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Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip
By Jean Chatzky
With Ted Spiker
Foreword by Mehmet C. Oz, MD
Read by Jean Chatzky
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All the money in the world doesn’t mean a thing if we can’t get out of bed. And the healthiest body in the world won’t stay that way if we’re frazzled about five figures worth of debt. Today Show financial expert Jean Chatzky and the Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer Dr. Michael Roizen explain the vital connection between health and wealth–giving readers all the tactics, strategies, and know-how to live longer, healthier, more lucrative lives.
The same principles that allow us to achieve a better body will allow us to do the same for our investment portfolio. For instance, physical and financial stability comes down to the same equation: Inflow versus outflow. Do we burn more calories than we ingest? Likewise, are we making more money than we spend? The authors detail scientific ways to improve our behavior so that the answers tilt in the readers’ favor. They also offer ways to beat the system by automating how we do things and limiting our decisions in the face of too much food or too much debt.
Chatzky and Roizen provide a plan for both financial independence and biological strength with action steps to get you there.
AgeProof Your Life
We can't know exactly what's on your mile-long to-do list. It probably contains some combination of work tasks (tomorrow's deadline), home tasks (stack of bills), things you dread doing (22 miles of errands), and maybe a couple of things you can't wait to do (cappuccino with friends on Friday!). As you accelerate through life, the day-to-day drudgery often means you put off taking care of or ignore the two most important things you need to pay attention to for a long and vibrant life—your body and your bank account.
In the end, aren't these two things—your health and wealth—the two things you want most?
You want to live long, with enough money to do the things you want to do (and to still be able to remember where you put it). You want your body to be strong and your family to be secure. You want to age so that you are in control of your destiny. You want power over your life, and the freedom and energy to enjoy your passions.
You want to be AgeProof.
That's what this book is about. And the two of us—one an expert in medicine as the chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, and one an expert in money as the financial editor of NBC's Today—have joined together for a one-of-a-kind look at how you can make your health and wealth work together to help you do just that.
We have found that there are eight important ways to stay well and eight just as important ways to stay flush, and they intersect—and your future happiness depends on them. By diving into those areas—and, more important, the science behind them—we've developed a new approach to help you manage your life. What we're giving you is a new lens through which to view the choices you face, the decisions you make, the behaviors you adopt, and the goals you reach for. All drive toward the ultimate goal: AgeProofing your life by keeping your body young and your finances secure enough to go the distance.
We know, we know. You still may be a little skeptical: What does a 401(k) have to do with trans fats? What does homeowner's insurance have to do with a beautiful EKG? And, for the love of your preferred deity, what does credit-card debt have to do with a herniated disk?
On the surface you can see some quick similarities between health and wealth. We count our pennies and our calories. We're tempted by things we want but don't need (red pumps, red velvet cupcakes). We often try quick fixes (condo-in-Florida investments, liquid-only diets). We sometimes avoid what we know is the right thing to do (by splurging instead of saving, by eating fries instead of fruit). And we know that piles and piles of green things (broccoli or hundred-dollar bills) are a very good thing.
But this book isn't about surface-level comparisons between money problems and health issues. This book is about the fact that if you want to have a solid handle on your future, you need a true grip on both of these things.
Wealth without health? It's not going to last; your physical problems will wreak havoc on your bank account. Health without wealth? Maybe while you're young. But as you age, you need more resources to keep you that way.
Being AgeProof is about longevity—living strong and secure for your whole life.
Now, don't think that mastering two disciplines means adding more and more items to your to-do list. That's the thing. It doesn't. As this book will show, becoming AgeProof—philosophically and strategically—is a matter of taking the same approach to both.
Take, for instance, the idea of budgeting. A budget, we all know, is what allows us to manage our inflow of income and our outflow of expenses. Managing your health is all about budgeting, too, though very few people think about it like this; you have to manage the inflow of nutrients and the expenditure of that energy to maintain a balanced caloric budget. Another example: You could argue that one of the greatest threats to your longevity is temptation. When it comes to food, giving in to deep-fried cheese leads to weight problems, which lead to inflammation problems, which lead to sugar problems, which lead to heart problems, which lead to extended "vacations" at the county hospital. When it comes to money, giving in to the latest and greatest and loveliest gadget/diamond/vehicle leads to credit-card problems, which lead to bill-paying problems, which lead to extended "vacations" with the in-laws. So learning the science behind overriding the natural urge to give in to temptations is something that will help you manage both areas of your life.
