*Starred Review*

The AARP Retirement Survival Guide:

How to Make Smart Financial Decisions in Good Times and Bad

Jason, Julie (Author) Aug 2009.

The AARP brand works extraordinarily well in providing valuable and objective information that readers can put to good use immediately especially on the subjects of health care and finances.

Case in point: author (The 401(k) Plan Handbook, 1997, among others) and investment counsel Jason thoroughly and accurately reviews the state of retirement 2009 with full consideration of our current economy. That state includes a solid grounding in the basics (such as the infamous What's your number? discussion), careful outlines of how to approach retirement income products as well as the stock market, and approaches to taxes and to potential advisors.

What's unusual is her factual analysis of CDs (featuring a checklist), reverse mortgages, annuities in all shapes and forms (e.g., immediate, equity-indexed, fixed), and guaranteed minimum benefits (in the forms of withdrawal and income benefits). In fact, it's well worth the book's cover price to delve into these somewhat arcane financial instruments if only because the author posits, in plain English, the ups and downs: warnings (e.g., read the prospectus), the workings, the terms to know along with hints, the promises, and a clear statement of what you get for your money.

If that isn't clear enough, she creates a fictional case study with numbers and charts, accompanied by a straightforward assessment on ease of understanding, complexity, risks, safety, costs and taxes, and the salesperson's motivation. That approach characterizes all of the chapters, whether on tax-deferred accounts or sales scams to avoid. Resources and research cinch the deal to consider this top of the borrower's pile. Appended: prospective advisor notepad; client reference notepad; quick test factors for different retirement periods and rates of return; case study."   

Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.  Library Journal Reviews: LJ Reviews 2009 August #1

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