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How Long Will You Live In Retirement?

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Even if you can’t know for certain, planning is crucial.

Posted October 25, 2010



How many years are you going to live in retirement? That is a very difficult question and, in fact, in most instances a virtually impossible one to answer. No one of us has the magic crystal ball that can look into the future. We can look at actuarial tables and identify the number of years that remain for us based on our age and lifestyle. In fact, about 8,000 Boomers are entering retirement age every day. This statistic is further clarified by the fact that people are living longer and there are more centenarians than ever before.

Given that no one knows how long they are going to live, we still need to plan for the possibilities of living a longer time. That said, how many years are you planning to live in retirement, and what are you doing about that? Now, this is another difficult question, but everyone needs to answer it. Some take on the challenge of addressing this question early, i.e., they are planners who begin the task of projecting a long lifespan early in their working careers. These planners, typically in their early to mid-20’s begin to see their need to accumulate wealth in anticipation of eventually purchasing a home, saving for children’s education, and also saving for their eventual retirement. In many ways, these individuals are the lucky ones, second only to those born of wealth, because in both instances, they will largely be in control of their destiny. Although no one can clearly project the future, they, like the ant in the fabled “Ant and Grasshopper” children’s tale, have set a course of success for their eventual needs.

And, then there is the largest segment of the population, who are putting their future and their eventual needs on hold. Because of circumstance or choice, the proverbial “saving for a rainy day” are just words or a concept they are unable to address.

So, let’s return to the question, “How many years are you going to live in retirement?” The answer may be found in the following questions:

  1. How good is your health, and what are you doing to maintain good health?
  2. How strong are your relationships (and will your family and/or friends be there to ease your way through your later years)?
  3. How secure are your savings, and how substantial have they become?
  4. Do you envision being thoughtful and energetic in using your free time or leisure time to give fulfillment to yourself and others (i.e. adding to the quality of your existence)?

Think carefully about your answers to the above questions. In the final analysis, the more complete your answers and plans, the better you will be able to provide a positive answer to the question, “How many years are you going to live in retirement?”

© Donald C. Strauss and Diane B. Burman

Diane (Dee) Burman is Co-Founder and Director of the RetireRight Center in Chicago, a non-profit organization devoted to educating pre- and post-retirees in the “Art of Retirement,” focusing on non-financial aspects.Ms. Burman worked for over 25 years in the human resources field, both as an independent consultant and for international corporations. She was also founder and first President of the Organization Development Network of Chicago. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. from Middlebury College Graduate School of French in France.

Donald Strauss is Co-Director of the RetireRight Center in Chicago. He is a career and change management consultant, having worked in the human resources and organization development/change management fields in Fortune 100 companies for over 40 years. He also teaches graduate school programs in human resources and career management at Benedictine University. Mr. Strauss has a B.A. from NYU and an M.A. in Labor/Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois.

Together, they are the authors of the book, Customize...Don't Minimize...Your Retirement: 7 Paths to Explore Possibilities, Choices and Your Future Happiness.

 

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