And not only are health and wealth similar in principles and tactics—and this is the bigger point here—they're interconnected like strands of DNA. Our goal is to help teach you about that intersection so you get comfortable with the science and adopt the strategies—both of which will help you AgeProof your entire life.
At no other time in our history has AgeProofing been as important as it is now; that's because we're living longer and longer—and need more money and better health to last those extra decades (yes, decades). The problem that many of us face is twofold. For one, we think of money and health the way we think of large-toothed forest-roaming beasts—they scare the heck out of us. Much of that fear is caused because we close our eyes, hope for the best, and are timid about confronting issues that feel as comfortable as a pair of not-quite-dry-from-the-dryer underwear. And that's something we have to change (our attitude, we're talking about). We have to be open and honest, and have frank conversations about subjects that can make us squirm.
Second, we're a society known for making collectively bad decisions about money and health. For example, you might buy an industrial espresso machine, then end up using it once a year. While the java (if filtered through paper) may be good for your health, it may not have been the wisest investment. On the flip side, sometimes you make good decisions about eating and exercise. Other times you rapid-fire cheap bacon burgers down your throat. And while that two-buck burger may be good for your financial bottom line, it's probably not so good for your anatomical one.
While we all worry about running out of money (and running out of steam to walk from the bed to the bathroom), the biggest angst in the health and wealth arenas comes about because we often pit instant gratification against long-term security—what can we have now against what we should do to save for later. Sometimes it's presented as a binary approach, in that there's good and bad and only one proper way to invest—by saving for later. But we want to teach you how to satisfy both ends of the spectrum—how to gain financial security and health for the long haul without giving up the comforts of everyday life. We want you to get these two things:
a healthy portfolio of assets that will last you for your entire life—and then some
a wealthy body that is years younger than the calendar says it is
The reason this is so important—right now—is that the world is in the middle of a pretty large shift when it comes to aging. Because of this, we want to ask you a question. How old do you think you'll get to be? Sixty-eight? Seventy-seven? Eighty-four? Whatever number popped into your head, chances are that you're about as wrong as a steady diet of Big Macs. You're going to live longer than whatever number you picked (as well as longer than a Big Mac, which can last in your refrigerator for years, by the way ). Just consider this: in the past three decades, life expectancy in the United States has jumped for men from 70 to 79 and for women from 77 to 83.
That statistical observation may not surprise you. But how about this one? The longer you live, the longer you're going to live. While that last line might sound like some spiritual platitude you'd find in your Twitter feed, it's rooted in #scientifictruth. Let's say you make it to 65; that means you're more likely than not to Energizer Bunny your way through a long life. Today the average 65-year-old will live until age 84. But that means half of all 65-year-olds will surpass that. One in four will pass age 90. And one in 10 will pass 95. As for the number of Americans who are age 100 or older? It has gone up 2,200 percent since 1950. And in February 2015, Time magazine declared it likely that the first person to live to 160 has already been born.
And while you're processing all of that, we've got another question for you: What do you want aging to feel like? Do you want to be taking walks, playing tennis or golf, swimming, jumping rope like a six-year-old with your six-year-old granddaughter (jumping rope is good for your bones), traveling with your family, walking through the woods, launching a business and/or starting a new career? Or do you want to be couch-ridden watching Simpsons reruns because you have too many ailments and not enough resources to get up and go? We're hoping you didn't choose the latter (though please enjoy The Simpsons at any time).
Far too few people are planning for the inevitable reality that we're living longer—and taking steps to get themselves the assets and body to do so. In fact, 90 percent of people don't spend time thinking or talking about financial longevity. That's frightening. Because when you either run out of money or lose your anatomical and biological juice, you're simply up a river without a paddle (and you wouldn't have the money to buy a paddle or the body to use it even if you did).
So envision what you want your life to become after the age of 50. Trips to Europe, fun with friends, hiking and biking in the countryside, opening your own little taqueria on Main Street? It doesn't matter what your passions and dreams are. What matters is that without both wealth and health, you will live on a dead-end street.
