Saving To Live To 100?

When our son turned 21 last year, he cracked that it was probably the last ‘big birthday’ number he would be excited to reach. I asked “How about age 100?!”

Reaching age 100 is a mark that most people would aspire to reach, but it is exceedingly rare. Only about 0.02% of Americans have reached that age, although a recent AIG study / ad campaign says that 53% of Americans would like to reach 100.

I guess it is no surprise that a financial services company like AIG is talking up the idea of reaching age 100, as that encourages more people to save more money. They have a whole website set up to question if people are saving enough to reach that age and afford a 40 year retirement.

Looking through it, the first thought I had was would it confuse people and possibly discourage people from shooting for an early retirement?

I think so – and in most cases – that worry would be highly unwarranted.

First, it’s helpful to know that the US Census Bureau that is charged with estimating demographics has historically done a very poor job. While they say that “50% of kids born today will reach age 100” – they are speculating on advances in medical care no one can really know at this point.

Just before 2000, the US Census Bureau projected 131K Centenarians by 2010, but the actual number was less than half of that (52K). Today, we are almost to the 2020 Census and the latest estimate as that there are 72K over age 100. They forecasted 3x that many by now.

Second, as I showed in this POST, when I put longer life expectancies into our FIREcalc analysis, the probabilities went up, not down. The fact is, the longer money is invested, the more ‘stable’ the rate of return becomes.

Our financial plans are built to us reaching age 90. We won’t be absolutely broke then, but that’s as far as we estimated things. Our financial advisor uses the same life expectancy in his estimates. If you look at the dismally depressing actuarial tables that insurance companies use, you will see that age 90 is more than reasonable. Especially for both a husband & wife to reach that age.

My conclusion is that age 100 is probably too optimistic for most people. The odds of reaching that age are still very low and in planning for it, you might paradoxically be underestimating your odds of outliving your nest egg. Like many things ‘Have you planned to live to 100’ makes a better headline than financial plan.

What age have you planned out for?

Image Credit: Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Saving To Live To 100?

  1. Fascinating facts, Chief! My mother-in-law, God bless her, lived to 100. So rare, so great. For us, I’ve planned 30-year-horizons, since we turned 40. Every decade, I reassess and plan the next 30-year-horizon. This rolling long-view means we don’t twitch too much when markets melt down or heat up. And we don’t dwell too much on a far distant future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having a rolling number is probably a good approach. I have a friend who is a insurance actuary and he said that once a guy reaches 55, the chance of getting to 85 years old is actually pretty good.


  2. Great article. My grandparents have lived to a ripe old age so hopefully I have “good genes”. Anyway I like the idea of planning for the long term and of course living for today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure that good genes certainly play a key role. I noticed that our family – on – had quite a few people to get to 85+.


  3. I typically project until age 100 for both of us when running scenarios, but the reality is my wife’s family history shows (for her) that 70-80 yrs is more likely. I have a stronger longevity potential based on my family history. My dad passed at 89, and my mom turns 89 this year, and is still living on her own and doing relatively well. We are significantly more physically active than our parents were, so it’s likely we could surpass those family histories. We could also drop like a rock tomorrow, so we are both enjoying life as hard as we can along the way! 😜 Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being physically active is as important as anything else. “Keep moving if you want to keep moving” a friend of mine often says!


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