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Happy Life Expectancy Day!

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April 15, 2017

Recently, we were having a family discussion on age and when you are at the peak for certain things. We were sitting around the table after dinner, talking about how we peak for certain things at different times. For example; at what age do you peak for a marathon, when do you peak for happiness, at what age to you peak physically, when are you at your best intellectually?

It was a fun discussion, but it lead me to think about life expectancy. I deal with this all the time. I am constantly having to ask new clients to estimate how long they are going to live. And then, for the sake of financial planning, I have to assume they will live long after that. As a result, I often reflect on my own mortality (not obsessively, but it’s there). I have a date in mind and although I picked it based on what I thought might be reasonable, when I ask others how long they were going to live, no one else picked this number.

Before you read any further, pick your number and write it down.

Most people pick between 75 and 85. Back when I was younger, 30 or so, I would probably have thought 70, but not anymore.

How did you chose your number? Maybe you looked at your parents and other relatives. If you lost either of your parents at a young age due to poor health, you might ask yourself if you have done anything to improve your situation. I have client who told me the males in his family did not live past 63, usually succumbing to heart disease. Some people get fatalistic and retire early assuming they’ll go the same way. Others change their smoking and/or drinking habits, or make weight control and exercise an important part of their lives.They should be proud.

Both my parents lived long and mostly healthy lives. The last 3 to 5 years were not the best for them, but I know that neither of them expected to live as long as they did. Dad died at 86.5 years and Mom at 89 and about 3 months. To calculate my life expectancy, I went back to the mortality tables to see what it was when my dad was born and what it was when I was born.

Dad was born in 1920. He started smoking at a young age, 13 I think. He went to war for five years and fought in some of the most intense situations. He had a grade eight education, worked as a labourer at the Stetson Hat Factory (hence my affinity for fedoras), he liked his weekend beers and certainly didn’t frequent Goodlife Fitness. So he was a ripe candidate to die on time.

On April 15, 2017 I reach my official life expectancy: 66.5 years. I don’t smoke, I exercise, I am still a little overweight, have to take Synthroid for my thyroid (as did Dad), my resting heart rate is under 60, often under 55 and I still work.

Life expectancy for Dad was age 53, yet he lived 33.5 years beyond that. Or put another way, he surpassed his life expectancy by 63.5%. Not bad!

When I take those same numbers and apply them to my own life, I get a truly astounding number. Some might even say it’s ridiculous. By using Dad’s figures of 33.5 years beyond his life expectancy and exceeding his life expectancy by 63.5%, I get a life expectancy of between 100 and 108. My target to live to 100 doesn’t seem so unrealistic now. Check back with me in 35 years and we’ll see.

So today, April 15, 2017, I celebrate my Happy Life Expectancy Day. Now, that’s a card you cannot get at Hallmark.

Enjoy your day and Live Long and Prosper.

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Michael.

Michael's Bookshelf

In keeping with this month’s theme of looking into the future, I recommend Isaac Asimov’s iconic Foundation series. If you’ve never read these science-fiction classics, you are missing out! Get it from Amazon.ca or your local book shop.

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About

Founding Partner | Financial Planner
Michael Caldwell has been helping people sort through their money issues since the early 1970s. He has a way of talking numbers that just makes sense. Combined with wry humour and a curious mind, Michael writes about current topics of interest to the clients that he works with in his practice at Caldwell Wealth & Estate Advisory.

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