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The trouble with retirement is that, in this fast and furious world, it arrives before you know it. That’s why, according to Durban authors Barry Smith and Andrew Blaine, a little planning goes a long way to making sure that you’re well prepared to have the time of your life.

The problem with this book is that it is probably the one that many of us don’t want to read just yet – but definitely should. It’s not about doom and gloom. In fact, as Blaine irreverently suggests, retirement is actually when an employee or an owner of a business finally decides that there’s something far more productive to do with his time!

What got me out of my comfort zone and quickly quashed the feeling that I was definitely still 20 going on 30 was the very hard hitting warning both in the introduction to the book and at the launch.

Even the wealthiest retirees need to have direction and a reason for living. “There are too many retired persons who waste time finding things that do not really inspire or satisfy. This leads to a feeling of inadequacy and the onset of self-criticism, depression and withdrawal,” warns Blaine.

Both authors are over 65 and agree that their life experiences couldn’t have been more different. Smith’s career with one of South Africa’s major banks spanned 43 years. Blaine, on the other hand, is an entrepreneur who has run a variety of business in KwaZulu-Natal. Today, Smith is a business consultant while Blaine guides small business owners.

The fact that retirement is totally different for each individual is underscored by the fact that Smith and Blaine didn’t try to merge their writing into one but, instead, neatly carved out parts of the book to write in their signature styles. They also share their own experiences which tends to make what could be a fairly mundane topic, come alive.

Blaine addresses the philosophy and mechanics of the planning process during the first part of the book, discussing issues such as identifying the right time to retire, succession planning, taking that first step and finding one’s individual path.

Smith offers an alternative viewpoint as well as tips. He highlights important things to bear in mind when formulating a retirement plan. He discusses remaining healthy in retirement, adjusting one’s lifestyle, having fun and activities in which one could become involved. He also deals with more sticky issues that include the dangers of being exploited in retirement and downsizing.

What kept me reading was the underlying humour that made even the most serious of issues accessible – and an out of the box approach. They deliberately state that they’re not going to dabble in financial planning but certainly give tips on how to pick out the right guy in a space that is populated by many smoothies in designer suits who aren’t going to provide the right guidance.

The Next Step is simple and, if you’re a quick reader, you could probably work through it in a day.  But it is a book to which you will return to again and again as different issues come up. The different sections of the book are clearly defined so you can find the relevant bits easily and won’t find yourself paging through endlessly.

There are two particularly nice touches at the end – some cute jokes about retirement years and ultra useful templates that guide the planning process and certainly allow you to make this book your own.

The Next Step retails at R190 and is available at Edu Kidz (Kloof and Hillcrest) and Pick ‘n Pay, Village Market, Westville and Pick n Pay Westville Junction with more outlets to follow.  It is also available on Amazon.com under Kindle Store.

For further information or to get hold of a copy, you can contact Barry Smith on 0832878339 or Andrew Blaine on 0833824604.