Can You Afford to Live Until You’re 90?


Can You Afford to Live Until You're 90The other night, I got to spend some time with a friend and co-worker of mine.  We went on a work related outing to a local winery to take a tour.  We sampled wine, ate a delicious dinner, and had some time to catch up.  You see, “Fred” is a friend of my parents and also works part time at the mortuary where we work.  He drives the limo for us, works visitations, and helps customers.  He is a quick witted practical joker who becomes friends with everyone he meets.  Not only is Fred in great shape, but he works nonstop when he is on the clock.  Fred is always the last one working and never stops until the job is done.  He is always first to ask if anyone needs help.  Doesn’t Fred sound seriously awesome?  Trust me, he is!  By the way, Fred is 90 years old.


90 is the new 70

Yes, you read that right.  My friend and co-worker is 90 years old…and is still working 10-20 hours per week.  He doesn’t need the money, but he likes to keep busy and enjoys interacting with people.  He loves seeing his friends and co-workers, and he also volunteers for a few different local organizations.  I often wonder if Fred is afraid to stop moving and intentionally keeps himself busy.  At 90 years old, one has to begin wondering when the gift of good health will end.  But, for now, Fred keeps trucking…..and he’s doing more than breathing and blinking.  Fred is truly living!


Fred spent many years taking care of his sick wife until she finally passed away a few years ago.  Since then, he has been out doing all of the things that he has always wanted to do.  For his 90th birthday, he even took a two-week long trip to Alaska.  His face lights up when he talks about all of the untouched wilderness that he saw, the animals that he encountered, and the endless expanse of beauty that is Alaska.  Since Fred is 90 and able to afford to travel as well as his expenses, it got me wondering…


Am I Going to be Able to Afford to Live Until I’m 90?

I cannot even begin to picture my life at age 90.  I am only 32 years old, and I (hopefully) have many decades to figure it all out.  Who can even plan that far ahead?  What will the economy be like in 60 years from now?  How old will people grow to be in the future?  What will the average retirement be like when I am 90?  What will the planet be like 60 years in the future? Will I be able to afford to live like Fred?


Obviously, there are so many uncertainties that make it nearly impossible to plan a financial future for yourself 60 years from now.  At the same time, I would like to be like Fred.  I would like to be 90, traveling to places I want to see, and be able to afford to do the things that I want to do.  I would love to be 90, working part-time because I want to and not because I need to make ends meet.  I aspire to be 90 years old.  I want to live that long.  I want to see the world.  I want to see my great-grandchildren’s faces.


So, I think we should all use Fred as an example of what can happen if we play our cards right.  It’s a new year and the perfect time to reevaluate all of our spending and saving decisions.  Hopefully, we will all be able to afford to live the life we want to live – even at 90. Happy 2013 everyone!

About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.


  1. That’s impressive! I know some people’s health deteriorates faster than others, so many will never see 90. I did have two great-grandparents who passed away in their 90s, and it was fun to be able to know them personally as a child. We plan on naming our daughter (when we have kids in ten years…haha) after our great grandmothers (Elsie Hazel). Back to the point, though, I do hope to have enough money to live comfortably if I live to 90, and I would like to do things not because I have to but because I want to do them (such as work a part-time job!).
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..How to Know the True Value of a HomeMy Profile

  2. We’re definitely planning on living until a ripe old age. Our neighbor will turn 93 this week, and we’ve learned a lesson from another friend of ours who is 89. Don’t give away your money too early. Our friend was so sure he wasn’t going to live much past 80 that he gave most of his money and property away to his kids. So over the last 10 years, he’s had to watch them sell everything he built and spend it on stuff he doesn’t value all while having to count his own pennies to make sure he stays within budgets. Just terrible.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..PoP Income Statement – December 2012My Profile

  3. Enough of my family members have hit their 80s and 90s for this to be a concern I am thinking about.

    While I want the time and money to do what I want, I really wouldn’t mind having a part-time job at that age if it made me as happy as Fred.
    Alex recently posted..Happy New Year – My plans for 2013My Profile

