Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Going to Live How Long?

Whenever I (or anyone, for that matter) estimate how much money will be needed in retirement, the bigger question is "How many years will I need the money" or, put more succinctly, "How long am I going to live?"

Good question, but a vexing one as well, given the rapid advances being made in medicine. My mother died at age 78 during a heart by-pass operation. I had a by-pass at age 60 and came through it with flying colors. My father died at age 68, seven months after a stroke. I've been treated for high blood pressure since I was in my 40's. With medication, my blood pressure has been stable and normal for years.

I don't smoke and I drink only occasionally. That's good. I don't really exercise much, so that's bad. My parental history is against me, but I have grandparents that lived into their 90's.

What does any of this mean for my retirement?

Or for my life?

These questions explain why, on this lovely late-summer Sunday afternoon, I was busy running life expectancy calculations.

I started with the Social Security Calculator which simply compares me with the general American population. According to the Social Security Administration, on average, I should make it to 85.7 years of age.

Naturally, I don't think of myself as 'average' so I looked around for a calculator that would get more specific.

That may have been a mistake.

This Calculator asked a lot of lifestyle questions and promptly reduced the estimate to 84 years.

The Wharton School has even worse news. Their calculator thinks I'll be lucky to make it to 82 years, seven months.

Fortunately, there is another calculator that bounces me back up to age 85.

Still, I'm hanging onto the memory of my maternal grandparents who were in their 90's when they died.

I wanna be like them!

Financially, I'd better assume that I will. I don't want to be 90 and broke.


Anonymous said...

Yikes, I guess it's too late to convince you to stay away from mortality calculators. No one can know how long anyone will live (or when they will die), not even doctors. Granted, sometimes doctors estimates are correct, but even they can't account for the unexplained factors that prolong life. There have been too many instances where estimates have been disproven. I'm shooting for 105 not 85! (and getting my financial house in order to prepare for it). You've already succeeded in overcoming health issues, even against your family's health history. I think it goes a long way to be optimisitic in general, and appreciate and live life every day the best you can. From the sound of it you are doing this already.

Louise said...

It's a good question, I think too about the history of early dementia in my family, one of the reasons I don't want to leave it all too late to get some traveling done. I think it's good to do estimates and then do our best to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible

Anonymous said...

We live in paradoxic times, when pharmaceutical companies do their best to keep us alive as long as possible. On the other hand, the value of our retirement benefits is declining year by year. So, it's a sort of a catch-22 situation. Sometimes I wonder, if I shouldn't start saving for my retirement already (I'm in my 30s now.)