Game On: How Long Will You Live?

Last Updated Nov 2, 2009 6:36 PM EST

After playing around with some online calculators that spit out a personalized estimate of how long I can expect to live, I face this conundrum: If I don't build up my retirement stash to support me through the very ripe old age of at least 95, my next best option might be to take up recreational drugs and increase my alcohol intake.

longevity calculatorsPerhaps that's not the intended message of Northwestern Mutual Life's Lifespan Calculator, but after honestly answering the calc's 12 questions and being told I have a good shot at being around at 95, I was a tad curious how living it up a bit (more) might changes things. Voila, my life expectancy drops to a mere 80 years if I decide to go the alcoholic-druggie route.

For now I think I'll just try and put a little more aside in my SEP-IRA.

Uncomfortably Numb(er)
After a wholly unscientific survey of these calculators (methodology: Google Longevity Calculator and test a few) my favorite is the Northwestern Mutual Longevity Game even though I scored a longer life when I plugged my stats into the AARP Vitality Compass (96.3 years old, with a promise/threat that I could add two more years to that if I "optimize my lifestyle") and MoneyCentral's calculator. (102 years old. Yikes!).

It's just that the Northwestern Mutual calc has the added allure of a wonderfully cheesy graphic of a person whose attire and accoutrement undergo a Colorforms-esque evolution depending on your answers. My moderate drinking scored my avatar a water bottle in my hand; when I changed it to drinking five or more drinks in one sitting (reclining?) my water bottle was replaced with a wine bottle and bloodshot eyes. The bright red sedan bearing down on me when asked about my driving record was a bit off-putting, but hey it is a life-insurance company we're dealing with here.

For a more studious estimate, take a spin through the Life Calculator ginned up by two Wharton academics and an assistant prof at Singapore Management University.

If your number gives you retirement pause, be sure to check out these tips for maximizing your 401(k).

Image via Flickr user thenickster, CC 2.0
  • Carla Fried

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