An Interview with Lee Eisenberg – Part 2

Here’s part two of my interview with Lee Eisenberg, author of The Number.

JLP: What can people in their 40s and 50s do to grow their Number?

LE: “Retirement” is obviously changing, we hear about it ad nauseum. People live longer, they’re healthier and more vital. They don’t want to be put out to pasture, they want to be productive and engaged. On the financial side, we’re finally beginning to realize that the old funding systems — corporate pensions and Social Security, for example — are increassingly fragile or non-existent. We’re now captains of our own retirement ships, or leaky tubs, even though we may not feel very equipped to steer our boats to that happy sunset on the horizon.

JLP: What should people in their 20s and 30s be doing?

LE: People in their twenties and thirties should at least take full advantage of IRAs and 401(k)s and gain a healthy respect for what compound interest and long-term investment returns can do for you. Younger adults also have to accept the fact that, unless you have a rich uncle, you’ll be pretty much on your own, so be prepared. Also, it’s never to early find your creative channel — I use the term loosely to mean finding an interest, a passion, a vehicle that can offer meaningful inspiration and engagement.

JLP: Can people who don’t have a “big” Number still have a comfortable retirement?

LE: Everyone needs food, shelter, clothing, and health care. Beyond those, I can’t think of too many other things that require you to have a great deal of money. Which isn’t to say there aren’t endless ways to enjoy and indulge the things that cost a fortune.

JLP: In your book, you mention the field of life planning. What exactly is life planning and how is it different from financial planning?

LE: Life planners, GOOD life planners, believe that ” life planning is financial planning done right,” as life-planning gurGeorge Kinder likes to say. That is, you start by working out the reasons you may be confused, anxious, or fearful about money, then work your way to what will make you happy, THEN sit down and do a financial plan that takes all of that into account.

JLP: When, if ever, do you plan on retiring?

LE: Personally, I never intend to retire, at least in any traditional sense. When I stopped working at Lands’ End last year, a lot of people congratulated me on my “retirement.” It was like fingers on a blackboard. I hadn’t retired at all — I just stopped going to an office. Writing “The Number” was in many ways a lot harder and more intense than anything I’d done before. And, to tell you the truth, a hell of a lot more fun. Not that my wife would agree.

JLP: And that concludes my interview with Lee. Thanks Lee, for taking the time to do this interview. Best of luck on your new book and on reaching your Number.

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