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The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life

by Lee Eisenberg

Do you know your Number? What happens if you don't make it to your Number? Do you have a plan? The often-avoided, anxiety-riddled discussion about financial planning for a secure and fulfilling future has been given a new starting point in The Number by Lee Eisenberg. The buzz of professionals and financial industry insiders everywhere, the Number represents the amount of money and resources people will need to enjoy the active life they desire, especially post-career. Backed by imaginative reporting and insights, Eisenberg urges people to assume control and responsibility for their standard of living, and take greater aim on their long-term aspirations. In 1999, Eisenberg was in the midst of downshifting from having served as the Editor-in-Chief of Esquire and other high profile positions. He was "half-in, half-out of the workplace" with an enviable consulting position at Time, Inc., and a family comfortably settled in the suburbs. That's when he received an unexpected offer from the Wisconsin-based Lands' End which, in the end, he couldn't resist. It meant uprooting his family and moving to the rural heartland, and taking on the challenges of an entirely new way of life. Before the move, he admits, "I was worried about the Number." Once in Wisconsin, Eisenberg confesses that the "Number was leading us around by our noses." From Wall Street to Main Street USA, The Number means different things to different people. It is constantly fluctuating in people's minds and bank accounts. To some, the Number symbolizes freedom, validation of career success, the ticket to luxurious indulgences and spiritual exploration; to others, it represents the bewildering and nonsensical nightmare of an impoverished existence creeping up on them in their old age, a seemingly hopeless inevitability that they would rather simply ignore than confront. People are highly private and closed-mouthed when it comes to discussing their Numbers, or lack thereof, for fear they might either reveal too much or display ineptitude. In The Number, Eisenberg describes this secret anxiety as the "Last Taboo," a conundrum snared in confusing financial lingo. He sorts through the fancy jargon and translates the Number into commonsense advice that resonates just as easily with the aging gods and goddesses of corporate boardrooms as it does with ordinary people who are beginning to realize that retirement is now just a couple of decades away. Believing that the Number is as much about self-worth as it is net worth, Eisenberg strives to help readers better understand and more efficiently manage all aspects of their life, money, and pursuit of happiness. According to Eisenberg, "Number chasers" fall into four personality types:--"Procrastinators" enter their forties and fifties ensconced in a cloud of avoidance and denial about the years ahead of them, or simply do not understand investing in their futures. --"Pluckers" often lazily or arrogantly pull ephemeral, albeit specific, Numbers from thin air with little attention to developing a realistic and coherent plan to achieve their goals. --"Plotters" crunch every practical aspect of their financial history, hoping to cement their Number in black and white, even at the expense of not having fun and leisure. --"Probers" visualize their Numbers not as an end but as the means to pursuing dreams and passions, and completing inner and outer journeys to self-fulfillment. The current "Debt Warp" is the "silent Number killer that afflicts young and old" that has been brought on by our "whip-it-out credit-card culture." The"Lost Years" describes a person's 20s, 30s, and 40s wherein sensible financial foundation-building bows to oblivious and careless spending, and the tug-of-war dichotomy between the "old Rest of Your Life" and the "new Rest of Your Life."

Shoptimism: Why The American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What

by Lee Eisenberg

In this smart, engaging book, Lee Eisenberg, best-selling author of The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think about the Rest of Your Life, leads us on a provocative and entertaining tour of America's love/hate affair with shopping, a pursuit that, even in hard times, remains a true national pastime. Why do we shop and buy the way we do? In a work that will explain much about the American character, Eisenberg chronicles the dynamics of selling and buying from almost every angle. Neither a cheerleader for consumption nor an anti-consumerist scold, he explores with boundless curiosity the vast machinery aimed at inducing us to purchase everything from hair mousse to a little black dress. He leads us, with understated humor, into the broad universe of marketing, retailing, advertising, and consumer and scientific research--an arsenal of powerful forces that combine to form what he calls "The Sell Side. "Through the rest of the book, Eisenberg leads us through the "Buy Side" -- a journey directly into our own hearts and minds, asking among other questions: What are we really looking for when we buy? Why are we alternately excited, guilt-ridden, satisfied, disappointed, and recklessly impulsive? What are our biases, need for status, impulses to self-express, that lead us individually to buy what we buy? Are you a classic buyer (your head wants to do the right thing), or a romantic buyer (your heart just wants to have fun)? How do men and women differ in their attitudes towards shopping, and does the old cliche -- "Women shop, men buy" -- apply any longer? Of special interest are the author's findings on the subject of What Makes a Good Buy? We all purchase things that we sooner or later regret, but what are the guidelines for making purchases that we'll never regret? What, for instance, defines the perfect gift? Brimming with wit and surprise, Shoptimism will be delightful and instructive reading for anyone with a credit card and a healthy curiosity about American culture, through good times and bad. For here, in one vivid journey, is a memorable, panoramic portrait of our everyday self-delusions, desires, and dreams.

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