The Cost of a Mid-Life Crisis

How to Minimize Its Impact on your Pocketbook, Marriage, and Ego

The Cost of a Mid-Life Crisis
April 17, 2015

Few of us make it to retirement age without having some form of mid-life crisis. We hope that your crisis is a mild one – such as the sudden desire to learn the guitar (or worse, drums), which only affects you and those within earshot.

Others suffer the full-blown life-altering kind of mid-life crisis that influences them to quit their job and seek inner peace near the top of a mountain, or wherever they believe inner peace to be located.

One thing that very few people consider during a mid-life crisis is the financial cost of their actions (and we will stick with financial costs because other experts are better suited to discuss emotional ones). Perhaps if you take the time to consider the financial effects, you might redirect your angst into something less costly – and even come out ahead in the long run.

Let’s look at a few examples.

  • Fancy Car – Let’s say you have always dreamed of owning an impractically expensive sports car. It is easy to drop upwards of $100,000 if your tastes are expensive. You can blunt the effect of this purchase several ways.

    On the cheap side, buying your dream car used or in need of repair can save significant cash, assuming the repair costs don’t overwhelm the savings. You may even decide to try fixing it up yourself as a hobby.

    On the expensive side, treat it as an investment – as if you bought one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock (albeit stock that you can show off on the highway). Drive it just enough to massage your ego, and take care of it for future resale. Eventually, your mid-life crisis will subside, and if you have chosen the model well, depreciation will be minimal – and it could even appreciate.

  • Quitting Your Job – You have the right to question your career if you have no passion for it. If you know of a different job you would rather try, start a transition plan before you quit. Build up your savings, take the training you need, and set a goal for the change. Do not just quit spur-of-the-moment and expect things to work out.

    If your goal is unrealistic (you want to become a brain surgeon at age 50 with no medical training), redirect your goals by asking yourself what drives you to desire that unrealistic goal. Can you satisfy that inner drive with a more practical (and income-producing) path – or do you find it attractive just because it is an unattainable goal?

    You can direct a mid-life career crisis to achieve greater things – if you are honest with yourself and willing to plan accordingly.

  • Cheating On Your Spouse – Putting aside the emotional and moral issues, from a pure cost standpoint, the average clandestine affair costs $2,664 over a six-month period, according to a survey conducted by Vouchercloud.net. We sincerely hope that cost is not the only reason you would choose to stay faithful, but if it helps to make your decision, we are all for it.

    If your marriage is not what it once was, we guarantee you that cheating will not fix it. Take some constructive steps to fix your marriage (therapy, etc.). The costs will be sunk into something that is eventually more positive – either your marriage is improved or you can move on with a clear understanding and conscience.

    You will still have the expense of a divorce lawyer if things go south, but compared with a divorce after an affair, you are far more likely to have an amicable split (and keep more of your stuff in the process).

  • Bucket List Activities – Riding a motorcycle across the country, climbing a mountain, outrunning the bulls in Pamplona – you may be reaching a point in life where the items on your bucket list are unattainable. You may be right. Start planning now to attain the ones you still can.

    From a financial viewpoint, the mid-life crisis action should not be to do them immediately but to plan for them immediately. Think through the logistics of travel, insurance, and the other practical aspects, gather the cash (and vacation time) you need, and go for it (if it is still on your list after you think about it). You are less likely to require extra cash – or incur medical bills – with superior planning.

The key to almost all of these paths is planning. Self-evaluation is not a bad thing, and if it leads you to decide that you should make changes in your life, by all means, do so – but do it in a positive fashion. Then you can look back fondly at the day you identified your true calling – or at least engaged in new activities without hurting yourself or your loved ones.

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