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The Pluses and Perils of a Longer Life

  • The Pluses and Perils of a Longer Life

    For many people, retiring in one’s 50s or early 60s sounds like a dream come true. Imagine years of health and time to achieve one’s goals, whether traveling the world, spending more time with family and friends, developing the perfect golf game or looking for volunteer opportunities where one can make a difference.  There’s just one catch. Will your money last 40 to 50 years?

    Before you start planning your finances around a projected average life span of 84 (men) or 86 (women) years, remember that you could be among the 50% that live much longer. About one out of every four 65-yearolds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95.

    And therein lies the peril of retirement planning. We could be around a lot longer than we expect. Ironically, the more money we have, the more we will probably need because the more affluent are most likely to live the longest. Access to more expensive healthcare may be part of the reason, but the more money people have over their lifetimes, the more likely they have taken better care of their health, eaten better diets, exercised more, etc.

    So yes, a long life can mean more time to enjoy the activities and people we love. Combined with good health it can mean a more adventurous, busier life than generations before have experienced. But living costs money.

    When you sit down to make your retirement plans, think about building flexibility into your life.

    • How much money will you need to live comfortably to 90 or 95?
    • Should you be saving more than you are now?
    • Does it make sense to work a little longer and save a little more before you retire?
    • How can you reduce your living expenses, but still enjoy the life you want? A smaller home? Fewer toys? Less expensive hobbies?
    • What are the opportunities for you to continue earning money in retirement? (Keep in mind that the more you make, the less you get to keep of any Social Security payments.)
    • Would it be smart to start developing a healthier lifestyle? Keeping healthy in retirement not only allows you to be more active, but also reduces medical costs.
    • Given your current health and heredity, would you expect to need long-term care later in life?
    • What exactly do you want from retirement? Sometimes what we really need isn’t retirement but employment that we enjoy.

    Retirement planning is one of those activities that is best done with others (particularly if you are married!). Sitting down with your financial advisor and your spouse or significant other and exploring not just the money, but what you want to do with your life can help you gain a more objective outlook on the future. It can also make certain everyone is on the same game plan and looking at ways to make it a reality.  Even if you are already retired, revisiting your plan, seeing how well it is working and where problems could crop up never hurts.

    Give us a call today and let’s take some time to review where you are, where you would like to be, the possible perils ahead and how to avoid them.

    Checking the Facts

    The headline was quite clear – THE MISERY INDEX IS ON THE RISE. The rest of the copy explained that increases in the misery index are followed by market downturns and that investors need to move now to position their assets safely. But was the message accurate?

    Yes, there is a Misery Index. It’s simply unemployment plus inflation. Is the index on the rise? Yes, but the rise is minor and the relationship is questionable as the graph below shows.

    Thanks to the Internet, we have an incredible opportunity today to check the reality of facts that media, marketers and con artists throw at us each day.  Before you panic, despair or bite on a dangling worm, take a moment to check the facts.

    Political facts are the hardest to check in part because there are a growing number of online fact-checkers that are actually partisan platforms. Rather than relying on these sites, look for the source of the data.  Some sites to consider when checking whether a “fact” is truth, fiction or exaggeration, consider some of the following sites and don’t hesitate to search the internet for sources of data. Just keep in mind the old saying about history being written by the winners.

    • Snopes.com is one of the oldest and relatively bias-free fact-checking sites.
    • Truthorfiction.com is an email reality checker. This is a good site to verify whether the latest pass-around email is actually true.
    • Hoaxslayer.com aims to counteract criminal activity by publishing information about common types of Internet scams. They also include anti-spam tips, computer and email security information, articles about true email forwards, and much more.
    • Data.gov is managed and hosted by the U.S. General Services Administration, Technology Transformation Service and offers access to a wide range of government based data.
    • USA.gov/statistics provides U.S. Census Bureau information and other information
    • bls.gov is the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.

    Twitter feeds are not always reliable or that informative, but a number of the U.S. government agencies maintain twitter feeds to announce the release of information. If there is a department you are particularly interested in, conduct an internet search for their twitter handles.  @FBI, @FBIPressOffice, @FBIRecordsVault are some of the Twitter feeds of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.

    And always keep in mind a line popularized by Mark Twain, from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

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