  4. I can’t imagine living until I am 90, but I am hoping that well before that point I would be generating enough side income to survive at any age. At least that’s the plan…
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..December 2012 Goal ReviewMy Profile

  5. Good post! That’s my desire as well, to be able to live a nice and log full life and being able to do things we’d like to do because we’ve been smart throughout our life. Too often people view retirement as just stopping and sitting on your butt while doing nothing. That is of no appeal to me, I want to be active and do things I never had the time to do.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..What My Air Conditioner Taught Me About Saving MoneyMy Profile

  6. I think this will be interesting to watch as our generations age. The problem I see is that most Americans envision a day where they retire and no longer have to work. ever. again.

    The reason that’s a problem is because it’s very clear that the less people function, the quicker that they age. So, unless you’re staying active and are like Fred, then it’s unlikely you’ll be living to 90 anyhow.
    Jason @ WorkSaveLive recently posted..Do You Want to Pay Off Debt – Join the Debt MovementMy Profile

  7. I guess I am in the minority, but I don’t want to live that long. Of course I have no idea what the future holds for me, all I know is that I have no idea what my family medical history is (I was adopted and getting records is next to impossible based on where I was born) so I could be SOL and live to 100+.

    That being said, I do plan on having my money out live me by a large margin and passing a sizeable chunk to my heirs (they just won’t know it until it is too late and they have already saved for their own future).

  8. All the more reason to save early and often! Another reason to take advantage of employer provided retirement savings vehicles, especially those that you can fund with pre-tax dollars. You barely notice it in your paycheck and can take advantage of things like dollar cost averaging over time.

  9. I would like top generate enough passive income not to have to worry about that question. I certainly hope top live that long But don’t really like considering it. Plan like you’ll be alive forever seems to be the safest!
    Brian recently posted..Net Worth Update: January 2013My Profile

  10. Saving early and saving more than you think you’ll need is definitely important! One set of my grandparents are 88 and 92 and they are having to budget more than ever before because they didn’t expect to live this long!
    Christine recently posted..December Goal ReviewMy Profile

  11. What an inspiration – to still be healthy enough to work when you’re that age. It’s definitely something to think about – how to avoid outliving your money.
    cat recently posted..How to help others without spending a dime – or even leaving the house!My Profile

  12. Since I am still young, I don’t think about what I will be doing when I am 90, but I hope that I make the right decisions now in order to allow me to be like your friend. Who knows what will happen between now and then.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..How Are Your Retirement Savings Shaping Up?My Profile

  13. With all the investments and retirement savings I have made, I am confident that I can afford to live until I am 90 or 100 years old. However, I would not prefer to live that long unless I am still healthy and active. But if my health has deteriorated and cannot do the things I normally do, I would prefer to have my life end at 60 or 70. I will be turning 40 a couple of days from now.
    Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey recently posted..Effective Budgeting Strategies for the Over-40 CrowdMy Profile

  14. It’s difficult to think about that far in the future, but I understand thinking about the possibility is necessary. I’d only want to live that long if I was living the life like Fred!
    Catherine recently posted..What Would You Do With $2013.00 (Giveaway)?My Profile

  15. I am planning on living 30 years in retirement which means I plan to live to 100 years old! My mother lived to nearly 99 years old so I have genetics on my side.
    krantcents recently posted..Happy New Year!My Profile

  16. I think I’d be wanting to do the same thing-doing some work that keeps me active and interacting with people, but only because I want to. Sounds like a cool guy!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..2013: Living in the MomentMy Profile

  17. My grandma lived until 92 and she had a blessed and full life. I hope to have the same :)
    Mackenzie recently posted..Let’s Get the Ball Rollin’: 2013 GoalsMy Profile

  18. You and I are the same age :)

    I think the first part of this post really hits the point – he’s a great guy to be around, fit, in shape, and quick witted. Although I think my money design will get me to age 100, no one can really say for sure. Regardless, the most important thing I think is to keep the positive attitude and not let these things change who you are.
    My Money Design recently posted..Our Long Term Financial Goals and How We’ll Meet Them in the New YearMy Profile

  19. Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget says:

    I agree with you in that I can’t even comprehend what life would be like at 90! All we can do is prepare the best we know how and hope it’s enough :)

    Fred seems like a pretty cool dude. If I do live to be 90, I hope to still have my health like he does!
    Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget recently posted..Our Freaking Budget: Monthly BreakdownMy Profile

  20. Lots of press lately in the financial community that financial planners aren’t planning a long enough retirement for their clients. Many show 85 years old as the “end date.” If you only show “85″, you can never be Fred!

