The 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 Magazine “Nailing Your New York Number”.
Overall Rating: (ratings explained)
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.