DID YOU KNOW that the average 65-year-old American will live an additional 19.3 years? One in four will reach age 92, according to the National Center for Health. That can be good news for some people and bad news for others. Are you financially prepared to live to age 85?

Six years ago, Jonathan Clements, a financial columnist for the Wall Street Journal, thought back over his career and came up with five notions that he believes are indispensable for a happier financial life. If you are one of the average people planning to live a long life, you had best be a great saver, he said.

One thing Clements regretted about his career was the fact he had a long commute to work. Commuting stole countless hours that he would love to have back. Research suggests commuting is terrible for happiness. He views the long commute to a job as a classic trade-off you pay for a big house in the ’burbs. It’s a pact with the devil.

If you are an investor, Wall Street wants you to believe you can beat the market because market-beating efforts are a big money-maker for financial firms. But it rarely works out so well for investors because you will inevitably lag behind the market’s return.

Trading stock may offer an adrenaline rush and buying actively managed funds can allow you to dream of riches. Clements advised to put your ego aside and put your money in broadly diversified index funds with rock-bottom annual expenses. Those hidden annual expenses can really hurt you.

According to Vanguard Group, over a 40-year career, someone who invests 9% a year of a salary that starts at $30,000 into a balanced fund that charges 0.25% annually will save 20% more than if he or she pays 1.25% in fees.

Clements said a third of the money spent by the typical household goes toward housing. Add car payments and other transportation costs, and you’re at more than half. If you have trouble saving money, try to keep those two costs less than 50% of your income, especially in your early adult years.

The less you spend each month on housing, cars, utilities and other fixed costs, the less financial stress you’ll suffer. You’ll also have more money for discretionary “fun” spending, be in better shape if you lose your job and need less income to sustain your standard of living once retired.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College in Newton, Mass., calculated that 52% of working-age households are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living after they stop working. Making wise decisions at an early age will minimize the risk that your nest egg will expire before you do.

Clements believed money can buy happiness, but you have to spend with care. Use your spare cash for experiences, not possessions; pay for a family vacation, go to a concert, head out to dinner with friends.

But this also is the reason experiences can bring more happiness. We have not only the event itself, but also the anticipation before and the fond memories after. Those memories aren’t soiled by the messy reality of some object that gets dirty, breaks down, needs maintenance and is eventually, discarded.

And finally, if possible, never work just for a paycheck. The keys to a fulfilling life are spending our days doing what we’re passionate about, and our evenings with friends and family. The trick is finding a career that balances what makes us happy and also is lucrative enough to satisfy our needs.

Avoid the acquisition treadmill of bigger homes and better cars. Instead, save like crazy in your 20s and 30s. Do that and you could buy yourself the freedom to spend the rest of your life on your terms, rather than one dictated by car leases, credit card bills and mortgage payments.