First Person: Using a Lifespan Calculator to Plan My Retirement

Yahoo Contributor Network

Before I could create a realistic retirement plan, I had to guess when I might die. Although no one can hold back the grim reaper when it's your time to go, most of us are more likely the victims of our genetics or our lifestyle habits.

I used a Lifespan Calculator by Northwestern Mutual to determine my life expectancy, which would be the basis of my retirement plan.

Starting with my age and gender

Since I'm a woman, I'm expected to live longer than men, including my husband. I'm also younger than my man.

Entering in my height and weight

Obesity is an epidemic in our country. Fortunately, I have a healthy Body Mass Index, probably because I blog about dieting. I also exercise on a regular basis, which helped my calculation. Having healthy eating habits was defined as eating more than 5 fruits and vegetables. In terms of alcohol, the preferred answer was that you don't drink or never drink more than 1 a day as a woman or 2 a day as a man.

Taking family history into consideration

Unlike my weight, I can't control my family history. Most of the people in my family lived beyond age 70. Most did not have cardiovascular problems before age 55.

In addition to family history, I had answer questions about my blood pressure, whether I wear a seatbelt, whether I smoke and if I had accidents in the past three years.

According to the lifespan calculator, stress is not always a bad thing. Stress can be a positive influence or can overwhelm a person. I view work stress such as deadlines as a positive thing that makes me more productive and keeps me productive.

After answering all the questions completely honestly, the Lifespan Calculator suggested I would live to be 101. I am skeptical that I would outlive my grandmother, who passed away at age 98. Still, knowing that I might live past 100 motivated me to max out my Roth IRA contributions to $5,000 a year. I boosted my 401(k) contributions to the full 30 percent. By paying off my mortgage by age 50, I'll have at least 10 to 20 more years to add to my retirement accounts. I figure I'll need more than $1 million to be comfortable.

I'm not sure if living to 100 is a blessing or a curse, but I plan to be financially prepared for the possibility.

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