Choose Your Retirement with Emily Guy Birken

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Choose Your Retirement with Emily Guy Birken
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In the last week, I received two book recommendations from girlfriends on the topic of retirement.  I have a 2 and 4 year old. Do I really need to focus on becoming a seasoned citizen now?

Yes. Yes indeed.

And so do you.

It seems I just graduated from college. Twenty years – yes, 20 years – has come and gone while I was otherwise engaged.

My guest on this week’s episode of the Midday Money Show authored one of those recommended books. Emily Guy Birken wants us to Choose Your Retirement now so you can work a nice, stress-free plan to arrive.

She’s also looking out for those a little closer to reality with her first book, The 5 Years Before You Retire.

Choose Your Retirement

Thoughts About Retirement

Have you thought about what your retirement will look like? Barbara Stanny, author of Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money, shared that:

  • 80% of widows living in poverty today were not poor before their husbands died.


According to a survey in Working Woman magazine:

  • 70% of women will be widowed by an average age of 56
  • 36% of women will divorce their husbands
  • 6% will remain single
  • 87% of the elderly poor are women

Now trends may change as more ladies take on the Breadwinner status in American households.

Making more is great. Keeping more – so you can choose your retirement – is the challenge.

I don’t dream wistfully for retirement – living a life of leisure.  As Emily noted, I don’t plan to be finished with my life’s work or my viability as a contributor to society by 65 to spend my days chasing grands or pruning hedges in the garden.

That does not sound appealing.

Grant it – I haven’t worked for 40-50 years. Talk to me in a few decades. I may be singing a different tune.

Either way, financial burdens, stresses and/or worries will hopefully be a thing of the past.

I don’t exactly know what my retirement age will look like. However, I do plan to have:

  • My house paid off.
  • My children’s college funds in tact.
  • My health well managed – as much as I can control that.
  • No debt.
  • My eyesight – prayerfully.
  • The financial freedom to work yet not be dependent on external sources of income.

That’s a very rosy picture.

If I know anything, it’s that life doesn’t always work out as we plan. The plan is, however, still essential.

So what’s your plan?

At least once a year, I get together with a group of friends to talk goals and review progress. A few of the 40-somethings were asking the more accomplished 60-something what we could do – now – to better prepare for that retirement time period. In short, we want to be like our 60-something friend when we grow up. She shared sage advice, that I’ll pass on to you.

  • Get your finances in order.
  • Take care of your health – eat right and exercise.
  • Love your families (I’ll add and friends).


Saving is a Start, It’s Not Enough

Of course, my advice always starts with dumping your consumer debt. Once I eliminated $107,000 of debt from my life, I could breath. I could begin to visualize an abundant future.

We didn’t stop retirement saving while paying off debt. That was a choice that worked for us. However, dumping debt was a priority. Make it a priority and you’ll make it happen.

Once your consumer debt is behind you, then you can focus on additional priorities like purchasing a home or paying off the mortgage sooner. You can target goals with more focus like building a full emergency fund.

Saving is a great skill to have, but saving alone is not enough to make sure you money doesn’t dwindle due to inflation. In two weeks, Barbara Friedberg, will be a guest to get us started with investment basics.

A survey in 2004 by Merril Lynch found that 47% of women and 30% of men did not feel knowledgeable about investing. Jackie Cummings-Koski was encouraging as she shared how to become a better manager of money. The late, great Joan Rivers said it best:

“Trust no one with your money, because no one is smarter than you when it comes to your money. Well, they may be smarter, but you care more.”


Topics Discussed

Emily was kind enough to share her thoughts on:

  • What we all should start doing today to choose our best retirement path.
  • Why we should stop believing the myths about retirement.
  • A million dollars and why that should be everyone’s target goal.
  • Why we should embrace our paranoia.
  • Whether long term care is in your best interests.
  • How to make retiring abroad work. People are doing this.


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