An estimated 1.9 million people in the US in 2020 were diagnosed with cancer, and over half a million Americans die annually from cancer. For anyone that has witnessed a loved one battle cancer, it is one of the most challenging things in the world.
In many ways, there is considerable overlap in approaching tactics to prevent cancer and maximize retirement planning. While monitoring cancer and financial strategizing appear quite different on the surface, the same thought process and reasoning goes into both.
Our client FinDec covered this topic in their February webinar to talk about the differences and similarities between the two spheres were Janelle Wilkinson, the Senior Corporate Relations Manager from the American Cancer Society, and Raquel Morris, the Chief Operating Officer of FinDec.
FinDec’s Chief Investment Officer Tolen Teigen moderated the discussion. Here are some of the themes that were discussed.
The American Cancer Society and Their Aims
The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate life, and create a world without cancer. It is also the largest non-profit for funding cancer research. In addition to this, she explained that the organization provides education, advocacy, and family/patient services.
Janelle Wilkinson described that Americans should look into getting cancer screenings earlier than they think they should, because something easy like a screening can prevent cancer before it “happens” (or more precisely, before the problem develops into cancerous tissue).
Overlap Between Health and Financial Foresight
Tolen Teigen added on to what Janelle had described, stating that it was very similar to that of financial planning: middle-aged people who are asked if they think they properly prepared for retirement frequently note that they wish they’d started saving a lot sooner than they actually did. And just like avoiding financial disasters in the future, Janelle explained that cancer is preventable to some degree. Eating right, staying healthy, and not smoking are all things that contribute to lowering the risk of having cancer. Likewise, Raquel noted that planning for retirement early, asking lots of questions to clear up confusing situations, and being insured are all ways to lead a better financial life.
Unfortunately, COVID has led to a significant decrease in cancer screenings to make way for coronavirus relief and resources. Similar to the financial crash in 2007 (and similar to what happened in the early part of 2020), when there was a significant decrease in trust in the financial system and less people were investing in their future as they over fixated on the here and now. Just like how many Americans are extremely concerned about COVID, the real threats of cancer are temporarily being overlooked and that can have some serious long-term ramifications.
Looking Ahead to Best Prepare
People tend to procrastinate when it comes to planning for their 401k—much in the same way they wait to get cancer screenings. “When you don’t know about something, you’re more scared of it and you don’t want to talk about it,” said Raquel. When we have a complex or unseeable adversary or challenge in front of us, it’s hard for us to stand up and take action against it to better ourselves and those around us. Not having insurance increases the chances that cancer will be detected later in life when it is harder to combat; likewise, not having financial planning in place raises the chances of going into poverty at an elderly age.
Tolen also noted that cancer screenings are now free because of the Affordable Care Act so it doesn’t come out of pocket. Similar to budgeting, an individual has to do their fair share of financial research to prevent catastrophes waiting a few miles up the road. In essence, the best that one can do is take advantage of the resources available to them and, thus, plan ahead for the future — both in terms of financing your retirement and managing potential health risks.
Financial Decisions, Inc. is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the Commission nor does it indicate that the advisor has attained a particular level of skill or ability. The firm is not engaged in the practice of law or accounting.