Fourth Quarter Fumbles: How Successful People Avoid Critical Mistakes Later in Life, by Dennis Stearns, CFP® is a series of wise lessons on how not to screw up the golden years of financial independence. You may have heard that nutrition, exercise, brain games, attitude and socializing are important. Stearns’ book makes clear that for some people they will not be important. They will be critical.
For many retirees, the questions about quality of life in retirement take a back seat to questions about money. The book starts with the observation that non-financial challenges in retirement can be the undoing of a perfectly good financial plan. For example, it tells the frightening story of a couple who retired with 100% financial confidence, but no idea of how they would spend their time individually or together. He became bored, they both grew irritable, then sick, depressed, demented in the husband’s case, and, 10 years later, divorced. Both died much worse off – financially, emotionally, and spiritually. A true story, it represents what many financial planners to affluent clients foresee as a more likely worst-case scenario than any kind of market Armageddon.
Stearns asked a few hundred successful people in the “fourth quarter” of their lives about the best and worst decisions (“Fumbles”) they made that affected their later years. Clearly the definition of “successful” doesn’t refer only to net worth, but also to happiness, engagement, and general wellbeing. In this compilation of their answers, he categorizes the major areas and summarizes them for readers in 25 lessons and 12 chapters. Each lesson ends with questions, and each chapter ends with a kaizen – a small step the reader can take in the right direction.
Concerns are helpfully divided by gender and marital status. Certain decisions tend to be addressed differently by men and women, and by those in a committed relationship vs. singles. How the consequences of those decisions affect each group differently are considered, as well.
The final fifty pages are chock full of resources, including a fumble-propensity assessment test, websites, books, articles, a Life Wheel, and even an MRI image of the brain before and after 20 minutes of exercise showing the happiness areas all lit up (my favorite).
Fourth Quarter Fumbles is going on my client gift list, and it’s staying on my bookshelf as a terrific resource for retirement planning.