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Retirement for a centenarian

If you think having a financial strategy in place for reaching 100 seems far-fetched, you may want to give it another thought. In 2020, there were 80,139 centenarians in the U.S., a 50.2% increase from the 2010 count, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Now, take into account the medical advances bound to happen in the next decade and beyond, made possible in part by artificial intelligence — already making headway with diseases such as cancer.

It all sets the stage for more of us reaching a happy 100 (and you, we hope). If you want to follow the prosperity path of Stoval on the way, here are a few pages from his playbook you can learn from.

Leverage the power of compound interest.

Stoval describes how he put his salary to work by saving 2% of it a year, a share usually matched by his employer. Over time (in his case, decades), compounding did the rest. Assuming you resist touching the funds in your IRA or 401(k) as you prepare for your retirement years, you too can benefit from the force Albert Einstein once called “mankind’s greatest invention.”

Profit from selling your homes over time.

Over the years, Stoval outgrew his houses in Georgia or had to move due to a work transfer. Each time he sold, he netted more than what he paid for the home — in one instance turning a $45,000 purchase into a $350,000 sale, close to eight times the original price.

Live within your means.

We live in a consumerist society, and at every turn you’ll encounter messages and subtle pressures to part with your money on things you don’t need — or don’t necessarily want. Stoval never fell into this trap, though increasing numbers of Americans do and soon will. Core retail spending during the 2023 holiday season grew 3.8% over 2022 to a record $964.4 billion, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the National Retail Federation.

Keep at those discounts.

Stoval always orders cheaper items on the menu when he eats out, and scours the supermarket shelves for items on sale. While this might sound like a frugal way to live, stop to consider your choices at restaurants, grocery stores and shops. Also, memberships in organizations such as AARP and AAA can pay for themselves thanks to the discounts they offer, and even the local coffee shop may offer frequent-buyer discounts or shave money off the tab if you bring your own mug.

Share your living expenses.

Today, Stoval lives on a 40-acre property owned by his daughter Toni and son-in-law Charles. There’s another kind of investment at work here, by the way. Charles moved in with the Stoval family while he was in high school and dealing with a difficult childhood. He fell in love with Stoval’s daughter and got married, making the 100-year-old’s current living situation a rich dividend on a generous investment in Charles decades ago.


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About the Author

Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo

Freelance writer

Lou Carlozo is a freelance contributor to Moneywise.

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