Choose Your Retirement Book Review

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author. This article is written for entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as financial or any other type of professional advice.

Choose Your Retirement: Find the Right Path to Your New Adventure by Emily Guy Birken offers direction and insights on key retirement issues. Readers of nearly any age and any stage of retirement planning may be able to benefit from this book.

As a personal finance writer, I like to keep up with retirement topics and enjoy reading about financial issues for this stage of life. For example, I’ve read Todd Tresidder’s How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?  and Mike Piper’s Social Security Made Simple: Social Security Retirement Benefits and Related Planning Topics Explained in 100 Pages or Less. Both were extremely helpful and insightful to me.

Emily’s book doesn’t shy away from numbers and the nitty-gritty of finance. But Choose Your Retirement differentiates itself in that more personal topics are covered. These directly influence finances but are not necessarily investment or pension related. For example, she discusses the costs and benefits of various types of senior communities, provides resources for inexpensive travel, and gives tips for downsizing your living situation in order to reduce housing costs and related expenses.

Consider how choices affect life in retirement

Further, she gives insight into the choices readers need to make in order to have the retirement desired. This approach resonates with me as I often think about whether I’d like to spend my retirement years traveling the world or riding my bike in the North Carolina countryside, two activities that I thoroughly enjoy but with very different price tags. Ideally, I hope to do both.

Generally, the more money I have, the more choices I have.

But if retirement accounts aren’t supersized (yet), this book may help. Emily guides readers through decision-making processes that allow them to secure a retirement that is deeply satisfying even if it doesn’t involve sunning on the Riviera.

Be creative in designing a retirement lifestyle

Choose Your Retirement Adventure covers a broad range of retirement-related topics such as investments, Social Security, Medicare, early retirement, and even working in retirement. There’s much more but here are a handful of useful things I learned:


I can book trips with Roads Scholar, an educational travel organization, which is suitable for retirement-aged folks and possibly less expensive than more traditional travel services.

For example, I may be able to book a European cruise for about $1,000-$1,500 per person less than one booked through a traditional cruise line.

Retirement Portfolio

I can divide my investments into buckets that align phases of my retirement years with investing time horizons.

Using this approach, I could designate some of my money for current expenses and hold in cash equivalencies. Another bucket could be reserved for expenses 16 years from now and invested more aggressively.


Knowing the details about Medicare enrollment and timing could help me avoid paying a penalty that lasts as long as I am a Medicare beneficiary. Original Medicare includes Part A (generally, hospital and facility care) and Part B (regular doctor visits outside of hospitals). Typically, retirees pay a monthly premium for Part B services.

Even if I have Medicare, I’ll likely have gaps in coverage. So, I can start now to save within a health savings account (HSA) for healthcare expenses in retirement.


Whether I decide to downsize my household to save money, relocate to be closer to my children, move to a senior community, or get rid of extra stuff I’ve accumulated, I can benefit from decluttering.

For example, I may want to go ahead and pass along family heirlooms, box up my children’s stuff, and write down memories but toss the bulky items associated with them. In addition to helping prepare for a retirement-related housing move, it could save money by getting rid of stuff instead of paying hundreds of dollars in monthly storage fees.

Living Abroad

Living overseas may be more doable than I imagined, even if I’m not fluent in a foreign language.

I discovered ways of navigating common concerns relating to housing and transportation. Plus, I learned about topics I should research but hadn’t previously considered, such as whether to sign up for Medicare if I’m not planning on being in the United States, what to do about income taxes and foreign bank accounts, and why it’s cheaper to adapt to local foods than bring familiar brands to my new home.

Read Choose Your Adventure to spark proper planning

In her book, Emily gives insights into the questions readers ought to be asking and topics I may need to explore before making a decision relating to life in retirement.

Again, many of these decisions affect my finances but may not be related to traditional retirement topics, such as investment portfolio management. For example, selling my home and moving to a smaller one or one in a less expensive area could add tens of thousands of dollars to my investment portfolio; done correctly, living overseas could reduce my monthly expenses significantly; and opting for local volunteering instead of luxury travel could help preserve my nest egg.

You’re wondering about what retirement may look like. Start the personal aspects of the planning process by reading Choose Your Retirement.

How do you envision retirement? Are you considering changes to adapt your lifestyle to the size of your retirement funds?

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