Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Retirement Budgeting --- Alcohol Really IS Medicinal

Picking up where I left off in last Saturday’s post: I had concluded that the cost of wine I drink alone will be categorized as “medical” in my retirement budget. My rationale was that it helps me deal with stress. It turns out, I’m on the cutting edge of medical thinking.

The September 20 issue of Time magazine reports on new research that suggests that alcohol consumption extends your life. You read me right. A 20-year study of 1,824 people showed that 69% of teetotalers died during the study, while only 41% of moderate drinkers did. (Heavy drinkers fell in between, with 60% dying.) Don’t panic. They were aged 55-65 when the study started.

These astonishing results led me to immediately increase my budgeted allocation for wine after I retire. The main reason I don’t drink more now is that I’m usually the driver. When we’re home more, I’ll be able to imbibe more. Knowing that it’s healthy is just added incentive, not to mention the possibility of a tax deduction.

Other ramifications of this study occurred to me as I read it a second time. The first was that I must get my husband on the vino wagon so that he’ll have a 28% greater chance of living longer, too. Jagdish has a bad reaction to the preservatives in most wines, especially so-called “affordable” ones. However, his system tolerates the pricier wines that we usually have at holiday dinners with my sister Barbara’s family. Since we’ll be living near them in retirement, I foresee many more opportunities to enjoy the good stuff.

This of course means revising my wine budget still higher, even more so because I’m not as likely to be drinking alone. This is probably good news, since the researchers surmised that the social interactions that usually accompany drinking are a factor in maintaining good health. Flash forward to visions of my brother-in-law, Bob, and me, relaxing in side-by-side lounge chairs, cradling our shared bottle of Barolo. Barbara and Jagdish are reading nearby, looking far more dignified and far less in their cups.

My husband, the non-drinker, was unexpectedly very interested in this study. “How do they define moderate?” he asked. The answer was a surprising 1 to 3 glasses per day. He followed this with “What size glass?” I said I assumed a typical size for the drink being consumed. Note to self: Buy larger wine glasses after retirement.

What had me scratching my head was the “per day” part. I would have guessed “per week.” If “1 to 3 glasses per day” is moderate, how much would I have to drink for it to be considered heavy?

The answer is immaterial. In order to afford even a moderate amount of good wine each day, I’ll have to let my hair go gray and give up professional haircuts altogether. This might be a sacrifice worth making, since I’m committed to improving my health after I retire. It also seems like the least I can do for my husband, my sister and my brother-in-law. I raise my wine glass: Alla famiglia!

No comments: