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Jim Otar's Book
Old 03-01-2012, 02:48 PM   #1
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Jim Otar's Book

I have seen several here recommend Jim Otar's book - Unveiling the Retirement Myth. I would like to read it. I've checked the two library districts I live in (city and county), and neither have the book, nor do any of their "prospector" libraries. Then I when to Amazon. They had the book, but it cost $40 for a paperback ($124 for used - huh?) and said it will take 1 to 2 months to ship it. Is this some kind of collectors book or something?

So where did others get the book and how much was it, if you bought it?
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Old 03-01-2012, 02:52 PM   #2
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I found it here: http://www.retailinvestor.org/pdf/JimOtar2.pdf
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:13 PM   #3
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Packman, check your pm
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Old 03-01-2012, 04:54 PM   #4
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His website has the PDF version for $5.99.
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:03 PM   #5
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Don't read it. It will scare the kwap out of you!
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:41 PM   #6
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KB's link will do the trick. Otar's book boils down to his zone strategies. I think they don't even start until about 400 pages in. IMO well worth reading. It was a major influence on my decision to retire last year. Cold hard numbers to work with for a change.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:01 PM   #7
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I found the book only so-so. From my recollection, pretty much all of the information you can find elsewhere online (bogleheads forum, papers, bernstein's site, etc.). It was also way too lengthy and could have used a good editing to make the same points more concisely.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:49 PM   #8
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I just read it; purchased from Amazon, worth the price to me. Some key points below:

1. Lots of good info on distribution phase of portfolio.
2. AA is important but, not a cure all.
3. Sequence of returns, which is an element of the "luck factor" ( he actually has a formula for the luck factor), is the primary determining factor in portfolio survivability, second asset selection/monitoring and, third is portfolio costs.
4. Sideways markets are as bad as bear markets.
5. Keep ~ 5 yrs of fixed income as a security blanket to carry you through the bad times.
6. His SWRs typically range below 4%/yr. Normally in the 3.0-3.8%/yr range.
7. Lots of cool formulas: LF (luck factor), TVF (time value of fluctuations), Estimated Portfolio Life (based on PE ratios), etc.
8. He debunks age based AA.
9. Lots of data on if, when, how to buy annuities.
10. He supports annuities as part of the retirement solution, and developed a "zone" technique to guide decisions.

Hope this helps you decide on whether to purchase the book.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:54 PM   #9
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His website has the PDF version for $5.99.
I have the pdf version, and would recommend splashing out $6 for it.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:05 PM   #10
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I found the book only so-so. From my recollection, pretty much all of the information you can find elsewhere online (bogleheads forum, papers, bernstein's site, etc.). It was also way too lengthy and could have used a good editing to make the same points more concisely.
He does actually say at the beginning of the book that if you don't like math you can read the beginning of each chapter, skip the middle, and read the conclusion. This way, you end up with your own edited version of the book without having to wade through all the details.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:45 PM   #11
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Wow!! I REALLY liked this book. I have found it to be the most comprehensive guide for retirement planning and I've been reading several as DH will be retiring sometime this year. I think he explains all the concepts really well.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:45 PM   #12
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He does actually say at the beginning of the book that if you don't like math you can read the beginning of each chapter, skip the middle, and read the conclusion. This way, you end up with your own edited version of the book without having to wade through all the details.
Math wasn't the issue. To me, it just had the feel of a first draft where the author puts everything in and doesn't take the time to tighten their writing and content.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:31 AM   #13
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Math wasn't the issue. To me, it just had the feel of a first draft where the author puts everything in and doesn't take the time to tighten their writing and content.
Interesting point of view, and I can see that.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:38 AM   #14
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Don't read it. It will scare the kwap out of you!
I experienced a few scary moments when reading it until I realized that the particular portfolio non-survivability issues he was talking about referred to WR's of 5 and 6%, and certainly not the 2.5% I'm currently using.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:35 AM   #15
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Math wasn't the issue. To me, it just had the feel of a first draft where the author puts everything in and doesn't take the time to tighten their writing and content.
I would agree.

The message seems to get lost in the verbage...
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:07 PM   #16
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I've checked the two library districts I live in (city and county), and neither have the book, nor do any of their "prospector" libraries.
May I suggest that you ask the libraries in question to add this important book to their limited financial collection? Whenever I run across a book that I want to read I always go online and make a book purchase suggestion and the local library usually buys it and sends me an email that it's been added to their collection and put on reserve for me to pick up in the next week.
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Loved it.
Old 03-02-2012, 08:54 PM   #17
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Loved it.

