Book Review: The Number by Lee Eisenberg

The Number Lee EisenbergThe Number by Lee Eisenberg was generously provided to me by the book’s publisher. It sounded neat, so I agreed to read it and review it.

The Number, as you may have guessed, stands for the specific amount of money that people have in their mind that they need to retire on. For example, a person may say “Once I get $1 million saved up, that’s it. I’m off to the golf course forever.” You may think, as I did, that this book is about how to deduce your Number and how to invest to achieve it. We’d both be wrong. I kept reading and reading, looking for financial enlightenment, only to be left wanting.

Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Eisenberg is a very talented guy – his writing is funny, witty, and easy to read. In fact, he is a past editor of Esquire magazine. I’m sure he’s very wealthy too, given his resume.

However, the majority of his book is to put it bluntly, fluff. Not that fluff is necessarily bad, I just mean that it’s more entertainment than substance. He talks about how Americans are too consumerized, how they have “Debt Warp” from borrowing so much, and so on. He has clever little stories about friends, and some good advice about being wary of many financial salesmen/advisors. I did enjoy the brief history of how the idea of retirement evolved over time.

Another thing that led me not to love this book is that the target audience seems to be affluent 40-somethings who want to retire soon. He talks about wanting to get that 2nd house in Vail, or upping your “Number” from $5 million to $10 million when your hedge fund does well. I didn’t feel like he was talking to me, as a guy in his 20s whose doesn’t even have his first house yet.

I think the best way to describe this book is that it’s for all those people who want to have a lively discussion about retirement, but have nobody to talk about it with. If you’re in your late 40s and worrying about early retirement, this book is for you. If you are in your late 40s and worrying about making your next mortgage payment, skip it. For a taste of what this book is about check out Lee’s article in New York MagazineNailing Your New York Number“.

Overall Rating: 2 Stars (ratings explained)

Other Blog Reviews (e-mail me if I missed yours)
FreeMoneyFinance’s Review
AllThingsFinancial’s Review

The Number Giveaway!
Decide for yourself! As promised, since I got this book for free, so can you! Just leave a comment with your e-mail for your chance at getting The Number shipped to you for free.

* Fine print: One entry per person. You can leave multiple comments with the same e-mail, I’ll just enter you once. I’ll pick randomly. Giveaway ends 1 week after this is posted. You must leave your e-mail so I can contact you (you can stop it from showing online by typing something in the URL form). Book will be sent via Media Mail free of charge. U.S. Residents only for this one, sorry. Your personal information will not be shared or sold as per my privacy policy.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a good candidate to pick up from the library, if at all.

  2. Thanks!

  3. wow. the picture of that new york magazine sort of sums it all up too.

    in a sense.

  4. Thanks for the review. I read that article in New York Magazine and came away thinking that the book was going to be nothing more than an entertaining read.

    When most of us are trying to get out of debt and invest/save more, do we really care if our number is 2,5 or 10 million?

  5. While I was washing dishes a few minutes ago, I was thinking about something similar. I would personally like to have millions and just live off interest alone. 5% of $2M is already $100K/yr. That’s no too bad, though I suppose once you have $2M, you start thinking about having $200M, and it never ends.

  6. how did you get on publisher’s lists to get free books?

  7. They contact you. I’m guessing it mostly if you have enough readers to your site so that it is worth it to them for the buzz and publicity.

  8. I am in, thanks!

  9. David Smith says:

    Reminds me of when people say ’1 million dollars aint what it used to be’

  10. bigman8424 says:

    Sounds Intersting.

  11. It’s good you’re doing book reviews.

  12. Sounds like an interesting concept, perhaps poorly executed?

    I’m in anyway!

  13. Here’s the way I look at retirement:

    If 70% of my investment portfolio can be invested in tax-free bonds and produce enough income to meet my living expenses, I can retire. The other 30% will be invested in equities and TIPS to provide inflation protection. For me and my family that’s about $2 million, so my financial plan is to reach that number.

  14. Futuralogic says:

    I am also in, thanks!

  15. thank you for the informative review on this!

  16. Canadian Capitalist says:

    Please put my name in the hat for the draw. Thanks!

  17. Justanotherblogger has won the drawing. Thanks everyone for participating.

  18. Thanks Jonathan! I’ll pass on the book to readers of my blog when I’m done!

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