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Why Can Ben Stein Retire at 61?

This article was written by in Investing. 9 comments.

I like Ben Stein. He’s been an actor, game show host, advisor to a presidential administration, author, and traveling guru. In his latest column on Yahoo Finance, he writes about the tendency to live in fear about retirement but not adequately plan (save). He started getting to the point by offering how he would be comfortable if he found it necessary to retire soon:

* His parents were thrifty planners.
* His parents bought low-cost variable annuities and bequeathed them to him.
* He saved money, learned the basics and more of investing, worked with great financial planners, and had a career that paid well.

He has more specific tips to offer, so that you, too, can retire comfortably:

* See a good financial planner.
* Understand your plan.
* Diversify. (Stein’s Yahoo column can kick Kiyosaki’s Yahoo column’s ass.)
* Invest 15% of your wages every month into your diversified investments (not just savings), and continue in down markets.
* Unless you have $1 million in annual income, be thrifty.
* Consider your future.

His last tip may be a little controversial with those who like to cut out all possible expenses:

Carefully consider variable annuities in addition to your investment portfolio, but only when you understand them and know what each fee is for. In your really advanced years, when you no longer have the strength to keep track of things, that automatic check will be a lifesaver.

The nature of the Internet creates an environment in which the biggest voices do not include people in their “really advanced years.” Ben’s point here is one I hadn’t considered: eventually, one may be simply too tired or too concerned with health issues to worry about finances as well as surviving.

Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published September 5, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Randy

Ben’s comment about annuities is indeed true. My grandmother is in her early 90′s now, and receives an annuity check plus soc. security. My parents have told me that her social security covers the basics, and the annuity covers the frills (trips to see great-children (my kids) for example).

I have a dinosaur pension and am glad of it. I know that when I’m 85 I won’t have to worry about juggling investments. Don’t get me wrong, I max my 401k and IRA, but I consider my pension my version of a ‘safety net’.


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avatar mapgirl

I love Ben Stein. I really do. He’s smart, witty and entertaining. What more could a girl want?

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avatar Manny

Thanks for the review of Ben Stein. I am a big fan of his book “How Successful People Win”, which has a beautifully poetic, inspiring, “big picture” view of how the world works. I review the book here:


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