Good News: 60 Is the New 40!
I’ve received a number of letters from people who are in their 60s and have no savings, no significant assets, and bad credit due to having to file bankruptcy.
“On top of all of that,” Paul T. wrote, “I’m about to hit 60, and I feel like everything is suddenly starting to go wrong with my body! Is it even possible to save myself at this point?”
The answer is yes. And not a qualified yes—a definitive yes!
You may be feeling run-down and beaten-up, but your life at 60 is far from over. In fact, 60 is the new 40!
Let’s Start With Your Health
The first thing you must deal with is your mental and physical health. I say “mental health,” because the way you feel about yourself and your future has a big impact on your health.
Numerous studies have shown a positive correlation between optimism and longevity. Other studies have documented the relationship between positivity and performance.
When I am feeling down—and I come from a family that suffers from depression—I can almost always get myself back in gear by a combination of hard, short-duration physical exercise and energetic eating.
PACE is the best program for energetic exercise I have ever discovered. Dr. Al Sears, a Florida physician who has spent more than 30 years studying exercise, nutrition, and longevity, designed it. You can find out more about PACE by going here.
Diet is also a big factor in how you feel. Most people have no idea how greatly what you put into your body affects what you can get out of it. When I am feeling lethargic and low for several days in a row, it is almost always due to eating poorly. The kind of diet I believe in is a very natural diet, the kind of foods that our Paleolithic ancestors ate.
The third big factor in living an optimistic and energetic life after 60 is sleep. Studies show that people who sleep seven to eight hours per day live longer, live better, and even make more money than people who sleep less or more.
If you are having trouble with your sleep, there is a big possibility that it is because you
are not exercising and eating properly. Eat well and begin a PACE exercise program, and you will find that you are sleeping soundly in just a few weeks.
As of 2014, the latest year for which information is available, persons reaching age 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 19.4 years. This means you have many more years to live well and thrive! And it’s why it’s all the more important for you to take care of your health and well being, as I suggest above.
What You Can Do in Your Sixties
I have no natural physical advantages. I come from a family that is not only depressed but also overweight and uncoordinated. Yet I am able to wrestle with 20-year-olds at a competitive level and work 60 hours per week with no problem.
You can have this kind of physical stamina and personal productivity in your life too. It is just a matter of intelligence and persistence.
Before I get to your financial needs, let me give you a few examples of what these well-known people have been able to do in their 60s (or thereabouts):
- Harland Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, was 65 when he started
Kentucky Fried Chicken. In his youth, Sanders worked a variety of jobs, from
farmer to steamboat pilot, to an insurance salesman. At 40, Sanders started a service
station and sold chicken dinners on the side. As demand for his tasty chicken
grew, Sanders opened a restaurant. And the rest, as they say, is history.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when she began writing her beloved Little House on
the Prairie series. She went on to pen eight total books in the series—in addition
to being a journalist.
- In 1954, at the age of 52, Ray Kroc opened a hamburger stand—when most people
his age were retiring. Kroc revolutionized the fast-food business when this
hamburger stand eventually became McDonald’s.
- Car icon and businessman Henry Ford was 60 years old when he created the first
car assembly line.
- At 70 years old, Golda Meir became the fourth prime minister of Israel—and the
first woman to hold the post.
- In 2004, at the age of 82, Robert Galvin, retired long-time CEO of Motorola,
started Galvin Electricity Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming and
improving the nation’s power grid to 21st-century standards.
What to Do About Your Financial Future
The first thing I’d recommend is that you stop reading all the doom-and-gloom material that is out there. Yes, debt burdens our world economy. And yes, that debt will be paid one way or another. But you are not going to make yourself any richer by worrying about it. Spend your reading time about motivational subjects and acquiring knowledge.
The second thing I’d like you to do is to believe what I’m about to tell you: It is perfectly possible—even likely—to eliminate debt and acquire wealth within seven years if you are willing to do the right things.
That seven-year term is a personal projection, but it’s not without basis. It comes from what I’ve done many times over in my own life and what I’ve been able to help other people do many times over.
When you are young, seven years seems like an eternity. But at 60, you now know that it will pass faster than the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s so important for you to take my advice seriously and put it to work immediately. If you wait even a week to get started, you will find it easy to push it off another week and then a month, and before you know it, those seven years will have passed, and you will be in the same bind you are in now.
The third thing you must do is take responsibility for your future finances and well-being. This is not something you can simply agree to. You must make a serious review of what you’ve done in the past. (You seem to have done that.) And you must make a serious personal commitment to change.
I can help you with this last bit. I wrote a book about change—which incorporates everything I’ve learned about the subject—several years ago. It’s called The Pledge.
Once your body is healthy and your mind is right (including your commitment to persist in this plan), you are ready for the first life-improving change. And that is the acquisition of additional income.
I have written about this subject many times before. (You can refresh your memory if you want by reading this. My argument is (and you won’t hear any “investment experts” saying this) that you can’t get wealthy by investing alone. You must curtail your spending, manage your money (“The Secret of the Golden Buckets”), and allocate your investments wisely (“Asset Allocation for Three Model Portfolios”). But you must also create extra income for yourself and your spouse.
Bringing in extra income is the single most important way you can get rid of debt and become wealthy within seven years. It is the surest way you can get out of the financial pickle you are in and enjoy a comfortable, worry-free retirement.
Debt and Bankruptcy
As to your debt and bankruptcy, don’t be intimidated by it. There are ways to contain and even eliminate it, as well as repair your credit.
There are also alternative retirement lifestyles that will allow you to live very well on an amazingly small amount of income. These retirement opportunities don’t require much more than the willingness to make a change in how or where you live. And you can accomplish them with a modest income—which you already have.
Don’t Forget to Live Rich
Living Rich is a special favorite of mine. I’m sure some readers will consider it frivolous because the advice is not about making more money but about getting more quality out of the money you have. But to me, it is the most important thing one can learn about wealth.
I don’t believe in “retiring” in the traditional sense. I don’t believe in giving up meaningful work, for example. I have many friends who tried replacing work with golfing and grew tired of it all too quickly. Of all the activities one can do in retirement, golf is probably the worst because it defies what you want to do with your time: improving yourself by practicing something that you think is useful. If you are not a professional golfer, then you can’t possibly say golfing is useful. And as to improving your skills? It just doesn’t happen!
Another great mistake people make when they retire is that they give up their active income. There is nothing you will regret more—in terms of financial decisions—than to substitute passive income for an active one.
I can tell you this: Bringing in extra income is the single most important way you can get rid of debt and become wealthy within seven years. It is the surest way you can get out of the financial pickle you are in and enjoy a comfortable, worry-free retirement.
The Bottom Line
Being 60-plus years old is not a problem. It’s an opportunity. You are older now, and that means you should be wiser. You should be able to use that wisdom to make good choices (and some good money).
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