Over the past 100 or so years, one innovation after another has prolonged life: the tuberculosis vaccine (1921), penicillin (1929), high-blood-pressure meds (1947), the surgeon general's warning on cigarettes (1969), seat belt laws (1984), tests for inflammation becoming routine (1986), vaccines for preventing cervical and throat cancer (2004) and for treating a specific cancer (2006). With so many life-threatening problems not needing as much attention, medicine can focus on managing chronic conditions: arthritis, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis. Even some types of cancer and HIV/AIDS are now considered manageable. The result? Life goes on—with you being able to live younger no matter what your age—longer than ever before. It's like cars now lasting 200,000 miles, compared to 60,000 miles decades ago. This book is about giving you the power to change your own oil, fill yourself up with fuel, and take the ride of your life—all without crashing, without breaking down on the side of the road, without limping through life with duct tape over your rear bumper. And by taking good care of your health, you will live a long and energetic life.
While this change in longevity should be exciting, the truth is that longevity comes with a price. One, because we're living longer, it's more expensive to fund retirement. That's true even if you're in good shape (traditionally, maybe we lived only a decade or so past retirement, but what happens when we live for 30 or more years after we stop earning?). Surveys from financial institutions note that running out of money before running out of time is by far our biggest financial fear. One even found that running short of funds is a bigger fear even than death. Going the distance means we need a new set of skills, new strategies, and a new way of thinking.
We will teach you how to make your money and good health last decades longer, and then use both to build a legacy by supporting your favorite people and/or institutions, or helping that six-year-old granddaughter of yours learn enough and have enough to attend college. No longer will you be afraid of your money running out or your hips not holding up—and forced to deal with the stress that accompanies those worries.
Living longer also means that we as a nation are spending more on medical expenses—even without a significant health event. Care for people with chronic diseases now accounts for 84 percent of all health-care spending. And that doesn't happen just in the last year of life. We're spending much more along the way to manage chronic disease. Medical and health issues are not top of mind only when you have an illness or a credit-card issue. They are everyday issues that together affect your happiness. But if you can take the steps we outline here, you'll reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions, save more of those out-of-pocket and horrendous hospitalization costs, and live longer with fewer disabilities. So you'll be able to feel, act, and actually be younger and happier.
For example, you will learn how to:
Assess. Use diagnostics to figure out where you stand financially and medically, so you know where to go.
Easily Change Behaviors. The key to success in both arenas is to eliminate the idea that you have to work hard and try hard. When you use automatic systems and create automatic habits, you win.
Slash Stress. As the number one driver of poor health and poor wealth, managing stress—the intersection point between the central nervous system and the emotional faculties—has to be a top priority. We'll take you through the science of stress management.
Build Strong Teams. One of the biggest mistakes people make in both areas is keeping everything private. Doctor's offices and bank accounts should be private, but that doesn't mean you should go it alone; in fact, having the proper team around you (including family and professionals) is key to helping you achieve optimum levels in health and wealth. Socializing your progress allows you to help others as well as yourself.
Budget. Your finances and your calories.
Erase Mistakes. Even if you're in bad shape, you can dig yourself out. We'll teach you how to reverse financial and health patterns to catch up. You will learn to adopt small continuous changes that will help you see results.
Create Strong Environments to Make These Dual Goals Easier. Both at work and at home.
We structured the book to help you best navigate these two worlds. Each section begins with the science and overarching theme that links health and wealth. That provides the prism through which you should read each of the following chapters—one each on the health arena and the financial one. (From time to time you'll also see some individual perspectives from us dropped into the margins.) At the end of each section, you'll also get the quick-hit list of AgeProof Essentials—the three quick you-can-do-it takeaway steps that you can put into action right away.
We hope that you come away with three things that can change your life for the better: one, specific strategies for how to improve your money situation and your body, two, an understanding of the unique relationship between health and wealth, and three, a way to measure, monitor, and be aware of your progress.
After all, AgeProof doesn't mean immortal. But it does mean that you live as long as you can and as strong as you can.
Strong in your body.
Secure with your money.
Set for life.
The Science of Diagnostics
Why we all need a thorough once-over before we make any significant changes
Your morning is a whirlwind. You wash your face, fix your hair, brush your teeth for two minutes after flossing, which you do after a 20-second brushing of your teeth (at least that's how you should be doing it, while you practice balancing on one foot ), make the breakfast smoothies, get the kids going, brew the beverage, peek at your phone to see the status of Barbara's sick pup, on and on. And then you do this (maybe five or 500 times): you check yourself in the mirror.
