When I was young, I would wait expectantly day after day for the prize patrol to knock on our door. Each summer when I visited my grandparents, I donated huge DNA samples, licking and pasting magazine stamps into blank boxes. I put secret prize stickers into hidden envelopes and watched grandpa package up the whole gloppy mess to send to “Sweepstakes Central.” Every year when they announced the winner, it turned out to be some octogenarian in Omaha. The winner received his prize of a jillion dollars in the form of an annuity payment of $150,000 per year for both of the remaining years of his life.
Even as a kid I suspected that something was fishy. Could any one demographic be that lucky? Perhaps only seniors had free hours (eight and a half) to spend perforating, licking, and sticking their way to financial independence. Perhaps dinosaurs still roam the earth in North Dakota, just outside of Bismark.
I’ve worked in pension administration, where actuaries use mortality tables to figure out how many years it will take you to go from retired to buried. The other day, I overheard a senior at a restaurant saying that if you make it to 70, you’ll make it to 90. I have to assume that this is based on anecdotal evidence rather than actuarial equivalencies.
Your children were a burden to you for 18 to 22 years (unless they are currently living in your basement). As life expectancies increase, we may have the opportunity to be burdens to our children longer than that. Since none of us is likely to win the magazine company sweepstakes, pace yourselves!