Dear Readers,
I am truly touched by the more than 350 e-mails I received from those of you interested in a complimentary copy of "Last Chance to Get It Right," by Thomas Moore. You range in age from a senior in high school to a 70-year-old who is still working and is worried about providing income for himself and his spouse for another twenty years.

I read every single letter. At least twice. And I've been struggling to select 20 of you who will receive this book. I don't have a budget to buy these books; they are being donated by the author. So, contrary to what one of you suggested, I am not being "a big city elitist" for not making more available.

Frankly, almost all of you, in my opinion, have terrific reasons for needing or wanting this book. Except the two of you who bragged about having a net worth in excess of $1 million. In your cases, I have three words of advice: "BUY the book," for goodness sake! The official price is $24.95, but you can purchase it via the Internet for a lot less.

While I appreciated the letters from those of you in your twenties and newly married, or struggling to pay off student loans, the fact is, you still have time to "get it right." Get this book. Ask for it as a birthday present. You will use if for years to come. It will help you avoid the mistakes made by folks who are much closer to retirement and who really do have one last shot to avoid spending their old age "flipping burgers" or "bagging groceries at the local supermarket," as some suggested.

Most of you are Baby Boomers, as I am. You are in your late 40s or 50's and suddenly realize retirement is just around the corner and you don't have much in the way of assets except, perhaps, a nice home that still has a mortgage and some great kids.

A number of you said you became parents late in life. As a result, you find yourself less than ten years away from retirement, facing college tuition bills for multiple children, and wondering if you'll ever be able to stop working. More than a dozen of you are like Kathleen and Tina — single parents who are struggling with this issue all alone due to divorce.

In many cases, you asked for this book in order to help someone else — a child, parent, sibling, spouse — get their financial house in order. If you don't get a free book, consider buying it as a gift for that person.

I've got to admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for members of our military. You and your families sacrifice so much for the rest of us. Several of you are currently deployed in Iraq and promised to pass this book along to others in your unit. I hope you do.

Here are the first ten recipients of "Last Chance to Get It Right." Please be patient. Some of you didn't include your (regular) address, so we'll have to contact you via email in order to get it.

Enjoy!

Gail

 

Dear Money Matters,

I would love to get Larry Moore's book, "Last Chance to Get it Right". I am an Army officer nearing the end of my career and just recently returned from Iraq. I contribute monthly to an IRA mutual fund for myself and my wife but I don't have time to effectively manage my retirement and am not sure if what I am doing will allow me and spouse to meet our retirement goals.

This is an especially important time to for me to educate myself and "Get it Right" because I will soon be transitioning to the civilian work force and will need to know what my income and my retirement saving should be. We are in our mid-forties and still have some time to make correction to our retirement planning but is nearly our "Last Chance."

Randall

 

Dear Gail,

Boy, could I ever use this book. Here's why.

I will be 60 years old on my next birthday. I have been married for 30 years and unemployed for 28 years, having stayed home to raise five children. My husband is divorcing me and taking with him my only current source of income, retirement security, and medical insurance.

He is leaving me with a house that has no equity and needs a lot of repair, two sons just starting graduate school and dependent on living at home, and two others, one in college and one still in high school.

Yes, I will get part of the pension and some alimony and child support, but health problems (and my age) make it unlikely that I will be able to supplement that with much earned income. I expect I will live another 20 or so years, but on what? How much? and at what standard of living?

Currently scrambling for money to pay lawyer's fees for this divorce, I have no resources to hire a financial planner as well!

Help!

Kathleen

 

Gail,

My wife and I are 62. Five years ago I lost my job as an ordained minister.

At the same time we sold a house and inherited some money. With the total of just over $300K we invested all in a variety of mutual funds just after the market peaked. Needless to say we've been loosing ever since. Scared of the market, a few months ago we sold off enough to pay off our house. We have about $125K left in mutual funds and $10K in gold coins (one of the few things that has gained in value!).

Now we are a bit deluded and confused where to go from here at our age. My wife doesn't qualify for Social Security and we're not sure it's wise for me to start too soon. I work part-time for $10/hr. Will Mr. Moore's book help us or have we missed our "last chance?"

