The Number

May 4, 2023

Oh, The Number.

If only I had a couple of dollars for each time I have been asked that question, I’d be pretty wealthy. You know the one. How much money do I need to retire? What is The Number?

My learned and quick response has become, “I don’t know.”

Turns out, The Number is different for all of us.

Lee Eisenberg, former Editor-In-Chief of Esquire Magazine, wrote a book some years ago about this very topic, handwringing for some. Titled aptly enough, “The Number,” he does a really fine and fun job of bringing us along with him on his journey towards The Number. After 300 pages or so, he never really gets to it. Gets to The Number.

In real life, The Number is a moving target. Just when you are about to reach it, just as you can see your fingers closing in on it, it changes. Either due to circumstances beyond your control or you deciding that what was a good Number last year doesn’t quite measure up this year, it changes with life. Your life.

To add a little insult to injury, for many of us by the time we really start thinking about The Number, there’s not a lot of time left to move the needle, move reality to expectation. We are where we are, and if we haven’t started young, The Number may be a mirage shimmering up, always just out of reach.

Better than The Number, different than The Number, how about, “What will I do after work?” Or, “What will my life mean after work?” More important, how about, “Am I making the most of what I have today?”

Here’s an idea to think about:  Instead of focusing on The Number, some of you obsess about it, how about focusing on and obsessing about making the most of what you do have. Now. Today. Perhaps you can re-order your personal totem pole, move The Number down from the top spot.

In the end, we are all dead. In the meantime, between now and dead, I suggest you learn to live in the present. Make the most of what you do have. Forget about The Number.

Want to learn more? Call me or reach out to your fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ professional. You’ll be glad you did…