Your money has a lifespan, too

Ever tried to calculate how long you might live? How much you’ll need to save for retirement? If you retire at age 65, are you financially prepared to live 30 more years? Or, will you outlive your money?

These are important questions to ask, as Americans are living longer than ever before. In fact, for couples aged 65, there is a 50 percent likelihood the husband or wife will live to age 94, according to the Society of Actuaries. This can mean more years to enjoy retirement – if your money lives as long as you do.

A recent study from Northwestern Mutual took a look at Americans’ financial planning (and saving) habits. The data reveals that many feel financially unprepared to live longer.

Only 56 percent of Americans surveyed say they feel financially prepared to live to age 75. Less than half (46 percent) indicate they feel prepared to live to age 85. And only 36 percent say they feel prepared to live to age 95.

The research also shows that half of Americans take an informal approach to financial planning – if they have a plan at all. Moreover, most feel their planning needs improvement.

“While Americans see the value in setting financial goals, not everyone has plans to achieve them,” says Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “Developing a plan to reach your goals provides confidence that you won’t outlive your savings.”

On the bright side, respondents say they’re taking positive steps to pay down their debt, develop a budget, save a portion of their paycheck regularly, build up an emergency fund and organize financial documents.

“These are good first steps to enhance one’s current financial well-being,” says Oberland. “But looking at these steps in the context of a comprehensive plan (that offers flexibility as circumstances change over time) can help provide long-term financial security.”

In other words, planning can help you manage how long your money lasts. Keep in mind, a prudent plan should work no matter how long you live in retirement.

Here are a few ideas that may help you solidify your financial plans:

1. Consider your own longevity.

Longevity calculators like Northwestern Mutual’s lifespan calculator can help you understand how long you may need your money to last.

2. Reflect on your current state of financial security.

Ask yourself, “Do I feel financially prepared to live a long life?” Then, put your answer into perspective by playing the “Get Your Financial Security Score,” game. The free mobile game (also available on Facebook) awards users with customized financial tips based on responses to a variety of personal finance-related statements.

3. Help your kids develop good “saving” habits early.

Endorsed by the American Library Association as “a great web site for kids,” offers games, activities and useful information for kids, as well as meaningful content for parents and teachers. By teaching your children the value of money early on, you reduce the odds they’ll need your financial assistance later in life. That means you can focus on putting more money towards your retirement.

4. Start talking about your personal finances.

Meet with an experienced financial professional who can help tailor a plan to accumulate and protect your financial resources. Consider how your financial plan today can help you build financial security for future life events.