Mickey Mantle once famously said, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” Would the future YOU feel this way, too?
For some of us, it might be “I’d have saved more, spent less, and worked longer” or “I’d have spent more time on people or causes I cared about.” Each of these answers reflect our feelings on health, prosperity, or happiness in retirement.
Planning For The Long Run
For most people, the main indicator of retirement success is never running out of money. To do that, you have to know how long you’ll live. But how can you know that?
Ask someone how long they expect to live, and the response will almost always be about how long their parents or grandparents lived, completely ignoring the fact that today’s generations are living much longer than previous ones. Think for a minute — what would you do if your retirement plan ended at the same age as your parents but then you lived another 5 years?
The Reality Of Life Expectancy
In 1990, life expectancy after age 65 was 17 years. That means you would live to be 82 years old. Over the years, the numbers have gone up. If you make it to age 65 on average, women will live another 22 years to age 86.6 and men will live another 19 years to age 84.3.
But everyone is not average! Average is only a mid-point on a scale — 49% of us will be higher and 49% will be lower.
The true differentiator is how you’ve lived your life and how you currently live your life. This is more important than how long your relatives lived. We should revise our thinking to include our own personal habits and make-up. Consider these insights about longevity and lifestyle.
- If you live with another person (married or otherwise), there’s a 43% chance that one of you will live beyond age 95.
- On average, individuals with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, live longer than those with a high school education.
If you happen to be a member of either group, living beyond average is a very real possibility. You could even be the one of the 1.73 in 10,000 people to live to 100!
Planning for Today’s Retired And Nearly Retired
For Baby Boomers who are in their prime retirement years or those getting close to retirement, proper planning is essential to success. Exactly when your retirement will end is simply unknowable, but you can prepare.
Your plan for retirement and unknown longevity should include five areas:
- Essential income you can never outlive
- Protection from elder fraud, abuse, and undue influence
- Elder friendly living arrangements
- Healthcare providers trained in the care of older adults
- Purpose and meaning with optimal physical and mental functioning
Your perspective on your own longevity is vital to retirement success. Don’t assume that you will end up on the lower end of life expectancy. Our odds of living longer are dramatically better than our grandparents.
The important question is not when will I die, but how long will I live? Be honest with yourself, and take care of the future YOU.