Eisenberg's premise in "The Number" is at first blush sound. He defines "the number" simply as "How much money do you need to secure the rest of your life?" Focused squarely on the Baby Boomer generation, although the dust jacket expands the audience to include "...every man and woman over thirty," the reader becomes acutely aware of a looming financial crux. With unsustainable spending rates and little or no preparation for retirement, many Baby Boomers find themselves at the crossroads of their retirement woefully unprepared and asking the question just how much is really enough. The concept of condensing retirement simply to "the number" is intriguing, but unpractical as a financial solution.
Fortunately, "The Number" reads well and quick. Delivered in three parts (Chasing It, Figuring It, and Finding It) through 17 chapters, "The Number" tries grappling with a nearly insurmountable topic and one that is hard-tested by even suggesting a rote method of dealing with it. Indeed, it is not until the reader reaches page 156 that the author advises "developing a realistic lifetime income plan" as a potential solution! In very next chapter, however, Eisenberg dully provides the reader with the flip side of the coin. The reader is indulged with a protracted discourse into the theory that perhaps, just maybe, the oft-termed "number" is not numerical dollars, but rather "...meaning, fulfillment, and life's true calling?"
The author's use of selective statistics is superb. Consider:
"Of workers fifty-five and older, only one in four has invested assets of more than $100,000; one in three has less than $50,000."
"1 percent of the population--nearly three million people--currently has as much money as the hundred million people at the bottom of the ramp."
"...one of every 125 Americans is today a true millionaire..."
"Roughly 80 percent of those eligible do indeed put some money into a 401(k) plan--typically 5 to 6 percent of their pay."
The statistics are eye-opening and woven seamlessly into Eisenberg's work--but why not cite them with the appropriate source to add further credibility to their substance?
In addition to the total lack of citations on the statistics, the author probably should have partnered with several respected Financial Advisors to contribute or even co-author the book. I had trouble putting credence in the author's qualifications to write a work so many Boomers will probably take as financial advice verbatim. Barring his generational fit and Rolodex of peers, this is a tough sell if the reader is looking for practical, no-kidding experience from the field. On a marketing and sales standpoint, however, this book IS a phenomenon and perhaps the author primarily wanted to bring to light, in the form of this work, discourse on what he considers one of the least talked-about subjects for the Baby Boomers. If that is the case, then this book has indeed succeeded. It brings to light the many assumptions, conflicts, and unspoken conversations about the unique challenges each Boomer is faced with when developing a very personal "number." Well marketed!