How does your hair look? Your makeup? Your clothes? Your butt (no VPLs, please)? Your skin? Your hair again? Everything? You assess, you make changes, you assess again, and you go on about your day. You perform this very basic test throughout the day because (1) you care about your appearance and how you project yourself to the outside world, and (2) nobody likes buzzing about the day with a peppercorn-decorated incisor.
What's the point?
Every day of your life, you perform this quickie diagnostic test on yourself to evaluate your current state of affairs, because you inherently know there's a value to the process of self-evaluation. You assess, you evaluate, you adjust. And then you repeat as necessary.
Yet when it comes to perhaps the two biggest issues in your life—your health and your financial status—you're scared to look in the mirror. Maybe you're afraid of what you'll see. Maybe you just don't like what you'll see. Maybe you don't want your bank account or your blood pressure barking back at you. Maybe the truth hurts so much that you can't stand to see—and address—this kind of reflection. Or maybe you're afraid you'll pale in comparison to the others in your world.
But avoiding the metaphorical mirror means that you'll never notice when you have lipstick smudged across your face. That is, you'll never know if something is off—or how badly it's off—if you haven't taken the time to look. And hiding from the truth doesn't mean the truth doesn't exist.
The reality is that before we start any meaningful discussion of health and wealth (and changing both for the better), there's one thing you have to do: embrace your current reality. That means embrace the data. Embrace the diagnostics. Embrace the fact that you need to measure exactly where you are so you can determine where you want to be—and chart a course for how to get there.
In the next two chapters, we're going to walk you through the diagnostic tests you need to take (some by yourself, some with the help of others) before you get started. No matter what your financial or bodily goals are—whether they involve earning a million bucks or weighing a buck twenty-five—you have to know where you're starting.
An easy way to think of your journey is like this: Picture your dream goal as a destination on a map (a Malibu beach, an urban loft, a country farmhouse). You can see where it is, you've heard all about it, and you know what pleasure awaits when you get there. But what if you had no idea where the heck you were at this exact moment? You wouldn't know where to go, when to make turns, when to go straight, when to turn around, and so forth. You need to know where you're starting before you can chart your course.
The tests we'll outline in the next two chapters will give you your coordinates and show you where to go. The reasons:
Data Matters. One of the buzzwords you'll see all throughout the media today is data. We use data to find stories, to make decisions, to support theories. Yes, data can feel like an intimidating concept—spreadsheet upon spreadsheet, numbers upon numbers, formula upon formula. But there's a reason the word data and the practice of analyzing data are so prevalent today. Making sense of data matters, and we'll make it easy for you.
Data gives us clues about our worlds by enabling us to see patterns and changes, as well as absolute numbers. This is also true in the worlds of health and finance. Data serves up big pieces of the puzzle in terms of figuring out what you need to know and where you're striving to go. For instance, in health, we know the exact blood-pressure reading that serves as the line between healthy and unhealthy . In finance, we know the exact debt-to-income ratio that's deemed safe for lending .
So through the next two chapters we're going to present many of those benchmarks, not only because that data provides clues as to how well (or not) you're doing, but also because those absolute numbers really serve as gateways into a better life. When you reach those absolute data points, you know that you've reached a safe zone. That's why knowing your numbers is so vital to beginning this whole process (and it can actually serve as a great motivator, as well as be fun if you make a game or challenge out of trying to reach your goals).
Fear Can't Be the Long-Term Motivator. Chances are you've heard plenty of "scared straight" stories. Your overweight friend who had a heart attack now eats salmon and broccoli and walks five miles a day. You know a couple who were this close to a divorce because they couldn't come to an agreement about how they should spend their money. All of these uh-oh scenarios are based in the same emotion: fear. Fear of losing life. Fear of losing relationships. Fear of losing property. You get so scared that it's like a life-changing splash of cold water on your face. You change because you got dangerously close to something ugly, and you don't dare get that close again.
Here's the thing. Fear can work very well in the short term. If you take an ambulance ride thinking that's the last thing you're ever going to do again, darn right you're going to swap your French fries for snap peas. But what happens when you're two weeks or two months or two years removed from your ER visit? You forget. You forget what fear feels like. And you go back to the bottomless bucket of queso. Fear is a hard punch, but it's not the basis for lasting motivation. (We'll discuss motivation throughout this book; it's a core subject when it comes to prioritizing your behaviors and habits.)