One of the best books I have read to understand a DISTRIBUTION portfolio. Particulary the discussion on the risks to a distribution portfolio.

Anyway for 5.99, well worth it. You can order the PDF version here on Jim's site:

http://www.retirementoptimizer.com/B.../bookorder.htm

I also bought his retirement calculator (excel). I thought it was well worth it. As buckeye said, the book and the calculator will scare the kwap out of you, as it did me. It is very conservative (40 years for me and my AA led to a 2.8% SWR). However, because he takes an engineering POV (design for worst case), it gave me a lot of confidence.

Hope that helps!
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:32 PM   #18
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May I suggest that you ask the libraries in question to add this important book to their limited financial collection? Whenever I run across a book that I want to read I always go online and make a book purchase suggestion and the local library usually buys it and sends me an email that it's been added to their collection and put on reserve for me to pick up in the next week.
At our library you actually have to fill out the little tiny cards with a golf-scorecard pencil.

So few people bother to do this that I almost always get my requests purchased within the month.

I also donated a couple copies of "The Military Guide", so now when I go to the library I get treated like a rock star!
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Old 03-03-2012, 05:22 AM   #19
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Well Like all of the others...
1-It's Gear to sell to the Rich.. ( Above Median Income people)
2- If the ave. Retiree only has Less than $100k saved up? and the most they can expect out of it is maybe $5k yr? ( spending down)?
3-There is really only 2 other Solutions for the Rest of the Working Class and that are?
4. A. Increase Our SS Savings by at least DOUBLE! Yes, Double! Why? It's Protected from Divorces and Banktuptcies and From Borrowing against it..( 3 main reasons Savings plans Don't work)
5. It's Invested NOT In Wall Street, but in Treasuries- How have LT Treasuries done these past 10-15 yrs? Try 10% apy
6. The Other Solution? A Stronger Pension Plan Program for workers!
7. And only allowing to Put their $ into Balanced & Bond Funds! Main reason? Most of us Are LOUSY at Managing our Investments! Using BF's is just like Hiring a FA to do the Decision makng Process and Keep our Mitts off of it!

You won't make the Most, but you won't LOOSE the Most either..!
"WE are the Enemy on Investing and Managing Our Investments"

I know I and ALL my Friends were..
and Kids Graduating from HS ought to Be Informed of this..
But Wall Street and Ins. Co.'s Won't Want that to happen.. They won't be able to PREY on them, like they have on Us..
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:02 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by jennypenny
His website has the PDF version for $5.99.

I have the pdf version, and would recommend splashing out $6 for it.
On these recommendations, I went there and bought it today.

A nice read. A little long, but a lot of information. I think he over-analyzed some things, but he comes back and basically says that it can be reduced to a few simple things because some of the alternate ways of doing things turn out pretty much the same in the end. Among them, the familiar 60/40 (more or less) equities/financial instruments is a good mix and 3.4% is a sustainable withdrawal rate. He does a good job of discouraging people from thinking that a 5% or a 6% withdrawal rate is a good idea. He likes to focus on the worst cases. He has a spreadsheet optimizer with a similar output to FireCalc that likewise uses historical data (and gives similar results, not surprisingly). He doesn't say much about slice-and-dice. If I followed his argument correctly, he does not think that diversifying internationally does any good. In a global economy, it is a reasonable argument (but I am still going with 50/50 anyway). He says that active management is better than indexing. He likes ETFs. He makes an argument that 100-your age = %bonds is not as good as keeping a 60/40 ratio over time. He suggests rebalancing every four years at the end of a US presidential election year. (That one was new to me!) He goes into a lengthy tutorial on varieties of annuities and how to use them. More than I ever wanted to know, but it is well presented and some day I may go back and read it more thoroughly. Then he says, be careful about who you buy the annuities from; you are only buying a promise, after all. (One good reason to stay away, for my money.) He has a buckets-type distribution scheme that he has designed.

He has done his own work, so even if he is covering the same ground as others, he speaks with authority. Sometimes he doesn't present things clearly enough for me. My eyes glazed over once in a while, but it is easy enough to skip such sections.

I liked his summary of parting thoughts on about page 500 or so. He wants you to think about what is really important to you.

Six bucks well spent, for me. Recommended.
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