Are You Ready to be 100?

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Increasingly, 100 year-olds are making the news.
Two years ago Emma Hendrickson became the oldest person ever to compete in the U.S. Bowling Congress women's championships in Reno, Nevada.

Harriet Ames, at 100 years of age, earned her bachelor's degree in January 2010, although unfortunately, she passed away the next day...

 According to the U.S. Census Bureau the current 100,000 in this age group is expected to reach well over half a million in less than thirty years.1 Patterning one's lifestyle after those who reach the one hundredth birthday can be filled with twists and turns. Every aspect of their lives comprises a variety of contrasts. 85% are women, yet the 15% of male gender are healthier and more independent....

In another study published in the Journal of Aging Studies, by researchers of Iowa State University, it was found that 67% of centenarians live on incomes below the poverty line and 44% had no financial reserves. Yet, what surprised the interviewers was that over 90% said they had enough money to meet their daily needs and over 70% stated they had adequate funds to purchase extras in life. Financial success seemed to come from the fact that they perceived themselves better off than their peers when the empirical evidence revealed quite the opposite.

In a 2002 research project studying those who attained the century mark, Zurich Scudder Investments teamed up with the New England Centenarian Study to find out how these centenarians managed to financially afford their long life and whether their enduring health might be interrelated with their income. Researcher Lara Terry concluded that although these one hundred year oldies had planned well; however, what was interesting, they all lived at least 30 years beyond what they had expected. Because these centenarians had lived through the Great Depression it would be logical for them to stay away from stocks. On the contrary, a third of them were still invested in the stock market. Further, few of them worried about their investments and were generally optimistic about life as a whole.

Recently, a new study has immerged called "Financial Gerontology," a term coined by the Boettner Center of Financial Geronotology. This is not a study of our graying population, but rather it is a study of the financial issues which relate to the process of aging. Another component of financial gerontology is the term "human wealth span." The former director of the Boettner Center, the late Dr. Davis Gregg, first introduced this term. He  believed that life is divided into two phases — accumulation and expenditure (retirement). Dr. Gregg taught that his concept of human wealth span was based on the principle that the quality of one's life during the later part of his or her lifespan was directly affected by how one lived during the earlier years of their life. Ironically the duration of the accumulation period in the last fifty years diminishes while the expenditure period consequently expands.

History has shown that at the beginning of the 20th Century most individuals entered the workforce in their late teens and labored until there 60's and then experienced a relatively short retirement. Thirty years ago that trend shifted with the typical individual staying in school longer and beginning his or her career in their late 20's and then retiring at an earlier age.

Longevity Game Plan
Considering the possibility of living to be 100 years old, what should an individual be planning and strategizing today? Listed below are a few recommendations:
• Design a wellness blueprint that fits your lifestyle. It should include physical fitness, balanced nutrition, and adequate rest. Remember only a third of longevity is based on genetics, the rest is up to the individual.
• Prevent stress. This leads to anxiety, worry and often depression. Learn to control what you can and let the rest "roll off your back." Being socially engaged promotes better health and mental stability.
• Avoid debt (particularly consumer debt) as much as possible throughout your working career. By your 60's eliminate debt altogether. Carefully, with assistance from your accountant and/or financial planner, put together an investment portfolio that reflects your personality, age and risk tolerance.
• After having designed the best strategic plan, leave your finances in the Lord's 'big' hands. Always remember His promise to us that even in the worst of times "our bread and water' is assured.


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