One thing I don't do is operate on myself. You've heard the adage that a lawyer who has himself for a client has a fool for a client. I strongly believe in that concept. So, recently I consulted with a financial planner to get some aspects of our household estate in line.
Now, admittedly, because I cover financial services and financial planning, I know probably most of the top financial planners in the country, including a smattering of those in England. Accordingly, I had a nice laundry list of those who I could contact. I picked one of the giants. No names mentioned but you can always e-mail me as to who it is.
What shocked me most when we first sat down to talk is life expectancy. My wife had already asked her own portfolio manager for a review of our situation and what she discovered was that when you are in your 60s, your life expectancy is spun out to age 100. 100? Extraordinary!
When I met with my financial planner, I found the same thing. Going into the 80s was always a big deal for our parents but again we are not our parents and our life expectancy is much, much longer.
At a recent financial planning industry conference, one of the seminar hosts asked whether any of us in the audience had a grandchild and if so to estimate what the child's life expectancy was to be. Would you believe that based on what's happening in the medical science field, the age barrier is now at 120 for a child that is five years of age. 120! Think about that. You've got to double my age.
Of course, simply living longer doesn't mean everything will be all that good. Quality of life is still a primary concern. The question then reduces to the financial pitfalls. This translates to, 'Will I outlive my money?'
Visit a financial planner and that usually is the main topic of discussion. It used to be that one retired at age 65 and based upon whatever savings they had and Social Security, they could squeeze out another 15-20 years before the money runs out and by that time, so does their life. Not any more. A million dollars 20 years ago at age 65 would take one (depending of course, on income and expenses) to age 85. Now you may need two million dollars to do that, because you will probably be living longer, not to mention that money today is worth less than what it was two decades ago.
Face this. The life expectancy of Americans has increased by some 30 years during the 20th Century alone. According to Federal statistics, the average life expectancy of someone born today is around 75 years...a totally misleading statistic for retirees because those figures reflect all deaths at all ages. If you can get to retirement age, chances are your overall life expectancy becomes considerably longer, and that's why financial planners, financial institutions, et al, are spinning out another 30 years from age 65.
Think I'm kidding? Ask Willard Scott, the weatherman emeritus for NBC. He never seems to have trouble finding people celebrating a 100th birthday.
So, what's the bottom line? If you figure that you will, after retirement, take money from your retirement accounts, consider that statistics show you will have a better than even chance of living longer than those stats. Then, you will have outlived your income and will depend solely on Social Security and whatever you can garner sitting on the steps of the post office with a shopping bag in front of you and a bird perched on your shoulder.
If you are looking for an easy answer, it ain't here. Keeping what these figures show, you need to watch your money more than ever. This is especially true for people who do reach retirement and wind up spending too much in those early days. It also means a better look at your retirement investing.
To many people, working full or part-time beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 is becoming the norm today. This is particularly relevant when you consider the high cost of health insurance.
But the most important thing to consider here is that 100-year old shelf life. And what can you put in the cupboard now to use later?
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