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Understanding How We Age – Physically & Financially

Aaron Andrew Ang

As people age physically, they also tend to age financially.

Failure to understand and accept these twin realities can lead to much frustration and stress.  Those who accept and (even better) anticipate the changes that come with physical and financial aging can experience a more peaceful transition as their lives change.

Here are a few thoughts on the similarities of physical and financial aging:

1. Aging is inevitable – we cannot avoid it. Avoiding the topic, lying about your age, midlife crisis and quantity discounts on Botox are all coping mechanisms people use to avoid the reality that time marches on and carries us with it.

Understanding this truth is most useful before you experience it. It gives you time to prepare in a variety of ways (which leads to my next point…).

2. Aging is not equal – we can influence its impact. I’ve always been amazed at how many of us neglect our health in pursuit of more wealth, only to later spend all that wealth in hopes of recovering our health.

Most of the time, you can have a significant impact on the degree of your physical health in old age by what you do in young and middle age. You know the drill – diet, exercise, stress management and an overall healthy lifestyle. It’s not a recipe for never dying, but it can vastly improve the quality of your later years.

I’ve recommended to more than one client that they spend money each month on a nutritional consultant or a personal trainer. If your physical body is sick and broken down, how can you enjoy whatever wealth you’ve been able to accumulate?

Similarly, if you understand that your capacity to accept risk will very likely decline as you age (it happens people), you can plan ahead to utilize strategies that guarantee your income and reduce your reliance on risk based assets. One example of this might be delaying when you take Social Security so that your monthly check is larger later in life (when your desire for certainty and security is at its peak).

3. Aging is not all bad – we can experience corresponding benefits. Guess who has most of the money in the world – folks over fifty. The reason is simple – they’ve had time to build wealth.

Here’s one peek at the bright side - think of older age (I’ll let you come up with what that specific number is!) as the time to reap what you’ve sown. It’s a season when you get to enjoy your wealth – every kind of wealth: financial wealth, relational wealth, familial wealth and (if you are so inclined) spiritual wealth. There can be great joy in sharing a life of experiences and wisdom – if you’ve been a person who has personally nurtured such qualities in yourself.

The purpose of wealth is to serve your happiness. Just understand that as you age, that happiness a moving target.

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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