According to author Ronald Surz, most of us Baby Boomers are going to be spending much of this decade (the 2020’s, which are still in early days) in what he calls the Risk Zone – his term for the ten years before and after Retirement.

Surz, who has been an investment consultant since 1974, and brings with him excellent credentials, uses his book’s introduction to explain why he believes the decade of the 2020s is a challenging time to be in or considering Retirement. And because he wants more of us Boomers to be able to afford to live a dignified Retirement.

He points to four key challenges that he says most Baby Boomers are not prepared to deal with, because, sadly, far too few of us are educated in finance and investing.

Those points are:
  • Interest rates have never been lower. The US government has been implementing a Zero-Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) on the Global Debt Crisis. This means we Boomers can’t earn a decent rate on safe investments, he says. So we’re forced to take in riskier investments, like stocks, risky bonds, and possibly even cyber currency, like Bitcoin.
  • The US government has never printed more money. $13 trillion and growing is the number he points to, which he notes is more than our 13 largest wars combined. (Apparently World War II cost $4.7 trillion in today’s dollars.) Surz sees this as a trap that will be sprung when inflation reappears, which it is bound to do.
  • Stock prices have never been higher. Surz explains that the market has been in a bubble, which will inevitably burst once inflation begins. He wisely points out that Boomers can be irreparably damaged by a significant stock market decline, especially if they are in the Risk Zone, those 5-10 years immediately before and after their Retirement date, especially if they have too much of their resources tied up in common stocks. They just don’t have enough time to “stay the course” until the market recovers. The inevitable consequences: deferred Retirement, part-time employment, inadequate savings to see us through the rest of our lives, and a resided standard of living.
  • The wealth divide in the US has never been wider. As a result, there is social unrest around the country. Those of us who are not rich are demanding more and more of what he calls “free stuff,” leading the country toward Socialism.

Addressing these and other points, Surz explains why he believes the 2020s are a time of heightened risk; how Boomers, who are most exposed, can protect themselves from this risk; and how even those who have saved insufficiently can still live a dignified Retirement.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book is that each chapter ends with a link to a video on the topic just covered.

Chapters of the book cover, but are not limited to:
  • The Four Pillars of Smart Investing
  • The Risk Zone and Sequence of Return Risk
  • Why the 60/40 Stock/Bond Allocation Rule is Wrong for Most Baby Boomers
  • Retirement Savings Plans
  • Stock and Bond Market Bubbles and What Pops Them
  • Money Printing and Inflation: COVID, Cryptocurrencies, and More
  • Annuities and Other Risk Mitigators
  • Living to 100 on Savings, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid
  • Reverse Mortgages
  • Smart Spending
  • Working in Retirement
  • Happiness

The book is easy to read, filled with helpful graphics and definitely enhanced by the video link at the end of each chapter. Highly recommended.


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Originally Published on

Anne Holmes Boomer-in-Chief of NABBW
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