Barry

 

Gail, I have worked every day of my life since I was 12 — now I am 53 and sick of the work rat-race. I taught English for 24 years, my husband has taught for 30 years and we are raising 4 children... not a chance of saving much money... I quit to sell real estate... long hours, huge stressors, and am sick of not knowing how to prepare for the future.

Juanita

 

Hi Gail:

Love your work! Really could use the book! My husband and I have been through numerous traumas in the last couple of years. Between the house burning to the ground, four unexpected surgeries, the financial debacle that left my teacher's retirement fund with $5k less than I put into it and paying some $14k in debt from our fire (we were under-insured, which you can bet won't happen again), we've depleted anything we had that looked like a resource. We need a tool that can advise us how we can work to safely recoup something that looks like financial stability for our mutual retirement in the years to come.

Please help if you are moved to do so.

Thanks for all your great advice.

Kacey

 

Hello,

I am a recent U.S. military retiree. I have a wife and two teen-age children. I got a second chance/career with a local Sheriff's Dept. I have a lot of saving to make up for and a short time to do it in. I think this book could help.

Thanks

W.W.

 

Dear Gail,

Thanks for your wonderful articles, I check the Fox News site often and always read your column. I'm a 33-year-old Police Officer supporting a wife and three kids. Over the past 10 years my wife and I had managed to save about $20,000 which is heavily invested in technology. Our nest egg grew to about $43,000 before the fall of the market and now sits at about $18,000.

It's been quite discouraging to look back over the past 10 years and realize that the net result of our investing has been a $2000 loss. Currently, we are not contributing to any investment vehicle and are fearful about what to do. Our existing investments are still invested in the funds that did so poorly a few years ago and I wonder if we should reallocate that money elsewhere.

I don't know how to go about doing that or where I should "move" the money to. It appears that technology (NASDAQ) stocks are coming back, but I'm worried that we are still exposed to another precipitous drop.

Please help. Thank You,

Dan

 

Dear Gail,

My wife needs this book. She lets emotions steer her instead of education. She controls what she does with her retirement (401k) plan. She doesn't know what compounding, dollar cost averaging, stock market history, and her emotions are doing to her account. She makes emotion based choices every time the market flutters. She reviews her (small) account almost daily and panics often though tells me nothing and does not listen to my, albeit, limited advice.

Bottom line is her account is not growing because she keeps moving her money and is not realizing her capitals full potential. She 50 and thinks she can retire in five years. I'll be working until I'm 70 to make up for her personal losses.

Sincerely,

Terry

 

Despite the choice to be a single-income family with a stay-at-home mom, my career enabled us to buy a modest home (now about 2/3 paid for) while contributing the maximum to my 401k almost every year — even through the declines. Now in my mid-fifties, mergers and acquisitions have brought an end to my career. And because of changes in the local economy, there are very few local professional employment opportunities. Our long-term plans have suddenly ended and an early retirement has been chosen for us.

But we did not plan on a retirement with a mortgage and two college-bound kids at home. Thankfully, there is a severance package that will help somewhat, but it will not be a substitute for continued employment. We have my severance, pension, and 401k. We need the book "Last Chance to Get it Right" to help us make realistic plans.

 

Gail,

I'm a 45-year-old single mom who is trying to learn as much as I can about planning for my retirement. At my age, I really feel I'm approaching my last chance to prepare for my retirement. I have a disabled teen who likely will be living at home for her adulthood so I feel more pressure to provide some security for our future. My income is modest which means it even more important that I plan carefully with the money I do have, it makes it harder to catch up - I keep telling my other adult [daughter] to start now because it will benefit her later and it's much easier to begin saving/investing before you have the responsibilities of a family. I wish I had known more at her age but since you can't change history I can only work with what I can do from today onward.

Sincerely,

Tina

 

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The views expressed in this article are those of Ms. Buckner or the individual commentator, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Putnam Investments Inc. or any of its affiliates. You should consult your own financial adviser for advice regarding your particular financial circumstances. This article is for information only and is not an offer of the sale of any mutual fund or other investment.