Sunday, January 27, 2013

How To Retire The Cheapskate Way-A Review

Recently I’ve been reading some books on retirement. On my desk now, (and still to be reviewed) is a book on single retirement.  I just finished the book How to Retire the Cheapskate Way: The Ultimate Cheapskate's Guide to a Better, Earlier, Happier Retirement.

Although it may make my little review a bit longer, this is definitely one of those cases where in order to review the book, you have to talk about the author. I’ve been a bit of a fan for a while. Jeff Yeager worked for many years for a variety of non profits including the American Youth Hostel Association.  At 46, Jeff retired.  He later began what he called selfish employment and started writing here and there as a second part time career-on subjects based on his personal experiences and those of managing extremely small budgets in the public sector. Most of his books are about living below ones means.

 While there’s no doubt that Jeff Yeager can be a character, he is also prolific. He has his own talk shows, appears on television and writes regularly for the AARP on budget issues. On the “being a character” side, he names his compost pile. If any folks have ever watched TLC for a bit of outlandish humor on a boring evening, Jeff was the only voice of sanity on the show Extreme Cheapskates, where he and his wife did a two week no spend period-as they do every year.

Up until now my favorite Yeager book has been the Cheapskate Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of g Happily below Their Means. Modeled on the Millionaire Next Door format (sort of), Jeff profiles hundreds of people (families, singles, all ages, all ethnicity's, and all incomes) who discuss how they live beneath their means joyfully. I decided to grab the book “How to Retire the Cheapskate Way” when it appeared. I’ve mentioned before that as a frugal retiree, it can be very frustrating in terms of reading resources. Almost all financial retirement books talk about investing and preparation. Frugal retirement books usually are all about senior discounts and how to get ten percent off at Kroger. Regular books on frugality tend to focus on families with children-leaving much of their content irrelevant to the rest of us. I really do think I’m going to begin that book soon-with an emphasis on fixed income retirement.

Meanwhile, I did enjoy this book. There certainly are two chapters devoted to younger folks preparing for retirement. He also relates his own experiences of attempting to live, save and plan for retirement while living on a low salary-something worth reading for others in the same boat. This is a guy who chose to stay in the low to okay paying job he loved instead of making other choices and still managed to have a wife, family and retire early.

The final five chapters of this nine chapter book are where the best information and reading in the book can be found. Chapters on simplifying, saving in retirement, medical issues in retirement and other topics (including “selfish employment”) are well written and informative as well as being filled with humor-and show how you can do the above without lowering quality of retirement life.

To give just one example, there is a large chapter on medical issues. This chapter is equally divided between medical costs and alternatives and being healthier to lower medical costs. Admittedly I am one of those folk who thinks that people who believe health care should stay as it is in this country have never had a health insurance crisis. People who oppose requiring employers to provide health care have probably never had to pay for health care out of pocket other than an employers. I know this is a generalization, but this is a huge issue for retirees, and one not often addressed on the “How I managed to retire at 39” type blogs. In this area the author speaks from experience, having had to purchase cobra insurance or the equivalent at an exorbitant cost for the many years. He guides us through his decisions as well as alternatives and ideas for others in the same boat.

That second part of the chapter on lifestyle choices is specific and includes alternatives and suggestions as well.  Finally, this chapter talks about the medical choices folks need to consider and pay for as they enter the second half of their sixties, and how to deal with the system.  While this was helpful, I'll add here that the Nolo book on Social Security, Medicare and Federal Pensions is still the best book I have seen in this one area. 

All in all folks, I was glad I got the book. If you’re looking for a non judgemental, humorous book about retirement finances in our times, you may want to grab a copy (from the library, of course!).


  1. It sounds like a great book, Barb! I agree that books for "real" people are much more helpful than "how to retire 20 years early" because for people living on a lower income, this will never happen!

  2. I'll suggest the book to the library. Now I am off to buy the NOLO book!
    Thanks for the honest review.

  3. Janete, the book was really helpful to me especially as I ws learning about accessing my husbands social security and learning about offsets and such.

  4. Hey carla! Well, this book is for real people but its also about how to retire 20 years early becaue this guy did retire at forty. Granted he started writing later but he was ready to retire at forty after working for a non profit.

  5. I am going to check this out Barb. Now that Harvey and I are retired we need some more insight in living within a lower income bracket.

    God bless.

  6. Enjoyable book. I didn't realize he had a new one out until you mentioned it a few days ago. Thanks.

  7. I still follow two of Jeff's challenges from his earlier book - using up what is already in your pantry and fridge vs going out to buy "more" and doing same with regard to entertainment. Meaning entertain yourself with things you already own rather than running out to pay for more of the same.

    Putting this on my library list now, thanks Barn.

  8. Hope you enjoy it, as I said, he's a character but I love his books!

  9. By the way, I typed "Barb" on my Kindle, but the word check changed it to "Barn" without my realizing!

  10. Tamara, sounds like me and auto edit!

  11. I agree with you on the health insurance ... have watched friends deal with major health issues. Those who had adequate insurance fared much better than those who didn't. (though in one case, the good insurance was woefully lacking in paying for therapy).


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