When you’ve been working a 9-5 for decades, you dream of the freedom you’ll have when you take charge of your retirement days.
No more performance reviews, mandatory meetings, checking your work email at home, or dealing with demanding clients.
But you’ll also lose the routine you’ve followed for years, daily connections with colleagues, and the paycheck and benefits you earned when working.
While the first month or two of retirement may seem like a wonderful extended vacation, “flipping the switch” on so many parts of your life can be overwhelming.
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Many people wait until they retire to think about how they’ll adapt and others get “one more year syndrome” and continue working to avoid all the change.
That’s why it’s essential to consider early on the transitions you’ll face when the time arrives to leave your working career behind.
Luckily, Dr. Barbara O’Neill has already done a lot of research on this topic.
She shares 35 financial, social and lifestyle transitions you’ll face, and actions steps to address those changes in her new book – Flipping a Switch: Your Guide to Happiness and Financial Security in Later Life.
Flipping a Switch Book Review
You’ll be managing your money, relationships, and time differently when you retire. Barbara takes each of these important areas and addresses them in sections of the book.
Barbara has always been a champion for education programs to boost financial literacy.
While she wrote this book to help those who have retirement savings, she addresses privilege early on in the book. She explains the challenges many Americans face when it comes to saving for a secure financial future.
Inside Flipping a Switch
Each chapter in Flipping a Switch is concise and easy to read. After presenting the information, Barbara follows up with a series of action steps called How To Flip This Switch.
Each topic’s critical points are well explained, and each chapter has an extensive list of references for further reading.
Part 1 Financial Transitions
Barbara covers 15 topics in this section, including knowing when you have enough money to retire and creating a retirement paycheck for yourself.
She also discusses the financial switches you flip when it comes to:
- investing in later life
- changing income and expenses
- tax issues in retirement
- Social Security
- estate planning
- avoiding fraud
- and more
Part 2 Retirement and Social Transitions
In five chapters, Barbara walks you through:
- getting used to being retired
- relationship changes you might face
- finding meaning and purpose in your life
- successful “solo” aging
Part 3 Lifestyle Transitions
Preparing for when you leave full-time work are explored within the 15 chapters of this section including:
- finding fulfillment in life
- learning to ask for help
- looking to the future
- putting yourself first
More About Barbara O’Neill
Dr. Barbara O'Neill has an extensive resume. She's a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP), Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC), and holds a variety of other financial certifications.
She's also the owner/CEO of Money Talk: Financial Planning Seminars and Publications.
A Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University, she’s written over 160 articles for academic publications and received over 35 national awards and over $1.2 million in grants to support financial education programs and research.
After 41 years, Barbara left her role at Rutgers and recently moved from New Jersey to Florida. She’s living the post-career transitions she’s written about in Flipping a Switch.
What I Liked About Flipping a Switch
As a semi-retired woman whose husband retired from his career seven years ago, we’ve already started “flipping a few of these switches” ourselves.
While some are easier to manage than others, Barbara’s book addresses several changes we’ve already faced.
We are the “ants” Barbara talks about who saved for years and now find it difficult to spend some of our retirement funds.
We’ve also downsized our home once and may do it again. And with that comes going through decades of belongings and deciding what things you keep and which become memories.
In terms of the different parts of Flipping a Switch, I’ll talk about a few topics we’ll be dealing with over the next few years. Some of them we’ve started researching. But others have now moved higher up on our “to-do” list.
Chapter 7 focuses on taxes in retirement. Since our employers have been responsible for taking out taxes from our paychecks, the only thing we think about is whether we’re going to owe or get money back when we file our taxes. But when I officially retire in a few years, we’ll likely need to file quarterly taxes.
Chapter 8 is about deciding when you’ll collect Social Security. Since my husband turns 62 this year, we’ve discussed when he plans to start receiving and everything in the chapter confirms the decision we’ve made.
As you prepare to leave your 9-5 for good, Chapter 16 helps you come up with an answer to the question – “What Do You Do?”
You might think it has an easy answer. You’ll smile and say, “I’m retired!” But you may find the “R-word” has a lot more emotions tied to it than you think.
Pleasing yourself instead of others is the focus of Chapter 29. Barbara gives you the tools to embrace retirement and create your life – a life with vision and purpose.
Flipping the switch from always taking care of others to focusing on yourself isn’t easy. But it’s necessary to find happiness in later life.
Final Thoughts on Flipping a Switch
As an older GenX’er, I am really interested in many of the topics Barbara brought up in the book.
But as a personal finance writer and someone who “downshifted” from full-time work into the early stages of retirement, her addition of the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement also caught my attention.
While many of the topics deal with aging issues, others are transitions anyone leaving full-time work or retiring early need to consider.
If you’re looking for a well-researched book (that’s easy to follow) about what you’ll experience in retirement, Flipping a Switch is a guide worth reading.
It can help you set yourself up to be happy and financially secure in your “second half” or “third act,” depending on when you retire. And who doesn’t want that?!
Review completed by Vicki, Co-Founder of Women Who Money