No Retirement Savings? Here’s How to Retire Anyway

According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute nearly half of American households report having zero retirement savings.

In this sorry state of affairs, a book that was published nearly 62 years ago seems appropriate.

Bob Belmont, a sci-fi novelist, authored a manifesto called How to Retire Without Money, in which he shared his philosophy of a productive and fulfilling post-work life

With a little adapting for the 21st century, the five messages shared in these pages are likely to resonate with the modern-day prospective retiree.

1. Retire in the right place

Most of the book is focused on where you should retire, exploring some of the more unconventional, low-cost living solutions, including houseboats, trailers and artists’ colonies.

He also looked at living in countries  that can provide a high quality of life at a low cost, both in the United States and abroad, bargain destinations such as Greece, Morocco, and the Gulf Coast of Florida.

2. Make saving satisfying

Belmont suggested that saving didn’t need to be such a drag and that it could actually be fun, given enough motivation to escape the rat race early.

He suggested that readers make saving money a habit, and that they lower their cost of living by eating “cheaper food, moving to a smaller apartment” and keeping “entertainment costs to an absolute minimum.”

The other benefit of such frugal living, he claims, is that by growing accustomed to life without luxuries, you will easily be able to adjust to such a lifestyle in retirement.

3. Deliver yourself from debt

Belmont wasn’t keen on debt, and had strong words for those in it.

“By whatever means it takes, get rid of it. If things are such that it will take a year for you to get free of your present debts, even by cutting every corner, then postpone retiring until you are free of them,” he wrote.

Unfortunately, decades after Belmont’s book, big mortgages, student loans, credit card debt and poor money management means that retirees are in more debt than ever.

4. Stay Busy

If you retire, “find some useful and soul satisfying activity to absorb your hours,” Belmont wrote. He advocated spending retirement engaged with your passions or turned to side hustles to maintain a reliable income.

“Work while in retirement is healthful just as is exercise and recreation. But the work must be wholesome, interesting,” said Belmont.

He probably hadn’t anticipated the opportunities that the gig economy would provide retirees. According to Betterment’s Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement report, more retirees than ever are turning to the gig economy to support their retirement income.

5. Don’t wait too long!

Belmont’s key message was this: Don’t wait too long to retire! He was sure it would be a mistake to wait so long to retire that you would be unable to enjoy it.