This Centenarian Has $5 Million Saved Up, And It’s All Down To A Very Simple Financial Tip

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Centenarian Orville Rogers has lived an incredible life, soaring through the skies as a pilot and breaking world records as a long-distance runner. Consequently, he has plenty of tips for living well and fruitfully – including a very simple way to build a retirement fund that can last for decades.

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Rogers’ life began on November 28, 1917, in Hubbard, Texas. His mother eventually moved him and his sister back to her hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma, when her husband left. And it was in the Sooner State that Rogers would first feel inspired to pursue a career in aviation.

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Rogers recalled to the Christian Index, “In the summer of 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis in a circle above our schoolhouse in Oklahoma.” Lindbergh had risen to fame that year after flying from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France, in his monoplane.

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Although Rogers was only nine at the time, seeing the famed aviator provided him with plenty of motivation. “That brush with greatness inspired me at an early age to reach for the heights and ignore the consequences,” he said.

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First, though, Rogers had to graduate from high school, and, after that, he began studying at the University of Oklahoma. There, he met his future wife, Esther Beth Shannon. “Beth was dating somebody else, but I was a very patient man. I set my sights on her and never gave up,” he said.

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Rogers earned his degree in mechanical engineering and graduated in 1940 – Beth followed suit in 1941. Although he then hoped to study at a seminary school in Fort Worth, Texas, duty soon called – Rogers was drafted to serve in World War II.

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Through his service in the Air Corps, Rogers transitioned from a flying cadet to a highly skilled pilot who trained others to serve and protect the U.S. during the war. Later, Rogers was drafted to fight in the Korean War, which gave him the opportunity to fly the B-36, a 10-engine plane built to hold an atomic weapon.

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Rogers had simultaneously succeeded on the homefront too. He and Beth married in 1943. And once he had completed his military service, he became a commercial pilot for Braniff Airlines, flying passengers until his compulsory retirement at age 60.

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Unable to fly commercially, Rogers continued pursuing his passion for flying in the cockpit of his personal airplanes until he turned 79. He told Money magazine, “I owned three different airplanes, and I enjoyed every one of them.”

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On top of that, Rogers had begun to run a decade before he reached his retirement, and he kept up with his routine after leaving his job. By the time he reached his 90s, Rogers decided to pound the pavement competitively.

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In March 2018 Rogers set a slew of records in 60-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter and 1,500-meter races. A few years before that, he “slaughtered the world record in the mile,” as he described it. A video of him winning the 60-meter dash at 98 – racing against a 92-year-old – went viral too.

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“Some people think I run because I can, but that’s backward. I can because I do,” Rogers said. His fitness regimen is likely one of the ways he reached his 100th birthday in November of 2017. However, he also credited his longevity to a healthy diet and his supportive circle of family and friends.

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To that end, Rogers and his loved ones celebrated his century of life in a very active way. His family – which included children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – gathered to run a collective 100 miles together, with Rogers leading the pack.

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Having led such an extraordinary life both before and after his retirement, Money magazine asked Rogers to give his tips for others preparing for the same phase of life. His advice covered his fitness regimen, attitude and financial standing.

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First, Rogers suggested that readers kick off their own exercise routines, regardless of age. He himself hadn’t started running until he turned 50 – after five decades of life, he read a book called Aerobics that inspired him to begin working out.

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The book, written by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, was the first to pitch the idea that regular aerobic workouts could boost or maintain a person’s health. Rogers said, “I read it and started running the next day”. As of October of 2018, he has logged an astounding 43,000 miles.

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Even as a centenarian, Rogers typically ran six miles each week– but that wasn’t the only key to his long life. On top of his fitness routine, he extolled the virtues of a positive outlook, which he admitted could be difficult to find as a person ages.

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Rogers has, of course, lost many friends and family members as he has climbed to 101 years of age. His wife, Beth, passed away in 2008, and one of their sons died while piloting a helicopter during the Vietnam War.

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After his wife’s death, Rogers moved into a retirement community, where he worked hard to build new relationships. “I’m making new friends, because if I don’t, I’d have none left,” he said. He also had his extended family to rely on for that sense of personal connection too.

