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Financial Difficulties in Retirement Can Put Your Life at Risk: Here's How to Avoid Them

By Christy Bieber – Jul 3, 2020 at 10:06AM

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Don't jeopardize your health.

As a retiree, taking care of your health is essential. But beyond exercising and eating right, there's something else that's equally important that you need to do: Aim to avoid financial problems. 

While at first glance you may not see the connection between your money and your health, the reality is there's a very strong one. In fact, according to a new study, recent financial difficulties were one of the leading factors most closely associated with death. 

Elderly man sitting alone at a table.

Image source: Getty Images.

Money troubles can put your life at risk as a retiree

Researchers from the University of British Columbia recently collected survey data from more than 13,000 adults in order to determine factors closely associated with death. In doing this research, they discovered that recent financial difficulties came in number four on the list, with only current smoking, divorce, and alcohol abuse more strongly correlated with mortality. 

While biological factors and medical conditions were excluded from the research, financial problems were more closely linked to death than smoking in the past, a history of unemployment, or low life satisfaction. 

Sadly, this is not the first study to produce evidence of the link between money problems and health issues. Past research has shown that large financial losses can increase the risk of dying by at least 50%, while financial problems have also been linked to an elevated risk of both high blood pressure and depression. 

It shouldn't come as a surprise that money issues can have physical effects. In fact, anyone who has ever worried about their financial situation knows this can be a major source of stress with obvious consequences for overall health and wellness. But such a close association between financial challenges and an increased risk of mortality gives current and future retirees yet another reason to build the nest egg necessary to avoid the damaging effects of financial insecurity. 

How to avoid financial difficulties that damage your health 

Protecting your health is just one of many reasons to make sure you're financially secure in your later years. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to do that, including:

  • Setting ambitious retirement savings goals early on in your career that take healthcare, inflation, and taxes into account. 
  • Automating your investments so you contribute to your retirement accounts regularly and maximize the chances of hitting your target number.
  • Investing smartly by minimizing fees and building a diversified portfolio.
  • Making sure you're really ready before retiring by assessing your spending and income and determining if you can live on what you have coming in. 
  • Saving up enough liquid cash in a high-yield savings account to cover several years of living expenses in retirement, so you're prepared not just for unexpected expenses but also for periods of prolonged economic downturn.
  • Choosing a Social Security claiming strategy that makes sense for your situation.

By completing each of these different steps, you can hopefully avoid the types of financial stressors that shorten your life. This should leave you both happier and healthier as a retiree, so it's well worth the effort. 

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