It’s a fact, people in developed countries are living longer. For instance, life expectancy for women is predicted to surpass 90 years in South Korea by 2030, according to the study published in The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals. Of course, the study assumes that Kim “Rocketman” Jong-Un won’t start World War III.
While living longer is definitely great news for everyone, the bad news is that you’ll need to make your retirement savings last longer. That is if you really think you will live long enough to reach your golden years.
Sadly, many people are still making unhealthy choices that could potentially ruin their future. The bright side, if you happen to be one of them, is that you probably won’t need a nest egg because you are likely to die young.
Here are nine signs that you might seriously end up as a ghost before retirement age.
1. You smoke like a chimney
Tobacco smoking is hazardous to nearly every organ in the body, especially your lungs and kidneys. It is the primary cause of preventable deaths in the world. The more cigarettes you burn, the shorter you are likely to live, and the lesser the amount of retirement savings that you will need.
Thank goodness smoking is now banned in most places that I visit. At a restaurant in the Philippines, for example, it was said that a local tourist swallowed his cigarette butt after being threatened by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with a gun pointed at his crotch.
2. Experimenting with drugs is your hobby
Even legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine can kill you. Smoking tobacco alone can’t lead to a nicotine overdose. However, it’s possible to overdose by using combinations of nicotine patches, gum, and cigarettes at the same time– it can reach high enough levels enough to paralyze your muscles that control breathing or cause a heart attack.
The result is even worse if you start playing with cocaine, meth, ecstasy etc. If playing with drugs is your hobby, expect to join the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, River Phoenix, Chris Farley, and John Belushi. Except that these people probably contributed more to society than you’ll ever do.
If you do experiment with drugs, please don’t visit the Philippines. It’s for your own safety. Now that Duterte is president, the local police might end up experimenting with your life.
3. Binge drinking is a routine
Excessive alcohol damages not only your liver, but also your kidneys, pancreas, heart, and your brain, which can seriously impair your intellectual abilities, if you have any.
I once binge-drank with my friends when I was young. It was my 16th birthday and was too eager to impress my friends by buying two cases (48 bottles) of beer. It wasn’t a pleasant experience because I ended up vomiting in the bathroom all night. Back home you can buy beer at any age. The vendor’s only concern is that you return all the empty bottles back.
If you’re the type who binge-drink alcohol and then drive, I really hope that you end up in jail before you ruin someone else’s retirement plan.
4. Your waistline is the equator
Obesity kills and comes a close second to cigarette smoking as the cause of preventable deaths in the world. In fact, a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine in 2014 concluded that higher waist circumference (relative to your body mass index) was positively associated with higher mortality– you are more likely to die young if you stand 5’8″ and wear a 45″ belt.
If you’re obese, however, please don’t lose hope. Losing weight is just a matter of eating less and exercising more. You should keep tabs on your caloric intake and expenditure in the same way you track your saving and spending rates.
5. You’re a couch potato
Physical inactivity speeds up aging and is a risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Spending too much time on your mobile phone, computer, or work desk is just as harmful as watching too much television as your sedentary lifestyle drastically slows down your metabolism.
By not exercising, you’re suppressing your body’s ability to release chemicals called endorphins which helps to keep you motivated, focused and happy. As a consequence, you’re more likely to become depressed, which can cause you to eat even more and exercise less. It’s a vicious cycle.
In my case, the solution is this exercise machine. I watched all 10 episodes of Narcos (season two) on Netflix while riding it.
6. You eat junk food regularly
Cheap, processed and prepackaged foods are convenient but are also usually very high in fat or sodium. Too much sodium increases your blood pressure (hypertension) because it holds excess fluid in the body which may lead to stroke, which is one of the leading causes of death for Americans.
Unhealthy fats may result in clogged arteries and heart disease. So if you’re the type who swings to the nearest fast food joint for dinner on a regular basis, you’re likely to become ill someday.
7. You avoid fruits and vegetables
Do you despise eating green and leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli? How about colorful fruits like oranges, strawberry, and blueberries? If you do now, mark my words, you’d probably eat them like crazy once you get a referral to an oncologist. Hope it’s not too late by then.
Fruits and veggies are rich in fibers, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants — substances that help repair cell damage and prevents many kinds of cancer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure– eat them while you’re still healthy unless dying young is your retirement plan.
8. You sleep like a zombie
Not getting enough sleep by itself won’t kill you. But there are plenty of studies that link insufficient sleep to serious health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. One of such study is the one published by the Journal of the American Heart Association in May 2017 where it sort of concluded that people who are at risk for those ailments and slept less than six hours a night may increase their risk of premature death.
I personally don’t get enough sleep. But I don’t have any serious illness (knock on wood) either. We probably can agree that getting more zzzz’s is good for both of us.
9. You make life more stressful than it should be
Are you the type who won’t hesitate to show your middle finger in snaps of rage over small things like when the driver next to you accidentally cut you off? It’s actually our stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that trigger those when we feel threatened.
Stress has been linked to ailments as diverse as intestinal problems, gum disease, erectile dysfunction, growth problems and even cancer. One study even found that people who experienced high levels of stress are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
While these ailments won’t kill you fast enough, showing your middle finger to the wrong driver may ensure that you won’t ever need a nest egg.
It’s always best to keep your cool so you get to enjoy your golden years.