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In fact, Rogers continued to make future plans with his kin, which included three children, 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. At the time of his interview with Money in 2018, he had already made plans for a family vacation the next summer.

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Most of all, Rogers woke up happy each morning because of his positive state of mind. “I’m enthusiastic about life,” he said. And on his 100th birthday in 2017, he shared a similar sentiment with ABC News. “How great it is to be alive,” he said.

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Rogers’ final piece of advice had to do with his financial standing. As previously mentioned, the former pilot and his wife had managed to donate huge sums of money over the course of their lifetimes in spite of his modest salary.

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Speaking to Christian Index, Rogers said that he had earned $1,550,000 through his career. But, at the same time, he and Beth had given away $34 million to many different organizations, including the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas.

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“I believe the only way we could have accumulated so much wealth was by giving it away,” Rogers said. But he also had a little trick of his own for those who wanted to save money like he did – in 2018 he still had $5 million squirreled away to get him through his retirement.

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According to Money magazine, Rogers began building his savings account at the age of 35, long before workers were encouraged to do so. In fact, 401(k) savings accounts didn’t exist in 1952, when he began putting money away.

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Instead, most workers at that time planned to use their pensions or Social Security payments post-retirement. Plus, life expectancies were lower – Rogers defied the odds, as most people born in 1917 like him lived an average of 48.4 years.

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So Rogers was unique in starting to save up for life after commercial piloting. To begin with, Rogers’s career meant that he spent a lot of time on the road and away from his family. So when he checked into hotels between flights, he used his time wisely.

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Rogers learned about the stock market and investment tactics by reading Forbes and The Wall Street Journal during his stretches away from home. He made investments that gave him and Beth the fortune that they were able to donate.

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It all started with an account with Merrill Lynch for Rogers. Surprisingly, though, he said he hadn’t put away huge amounts of money to see those dividends. He told Money that he hadn’t necessarily lived frugally, either – he had always given money to important causes and to his church.

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So what was Rogers’s secret for accruing millions of dollars, giving away the majority of his fortune and still having $5 million by the time he turned 101 in 2018? “The key to success in any investment is periodic investments over a long time,” he said.

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It’s true that saving into an account with compound interest will make more money with more time. As years pass, savings will accrue interest. Then interest rates will apply to the initial investment, plus cash earned from interest – and the savings will start to pile up.

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Experts agree with Rogers’ advice, especially now as the population is expected to contain eight times as many centenarians in 2050 as there are today. According to the Society of Actuaries, couples who are 65 today have a 50 percent chance that one of them will reach 92 years of age.

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There are plenty of reasons why the elderly population is living longer. For one thing, fewer people in the U.S. are succumbing to smoking-related maladies. On top of that, medical advances are extending lives and reducing the number of deaths by cancer, among other diseases.

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Although this is great news for the overall health of the population, it does mean retirement planning is more important than ever. Rogers is a prime example of this – he retired at 60 years of age and has had to cover his finances for more than four decades.

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The centenarian has been able to pay his expenses since then because of his hefty savings account, which still had $5 million in it as of October of 2018. On the other hand, most 60-to-64-year-old workers today have a mere $195,200 in their savings accounts, according to Fidelity.

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Experts told Money that that money wouldn’t last today’s retirees for decades, should they survive to be centenarians like Rogers. Tony James, the executive vice chairman of Blackstone, a private equity firm, said, “We’re basically in worse shape than we’ve ever been.”

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Considering people are living longer and longer, TD Ameritrade’s senior manager of retirement and annuities Christine Russell said, “We’re definitely suggesting that people look longer than 30 years.” In other words, savings goals should be calculated to cover life for upwards of three decades into the future.

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And one of the best ways to reach financial security is to start saving early, just as Rogers advised. On top of that, future retirees should look into investments and stocks, just as the former pilot had, to grow their savings further.

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Of course, financial planning isn’t always an easy task. And losing money to the stock market can be a tough pill to swallow. But Rogers had more advice on facing adversity for The Oklahoman that applies to just about any tough situation.

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“You must face the challenges that are before you and overcome them. I determined to keep plowing ahead,” Rogers said. As for the future, the 101-year-old had a simple plan for what was to come. “The objective in my life is to slow down as slowly as possible,” he said.

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