It’s said that men make a midlife crisis purchase around the age of 47. I can attest that this is a completely accurate statistic at my house. My husband has been jonesing for a convertible sports car for the past 10 years. Today, at the age of 47, his dream came true.
The most common age that Americans expect a midlife crisis to happen is between 45 and 49, the second most common age range being between 50 and 54 years old. However, it can happen at an even younger age, between the age of 35 and 44, and it’s not only men who go through a midlife crisis—it’s actually more common in women.
The definition of a midlife crisis is an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age. The most common cause of a midlife crisis among all age groups is feeling a lack of purpose or direction in one’s life.
Midlife crises are expensive and can ruin you financially. Before draining your savings and/or your retirement accounts to splurge on expensive vacations, cars or plastic surgery, ask yourself, can I afford it? If your answer is no, then you may want to consult a therapist to help you better understand what you’re feeling in this season of your life. Therapy is an inexpensive coping mechanism.
Responding to feelings of dissatisfaction about where you are in life with expensive purchases may help you cope with your situation in the short term but won’t make your life better in the long run. Instead of feeling invigorated, your purchase may create financial stress in your life, compounding your feelings of dissatisfaction.
Staples of midlife crises cost money and a lot of it. Before you splurge on a new car, boat, motorcycle, extravagant vacation, plastic surgery, or designer clothing, think of what else you can do with that money. Can you put it toward long-term financial goals that you have actually thought through rationally with your partner and/or financial advisor? Some saving goals to think about are a down payment for your dream home, saving for retirement or helping your children with their college costs.
Rather than splurge, turn a midlife crisis into an opportunity to examine where you are financially and take steps to reach your savings goals. Meet with your financial advisor to see if you are on track to ensure a comfortable retirement. If you have debt, pay off what you owe. Lastly, if your job is the cause of your midlife crisis, consider a career change. While you might feel “old,” it’s never too late to do something that is more emotionally and financially rewarding.
Statistically, the number one way to cope with a midlife crisis is to buy a new car, so it looks like my husband is completely normal. Thankfully, his splurge was well thought out and discussed with me—and he paid cash!