Is Personal Finance Suppose to Make You Old?

The other day I was doing an interview and discussing a few items in regards to personal finance and during the wrap up where the reporter was getting all my details: name, location and age.  She paused slightly when I mentioned my age, turning 32 in a couple of months.  At first I couldn’t figure out why the pause then I wondered if personal finance suppose to make you old?  Hence my age would be slightly surprising.

Typically youth is associated with a lack of responsibility while older people are suppose to be more responsible.  This of course is a gross over simplification of the situation.  I’ve met exceptions to both ends of the spectrum.  Yet I do think there is a bit of truth about my question.  Personal finance (PF) does tend to result in people acting a bit more responsible hence the expectation of people that you are older.

By learning about PF you tend to start to think about the longer term issues such as paying off your mortgage earlier, saving for retirement or putting something away for your kids education.  You also learn about delayed gratification and not spending more than you earn.  In some regards learning about the PF essentials is a bit boring, but very valuable information to have.

The result of all this is I tend to have conversations with anyone and everyone on money.  I can discuss pension concerns with the nearly retired and equally feel comfortable talking to younger people who are still looking for the get rich quick program (which does exist, but no one wants to admit it typically takes decades so ‘quick’ is misleading).  So the end result is I think some people who never see me face to face expect me to be a bit older than I am.

This odd expectation is completely fine with me.  Financially speaking I likely have more in common with the average 42 year old than my actual age (house will be paid off in the next two years and I have a comfortable $100,000 nest egg started).  So the mistake is actually somewhat true on a purely numbers game.  Yet really that is the point of this blog.  I want to be financially old and trapped in a young person’s body when I retire at around 45.

If people want to think I’m older, the go right ahead.  I’ll take it as a compliment.

4 thoughts on “Is Personal Finance Suppose to Make You Old?”

  1. You hit the nail on the head when you said “gross over-simplification.” As an example, I was very immature in my teens and twenties. Between traveling, being a student of life and having a major health scare, I matured a lot around age 30. Even though I used to be young for my age, I know feel old for my age, to the point that I think age is irrelevant.

    One interesting point, is the difference between advising couples who are in their 20s and advising couples in their 40s or 50s. Typically, when meeting with young people, I find they have no vision of their future and very few long-term plans. It also seems as though they haven’t yet realised that their life is entirely what they make of it. Middle-aged couples seems to have a clearer vision of the future, but many still seem to feel trapped by their life.

    It’s refreshing to interact with someone who has long-term plans and has taken control of their destiny, so to speak.

  2. I love the comment, “I want to be financially old and trapped in a young person’s body when I retire at around 45.”

    I gotta remember that one. I think you’re right in that there seems to be an expectation that you need to be older in order to have attained success in investing responsibly. You’re a great example that clearly demonstrates that this is not always the case.

    Nice post.

  3. I think that most people in their early 30s are still trying to figure things out and haven’t put much thought into the future. I tend to not talk about money around my friends too much because they’re goals (normally for buying certain things) are significantly different then my goals (saving large amounts of money to leave the workforce early).

  4. @Dave- I agree. My wife and I are in our mid-thirties and most friends are still trying to figure things out. Many don’t think the TFSA is a good thing; is an example.

    @45 – I loved this post. I too, am finding I am counselling family (parents) which can be difficult because their goals, or lack thereof, are certainly different than mine. There is no doubt that “personal finance (PF) does tend to result in people acting a bit more responsible..”, that doesn’t mean you need to be boring or old!!!

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