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1,000 Days at a Time

John Yeigh

THREE YEARS AGO, I wrote an article suggesting I had 7,000 days to go, at least according to the Social Security Administration’s life expectancy calculator. The 1,000 days since then represented a significant 14% share of my remaining actuarial life.

The good news is, the Social Security calculator now estimates that my life expectancy is about 6,400 days. I’ve enjoyed 1,000 days of life but only used up 600 days of life expectancy. That’s like a 40% return on life over the past three years. Unfortunately, this math is doomed to the law of diminishing returns. Like fellow HumbleDollar scribe Dick Quinn, I’m counting down the days.

So, what happened over those last 1,000 days? Lots.

Our daughter got married, our son graduated from college and bought his first home, and we moved to be nearer to both children. We lost several close family members and the best hiking dog ever. I added a few creaks to my aging body and soul. Retired life is mostly good, and going as anticipated.

We purposefully sampled several new-to-us life experiences, many of them pandemic-era additions to our bucket list. We went deep-sea fishing twice, tried fly fishing once, and took up wake-boarding and wake-foiling with varying success. We rented five different mountain cabins for a total of seven weeks, chartered a catamaran in remote islands, rented a lake camp for two weeks, and hiked in 10 more national parks. Per the modern senior mandate, we also sampled pickleball.

These fresh adventures were all outdoors, often in isolation, usually inexpensive and always undertaken with family or close friends. All were enjoyable, though I learned that fly fishing is not my gig.

The outside world has seemed stressful, what with COVID-19, the Ukraine war and far too much polarization. But except for COVID, such issues didn’t directly affect my daily life. Still, today’s constant and unhealthy barrage of negative news is tough to ignore, no matter what the media source. Avoidance is the only remedy.

Financially, it’s been a rollercoaster ride. Our wealth is still modestly ahead of where it stood 1,000 days ago, even after accounting for COVID, a major house purchase, three years’ expenses and the recent stock market decline. After the raging bull market—followed by the current bear market—stock values have mean-reverted until they aren’t far off their historical averages.

My takeaways from the last 1,000 days suggest that I focus on five objectives over the next 1,000 days:

  • Do it now, because our days are numbered.
  • Make the most of family connections as family is forever. Give ’em a hug at every opportunity.
  • Head outdoors because nature nurtures us, plus there are no media outlets there.
  • Avoid obsessing over things beyond our control. The perfect answer will almost always elude us. As an obsessive engineer, this is the objective I find most challenging.
  • Stay healthy, as everything else hinges on it.
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