    Great post, Holly. Time for people to seriously look at their assumptions.
    AverageJoe recently posted..5 Simple Steps to Kick 2013 Into High GearMy Profile

  21. My maternal grandparents are both in their 80s and still going strong. I don’t think they thought they would live that long and didn’t really plan as much as they would like to, in terms of retirement savings. They recently sold their home because it was too big and because they were running low on funds. They did the best they could in terms of savings, but it’s a huge reminder to the bf and I that in our old age we’re going to need much more money then they ever thought they would.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Avoid Student Loans Like the PlagueMy Profile

  22. Great post! It sounds like Fred is working because he just wants to, and that’s exactly how I’d like to be. Free to work or not work when I’m older.
    Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses recently posted..A Look Back on 2012My Profile

  23. I see 2 sides to the story. For one, it’s tough to know what kind of physical condition you will be in at that stage of the game. Personally, I don’t want to miss out on doing things now that I possibly won’t be able to do later on. That’s why I don’t believe in the whole “save everything for later” mentality. If you save it all for a time that may not come, or if you aren’t able to do the things you are saving for, what is the point? There has to be a balance between the now and later. The second problem I have is quality of life–I don’t want to reach 90 if I’n not able to do things like feed or clean myself. Unfortunately, there are a lot fewer Freds in the world than there are of the other kind of 90 year-olds.
    Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity recently posted..You Need A Facebook Page For Your Brand, Not Your Personal ProfileMy Profile

  24. That kind of thing is hard, right? Because we just don’t know. I want to live long enough to do everything on my bucket list, and maybe that means 90? So, hopefully I will have family or friends who will take care of me.
    Kathleen, Frugal Portland recently posted..Frugal Portland Gift Exchange ResultsMy Profile

    • Yes, its hard to plan when we don’t know how things are going to turn out! I am working on my bucket list now…..just in case I kick the bucket early =)

  25. When it comes down to it I don’t think I could ever stop working. That’s not say that I would necessarily be working full time but rather doing something on the side like running my blog if their is such a thing when I’m 90.

  26. Fred is awesome!! I hope to be in that type of situation at 90–very alive and still very much kicking :)
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..2012 Hits and MissesMy Profile

  27. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    Fred sounds exactly like my mom! She’s been retired for over 15 years and still works part-time in the field she retired from because she really enjoys interacting with and helping others. I also think it’s to avoid boredom and feeling like she isn’t being productive. I have a feeling I’ll be just like her at her age!
    K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! recently posted..Currency Conversion. Reality Check.My Profile

  28. I checked my biological age recently and I am 12, so I have about 80 more years to plan for :s. I think it is great that Fred is still happily working and helping the community, but it is sad that he waited to take this trip when he could have gone with his wife. When I see a group of retirees getting out of a bus to visit the wonders of the world, I feel kind of sad that they probably worked their whole lives before taking that trip. Like the movie UP. I picture my 90s more rooted, living next to family, and being done with the bucket list.
    Pauline recently posted..13 money resolutions for 2013: #2 trim the fat!My Profile

  29. You asked a “deep” thinking question. Our entire financial well-being relies on making good financial decision most of the time.
    Ornella @ Moneylicious recently posted..Renovating Your Bathroom For Next To NothingMy Profile

  30. Interesting post. Having the resources to do things like traveling when you retire is a tricky situation. I want to retire when I am still young enough to enjoy life and yet have enough money to enjoy life. If I lived to be 90 but was essentially living off the government that would not be something I would want.
    Kyle | recently posted..My Best Finance Tip for 2013 + a $100 Cash GiveawayMy Profile

  31. That’s a great story. For me, I would wish not only for the money but the health to enjoy that time of life. Brian’s family is fairly long-lived and I try to stay healthy, so here’s hoping!
    CF recently posted..Net Worth Update: January 2013My Profile

  32. I can’t imagine me living till 90. But if I do, I do not want to be working for a living. I might still work to avoid boredom. Fred sounds awesome! I hope to have the same attitude at 90.

