My biggest piece of advice to young singles and young couples is: put half of each take home salary away. Married or not married, and I don't care how committed you are.
I know people who lose their house when one half of a couple is sick, and the other can't pay all the bills on one salary. We don't want to think about illness or cancer, but it happens. Young parents, with one very ill and the other with a job, children and a sick spouse. Having a reserve is way more important than keeping up with the Joneses, unless you happen to inherit like Mr. Trump.
If you each put half of your take home salary away, then when life throws surprises at you, you will have a reserve. A big reserve if the surprises hold off for a while. Divide that half into retirement and half into money that you have access to in emergencies.
I listed the top ten causes of death in the US in 2012 here, but lets look by age: leading causes of death by age group 2012.
From age 1 to 44 the top cause of death is accidents, unintentional injuries.
Suicide is second from age 15 to 44.
Cancer takes over as number one, malignant neoplasms, at age 45 to 65.
After 65, the number one cause of death is the heart, and that is where the biggest numbers are. But if a younger cause of death affects your family, it feels unfair, wrong, as if we all expect to like to age 78 or beyond.
Untintentional injury, that is, accidents, are broken down here: leading causes of injury deaths highlighting unintentional injury 2012. When I do physicals on teens, I ask them what the number one cause of death is for teens. They all know the answer, even if they have to think for a moment: motor vehicle accidents.
But lets look at accidents in the age 25-65 age group: poisonings. What? Poisoning? And NOT intentional.... what is going on there? It is drugs, legal and illegal, but more legal. Sedating drugs in combination are effective at sedating people enough to stop breathing and die. Alcohol with benzodiazepines (valium, ativan, etc.), opiates and opioids, sleep medicines such as ambien and sonata, withdrawal from methamphetamines, cocaine, crack....people die. And supplements may be contributing as well.
75 years of US mortality data: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db88.pdf#x2013;2010%20
At birth now in the US the life expectancy at birth is 78, but not everyone reaches that....some people still die younger and some live longer.
The age of death is rising, world wide. In the US, many of us have a world envied standard of living and yet we have a significant number of people who are anxious and depressed and way too high a rate of substance abuse, alcohol, opiates and opioids, benzodiazepines and yes, marijuana is addictive. How do I reconcile this? How do you reconcile this?
Keep your reserve, young singles and young couples.....
As of the day I am writing this on 5/2/16:
US figures for 2014 from the CDC, released 1/6/2016
ok, I totally misinterpreted THAT table. Total deaths in 2014 was a bit over 2 billion, not the entire USA population.....correction to follow....
Also published on my wordpress blog with a perty picture... https://drkottaway.com/2016/05/03/advice-to-young-people/
spiregrain adds: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/05/03/476636183/death-certificates-undercount-toll-of-medical-errors