In an article appearing in the Washington Post, Teresa Guilarducci suggests that saving expenses can be as valuable for retirement as saving and investing money. That statement is true only if people invest those savings instead of spending on something else.

Anyway, this article seems unnecessarily cruel. Guilarducci uses the hook of Thanksgiving dinner: an extra piece of pecan pie can lead to diabetes (if it’s part of an overall pattern of overeating, she’s careful to say). And people with diabetes spend $3470 extra per year in medical costs, for a total of “nearly $160,000.” She doesn’t say if that’s before or after insurance kicks in. That’s 46 years x $3470. I don’t know how she gets that number. When did the extra expenses kick in? How long will this 55yo diabetic live? After a certain number of years, she’ll be dead, with zero medical expenses

Then the article says diabetes is ” largely preventable by eating right and staying active…”
True: many people have managed to avoid diabetes with diet and exercise. But for some it’s hereditary and there’s nothing that can be done. Additionally, getting access to “eating right” and exercise can require a certain level of income.

Ghilarducci then tacks on an extra warning to “take your medicine.” She’d do well to note that a high percentage of prescriptions are not necessary and may even be harmful.

The real culprit is the notion of retirement. I’ve written about this elsewhere. After a certain age (which can be as low as 45 in some industries) ageism takes over. It becomes difficult or impossible to get a job at market rates. Freelancers experience discrimination when it comes to referrals for gigs. Not everyone wants to retire.

Secondarily, the health care system makes it hard to refuse treatment, even with advance directives. You should be able to make decisions that will be binding even if your human proxy can’t be reached. You should be able to choose to die rather than face years of misery in a poorly staffed institution, where there’s a 25-40% chance of being abused.

Fifty-five is still on the young side. When you get to be in your seventies and eighties, not much will affect your all-cause mortality. Have another piece of pie and add the ice cream.