(John Wiley & Sons, 2005)
Questions and Answers with the Author
What are the implications for human resource managers? How they can improve the productivity of their older employees?
If employees follow the advice in the book, their medical expenses will plummet, both now and later when they retire. The book and its associated web site are much more directive than most employer- sponsored communications pieces on health promotion. It provides specific action items, described in everyday language, that most people can follow. These action items are based on extensive and emerging research on the interaction of health and lifestyle. The book makes the link between money and health, showing how current ‘investments’ in health will pay off financially over the long run for both employers and employees.
The book demonstrates that the existence of a defined benefit plan can make the difference between retiring comfortably or not. Knowledgeable older workers will be attracted to employers with DB plans. Sophisticated employers will come to appreciate DB plans as an important tool for attracting and retaining skilled workers over age 45.
It describes the economic and psychological reasons for phased retirement, and shows practically how this can work. Many readers will be interested in phased retirement as a lifestyle in their fifties, sixties and seventies, and cutting edge employers will lead this trend to attract and retain skilled workers at an affordable cost.
What are the key ingredients for successful aging? How can we find happiness and fulfillment for our rest-of-life?
Not having enough money to meet basic living needs can cause unhappiness, but once these needs are met, having additional money does not result in significantly increased happiness.
Sources of long-lasting happiness include identifying and applying personal strengths and talents to our family and loved ones, work, and society. These don’t require huge amounts of money – just enough to meet our basic living needs.
Satisfaction with work includes applying skills and experience in a way consistent with our values and interests, opportunities for continued growth, and being treated with respect.
Various longitudinal studies show that successful agers continue to be engaged with life and society well into their eighties and nineties. An important aspect is making a contribution, whether through volunteering or paid work (if we need the income). Continued work need not be a harsh life sentence, and may actually improve our overall well-being if it is the right kind of work under the right circumstances.
What people really want is to live the rest of their lives with health, happiness, and fulfillment. Retirement is not necessary for these goals, and in fact may not be the best way to meet these goals. The book proposes phased retirement as an alternative to full-time retirement as a practical means to stay engaged with life, make a contribution to society, and earn necessary income and medical insurance.
Research exists which implies that people who work in their sixties, seventies and eighties are happier, healthier, and live longer than those who don’t work.
How can we manage the threat of high medical bills in our later years?
The best way to deal with high medical bills in our later years is to take care of ourselves; the book and its associated web site provide practical steps, based on the latest health research. If we do this right, most likely we will live a long time, which increases the challenge of outliving our 401(k) balances. The book advocates that investments in your health are as important as investments in stocks and bonds.
Over half of Americans spend only a few hundred dollars per year on medical expenses. A small proportion of the population incurs the largest amount of medical bills (an example of the 80/20 rule). Most of this small proportion is not selected randomly through bad luck; instead they incur these high expenses as a predictable outcome of ‘lifestyle disorder.’
The most expensive diseases to treat are largely preventable through lifestyle, primarily diet, exercise, and not abusing substances. Thus, the best way to minimize future medical bills is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The book describes 15 lifestyle practices that will help individuals keep healthy and minimize the chances of ruinous medical expenses.
Research shows that these same lifestyle practices will most likely enable a vigorous, healthy life well into our eighties, nineties or perhaps even to 100. They will also minimize the chances of needing expensive nursing homes.
The most effective way to obtain medical insurance is through an employer-sponsored medical plan. If this is not available, then the next-best solution is usually purchasing a high-deductible PPO policy in combination with a Health Spending Account (HSA).
The book contains strategies for purchasing individual medical coverage, using the protection afforded by COBRA and HIPAA, and filling in the holes with Medicare. It also discusses protecting against the high costs of nursing homes (purchasing a long-term care policy is usually not the best solution).
How can we manage our financial assets to last the rest of our lives?
Given the decline of traditional defined benefit plans and the popularity of 401(k) plans, the biggest challenge we face is outliving our financial resources. The book provides strategies for investing our 401(k) balances and withdrawal strategies.
The ‘magic formula’ is to make I>E, and sustain this relationship for the rest of our lives. I is our annual income from all sources, and E is our annual expenses.
The book explores various strategies for maximizing and securing lifetime I through investing in mutual funds, purchasing immediate annuities, and utilizing other financial assets such as our home. Half the battle is avoiding big mistakes or getting overly complicated. If we do just ‘pretty good’ with our investments, we’ll have enough money to support the life we want.
The book advocates maximizing guaranteed lifetime income from Social Security and defined benefit plans. Usually this means delaying benefits until they are no longer reduced for early retirement, and not electing lump sum benefits from defined benefit plans.
The book shows average expenditures for Americans on various life expenses, and contains strategies for minimizing our E.
The book provides methods and examples to determine if our financial resources are adequate for retirement, and if not, how much we should save to eventually retire. It also shows how to integrate income from investments with wages from part-time work to provide the total I that we need.
The book concludes with ideas and strategies for making important changes in our lifestyles to overcome ingrained habits, such that we can be healthy, happy and financially fit for the rest of our lives.
Read this fabulous book and take its sound and clear advice to heart.
Read this fabulous book and take its sound and clear advice to heart.