Monday, December 1, 2014

Living long and prospering takes meaningful effort

The onset of cold weather and the earlier arrival of darkness have changed my life. Not in a major way. It’s just that I tend to spend a lot more time in my house compared to the summer months.

Personally, I can only read or watch television for so long before I start to climb the walls. One day I actually went to the gym before and after my day at the office.

I certainly don’t pretend to be the Energizer Bunny, but I just can’t see how people can sit for hours at a time, regardless of the season. I probably drive my wife a bit crazy, but the reality is that we’re all wired a little differently.

We all have our own unique quirks, idiosyncracies and fears during life’s journey, but no matter how different each of us may be, all of us want good health.

I think it would be fair to say that, along with good health, most of us would also like to have wealth. But the odds of having both just because you want them are not very favorable. In fact, it’s very unlikely to have both without meaningful effort. Work is definitely required to achieve both health and financial goals.

Just as with financial planning, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of achieving good health. A better diet and exercise are two obvious examples. But again, just as it is in the investment world, you may be able to statistically improve your chances, but there are simply no assurances you will achieve your goals.

Various studies are pointing out that the journey of life is getting longer and longer. Longevity and financial planning have always been connected, but now they are becoming deeply intertwined.

Take a married couple aged 65, for example. How much longer are they expected to live? Obviously, there are a number of factors involved, but according to statistics, there’s a 52 percent chance that one of the spouses will live to see 90.

Better diets and exercise help contribute to longevity, but along with longer life expectancies, comes another important consideration. You’re going to need more money to maintain your lifestyle.

I talk to my clients about this all the time. When I point out that they could easily spend over $250,000 in today’s dollars on out of pocket health care expenses they seem surprised.

But it could get even worse. The more I read the more it seems likely that dollar figure is going to rise. In fact, it could easily exceed $300,000 in the near future. That’s just one reason why it’s extremely important to save and invest for retirement.

When people are in good health, they should also discuss their money concerns with their financial adviser. The financial services industry has evolved far beyond the traditional long-term care policies.

There are now life policies that pay out the death benefit while the insured is living if care is needed. There are also some annuities that have special provisions and language for those in need of special care.

As I stated, health and wealth are more intertwined that ever. You might not need wealth to have health, but with sufficient wealth you can enjoy and celebrate your good health.

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