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Your New York Number

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Note: If you are looking for my look at The Number, by Lee Eisenberg, start here. The following is a look at an article that appeared in New York Magazine before I was aware of the upcoming book.

Wouldn’t it be great to stop working and have enough money never to run out for the rest of your life… and still be able to live in the greatest city in the world? (That’s New York City.) Lee Eisenberg from New York Magazine assembled a great feature on determining your New York Number.

So, how much money will it take to quit for good?

When you’re in your twenties, sliding from job to job, commuting from Philly because you can’t afford Hoboken, the question is easily dismissed: Old age? Chill. By your thirties, the question grows louder. Unless some miracle occurs–reclusive uncle bequeaths oil ranch–you’re staring at 30 more years of dragging your bones to the office, hoping the bottom doesn’t fall out of your 401(k).

The article takes a long way to make the point, but there are some interesting opinions included while on the path. A money manager describes four categories in which New Yorkers would like to retire, “Comfortable” (to live in this box, $1 million to $2 million is required), “Comfortable Plus” ($2 million to $5 million), “Kind of Rich” (between $7 million and $10 million), and “Rich” ($20 million). Anything higher is irrelevant.

The article includes a number of personal stories about New Yorkers who’ve made a living for their families and are able to retire in one of the above categories, like this man, in the $5 million plus category:

But not until he retired did Marvin learn the greatest lesson of all: It wasn’t money that would yield his greatest pleasures, it was figuring out how to be needed. Sure, he makes time for fun[…] Mostly, though, he exercises his need to be needed. He’s a go-to man at the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, the umbrella organization that coordinates efforts on behalf of 300,000 older New Yorkers.[…] And through it all, Marvin is an irrepressible champion of why there is no better place to grow old than right here.

So what is your New York Number? To figure it out, you have to take these risks into account:

* rising health-care costs
* inflation
* investing

About the last risk:

If you’re gun-shy with your investments, as people are when they grow older, and insist on keeping your New York Number in CDs, bonds, or under the mattress, a rise in the cost of living will erode your “supersafe” portfolio. If, on the other hand, you keep your New York Number mostly in the stock market, just pray that you retire (and expire) over the right 30-year span–i.e., when the bulls are running.

There is so much more good information in this article. Perhaps I’ll revisit it in a future blog entry, but in the mean time, give it a read.

Consumerism Commentary’s series on The Number by Lee Eisenberg:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Official Website | Official Blog | Buy the Book

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published October 24, 2005.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

avatar 1 Anonymous

Lee Eisenberg is writing a book, due out in January. He’s already got a blog at