Planning for retirement and a good chance you will live to 100

Wynand Gouws | 08 August 2022

Wynand Gouws is a Wealth Manager at Gradidge Mahura Investments who holds the Certified Financial Planner accreditation. He is the author of Life to 100.

Don’t get caught off guard by outliving your money because you thought you would never live to 80, 90 or even 100!

When planning for your retirement, it is essential to think about how long you and your spouse or partner may live.

Your best starting point is the history of longevity in family members – for both you and any partner. Then consider your health and lifestyle. If your family has a history of longevity – if your parents and grandparents lived long and healthy lives – there is a high probability that you may also live a long and healthy life.

No one can plan exactly how long they will live, as many things in our lives are outside our control. However, statistics show that people are generally living longer today than in the past. This can be attributed to continued advancements in technology and innovations in the field of medical treatment.

Increasing longevity

Over the past century, global life expectancy has increased by more than 25 years, and it continues to improve.

The Stanford Centre on Longevity recently stated that: “By the middle of this century, living to the age of 100 will become commonplace, continuing a remarkable trend that saw human life expectancies double between 1900 and 2000, increasing more in a single century than across all prior millennia of human evolution combined.”

Aubrey de Grey, a British biomedical gerontologist living in the US, believes that: “The first person to live to 150 has already been born.”

Even though these comments are based on the reality in developed countries, longevity is also a reality for you and me, living in South Africa, according to local mortality statistics.

Average retirement around 20 years

Based on South African mortality statistics (expectations on how long we will live) it is important to plan for living into your 90s and 100s.  A man aged 65 is expected to live on average to age 82, while a woman aged 65 is expected to live on average to age 87. 

It is also important to remember that these are the averages, and many of us will outlive this average life expectancy. For example, 25% of men aged 65 will live to 89 and 10% will live to 95 and beyond. Around 25% of women will live to 94 and 10% will live to 100 and beyond.


If you are part of a couple aged 65 there is a high probability that one of you will live into your mid 90’s and beyond, according to mortality data from retirement product provider Just South Africa.

Challenging retirement age

This continued increase in life expectancy is profound and should have a significant impact on how we think about life and retirement planning.

It also challenges the conventional wisdom that we should retire between the age of 55 and 65.

We need to rethink the traditional concept of retirement being a “line in the sand” at between 55 and 65. 

Instead we should reframe our thinking to consider starting our next life chapters at 55, 60 or 65, and to plan for multiple chapters for your life to 100.

Celebrate if you have a plan

The United Nations describes population ageing and increased longevity as a “human success story” that gives us a reason to celebrate public health, medical advancements, and economic and social development.

Population ageing has been recognised as one of the four global demographic megatrends, next to population growth, international migration, and urbanisation, which will have a lasting impact on sustainable development.

Longevity may be something we will celebrate if we can address challenges that come with it. One of them is financing it.

Celebrate that you may live a lot longer that you planned for! But also remember financial security starts with a sound plan for your life to 100.