Should My Retirement Planning Include Changes in Life Expectancy?

retirement planning
If you are reading this article than you probably are at least a little curious about how your life expectancy can effect your investment planning. The truth is, we are living longer today than we ever have. With advancements in the medical field and better education and awareness about the importance of healthy living, you can’t just ignore the data around how much longer we are on this earth than previous generations. Speaking of data, here is some you can look at so you know we aren’t just making this stuff up!
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Males Expectancy Chart

Anyway you look at it, the data says the same thing.  Compared to around 100 years ago, Men are living on average 6.8 years longer and with Females, it’s at 8.6!  You might be saying “Is 6.8 years really that big a deal?”.  The answer is an emphatic…YES!  

You can see from the charts and graphs above that with every decade, the life expectancy increases. The only time the rate dropped from the previous period, was during the great depression, at that was just for the Men. 

Let’s say you are a 30 year old male and you are planning on retiring at 65. Through your retirement planning process, you determined you will need $80,000 a year in retirement income to provide for the lifestyle you want.  If you look at the last 35 years, the life expectancy for Males has gone up almost 25%.  If that continues to be the growth rate, that means you will have to make sure your $80,000 a year will last an additional 25% longer.  Using the current 18.04 years as a starting point, in 35 years from now, that number jumps an additional 4.5 years for a total of 22.55 years. 

So what does that mean for your retirement portfolio?  Well if you take $80,000 x an additional 4.5 years, that equals $360,000.  That’s a pretty big number, and that number only increases if your lifestyle requires a higher yearly amount.  

Obviously there is no way for anyone to know how long they will live, but making sure your retirement plan factors in an increase in life expectancy is a smart and calculated approach.

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