Lasting motivation comes from many sources. There's the intrinsic motivator of wanting to do better because it improves your life and makes you feel better; in this way healthier living and more prudent spending in themselves provide rewards. But we would also argue that one of the best long-term motivators comes from the thrill of the chase—and the joy of seeing and feeling improvement. These are often what inspire people to keep going, to live better. They're positive reinforcement that drives positive action, which ignites even more positive energy. The thrill of the chase is a big motivator—visualizing yourself in a better reality, seeing yourself approach this reality. So part of the reason diagnostics are so important is that they allow you to set attainable benchmarks—long-term ones and short-term ones—that can serve as a steady rhythm of motivation throughout your life. Granted, seeing numbers that are bad (skyrocketing debt totals, soaring LDL cholesterol levels) may be jarring at first, and fear of what those numbers mean to your life may drive your initial actions. But at some point that fear has to switch over to something more positive—and more inspiring. Quantifying your success will then motivate you to continue your program. And that, we believe, is what ultimately will help you sustain long-term change.
You Must Compare Only to Yourself. In this journey to better health and wealth, you will face many hurdles. Perhaps one of the biggest: keeping up with the Joneses/Kardashians. That is, you feel the need to have what others have, to be as others are. You can't stop comparing the size of your house or the size of your waist with those of the people around you. Sometimes that can be motivating; other times it can be more frustrating than a wine cork that just won't budge. But we do know this: for most of you, comparing yourself to others won't do you a lick of good—and most likely will hold you back.
Consider this famous survey by economists Sara J. Solnick and David Hemenway. A question was sent out to more than 250 people at the Harvard School of Public Health, asking them to imagine two worlds. In the first they earned $50,000 a year while everyone else earned $25,000. In the second they earned $100,000 a year while everyone else earned $200,000. Then it asked which world they'd rather live in. What would you choose? Seems like a no-brainer. Of course, you'd want to earn twice as much, even if others would make more than you. But a whopping half went for world number one—they'd rather take a huge pay cut and be on top of the heap.
It drives us crazy when we think others have what we want. That's natural. But it's also destructive. Why? Because it takes you away from your own goals—and likely drives bad habits, such as spending money on things you can't afford.
So here's what we want you to do: Look at yourself in the mirror. But stop gawking at others. Gather your data, and think about your data. There will always be people in better conditions and worse conditions than you, so if you can remind yourself that you likely fall somewhere in the middle of a bell curve, you don't need to beat yourself up because the McDonoughs have a hot tub and Shannon wears a size two. Admittedly, this is a difficult habit to break, but we think that using your personal diagnostics as both a barometer and a motivator is the way to do it. Seeing your own data allow you to focus on minigoals (sometimes called benchmarks)—and concrete ones, rather than emotionally charged ones wrapped up in other people's lives.
Data Should Help, Not Overwhelm. Throughout the book we're going to be sending a lot of numbers your way. Sometimes it may feel as if we're rapid-firing a round of Ping-Pong balls. Interest rates, blood sugar levels, asset allocation, blood pressure—zing, zing, zing, zing. These are not meant to scare you or intimidate you. (Truth is, many people associate numbers with math. And with math comes fear. Math anxiety is a real disorder defined by the American Psychological Association. And it's often rooted in one bad childhood experience. For a lot of people, fear of math translates directly to fear of money, but it can also extend to other numbers-oriented subjects.) Rest assured, the numbers we'll discuss in this book are not all that difficult. We'll walk you through them, show you the calculations, and teach you what they mean—and, most important, how to use them.
The numbers we'll show you will help you budget—financially and health-wise. You'll see what you're earning and spending, but also what you're taking in and burning off. The baseline budget you create gives you your starting point for meaningful change.
And, perhaps above all, the real gritty truth about diagnostics is that they're data-driven truth serum.
You can't hide from the numbers. They tell you where your flaws are and where you can improve, and force you to evaluate the behaviors needed to get and do better.
In the next two chapters, you will close the door and strip down.
- "A positive, practical book for anyone middle aged or older."—Library Journal
- On Sale
- Feb 28, 2017
- Hachette Audio