Kiplinger’s is really abstracting things this month


I’ve never been a huge fan of Kiplinger’s, but they do provide solid advice sometimes. I haven’t been needing as much financial advice (at least not the Hot Stock Top kind the magazines use to fill in around the stuff that’s the same every month) since I finally got most of my stuff automated (and invested in a single general mutual fund). But in the February issue, they’re really pushing it…

Here’s 3 headlines from the cover:
Double Your Income In Retirement
Saving Enough? Use Our Formula
5 Steps to Retire When You Want

I can summarize the first two in exactly 4 sentences:
1. Work until you’re 70 instead of 62.
2. Saving less than 5% of your pay? Work forever.
3. 5-14% – Work part-time.
4. 15% or more – You’re totally good.

Yup. I’m pretty sure it’s all that simple.

The third article (5 steps to retire when you want) is sort of decent, except the first step is: cut spending. Gee, thanks.

Next up: Get advice. Yes, from the internet where financial advice is not only plentiful, but free. Sure, it’ll take a little longer to do it that way… or you could buy a single book for $10 and go with that. That’s what I did, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

Third step to “Retire When You Want” is to consider a Roth. Consider? Just consider it? They’re really aiming for LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) with this one. I mean, yes, people need this advice… but calling it “Retire When You Want”? If you really want to retire when you want, you need to be maxing out your 401(k) and contributing to a Roth and have a taxable brokerage account too. You cannot just consider a Roth. You need one.

Step 4 – Plan Your Exit – appears to be a cute story about how some couple went on a retirement cruise and rented their house. They’d saved up three years worth of living expenses, so they survived the Great Recession. I think the advice comes at the very end when they insinuate that you need to have a taxable brokerage account with a bunch of money in it. You opened one of those and put a bunch of money in it, right? Yeah, right after you considered opening a Roth IRA.

Step 5 is actually very good advice: Create Income. I’d argue you want to do this now as well as in retirement, but the fact that they mention it is good, because I think a lot of people do just focus on saving and don’t think about how much income their savings are actually going to generate. They provide a couple solid leads on how to provide a stable income during retirement.

Okay, since I hate people who tear ideas apart without making a positive contribution, here’s my positive contribution:

1 Step To Retire When You Want
1. Take action.

That’s right. Do something. Anything. But please, don’t just read another article and think “hmmm, I wonder if there’s other advice that would {contradict|further help|provide additional insight to} this advice?”

Ramit Sethi (my personal financial advisor) has this blog post which will tear you apart and provide the same positive contribution.

The amazing thing is, this applies to much more than personal finance. For example, if you want to start a blog, you can spend time reading about how to attract people, research good topics, look for lots of different templates and themes, evaluate a bunch of stat tracking packages, look for potential advertisers, or you can just start writing. That’s the core of blogging, just as the core of saving for retirement is saving money.

Final note, yes, I do understand that personal finance magazines would go out of business if they only published one article every month that just told people to save money. And there’s other stuff they have like what documents you need to keep in case of an audit, college rankings, FAQs on new credit card rules, etc. So, not a complete waste of money… I just thought this one was really stretching it for “cover story” articles.


Posted on January 8, 2010, in Diatribes, Personal Finance and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Kiplinger’s is really abstracting things this month.

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