One of the most tragic impacts of the real estate debacle, and its spillover into the stock market, that I’ve noticed has been the massive impact it’s had on people who are or, rather, were nearing retirement before the bubble burst. Some lost their homes, and others lost the retirement income they’d been counting on; I even know a county-employed nurse whose government pension has been slashed in half right along with the values of the massive commercial real estate projects into which her retirement funds were invested.

But, as always with money matters, I’ve also talked with a fair number of wannabe retirees who are considering retiring anyway, trying to see if they can pull off the cut in income with some cuts in expenses, and still be happy. Former Washington Post "Retirement Journal" columnist Stan Hinden’s third edition of "How to Retire Happy: The 12 most important decisions you must make before you retire," is a simple but thought-provoking guide on how to set yourself up for a happy retirement, before you hang up your 9-to-5.

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