Financial Mid-Life Crisis November 27, 2007Posted by pf in Expenses and Savings, Goals.
Midlife crisis is a term used to described a period of dramatic self-doubt that is typically felt in the “middle years” of life, as people sense the passing of youth and the imminence of old age. Sometimes, transitions experienced in these years, such as aging in general, menopause, the death of parents, or children leaving home can trigger such a crisis. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in core aspects of day to day life or situation, such as in career, marriage, or romantic relationships.
Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis are said to have some of these feelings:
- search of an undefined dream or goal
- a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
- desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
- need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
Although the descriptions above do not specifically emphasize personal finance, I think they are very much related.
Clearly, the feelings described above can happen at anytime in your life, but for some reason are perceived to be more prevalent during middle-age. I suspect that this may be due to some of the “settling” that often occurs in ones life during that time.
Think about it, throughout most of your 20s, many of us are going through college, getting married, buying a first home, having children, building a career, etc. New experiences and life “milestones” are constantly happening to you! As far as money is concerned, you are just starting to learn and build your finances…or in many cases within our country, learn very little and dig yourself a big hole.
In your 30s and 40s, most of us have been married for awhile, are slowing down or no longer having children, and our many of our careers have reached a bit of a plateau (at least not growing as quickly as in our 20s). Similarly, your finances may start to settle a bit as your income may not be rising as quickly as you would like. These situations may create ripe conditions for a “financial mid-life crisis” that can affect two typical types of financial situations:
1) In debt – you are in debt and trying to dig yourself out. However, since you aren’t making money hand over fist, the time to get yourself out seems very long, but the time and money to accomplish in seem increasingly short. Thinking about funding retirement and achieving other financial goals seem very distant when faced with the burden of debt
2) Steady progress – you have some debt (home, car, etc), but are not overly burdened by it. You make a solid income, but it has peaked a bit and you are not getting the huge promotions (and salary increases that come with it) with the same regularity. You have so many goals and aspirations, but realize you will be working for another 25-30 years yet before you are likely to achieve them…IF you can achieve them.
In the following article, Midlife Crisis, Stress and Depression the author discusses mid-life crisis and Carl Jung’s 5 phases of mid-life:
Again, the emphasis is not so much on personal finance, but they are clearly intertwined. If you think you are in a financial mid-life crisis, here are some things you can do:
- Recognize what you are going through and understand its underlying causes!
- Reflect on your financial “personality” and either accept it or make a firm decision to try and change those aspects which you do not wish to be a part of your financial life
- Find balance and be comfortable with your financial self! You can not change everything…but you can probably change a lot. In the end, however, you must integrate the good and bad aspects of your financial personality.
In the end, I think it is the process introspection and understanding about our financial selves that are important to navigating a mid-life crisis in your financial life.