Planning for Extreme Longevity: Multiple Careers? Passive Income? Pensions? Retirement?

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by Nils Osmar. Updated May 14, 2022

How might the possibility of living to the age 150, 200, 250 or longer (in good health, staying young, fit and active) affect your long range financial planning (and life planning)?

Some things to consider:

  • You might be able to work for decades longer than you had expected. But would you want to?
  • If so, would you stay at your current job or look for one that’s more satisfying and fulfilling? A recent global poll by Gallup suggests that the vast majority of people – as high as 95 percent of the world’s population – hate their jobs. So if you can’t picture working at yours twice or three times longer than you’d planned to, you’re not alone.
  • Most people figure on retiring around 65 or 70, and most countries have some kind of social program to provide a kind of bare minimal financial safety net for “the elderly.” But these programs are built around the idea that we’re near the end of our lives and in failing health at that age. (Our brief “retirement” in our mid or late 60s is assumed to be associated with encroaching morbidity.) But what is this isn’t the case?
  • Have you thought about setting up a source of income – perhaps passive income of some kind – which would allow you to maintain a good standard of living if your “retirement” went on for decades or even centuries?
  • Of course, the whole concept of “retirement” might mean something different in a world in which people live much longer than they’re currently used to living. It might mean reaching a point at which our homes are paid off, we have savings to invest, and are free to spend our time doing things like writing, painting, sculpting, working to improve our communities.

My Thoughts

I can’t say I have these questions all figured out, but I’ve started thinking about them more seriously.

I’m hoping to live at least to 150. My work at the moment consists of running a small school which I started back in 2003, teaching acting and filmmaking and a few other classes.

It’s fun; I have no plans to stop doing it; I’m hoping to be able to keep running the school into the foreseeable future. But the pandemic brought home that no source of income is guaranteed. My school shrunk to about 1/5th of its previous size during the lockdown, and our classes went online for a couple of years (not quite as fun as meeting in person). Enrollments are recovering these days, and our in-person classes are returning.

But as health authorities keep pointing out, there will be more pandemics. We actually lucked out with this one, with the virus mutating into a form that’s much less lethal. But “bugs” will come and go in the future. And jobs that seem secure now may literally vanish as the years go by and the economy and technology keep changing. (Any typewriter repairers reading this?)

I personally believe in the concept of a guaranteed minimum income which would prevent people (of all ages) from slipping into poverty. But it also makes sense to me to be proactive in shoring up our own finances, including thinking about sources of both active and passive income.

No one knows it we’ll succeed at reaching extreme longevity or even escape velocity. I suspect that if we do, we’ll be anomalous for a few decades; most people will go on dying around the age of 70 or 80 for a long time, and it’ll take a while for the notion that there’s an alternative to filter out into the general population. If and when it does, we’ll need some changes in the world to adapt it to the new reality we’ll all find ourselves living in.

“War, Disease, Famine, Pestilence…”

Recent events are also a reminder that we live in a world which is still working out its differences in violent ways sometimes. Countries invade countries. Whole populations can be uprooted. Economies can have problems and even collapse. The environment itself can look a bit shaky sometimes.

Like many people, I hope that many of these things will get worked out and resolved in the future. But they’re part of our reality at the moment, and things we may need to factor in to our own plans for survival. People are killed, and lives thrown into upheaval, by “individual” problems such as accidents, diseases and the aging process, but they’re not the only things that can suddenly disrupt our lives or kill us.

What Are Your Ideas?

What are your thoughts on these questions? Do you think it makes sense to focus more on “survivalism” individually, or on making changes in the world to make it a safer and better place for everyone, including people who may be living unusually long lives?

Feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below, or in the Facebook Life Extension Group if you’re a member.

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

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