Nowadays I have little time to read fiction, so no more the 396 pages of Forsythe or King and no more the lost sleep from trying to get to the end of the book. Yes, is it because that I feel there’s little time for vicarious pleasures in reading novels? Instead, I gravitate towards non-fiction works; no, not really, just books that tell you, teach you rather: like "How to Live Life like a Millionaire with Whatever You’ve Got in What Time You’ve Left, But Were Afraid To Ask".
Anyway, I’ve just read The Number by Lee Eisenberg (Clara, you can get it at the library) and it’s a book about The Number. So what’s that?
It takes some ploughing into the book, but The Number is just the "amount" of money that you feel you’d need to live the rest of your years after retiring. Reading it you’d come to the conclusion that Americans are very secretive about revealing the amount that they really want and Lee spends quite a bit of verbiage to explain this phenomenon. I cannot explain this except that Americans just want to be one-up on their neighbours. So if Jacko next door is seemingly richer, then Richie has to up his ante even on the retirement sum he thinks he’ll need in 30 year’s time!
I don’t have that problem: I need $20 million when I retire. However, I’ll settle for $2 million! See, the Chinese don’t have that hang-up.
So I doggedly plod on through the book… until page 228 when the whole message is summed up in the questions posed by George Kinder who is a so-called Life Planning Coach. These new-fangled descriptions of financial planners or insurance agents…
Kinder asks 3 questions to his clients and advisors, telling them to write their responses.
Question 1: If you had all the money you need, what would you do? How’d you live, etc.
After a time, he’d get to the next question.
Question 2: You have all the money you need, but your doctor tells you that you have a rare disease which would result in your sudden demise in 5 to 10 years, but otherwise you’ll feel fine, what would you do, etc?
Again he waits for the quick written responses.
Question 3: You feel fine, but you only have 24 hours to live. What did you miss? What did you get not to be? What did you not get to do?
So, the first two questions dealt with material wants but the third question is qualitative. And it is this third question that should determine what The Number should be. At least that’s how I see it.
Beyond this, Lee presents his views rather irreverently, slightly humourously. He delves into selecting the financial advisor, broker, fund, blah and finally gives a worksheet to work out your sums for retirement.
It’s just another thought for all of us to think about our retirement years.