What's Your Future Worth? Using Present Value to Make Better Decisions

  • 2h 40m
  • Peter Neuwirth
  • Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  • 2015

We weigh every significant decision based on how it will affect our future. But when it comes to figuring that out, we mostly make the process up as we go along. While financial professional Peter Neuwirth can't help you actually predict the future, he can offer a simple, systematic way to make much better guesses about it—and so make better decisions.

Neuwirth offers an accessible, step-by-step guide to using the powerful concept of Present Value—which allows you to determine the value today of something that might happen in the future—to evaluate all of the outcomes that might arise from choosing one path as opposed to another. Using examples that anyone can relate to, Neuwirth walks you through the process. Your old refrigerator doesn't work as well as it used to—should you buy a new one right away or muddle through for a while? You're offered a great discount on a service you don't need at the moment but eventually will—buy the service now or wait?

With just a little math and some common sense, you can compare future costs and benefits with present costs and benefits and make “apples to apples” comparisons. This book will be indispensable for anyone who has ever had to figure out whether to stick with an awful job or follow his or her bliss, fix that old car or buy a new one, increase 401(k) contributions or keep the same take-home pay, and a thousand other decisions.

About the Author

Peter Neuwirth has been an actuary for over thirty-five years, and after decades of having been asked too many times the question “What is an actuary exactly?” he has decided to go beyond answering that question to answer another—“How does an actuary think and why does it matter?”

Peter began his career after graduating from Harvard College in 1979 with a degree in mathematics and linguistics. After spending his first two years at Connecticut General Life Insurance (now CIGNA), he spent the next thirty-three in the consulting world, holding significant leadership positions at a variety of firms around the country, including most of the major consulting firms (Aon, Hewitt Associates, Watson Wyatt, Towers Perrin, and now Towers Watson) as well as spending five years as chief actuary at a regional benefits consulting firm (Godwins), seven years running a small actuarial firm (Coates Kenney), and one year in a large accounting firm (Price Waterhouse). He is currently a senior consultant at Towers Watson, serving as one of the firm’s thought leaders and national experts in the area of financing nonqualified executive retirement plans.

Peter has consulted with dozens of the largest corporations in the world and worked closely with many European based multinational corporations during the crash of 2008–2009, getting the unique opportunity to view the unfolding of the global financial crisis from the perspective of an American actuary doing business in Europe. This experience among many others in his career has provided him with a deep practical understanding of three of the fundamental concepts (time, risk, money) that shape our world. Many of those insights are shared in this book.

While this is his first book, Peter’s work is well known in actuarial circles. He is a frequent speaker at professional conferences and has been quoted in both the mainstream and industry press on actuarial matters. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA, a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries, and a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries.

With a reputation among his peers as being a creative, knowledgeable, and experienced actuary with a penchant for both problem solving and thinking “outside of the box,” Peter is also a storyteller who believes that the story of the actuarial perspective is one that needs to be told.

In this Book

  • What’s Your Future Worth? Using Present Value To Make Better Decisions
  • Preface
  • Introduction—Thinking About the Future in a Systematic Way
  • Mordecai’s Proposition—A Question of Present Value
  • Present Value in the Day-to-Day World
  • Making Big Decisions
  • The Mechanics of Present Value—What Is a Discount Rate?
  • Step 1—Clarify the Choice
  • Step 2—Imagine the Future
  • Step 3—Evaluate the Possibilities
  • Step 4—Weigh the Now and the Later
  • Step 5—“Do the Numbers”
  • Present Value for Organizations and Communities
  • When Money Doesn’t Matter
  • Present Value and the Distant Future— Planting Trees and Leaving a Legacy
  • The Value of the Actuarial Perspective and “The Rest of Your Life”