A new statistic on how long we live caught my attention recently, supporting my assumption that many of us, certainly Millennials and GenXs, and many Baby Boomers, will live to be 100.
We need to plan for this. That means we need to plan our finances around it, and our insurance strategies. All very dull, I know, and even meaningless to my younger clients. But true all the same.
Here is the quote — the reporter was addressing aging Baby Boomers:
“If you and your spouse are now 65, there’s a 50 percent chance that one of you will live to age 92 and a 25 percent chance that one of you will live to be 97,” says Weatherford. She adds that you should hold off as long as you can before dipping into Social Security because you could have 30 more years of life — and expenses — to look forward to.” (quoted from Shereen Marisol Meraji, Marketplace, 11.07.2012).
And my advice is simple, whether you are an entrepreneur, a consultant, or a normal employed person, of any age, of any health:
- Set up your retirement accounts as early in your life as possible. Not only does this give the principal longer to grow in value (and recover from unexpected downturns), it is deductible, so you pay lower taxes.
- Build the discipline of contributing to these accounts, even a small amount at a time, consistently, out of your gross income – -before you see it, and before you can spend it. You won’t miss it most years, and it will save you later.
- If you are not truly expert in investing your retirement (or other) monies, get professional help. Get personal recommendations to money managers from your colleagues, explore their success records, interview them, and choose one to work with whom you feel you can trust, and whose approach to the markets aligns with your own. Review the status of your accounts with them quarterly, meet with them yearly, and understand that your investment strategy will change as you get older (it will become more conservative as you get older and your needs shift).
- Do not rely on the government, the health industry, your family, or the future generations to care for you, whether you are ill or healthy, financially secure or not. There is no way to know what conditions will apply when we need the care, at any age. We do not control world economic conditions, natural disasters or unthinkable tragedies.
- As soon as you can financially do it, invest in long-term care insurance. If you are self-employed as an entrepreneur or consultant, also add disability insurance. See my recent blogpost.
- If you are a Boomer, and have long-term care insurance, investigate likely assisted-living facilities now, while you are healthy and calm, and advise your family of your first two or three choices — ones you prefer in your neighborhood, that you can live in on your annual long-term care benefits. This will give you the quality of life you want, and save your family untold stress trying to sort this out when you suddenly, in some emergency, must make such a move.
- Find, interview and work with consultants in your neighborhood who do all the research for you and set up appointments for you to see local assisted-living facilities, well in advance of your need for them — at no cost to you (they get referral fees from the facilities). These folks are usually very helpful and not sales-driven. Choose one who covers your preferred neighborhoods and represents many facilities.
- Remember that neither long-term care nor assisted living is age-dependent. You can become injured, ill, or need assisted living, at any age.
Sometimes I feel like the ant in the old fable about the ant and the grasshopper, when I was a fine grasshopper myself once. But this strategy has worked for me, and I urge you to take the necessary steps now to protect all you have invested in your life and health and business.