we are living a lot longer now

living longerDid you know that the average life expectancy in the year 1900 (for men and women) was only 48 years old. Can you imagine! I am two years older than that right now and I feel like I’m only half done.

In 1900, you were getting married at 16 years old (I was 26 years old), having babies at 18 years old (I was 32 years old), done raising your children at 40 years old (I’m still not done) and dead 8 years later. Nobody worried about saving for retirement back then.

We have gained more than 30 years in life expectancy:
1900 > 48 years old, 2000 > 78 years old > 2015 > 82 years old

And for a great number of people, they are living a high quality of life into
their 80’s.

My grandmother is 95 years old and I just went to my great aunts 90th birthday party!

They are healthier than ever, more active than ever and poorer than ever.

What? Yes, you read that right. Poorer!

There is a good and bad side to this gift of longevity. It costs a lot of money to live into your eighties and beyond. Poverty among seniors is becoming a real problem. And it’s not always because they didn’t plan and save enough money, it’s because they are outliving the money they saved.

If you’re one of the lucky ones that have a pension from your job, good for you. You can go away now, you’re likely not worrying about money.

I, however, am not one of the lucky ones and I do worry about money . . . a lot.

I have taken a lot of advice over the years that maybe I shouldn’t have and NOT taken advice that I should have. I tried investing but finally got sick of people
NOT making me any money. I pulled everything I had out of other peoples hands, opened a TD Waterhouse account and am now managing my own retirement funds.

I did a TON of research about different types of investments and found what works for me. I am happy to report that I have made more in the 8 months since I took over than I made in the last 20 years with “professionals” handling my money. And I am not exaggerating. When I pulled out my funds from the professionals, I think only one of my investments was up. The rest gave me back what I put in but nothing else. Oh yeah! And they tried to charge me a fee to take back my own money!

It’s important for me to clarify that I have not made oodles of money – I’m definitely not Warren Buffet – I am in ultra low risk stuff. The most important thing is that I have not lost one dime. I am ahead and I am happy with that. Slow and steady will win the race.

Now, I am not going to sit here and give you financial advice. I am no where close to qualified for that. But I am going to give you two pieces of advice that are tried and true and that I wish I had followed from the outset.

#1 – Get rid of any credit balances you have. Get the credit cards, lines of credit, car loans etc paid off as fast as possible and then the money that was being used to pay off the credit should be redirected to saving aggressively for the future.

If you have a home, pay down the mortgage but not at the expense of the other types of credit listed above. The mortgage debt is on an asset that appreciates and not as important as credit that has no value.

#2 – Pay yourself first. I can’t believe that I first heard this term more than 25 years ago and am just realizing its value now. DO IT. It doesn’t have to be a lot at first. The number being thrown around is 10% but if you can’t do that, don’t scrap the whole idea. Start with 5% or even 2% but make it a set amount that goes from every paycheque into a savings plan (not a registered one). You will be shocked at how quickly it adds up. As you get your debts paid off, you can increase the amount to save even faster.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that you need to be educated about your money. Nothing is easy today and it frustrates the crap out of me. But not paying attention to what’s going on with your money can cost you in the end.

Keep an eye on your credit rating, your credit interest rates, the fees on your bank accounts and credit cards and other things like this. And question things.

A quick story and I will get off my soap box.

I did a lot of research before opening my TD Waterhouse account so I was confused when I saw a $100 debit out of my account. I called to find out what it was and was told that the particular investment program I chose had an annual fee of $100 attached to it.

I told the nice gentleman that I didn’t realize this and felt, considering all of the reading I did, that it wasn’t made clear.

He responded by crediting me back the $100 fee for this first year. If I hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have gotten that money back. I am now aware of the fee and can plan for it.

Take control and question everything!

It’s not too late to start planning for your future.
At least it better not be or I am in a lot of trouble!

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Image courtesy of start08 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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