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Are you prepared to live to100?

Byron Moore | CFP®, Financial Planner at Argent Advisors, Inc.

What would happen if you lived to be 100?

When Wayne was contemplating his retirement from public service, he didn’t want to retire from life. He was looking for an older man who had lived the last portion of his life in an exemplary way. Wayne was 61 at the time. Who looks for a mentor at 61?

Friends connected him to Jim Downing. At the time Jim was 96 years old and one of the oldest living survivors of Pearl Harbor. Now living in Colorado, Jim had given his long life to mentoring and developing men spiritually and at 96 had no intention of slowing down. Jim and Wayne enjoyed a long-distance friendship for eight years. When Jim died at age 104, Wayne said, “he had been active up to the very end.”

About 90 days before he died, Jim sent Wayne an email message saying, “Even though I am 103 years old, I travel frequently and tell my story at numerous youth, military, and public events throughout the year. My mission now is to continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with as many people as I can.

“The truth is that these last few years in my 100s have been the best of my life! I have so much fun that I don’t look back at yesterday or forward to tomorrow. I live in the present, one day at a time—eager to do the work God has called me to today.” Not everyone’s journey to 100 will mirror Jim’s in terms of health, vitality and optimism. “A baby born today has a one in three chances of living up to 100 years old. And a female baby born today has a one in two chances of living to 100 years old,” said retirement expert Surya Kolluri. If you live to be 100, I hope you have the same experience as Jim Downing…active and optimistic until the very end.

But the Wharton School of Business points out, “As more and more Americans look forward to living longer, many lack the resources to sustain themselves in terms of income, housing, health insurance, and long-term care.” “Longevity is a magnifier of all the other risks associated with retirement,” says Tom Hegna. “The longer we live, the worse the other problems become.”

If you live only one year into your retirement, the high cost of healthcare, inflation, market fluctuations and low bank interest rates really don’t affect you that much. But put those same problems into the context of a 30 or 40-year retirement, and you have huge issues.

Wharton suggests several potential solutions to be considered: property tax deferrals, reverse mortgages, longevity bonds, guaranteed income annuities and long-term care insurance. The common denominator in all these solutions is the risk-pooling of multiple lives so no one person feels the brunt of something bad happening to them. For the average person, that kind of risk pooling comes through an insurance company. I wouldn’t advise going on an insurance shopping spree and buying one of everything they sell.

Much better, is to work with a qualified advisor to create a financial plan that accounts for the possibility of you living to 100. That type of plan will likely call for the growth that comes from investments and the risk management that comes from insurance. In other words, it’s a balanced plan. And if you do make it to 100, I hope you can say the same as Jim Downing, “the best is yet to come!”


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