The most common advice for retirement is: Prepare early, both financially and mentally. For many, the idea of such preparation may be a bit of a bore, but the advice is undoubtedly sound.
Laws passed by Congress in 1981 and 1982 have changed the rules of the saving-for-retirement game. This has prompted a number of new books, three of which are reviewed here.
Should you need a lecture - a sort of pep talk - on the virtues of saving and investing, Retire Easy: The Bluebook of Retirement Planning should do the trick. Any spendthrift may have at least some twinges of guilt after reading its chatty first chapters on the the dangers of spending too much.
Author Thomas L. Nolan, a veteran of radio and television money-advice shows, writes clearly and engagingly. His advice is conservative and seems mostly sound. A first section deals with ''The Business of Living,'' and includes a number of practical tips for reducing costs and some guides for calculating your net worth and budgeting, as well as tables for long-term financial targets, 12 -month saving and investment targets, and saving for retirement. There is also a chapter on life insurance.
Part 2 of the book examines how to invest your retirement money, looking at Individual Retirement Accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, utility stocks, dividend reinvestment programs, all-savers certificates (no longer available), collectibles, investment partnerships, and sources of information. This section includes a handy comparison table for use when shopping for a new home. The stock market information is basic, hardly sufficient to go out and risk your retirement savings on.
A third section on ''Life After Retirement'' includes a worksheet for estimating social security payments, weather tables, and state tax tables to help readers decide on a livable location. There's also a method for figuring moving costs and discussion of part-time jobs. As a whole, the book offers a once-over-lightly discussion of retirement planning, which could be useful to many people. It is, however, somewhat sloppily printed, and contains no index.
How to Build a Fortune with an IRA might have been better titled, ''All You Ever Wanted to Know About Individual Retirement Accounts - and More.'' It's exhaustive, but well organized and clearly written. Latest changes in the United States tax law permit almost anyone to have a tax-deferred IRA, and millions have already opened or are considering opening them. The IRA plans are usually sound, but won't necessarily be the best investment for every individual. This book should help people choose among the various IRA investment vehicles. It also should help them avoid pitfalls and penalties.
All You Should Know About IRA, Keogh and Other Retirement Plans is technical and dull but thorough and accurate. The Ullman-Bercoon book devotes only 11 pages to Keogh plans for the self-employed. The Lasser book looks in much more detail into Keoghs, corporate retirement plans, simplified employee pension plans, deferred pay plans, social security, and estate planning. If you're interested in just an IRA, the Ullman-Bercoon book is the more useful. If you want a broader rundown of investment plans, this Lasser book is a good introduction.