How Long Do You Have to Live?

Last Updated Feb 24, 2010 5:25 PM EST

When it comes to the rest of your life, there's really a lot at stake. Studies from the Society of Actuaries estimate the life expectancies for men and women as shown below:


Life Expectancies for Men

Current Age Expected Remaining Years Expected Age at Death

50

31

81

55

27

82

60

22

82

65

18

83

70

14

84

Life Expectancies for Women
Current Age Expected Remaining Years Expected Age at Death

50

34

84

55

29

84

60

25

85

65

21

86

70

17

87

Source: RP-2000 mortality table
Doesn't knowing that you may have twenty to thirty years left inspire you to want to make the most of those years? Isn't it worth spending some time now planning to get it right? Here's one way to look at it: Why not spend the same amount of time you'd take planning your next vacation and plan for your rest-of-life--a time span much longer than the typical two-week vacation?

The above tables also just show the average years remaining for both healthy and unhealthy people, all mixed together. Can you beat the averages? Absolutely! If you make a few lifestyle changes (eat right, get enough exercise, manage stress, stop smoking), you can improve your odds and add another five to seven years to your life expectancy. On the other hand, if you continue unhealthy habits, you can tip the time frames in the other direction and actually subtract five to seven years from your expected lifespan. See my prior post Looking for the Longevity Pill for more on this topic.

This knowledge should motivate you to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will enable you to live longer, live healthier and spend less money on medical and long-term care expenses. And a great "side" benefit is that you'll look and feel better now. The downside? You'll need more money to fund a longer retirement, so that's why you need to consider your lifestyle and finances together when planning for the rest of your life.

In addition to looking at the above tables, I encourage you to get a better read on your life expectancy by taking your lifestyle and family history into account. It can be an eye-opener to many people to learn that your financial resources may need to last a much longer time after you stop working than you had initially thought. Two excellent websites, www.livingto100.com and www.bluezones.com, can help you estimate your life expectancy, based on answers to questions about your habits and family history. The good thing about both of these sites is that they give you tips on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle to put into practice that will help improve your results.

May you live long and prosper!
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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

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