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What's Your Life Expectancy?

Contributed by mm | March 5, 2005 10:36 AM PST

My dentist and I recently had an interesting conversation. He mentioned to me that dental recommendations can often depend on the age of the patent. For people having the same dental problems, he may recommend minor conservative procedures for one in his 60s, but at the same time, he may suggest major surgery for a 20-year-old. His reasoning: even for the same level of dental attrition, the 60-year-old's teeth can survive his natural life of 70 or 80, but for people in their twenties, many of them will live beyond 90, hence major procedure to minimize attrition for them is necessary.

Same applies to financial planning. For the same nest egg, stretching it to 30 or more years require a significantly different plan from a plan to use it up in 5 years. Therefore, it's wise to know, to some levels of certainty, what's your expected life span is.

To this end, WSJ's Glenn Ruffenach pointed us to some online life-expectancy resources for us. I took a try of them and here is the quick report-back:

National Center for Health Statistics provides the U.S. Life Tables, 2002 (PDF, 3.34MB) for a quick, hassle-free estimate. Start by looking at Table 11 (page 29) and search your age, sex and race. The table is in 5-year intervals, so pick up the age closest to your actuals; always use the "2002" column which represents the most recent data..

Indication of My Life Expectancy: 79
Time to Get An Estimate: 5 minutes (4 minutes downloading, 1 minute searching for the magic number)

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s the Longevity Game needs you to answer 13 simple questions on age, sex, blood pressure, height and weight, family history and alike.

Indication of My Life Expectancy: 79
Time to Get An Estimate: 2 minutes

The life expectancy calculator from Minnesota State Retirement System asks some more questions including education and income. Mind you: it's not an online calculator per se; you will need paper and pen to add and substract manually.

Indication of My Life Expectancy: 81 (The most interesting surprise: earning more than $60,000 and you will live 2 years shorter.)
Time to Get An Estimate: 6 minutes (3 minutes to find paper and pen :-))

MSN Money also has its own life expectancy calculator. More questions, but also more recommendations beyond just a number.

Indication of My Life Expectancy: 81 (The most interesting surprise: my "ideal" weight for maximum longevity is 155 lbs, or 15 pounds higher than I am today.)
Time to Get An Estimate: 5 minutes

Finally, the Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculatorę from Alliance for Aging Research. It is the most complex of all calculators but also returns with a book-full of answers and improvement tips.

Indication of My Life Expectancy: 88
Time to Get An Estimate: 8 minutes

All in all, I can probably expect to live another 50 years or more. Gee, does this make my personal finance journey a bit too long?

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