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Island Investing

Riffs, rants, and the upside of investing from way off Wall Street


Book Notes: Spend ’til The End, Intro

“If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.” – Yogi Berra

My firm provides only a small sliver of the entire spectrum of financial services. We manage two portfolios, and only in a pretty particular kind of way. So when friends and family started coming to me in late 2008 asking what the financial meltdown meant to their retirement plans and monthly budgets, I gave plenty of opinions but little real help. Then I read Spend ‘til The End.

The book gives thoughtful, contrarian advice about financial planning. Its concept of “consumption smoothing” could change how you approach retirement. You may also find that you’re saving too much for retirement. But don’t run off to Vegas yet.

Because I liked the book so much, I eventually tracked down author Larry Kotlikoff and got his permission to post summaries of each chapter here on CaleInTheKeys. In the book, Professor Kotlikoff and co-author Scott Burns knock Wall Street, burp in the face of conventional financial wisdom and give some valuable nuggets about how to think independently about your financial future. In other words, they’re my kind of guys.

While I don’t agree with every conclusion in the book, I recommend it, anyway. If nothing else, it will force you to get clarity on your own long-held beliefs about saving for retirement. And if there’s anything this economic meltdown taught us, it’s that we all need to think more clearly.

I’ll be posting summaries of the key chapters of Spend ’til the End every Thursday. Then, thanks to some other gracious authors, we’ll cover some other investing, business and finance books, too.

So, please turn off that noise on CNBC. Let’s start thinking differently.