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Book Review – Choose Your Retirement

choose your retirementThe latest book by Emily Guy Birken – Choose Your Retirement – is unlike any other book I’ve read on the subject. Birken takes the time to walk the reader through all of the decision-points that likely will confront you. She spends time acknowledging all of the factors that often face future retirees, including all of the emotional factors that plague us.

Author Birken, who you may recognize from her many writing gigs with well-known personal finance outlets including Wisebread, PT Money, Money Crashers and Yahoo! Finance, has really done well with this book, in my opinion. The book provides practical step-by-step guidance and counsel for navigating the internal mental scripts that different personality types face when saving – Money Avoidance, Money Worship, Money Status, and Money Vigilance. Most everyone fits into one of these categories – and each category has it’s own pitfalls and benefits. This book takes you through each script type to help you understand the barriers that you are likely facing as you plan for and approach retirement.

In Part II Emily takes time to work through debunking the common myths that pervade the retirement planning landscape.  Among the topics here are myths about how to estimate how much money you’ll need in retirement, as well as myths about Social Security, Medicare and healthcare.

The last section of the book is where the rubber meets the road. The author covers in ten chapters some of the very important topics that most retirement books leave behind, including things like retiring abroad or retiring in place (where you live now), changing careers in retirement (because retirement doesn’t mean stop!), and leaving a legacy.

The last section of the book is in my opinion what really sets this book apart from the field. These categories are covered in-depth, with practical advice for things that you don’t typically see in a retirement book. Ms. Birken does a great job with this part of the book – like, for example, the concept of undertaking more education in retirement. Did you know you can use a 529 plan to fund your own education on a tax-advantaged basis?

All in all, I think Emily, who I am privileged to have met and spent some time with at a recent FinCon conference, has really done a great job with this book. It’s also an excellent complement to her first book, The 5 Years Before You Retire. I recommend this book for any and all who are looking to retire soon, it’s a practical book with worksheets built in, and you’ll earn back your investment quickly with the sage advice.


  1. John Lacek says:

    Thanks for the book review, it certainly looks like a potential read for me. You recommend the book for those about to retire, how about those who are about 6 years in and have not yet started taking SS and are not yet on Medicare, thus younger than 65.


    1. jblankenship says:

      Hi John – I definitely think there is a lot to glean from this book for someone in your position. I didn’t in any way mean to limit the audience of the book, I think it’s got a lot of great guidance wherever you might be along the timeline.


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