Excerpts: Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 14 | Appendix

Excerpted from


Welcome to Numberland

There's a large crowd gathered at the intersection of Easy Street and Middle Age Boulevard. Financial planners, tax preparers, estate lawyers, assisted living and nursing home developers, urologists, proctologists, cosmetic surgeons, pharmaceutical companies, AARP, the Weather Channel, makers of ocular implants and magnifying glasses, Sunbelt chambers of commerce, politicians, and restaurants with earlybird specials are among the interested parties vying for prime store- front locations on the corner of Easy and Middle Age. Chances are, you're on the way there, too, facing some nasty questions you'd just as soon duck.

What are the chances that you'll live out your days in comfort? Do you have what it takes right now? What happens if you don't make it to your Number? And, assuming you're not fighting for sheer survival, what are you prepared to give up? Are you open-minded about living in a place that's about the size of your family room?

Are you ready for the good news and bad news that's around the bend? That you'll live longer than you ever figured, which is the good news. And that you'll live longer than you ever figured, which is also the bad news. Are you up for the challenge that this extended stay will call for a great deal of planning, and you'll be the sole proprietor of that effort? Do you have a plan for all this?

I've got manila folders full of partial answers and clues, a growing archive dutifully arranged in a file cabinet that's a monument to things we'd rather not think about: the Cabinet of Dread and Denial. Stored inside are folders labeled Debt, Aging, Long-Term Care. The file at hand, Self-Absorption, is stuffed with research reports and newspaper clippings about baby boomers berating themselves for being spoiled and reckless spendthrifts.

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