    There is always a delicate balance between saving for an unknown future time vs living life to the fullest in the present. I want to do everything in my bucket list before I turn 65, just in case. But in case I do live beyond that I want my life to be completely provided for. Hopefully I can do both.
    Suba recently posted..Save $1000 in 30 days challengeMy Profile

  33. I think I will be like Fred in that I will never stop “working”. I mean I will always want to add value and help others, so I think that I still will be doing something when I am older. Not sure if I will live to 90, but if I do, perhaps I will drive you guys around in my limo?
    Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet recently posted..Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2013My Profile

  34. I’m hoping not only to live a long life, but to be able to pass wealth along as well. Fred sounds like an awesome dude! it people like him who help keep things in perspective :)
    Jacob @ iHeartBudgets recently posted..2013 Goals And Debt MovementMy Profile

  35. Wow that’s a truly inspiring story! I definitely would like nothing more than to have a life like Fred’s. But to do that I need to start saving soon! I’m glad I’m still very young and am learning that now instead of later.
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..January 1st NETWORTH Update!My Profile

  36. They say to plan for the worst. Sadly, when it comes to retirement that can mean living a long and healthy life. Our goal is to have enough money to live to at least 100. While my family history isn’t so great in terms of longevity, my wife’s family seems to have a good genes in that sense. So for us its important to have enough money to make sure she’s taken care of 70 years from now.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Protect Yourself: Check Your Credit ReportMy Profile

  37. Go, Fred! That’s so awesome! If we never did anything to improve ourselves right now I think we’d be living in the ghetto when we were 90. But luckily we are. So hopefully our future will start to look brighter in the next few years here.
    femmefrugality recently posted..For the Love of a TurtleMy Profile

    • Mine too. I am ready to be completely out of debt (mortgage free) and put it all behind me…and really start building wealth for the future!!!

  38. Keeping at some kind of work goes a long way. Many people have enough “free time” that they can start up a retirement job and have it rolling by the time they get to that age.
    mbhunter recently posted..Getting out of debt is a good deal all-aroundMy Profile

  39. I did a post on money and retirement a while back. Most people will need additional income to retire:…retirement-yes
    Rod J. Rogers (@FreeAgentRogers) recently posted..You’ve Given Me a Way to Change My LifeMy Profile

  40. Jason Clayton | frugalhabits says:

    Fred and I think alike. I hope at 90 years old I am still working part time. To me working is healthy, and it doesn’t have to be all or none.
    Jason Clayton | frugalhabits recently posted..Keys to Achieving your New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  41. Hopefully I can live that long. I don’t think my finances will last that long but who knows.. maybe my children will support me.. (yeah right).
    Boris recently posted..Building Wealth by Becoming The Ant, Not The GrasshopperMy Profile

  42. That’s great to be 90 and be able to work part-time. Now, I have to say that I don’t wish upon anybody the NEED to have to work at all at that age. I really believe that as we work when younger, we need to consider the needs of the present day us, and the future us. Think about how tough it might be to have to work when older, when your body isn’t the same, yet you’re competing with younger people with more energy for work. That’s my motivation to save now! Just in case though, it’s best to keep healthy :)
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted..Dinner with Friends: How Do You Split the Bill?My Profile

  43. eemusings says:

    Quite honestly I cannot imagine being that old! The follies of youth … I hope to be that healthy, active, and mobile in my dotage.
    eemusings recently posted..Link love (Powered by picnics and houseguests)My Profile

  44. Wow, 90 is definitely a ways off for me(I’m 25!) haha, but I’d like to live like Fred. I don’t mind working at all, but 20 hours per week is probably my optimal amount of time to be spent on work :)
    Harry @ PF Pro recently posted..Guest Post: Being AverageMy Profile


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