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What longevity means for our finances

Multi-generational challenge: increasing longevity has enormous implications for us, financially and socially (Photograph by Gerald Altmann/Pixabay.com)

Our increasing longevity represents probably the greatest financial challenge of our lifetimes — for all generations.

Consider this: how long do you think you will live compared to your parents?

I ask this question of traditionalists/silent generation, (born 1928-1946); baby boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y/millennials (1977-1995); and Gen Z/iGen/Centennials (1995 - 2010).

To help you think about it, use this life expectancy calculator.

Why should you do this? Read on.

The Narrative Bermuda survey on the state of the economy and our community, released last week, goes a long way to revealing the sheer devastation of inflationary pressures at a human level. I found it very disconcerting personally, and know that it had to be even more so for local resident consumers, wholesalers and retailers.

As The Royal Gazette reported, the survey indicated a 15 per cent rise in six months of going without or buying less, and another drop of 9 per cent in buying locally.

The second survey listed increased concerns in four almost unaffordable areas: retirement savings, healthy food, health insurance, and family financial support.

I would like to have known more details on both surveys, such as the average age of responders.

Where did they sit on the demographic scale listed above?

What percentage of people in the family unit...

• Are in retirement, or have postponed it?

• Are working second jobs, or looking for additional work?

• Are falling behind in monthly bills?

• What percentage of seniors are needing help from other family members?

• Is there an increase in requests for financial assistance? (This is probably a question for the Bermuda Government’s Department of Social Assistance)

Senior age groups (traditionalists and some baby boomers) particularly, where it may be a given that most live on fixed incomes, have little recourse to rebuild savings when inflation eventually slows, but younger generations still working can recoup financial positions.

Seniors may not be physically able to hold full-time or even part-time employment to complement pensions and savings. Any increase in their everyday living budget may necessitate stark choices between spending on food, rent or medications.

Certainly, cost of living and inflation can impact a whole community, some far more than others, but even in a more controlled-paced economy, older communities and those below the poverty line are seriously challenged.

Further, those elders affected today would probably have grown up in environments that did not emphasise collaborative state-supported future financial planning. Simplistically, pensions, if provided by an employer, accompanied jobs that often were held for career life. While other workers fared worse, people tended to die at younger ages, often before retirement even commenced.

More illumination of this topic later.

Enter longevity literacy

This is a major, growing problem for governments on a global scale.

The big retirement question for younger generations: boomers soon-to-be oldsters, GenX, GenY, and GenZ, means understanding just how much longer in time they will have various living cost hurdles and whether even earlier, more detailed planning can lead to a more comfortable future, rather than, dare I say, the bleak today that many oldsters currently face.

Retirement research specialists have long recognised the need to correlate these statistics because demonstrably, we are living longer and longer, and with more and more elderly people still in the mix, the data portends a global future with financially significant social support challenges.

Bermudians are long-lived, no question there, even based upon my own Bermudian previous financial planning clientele and peer group experiences. Retirees in their early seventies, carrying nursing home and health support costs for parents in their nineties and older, is not uncommon.

Thus, longevity lietracy, an offshoot of financial literacy, is the new focal point for major research and implementation projects.

Longevity literacy refers to the knowledge and understanding of the scientific, medical, and societal aspects of ageing and longevity. CHATGPT reference.

It encompasses topics such as ageing research, healthy aging, age-related diseases, and policies related to an aging population.

Longevity literacy can help younger and even those 60-year-old, soon-to-be retirees to plan for the financial implications of living longer

• Health and wellness is emphasised with the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and a balanced diet throughout life

• Work and retirement research can explore the benefits and drawbacks of working longer and retiring later, and by better forward planning for the option to continue working and earning income for longer periods

• Social engagement and purpose. Living to 100 years old will become commonplace, meaning a long retirement. Longevity literacy can help individuals understand the importance of staying socially engaged, continuing to finding purpose and meaning in their lives as they age

• Age discrimination: Individuals will face age discrimination in both workplace and society, the more knowledge of rights and resolutions, along with continuing education can help in mitigating that challenge.

Longevity literacy can increase financial knowledge, planning for individual and future lifestyles with more confident decisions about their lives and better future lifestyles.

Financial literacy itself is in rapid motion for today’s children, and is also being launched across modern societies through education legislation, for example, numerous states in the US have mandated financial literacy credits earned to acquire a high school diploma, while emphasis on even younger of today’s children, financial literacy is being embraced now through social media, books, teaching, and inspired volunteers, to help youngsters achieve financial independence at an early career age.

Many interesting factors have influenced these initiatives, among them:

• Better management of credit and debt

• Learning sound investing on a routine basis

• Little or no reliance on parent financial intervention

• Parent / grandparent estates may have little inheritance residue given their own longevity cost factors

• Children today will live even longer than our own predicted life spans.

I will be writing much, much more on these topics.

Martha Harris Myron, a native Bermudian with US connections, is a retired qualified international financial planner, a Google News Contributor since 2016, author of The Dawn of New Beginnings: Bermuda’s First Financial Literacy Primer. Subscribe to my blog www.marthamyron.com. Contact: martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published January 21, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated January 23, 2023 at 8:14 am)

What longevity means for our finances

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