Tips from those who walk the walk

Leisa Peterson recently interviewed me for a column in the Huffington Post. It was part of a series of fascinating e-books, The Retiree Next Door; Financial Professionals Reveal their Retirement Secrets.

I contacted book author Michael Dubrow and was excited when he agreed to an interview. I wanted him to discuss his experiences in putting together the book. Michael has a cool website

DENNIS: First of all thank you for joining us today. Let’s get right to it. The book, “The Millionaire Next Door” dispelled a lot of notions I had about wealthy people. The “average” millionaire is not the jet-set multi-millionaire; but rather they drive a Ford and shop at Wal-Mart.

When you started your “Retiree next door” series, what did you expect, and did it change as you saw it develop?

MICHAEL: Hi Dennis. It’s great to speak with you today! We expected to find that not enough Americans were financially prepared for their retirement. A 2014 Harris Poll found 74% of Americans are anxious about having enough money to retire. That is a HUGE number.

My company,, commissioned our own study to dig deeper. Our research appears in a series of Retiree Next Door eBooks which you were a part of. We learned many successful and happy retirees were much like you described. They were not multi-millionaires, and many had survived multiple stumbles in their retirement planning, yet they’re satisfied with their lifestyles.

We found 44% of successful retirees view themselves as “comfortably retired” with less than $500,000 in total assets, 67% live on less than $100,000 per year – with 27% living on less than $50,000.

In our series of e-books we focus on many of the challenges and how regular people have overcome them.

DENNIS: In the book I participated in, you question if the personal finance professionals you interviewed followed the same advice they were giving their clients. What was your experience?

MICHAEL: We wanted to know if financial professionals practiced what they preached. We found many candid admissions from professionals who didn’t follow their own financial advice. While some admissions were embarrassing, we were given permission to tell their stories because they believed there was much to be learned from their lessons. Others did follow their own advice.

And then there’s your profile in the eBook. Many men have complained about getting fleeced by an ex-wife and trying to begin a new life dead broke. But you voluntarily gave your ex-wife virtually everything when your marriage dissolved some thirty years ago. You started over in your late forties, and successfully built a nest egg that allows you to do the things you enjoy today, which is commendable.

DENNIS: My wife and I have friends who were schoolteachers, factory workers, typical middle class folks who are millionaires today. Some made their money in rental property, others maxed out their 401 (k) while some were savers who just lived below their means. The common theme was they were more interested in accumulating wealth than accumulating “stuff”.

Your book interviews people with some really varied backgrounds. Did you find any common thread among them?

MICHAEL: There were many common threads of advice, in particular among the financial professionals we interviewed. Most people know what they should do: plan, save more, and spend less. The challenge is actually getting it done. Many people need a little motivation and guidance in showing them the way. We shine the spotlight on the many practical ways to achieve your happy second act that the average person can relate to.

DENNIS: Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to help educate our readers. One of my pet peeves is reading retirement advice written by authors with very contemporary names who are probably in their 30’s. They are giving advice right out of a book. What I liked most about your free e-books was the fact they were real world, not theory. I encourage our readers to check them out.

MICHAEL: My pleasure Dennis, any time…

I would encourage our readers to visit and not only opt for the FREE book I was part of, but also take a look at the several free eBooks they have available. It is a website I recommend to all.

On the Lighter Side…

Last weekend I watched part of preseason NFL football. That is a sign that Labor Day will soon arrive and football season will be starting. It has been over 100 degrees most every day since we returned to Arizona so hopefully cooler weather will soon arrive.

The pennant races in baseball are starting to heat up. I look forward to watching “meaningful baseball games” played in September and early October. Right now the Cubs have the third best record in the National League and are in third place in their division. It’s possible for three teams in the Central division to all finish 20 games over .500, which is unusual.

On weekends I plead guilty to having baseball on one TV and football on the other. I am blessed that my wife Jo is a good fan and enjoys the sports with me.

And finally…

Good friend Toots sent along some “Perks for those reaching 70”:

  • Kidnappers are not interested in you.
  • In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
  • No one expects you to run – anywhere.
  • You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

And my personal favorite

  • You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

Until next time…



  • Hi, Dennis

    Thank you for sharing the Retiree Next Door stories. It’s a rare glimpse into the lives of people paid to advise others on money matters.

  • chelsey

    I like this article. I am always looking for financial advice but so many times the advice seems so not practical for so many people out there. I like hearing that even financial people have their own setbacks. Makes them seem more human.

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