Updated: Aug 15
Sixty-nine is the unenviable position in which many Black men have found themselves entrapped. This is the average life expectancy of a Black male in some areas of the U.S. More generally, Black men, on average, live to be 72 years of age. Again, this is an average. If the current trends persist, the vast majority of us will live to be between 67 and 77 years of age. Our higher bound of 77 is the average life expectancy for our White male counterparts.
Why does this matter? It matters because life expectancy is the backbone of a wealth creation strategy. A financial planner needs to know your work-life expectancy (WLE). Work-life expectancy helps a financial adviser estimate how many years you have to save towards retirement.
Once your advisor has established your WLE, an advisor needs to know your retirement life expectancy (RLE). In short, how many years you expect to live after retiring. Knowing these numbers helps your advisor calculate your retirement need.
The life expectancy number matters because it suggests that Black men, in general, even if we
were fortunate enough to amass wealth, will not have the longevity to enjoy any of it in retirement. We must recognize that everyone is not living to the ripe old age of 100. Doing so may set unrealistic expectations about our life expectancy and leading us to believe that we have more time to create and enjoy wealth than we do.
In fact, a lot of financial advice floating around the web encourages people to delay retirement for as long as possible. Other sources advocate that you do not touch your social security until the age of 70. Based on what we currently know about Black men, these strategies are sub-optimal unless we can improve our health and expand our life spans.
Literally, without good health, there is no wealth (#NoHealthNoWealth)
So, what do we do about it?
Well, the most obvious thing we can do is to prioritize eating better. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Black men and for the general population. This information isn't new. We all know that we need to eat better. I believe we do not act on this inclination because we do not see health's financial benefit.
Being in good health lowers health insurance premiums, garners cheaper life insurance rates, helps us think more clearly, increases our desire to be physically active, improves our sense of life satisfaction, and boosts our productivity. All of which are associated with cash flow creation and the longevity necessary to create and enjoy wealth. Health is wealth. The two are connected.
Meaningful connections matter too!
According to Susan Pinker, a longevity researcher, the top two causes of a long life are positive social interaction and close meaningful relationships. Fellas, we need to connect and stay connected. When is that last time you went on a guys trip, shot hoops with the boys, or confided in a trusted friend? We do not talk about this, but there is evidence to suggest that relationships matter. Men tend to become more socially isolated as they get older. We need to do the opposite.
As the old African proverb says, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
If you are reading this, I am not asking that you make monumental changes at the drop of a dime. It takes a lot of time and energy to create new habits. I do believe you might be up for doing one small thing. So, what is one little thing you can do to positively impact your diet, physical health, or social connections this week?
Your ability to secure the bag is dependent on your personal and relational health!