids on my own.  I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to make things work and a guide like this may answer a few questions for me.

    Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

  5. Thanks for the chance to win! I read a fair amount of personal finance books but haven’t read any specifically on retirement yet, and I should since I’m not getting any younger! This sounds like a very helpful guide.

  6. Good info about earning money in retirement could mean I get to retire earlier!

  7. OneFrugalGirl says

    I like to mix the personal finance books among the parenting books and just for fun novels.

  8. Looks promising; I wonder what would be a good complementary book to help Empty Nesters pare down their regular monthly expenses in conjunction with making investment and health insurance moves

  9. I hope to retire in five years and would love to win this book as a resource in my planning.

  10. I’m always interested in “oh, I would never have thought of that” information.

  11. willyandsmokey says

    i need to start early

  12. Though I am about 15 – 20 years away from retirement, you can never know enough about how to prepare for it.

  13. This must be a very good book to read! I’m 28 but I’m already thinking about my retirement plans.

  14. I have been following PT for about 10 years now…and have always found his topics of interest…
    even though sometimes circumstances vary in Canada……I am now 5 years from retirement, and
    having needed to ‘start over’, so will find this book on retirement invaluable…..

  15. I have a lot to learn about retirement, and this book covers a wide range of topics, not just number crunching.

  16. Interested in retiring early so this may help.

  17. I always want to be prepared for retirement.

  18. We are about 10 years from retirement and I want to keep our focus on that!

  19. I want this book to ensure that I am covering all areas as I prepare for retirement in the next 5-9 years.

  20. ErikaPlankHagan says

    I want this book because I had a chacne to peruse it over the holidays, and it is exceptionally well laid-out and clear, with both a warm and easy conversational style, AND really detailed information.  
    My parents, and my husband’s parents, are getting on towards that “5 years” window, and I’d love to be able to know what they’re thinking about and offer real, concrete, advice and information should they need it.