In Retiring Solo: Plan to Be Happy, Healthy and Independent in the Years Ahead, entrepreneur Lori Martinek gifts readers with an upbeat, expansive and empowering guide to retirement and a meditation on its meaning in twenty-first century America. The book includes some of the practical financial advice that is standard fare in books about retirement, but it also offers much more than that.
Retirement, to Martinek, is more of a beginning than an end. In today’s world, retiring is about “redesigning, redefining, reinventing or rebalancing,” all with the goal of creating a retirement “that is a better fit to who we are and how we want to live.” For many, retirement is a time for living with purpose.
Surprisingly often, living a meaningful, purpose-driven life includes continuing to work in later life, even if only part-time. The “un-retirement” work that people pursue may be more aligned with their interests and passions than it was when they were younger.
In her conversations with people contemplating retirement, Martinek found that their main concerns were about “money, work, housing, community, health, lifestyle and legacy.” In brief, clear, and readable chapters, she addresses each of these components of a good life in retirement. She interweaves her own story, as well as plenty of useful suggestions, along the way. I especially appreciated the chapters on housing and community. There, the author explores the many different ways solo people can live so that they have the community and connectedness that they want, as well as a measure of privacy and autonomy.
The book is called Retiring Solo and not just Retiring, yet the “solo” part does not so much narrow the scope of the book as focus it. As the author notes, the number of single people has been continually increasing. Even people who are happily coupled, though, should still plan for retiring solo. Many couples do divorce, even those who never thought they would. Among those who do stay together, it is rare for both partners to die at the same time; so again, one will be solo.
Whether you are currently solo or coupled, Martinek encourages you to “take responsibility for your own well-being, financial security, happiness, and health.” You should, she urges, “be comfortable with yourself and be able to provide for yourself so that any decisions you make (whether romantic, financial, or otherwise) will be made from a position of strength and not need…That is the only real way to create security in your life.”
There are important differences between those headed to retirement as a single person compared to a married person, and one of the strengths of Retiring Solo is the elucidation of the financial benefits accorded solely to married people. (Many are written right into the laws of the land.) Yet equally strong, and quite heartening, are the discussions of the many advantages that single people enjoy. For example, although single people need to work harder to save all the money they will need for their retirement, they get to work toward their own vision of what retirement will be. As Martinek notes, one in three couples don’t agree on how they want to live when they retire. Single people also have more control over what they eat and when they exercise. They are often active socially, and have developed useful interpersonal and practical skills.
Retiring Solo is filled with all sorts of fun facts, useful statistics, and results of relevant research. The one missing piece was a set of endnotes or bibliography directing readers to the sources of that information. There is, though, a brief list of resources.
Martinek’s bottom line is that making plans for a solo retirement “is not insurance, but assurance.” After finishing Retiring Solo, readers are likely to feel reassured, informed, prepared and maybe even excited about embarking on this new stage of their life.
Retiring Solo: Plan to Be Happy, Healthy and Independent in the Years Ahead
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, August 2016
Paperback, 142 pages