Here are my thoughts on Lee Eisenberg’s The Number.
First off, for those who may not be familiar with the book, the “number” is the amount of money you need to secure the rest of your life. Your Number is going to be different from your best friend’s Number. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company is going to have a different number than a school teacher in Hays, Kansas.
I enjoyed reading The Number. It was a light read but it wasn’t elementary. The entire time I was reading it I was thinking about who else I knew that needed to read it. Personally, I think EVERYONE needs to read this book. I hope this book is a runaway best seller so that we, as a nation, can get this issue out on the table. There are too many people who don’t have a clue (or they simply do not care) as to what their Numbers are as this passage from the book illustrates:
“Of workers fifty-five and older, only one in four has invested assets of more than $100,000; one in three has less than $50,000. One out of every two baby boomers will not have accumulated enough to match their current standard of living. Nearly one of two boomers say they are less than confident they will outlive their money.”
I don’t know about you, but I find those numbers to be rather ominous.
The book is arranged in three parts: Part 1 – Chasing it, Part 2 – Figuring it, and Part 3 – Finding it. The author believes we are all “chasing” our numbers regardless of whether or not we are actually doing something about it. He divides number chasers up into the following groups:
- Procrastinators – They have no plan and no real sense of the Number.
- Pluckers – They have a vague plan and an arbitrary Number.
- Plotters – They have a plan and a Number but no real sense of purpose.
- Probers – They have a plan and a Number that is centered on what would really make a difference in their second-half life.
He then goes on to ask the question why the vast majority of people have no plan for their Number.
Part 2 of the book discusses the pitfalls that people get into when trying to figure their number. He uses a hypothetical multi-generational family as an example of just how personal the Number is for each person. I thought it was a powerful example. He also explains how unprepared and unorganized the planning industry is in trying to help people understand and plan for their Numbers.
Finally, Part 3 brings it all together with a series of chapters on living in retirement (or downshifting as he likes to call it). He believes that in order to successfully understand your Number, you must look beyond numbers and find out what is really important to you. He then introduces the concept of life planning, which in my opinion is a mixture of psychology and financial planning.
This book is a gem. I HIGHLY recommend it for EVERYONE to read. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the issues discussed in the book. After all, I want to help you figure out your Number.
Here are some reviews from other bloggers that you may want to check out: