Forget target-date funds, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel believes the best solution is to set an actual date you hope to die; the ideal age might surprise you.
WP first learned of the doctor’s interesting take on life… and death in a CBC article December 7 discussing the oncologist’s belief that people tend to live too long, well beyond our useful contribution to society.
It’s not that the 57-year-old is going to jump off a bridge once he hits 75, the age he has set for himself to die, but he makes it perfectly clear in the October issue of Atlantic Monthly that once he arrives at his target date, he’s not going to do anything to prolong his life including taking his blood pressure pills, something he already does.
And it’s not that he wants people to check out at 75 if they’re perfectly healthy. It’s simply that we don’t do enough in the years before then truly living. Emanuel remarks, “We avoid constantly thinking about the purpose of our lives and the mark we will leave. Is making money, chasing the dream, all worth it?”
So, what does this have to do with financial advice?
Well, in October WP interviewed two top advisors
from Sun Life about the double whammy that affects a number of working Canadians as they age towards retirement. Many don’t put aside enough for life after work and then to make matters worse, are forced to retire early because of health issues delivering a crippling blow to their quality of life.
Emanuel’s prescription for life addresses this very concern.
By his way of thinking society would be much farther ahead if we all just made our lives count (he’s not talking about money) in the here and now and forgot about this obsession to live forever. Emanuel points out that statistics show that when life expectancy rises, years lost to disability increases. Think of it as the marginal utility of healthiness.
Those in the financial services industry might want to consider the positive implications of only living to 75. Think of the savings to the healthcare industry alone. Not to mention your clients won’t need nearly as much put aside allowing them to actually enjoy some of their hard-earned income while still relatively healthy.
Set a date to die?
On the surface it sounds crass but in reality, Emanuel’s just saying make the most of your time above ground and then let nature take its course, whether you check out at 75 or 95.
To read Emanuel’s article, click here