Live long and prosper.
“Star Trek” fans will, of course, recognize these immortal words as the famed salutation of the beloved Mr. Spock. But they’re also the focus of a new book about the links between health, wealth, and longevity by Newsmax contributor Dr. Michael Roizen and financial expert Jean Chatzky.
The book — “Age-Proof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip” — has a clear and uplifting take-home message: With a little planning and foresight you can to live by Spock’s words to both live long and prosper.
To help you do so, Roizen and Chatzky have devised an eight-point plan for living the good life well into old age that spotlights the surprising connections between health, wealth, and longevity.
“The same eight principles that help you live longer also are the ones that help you live with more money so they really intertwine,” says Roizen, Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer.
“For example, you want to do diagnostic areas of both. You want to take a look in the mirror financially and look in the mirror into your health so there really are eight principles that unite the two so you can in fact become age-proof.”
Rosen tells Newsmax Health one big mistake many people make is failing to recognize they are likely to live living longer than they expect, which makes long-term planning for fiscal and physical fitness critically important.
Average life expectancy in the U.S. is now in the high 70s for men, low 80s for women. But many people will live much longer than the national average, often with at least one chronic health condition.
“Most people expect … to live to 75 or 85. We’re now thinking that most of those people will live much longer,” Roizen explains. “(And) as you get older you’re going to spend money to stay healthy. Wealth without health that won’t work … because you’re going to spend a lot of money on that.”
The eight core principles of “Age-Proof” provide a roadmap to health and wealth that helps ensure you won’t wind up medically or fiscally bankrupt later in life, Roizen says. Here are the strategies he and Chatzky recommend:
No. 1: Automate good habits. “We are programmed, all of us to do the wrong thing,” Roizen says. “We’re programmed to survive and to splurge both in our money and in our food.” So what we need to is “reprogram” our brains and lifestyles to live healthier, fiscally responsible lives. Among the ways you can “automate” healthy habits and money-savvy strategies:
- Set aside 15 percent of your earnings for retirement, or automatically deduct 401(K) savings from your paycheck.
- Eat the same healthy foods every day. Trade the typical American diet for the Mediterranean diet, emphasizing healthy fats, lean protein, vegetables and fruit, and unprocessed grains.
- Build regular exercise into your life, aiming to get 10,000 steps in a day, with no excuses.
No. 2: Look beyond vital signs. In addition to the regular tests your doctor will perform during an annual physical exam (blood pressure, heart, rate, pulse, respiration), opt for more advanced “body checks” that provide a better snapshot of your health. Roizen and Chatzky recommend undergoing a series of tests you can do at home for fitness, stress levels, and weight, among others.
He suggests taking a tape measure to your waist to determine your obesity risks.
“The number of inches around your belly at the bellybutton should be less than half your height so that tells you how much abdominal fat you have, a very important thing,” he says.
No 3: Maintain your “fiscal fitness.” Getting your financial house in order should not only involve having a solid bank balance, but also making sure you have a steady income, are putting away money for savings and investment, keeping your expenses under control, and checking your credit score annually.
“What you want to know is three basic things: your income versus your expenses, what you owe and what you own,” Roizen notes.
No. 4: Set priorities. You can’t have a plan for living well without setting priorities, so it’s important to identify five or six you identify as your top goals. They can include things like earning a decent living, making high-quality food your top budgetary item, paying yourself first with savings (15 percent of your income), spending less than you make, protecting your financial life (through insurance, savings, estate planning), and giving back to the community in a meaningful way that’s meaningful.
No. 5: Get organized. Gathering and maintaining your financial and health records can help you keep track or your priorities. That means keeping track of your medical records, important financial files, living wills, insurance files, and investment papers.
No. 6: De-stress your life. Stress — over your health or wealth — can kill you, and isn’t good for your bank account either, Roizen says. You have to de-stress your life by finding ways to manage it. “Stress is like ice cream — more than a little is bad for your health and it comes in all flavors,” Roizen and Chatzky write.
No. 7: Consult experts. Creating a “people portfolio” of experts can help you reach your fiscal and physical goals. That means assembling a team of financial advisors, medical experts (doctors, pharmacists, nutritionists, and physical education specialists) to help you.
No. 8: Change bad habits. It’s never too late to change bad habits about money or your health to start the “age-proofing” your life, Roizen says. And if you’ve allowed yourself to fall behind, in your finances or health, you can catch up.
“We have some rules for retirement that Fidelity actually came up with,” he tells Newsmax Health. “At age 30 you should have one times your annual salary saved, at age 40 three times, at age 50 six times, at age 60 eight times, and when you actually retire 10 times your annual salary you should have saved.
“(But) if you’re way behind, don’t worry — you can catch up. We have a chapter called ‘Making Up for Lost Coin.’ We also have one for ‘Making Up for Lost Time in Health.’ (The) point is that there are benchmarks which you can compare to know where you are and whether you’ll be able to do it.”