Archive for March, 2006

Book Review: The Number

March 31, 2006

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[Cover Image of The Number Book]

Though many of my fellow bloggers have already reviewed this hot new book by Lee Eisenberg (check out these reviews by The Wealthy Boomer, All Financial Matters, Money and Investing, Consumerism Commentary, MyMoneyBlog and Free Money Finance), I will add my two cents and explore if some of the insights can be applied to Canadians.

Subtitled “A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life”, the Number refers to the nest egg that one needs to fund his or her retirement. Or to quote the author:

When I ask a successful Wall Street broker what the Number signifies to him, he promptly offers the standard Street definition, predictably succinct: “It’s f***-you money,” he declaims, jaw jutting. It’s how much he feels he needs to walk away on his own to look back.

Refreshingly, the book is not a dry analysis of how to figure out the your Number (actually there are few pages devoted to a quick and dirty estimation of the Number in the Appendix that may or may not apply to Canadians).

In the first part of the book Mr. Eisenberg spends a lot of ink chasing the Number: what is it?, the types of Number chasers out there, the uncertainty principles (the things that could do a (humour attempt alert!) number on your Number), how so many Americans are deep in debt when they should be building their Number (lest we feel smug, it is not all that different in Canada) and the “lost years” when we could and should have been saving for retirement.

Though the second part of the book is called “Figuring It” there are no dry formulas and worksheets; instead, the author uses a fictional family to illustrate how to figure out your Number without underestimating health insurance costs and inflation.

The third part of the book, “Finding It”, is about getting a second wind in retirement or how the Number isn’t about money but about “meaning, fulfillment and life’s true calling”.

Though I am still in my “lost years” and the book is really targeted at the baby boomer generation, I enjoyed it tremendously. The author is witty and funny and the stories of real people throughout the book are interesting. Though we have been religiously socking money away for retirement, we have never thought about the kind of retirement we want. This book made us think and discuss about our own retirement even though we know that our interests and ideas may change as time goes by.

The book may not be a must-have item on the bookshelf but it is definitely worth reading.

A Trio of Blogs

March 30, 2006


Growth in Value is written by a 20-something journalist who is a recovering growth stock-addict with a new focus on value investing. He promises to write about stocks, ETFs, countries and sectors he finds interesting and also about home ownership and makes a few posts every week.

Investorial, which stands for Investments + Editorials, is written by Vince Chan “to bring to light the good, the bad and the ugly of the investment and financial articles”. Vince posts a few times every week on various financial subjects and has a value-investing slant.

Int Three does not focus exclusively on personal finance but he posts sporadically on the importance of being frugal and tracking spending. For example, check out his series on Sam Spendalot.

The Tim Hortons IPO Saga

March 30, 2006

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Last week, Tim Hortons (TSE: THI, NYSE: THI) went IPO at $27 and opened trading at $36, though there were rumours about bids for as much as $70. The stock has mostly been falling ever since, trading at just over $31 today. The people who got hurt are most likely retail investors who bought into the media hype and believed they are getting in on the next Google.

Tim Hortons is a well-managed business with a wide moat here at home and I love their coffee and donuts (though I think the hot smoothie is disgusting). At some price, THI would be attractive, which for me is below the IPO price. As Bill Cara notes in this post, it is sad to see small retail investors getting hurt.

Note: I contributed two posts to the Carnival of Personal Finance and the Carnival of Investing.