A Really, Really Big Number

The reading list for 2006 was built up over the Christmas break. I have read five books on financial planning so far. Most of them are focused on investments and retirement planning.

One book is called The Number by Lee Eisenberg. I had read one of Eisenberg’s books called Breaking Eighty. In that book, he describes his impossible journey of consistently breaking 80 in golf. It seems that he has tried to do the same with his latest book: the impossible journey of planning for retirement.

He laments the remarkable level of total consumer debt in the United States. That debt exceeds $6.5 trillion. And I agree with him. Funding your lifestyle with credit card debt is very dangerous and not sustainable.

Of workers 55 and older, Eisenberg reports that only one in four has invested assets of more than $100,000 and one in three has less than $50,000. No Freedom 55 in those holdings.

And yet, given all this background, he proceeds to describe the tragic conditions of people with millions of dollars of assets unable to prop up their extravagant lifestyles in retirement. Some interesting perspectives on thinking about what you want to do in your retirement years.

Unless you are a corporate Bay Street person, the book has limited application to most Canadians. I guess everyone lives large in the U.S. of A. as most of his examples involve people with high incomes and very high levels of net worth.

For them, the number is big. Really, really big.

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