Josh Jalinski admits up front that his book, Retirement Reality Check – How to Spend Your Money and Still Leave an Amazing Legacy, is a book that will be "an in-your-face look at how traditional financial planning has failed you." This seems at first to be a strange comment about financial planners, since he is one himself. In his discussion, though, he continually advises that everyone should have a financial planner who is consulted often. Those still working, close to retirement or already retired can gain ideas from Jalinski's book.
He often disagrees with well-known financial people such as Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey; Jalinski makes no apologies for opposing many of their views. He compares the rules of conventional financial planning – what he calls the "old reality" – and presents the "new reality" that throws out many rules. "Save for a rainy day" (old) becomes, "Save to enjoy today and tomorrow." "Bonds are safe" (old) becomes, "Bonds may be a recipe for disaster."
Reading this book requires an openness to a new approach, different from the age-old money views we are used to hearing. For example, he is a proponent of reverse mortgages, often less favored by financial experts. He also argues against the typical mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Jalinski, though, prefaces his remarks with the advice that each person's finances and situations are different and must be looked at holistically.
He makes you question whether you've maximized the best ways to earn, save, live in retirement and leave money for your family. Jalinski urges making a plan that considers your short-term and long-term needs and wants. The plan must be shared with a financial planner and reviewed frequently.
With charts, checklists, self-assessments and action steps, he provides a look at cash value life insurance vs. term life insurance and annuities vs. bonds. He discusses diversification that doesn't become "di-worsification," and ways to retire in the zero-tax bracket.
He tells the stories of people who have benefited from his advice and acknowledges that in some cases it took many meetings over many months to earn the trust of a client. Many had been hurt financially by mistakes they made on their own or decisions that they left to a planner. Each story provides a different example of types of needs and wants clients bring.
For example, a couple shared that they wanted to have money to leave to their grandkids for college. Jalinski advised them to get a cash value life insurance policy as it would provide that benefit, while a term life policy would not.
Jalinski tends to work with affluent clients, ones who had already accumulated a substantial nest egg. Yet all had more to learn, and could take advantage of moving their money into different vehicles and changing strategy to maximize their investments. These strategies could be helpful to a person with less in savings.
He becomes more of a salesman in one chapter, promoting his proprietary model, called the Financial Quarterback Game Plan, which provides clients with both offense and defense in their financial strategy. He uses football analogies to make his point and refers to teams as examples of his investing approach – one team had a great defensive line but that wasn't enough to win a game and vice versa.
Questions that individuals or couples should ask will help identify future goals: Do you want to leave money to grandkids or kids? Or would you rather spend your money to make your own lives comfortable? Or both? Are you willing to take more risks or are you conservative?
He advises people to consider their own comfort during retirement. Why skimp and save every penny at the sacrifice of enjoying life? He says, "Forget growth and focus on income" and provides another checklist of possible ways to do so, like forgoing Social Security until 70 and taking the yearly required minimum distribution from IRAs and 401(k)s.
Jalinski's action steps towards the end of the book focus on additional recommendations: get disability insurance and long-term care insurance, create a will and make estate plans.
This book makes you think about your own financial health. My bet is that when you finish reading, you will grab your phone to set up a meeting with your financial planner.
Cinda Ackerman Klickna feels good about her financial plan since her son is her financial planner. After reading this book, she plans to ask him more questions.