We recommend that all seriously minded people buy and read ‘The Number’
The often avoided, anxiety-riddled discussion about financial planning for a secure and fulfilling future has been given a new starting point in THE NUMBER: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life by Lee Eisenberg (Free Press; January 10, 2006). The buzz of professionals and financial industry insiders everywhere, the Number represents the amount of money and resources people will need to enjoy the active life they desire, especially post-career. Backed by imaginative and visionary advice, Eisenberg urges people to assume control and responsibility for their standard of living, and to sufficiently enable their enduring aspirations for years to come.
In 1999, Eisenberg was in the midst of downshifting from having served as the Editor-in-Chief of Esquire and in other high profile positions. He was “half-in, half-out of the workplace” with an enviable consulting position at Time, Inc., and with a family comfortably settled in the suburbs. That’s when he received an unexpected offer from the Wisconsin-based Lands’ End company that, in the end, he couldn’t resist. It meant uprooting his family and moving to the rural heartland, and an entirely new way of life. Before the move, he admits, “I was worried about the Number.” Once in Wisconsin, Eisenberg further confesses that the “Number was leading us around by our noses.”
From Wall Street to Main Street USA, THE NUMBER means different things to different people. It is constantly fluctuating in people’s minds and bank accounts. To some, the Number symbolizes freedom, validation of career success, the ticket to luxurious indulgences and spiritual exploration; to others, it represents the bewildering and nonsensical nightmare of an impoverished existence creeping up on them in their old age, a seemingly hopeless inevitability that they would rather simply ignore than confront. People are highly private and closed-mouthed when it comes to discussing their Numbers, or lack thereof, for fear they might either reveal too much or display ineptitude.
“Risk aversion advances with age, and that the toughest nuts to crack are aging widows with more money than they could ever spend”