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The Number

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The Number

A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life

Free Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Do you have the cash to retire? Will that make you happy? How Boomers can balance their accounts with money and meaning.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


This financial and life-planning book wraps basic fiscal planning information around the timely mantra, "The Number" - the amount of savings you need to retire. The first 75% of the book offers retirement basics, including a selection of insights from financial planners. Throughout, it reads well, in a breezy magazine style, no surprise given author Lee Eisenberg’s illustrious career at Esquire. But be patient: the richest meat of the book is near the end where he gets more specific about how much money you need to retire, and how to live both well and purposefully. The book’s suggestions about how big a nest egg you must hatch to live well during retirement are mostly directed at those who are already pretty comfy. Eisenberg also offers insights on purposeful living, "a completely different way to think about the rest of your life." finds that financially savvy readers can skim the fiscal advice, while those who are unfamiliar with retirement financial planning could read it more slowly (though not as the last word on the subject). While you are pondering feathering your nest for the long term, you may want to give more attention to Eisenberg’s thoughts on purpose than to his thoughts on payoffs.


A Fork in the Road

Millions of Americans are heading for retirement, but 40% say they have no retirement savings and many don’t even have a retirement plan. About half of all Baby Boomers say they don’t have enough money saved to maintain their current living standards in retirement, and only 25% of "workers" aged 55-plus have more than $100,000 in invested assets. Some 33% have less than $50,000.

Despite these dire numbers, upcoming retirees show no signs of panic and continue to wield their credit cards. However, few people are willing to tell even their closest friends how much (or how little) they have saved and whether it will allow them to retire. Most Americans are reluctant to share such information, perhaps because they were brought up to believe that talking about money is impolite or might seem like bragging. Many do not know their "Number," how much money they need to save in order to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. The Number changes individually as careers advance and circumstances shift. And, it is relative - one couple’s ideal goal could be gas tank money to another.

Many people fear "lifestyle relapse," that is, facing retirement and ...

About the Author

Former editor-in-chief Lee Eisenberg spent 20 years at Esquire, which won several National Magazine Awards during his tenure. He is the former executive vice president and creative director of a major Midwest clothing company. His articles have appeared in Money and Fortune, and his books include Breaking Eighty.

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