100 Years to Live

Planning for longer life expectancies

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Dean Catino

As I listened to the radio last week, I heard one of my favorite songs: “100 Years” by Five For Fighting. The song has a wonderful melody and some thought-provoking lyrics that speak to moving through life and how quickly the years can fly by. The song starts at age 15 and finally reaches 99; each passing age is a moment—just a moment—in time. Throughout the song, there is a beautifully repeated refrain:  “…when you only got 100 years to live”. 

The odds of you living to 100 are not currently in your favor. However, they continue to get better all the time. The Office for National Statistics recently predicted that a third of all babies born this year will reach 100 years of age, and by 2050 almost half will reach the century mark. The life expectancy in the U.S. has doubled in the last 200 years. Now, the average 65 year old will live to 84. And that’s an average.

Married couples in their 60s have a better than 50 percent chance that one of them will live to 95. The sobering question that extends from this new reality is: Where is the money going to come from to support us when we live this long? When should I retire and how much money will I need to have saved?

There are two things I am fairly certain of, and they aren’t death and taxes. We are going to have to work longer, and the government will not have the resources to support us. We need to face the fact that we are on our own. For the last three years, I’ve been reading about the issues concerning Europe’s debt crisis. Greece is a country where the average life expectancy is 81.3 years and the effective retirement age is 59.6, which is among the lowest in Europe.

I do not profess to have the answer to solving the complicated issues surrounding Greece, but one of the solutions is the need to work longer and save more. The United States is not Greece, but as a country we are facing very similar challenges because we are all living longer and will need to work more as a result. 

Make the commitment to take control of your specific circumstances as early as possible and develop a comprehensive financial plan—a plan that takes into account your basic survival expenses, lifestyle expenses, and potential legacy goals. If you do, you will have the best chance at success. After all, you only have 100 years to live!

Dean J. Catino, CFP®, CPRC, is a managing director and cofounder of Monument Wealth Management in Alexandria, VA., a full-service investment and wealth management firm. Monument Wealth Management is backed by LPL Financial, an independent broker-dealer. Securities and financial planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Follow Dean and Monument Wealth Management on their blog Off The Wall and on Twitter at @MonumentWealth and @DeanJCatino. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for individuals. To determine which investment is appropriate, please consult your financial advisor prior to investing.