While there is no exact definition of a “midlife crisis,” it usually occurs among men and women who are in their 40s and 50s. While some people can gracefully accept getting older, others cope with it quite differently, sometimes engaging in irrational, age-inappropriate and potentially expensive behavior. This can include engaging in risky youthful behavior, dating younger people or having an affair, and making costly purchases in order to feel “young.” While getting older can be scary, it’s important to be smart about how you cope with the natural phenomenon to make sure you don’t end up broke. Here are some costly midlife crisis behaviors that you should avoid.
Buying New Things on Whim
If you suddenly decide you need to buy something that is very expensive because you think it will make you feel better, stop and think it through. One of the most common expenses among men during a mid-life crisis is a new sports car, according to Accounting Degree Review, an independent and objective resource for accounting and finance students. According to the group, the most popular sports car is a Ferrari 250 GTO, with a peak price of $15 million. Other big expenditures might include a motorcycle, a speedboat, or new exercise equipment in your home. Before making any purchases, try to think rationally about whether you need it, and more importantly, whether you can afford it. A few feel-good rides in a shiny new red convertible aren’t worth going bankrupt.
Even if you can afford such a large expense, you still need to consider the opportunity costs. For example, if you spend your money on a new car, you will be putting less or none away in your savings or retirement fund. Or maybe you could be putting that money away for your children’s college education.
Leaving Your Job
Quitting your job is another example of a major opportunity cost. Many people decide to leave their job during a midlife crisis, hoping to pursue other interests that might make them happier. While this is a worthy cause, it’s irresponsible to just quit a job without coming up with a financial plan. Leaving your job means you are forgoing a stable income. For a job that pays $75,000, that’s around the same cost of a nice car. Not only are you losing potential earnings, but you will also have to spend money to support yourself and your new hobbies. You may have to dip into your retirement savings. Instead of just quitting your job, look into other employment options. Check to see if your company will allow you to take a sabbatical or unpaid leave. That way, you can have some time off to reflect, and if you decide it was a mistake, you will have the option of going back to your old job. If you have a long-term plan of eventually leaving your job and have saved enough money and planned appropriately, then you should follow your plans. But you should not just quit your job on a whim without first considering the financial implications.
Botox or Plastic Surgery
Many midlife crises are caused by fears of aging or fears of losing attractiveness. People going through a midlife crisis may try to solve these fears with Botox, hair replacement therapy or plastic surgery. According to the Accounting Degree Review, the average cost of Botox, which is common among men and women, ranges from $200 to $400, depending on the number and price of units. The results typically last from three to four months. Among women, breast augmentation is a common “remedy” to a midlife crisis. The average cost is $3,700, depending on the procedure.
A person going through a midlife crisis may start engaging in risky behavior that they may view as adventurous in order to recapture their youth. Some of these activities, like skydiving, parachuting or driving fast in a new car or motorcycle, are costly already. But a more serious consequence of such behavior is possible injury and the resulting medical bills.
Having an Affair
Believe it or not, having an affair during a midlife crisis can really cost you—both financially and emotionally. Expenses of an affair can add up in the form of hotel bills, buying dinner and drinks, paying for other types of dates, airfare if it’s an out-of-town affair, and gifts for your paramour. Other large expenses might also include paying for a secret apartment, an abortion or costs to support a love child. And if your affair is found out, it could cost you even more if it leads to a divorce.
Whether it’s the outcome of an uncovered affair or the result of other irrational behavior, a midlife crisis can sometimes lead to a divorce with your spouse. In addition to being a very sad and stressful situation, it can also be very costly to pay for legal fees and to split up assets. The average cost of a divorce is between $15 and $20 thousand dollars.
The Costs of These Costs
There are further costly implications of having a midlife crisis. Making irresponsible spending decisions on these lavish purchases can lead to excessive debt. This can be hard to pay off, and will also cost extra in interest rate costs. Even more damaging, racking up a mountain of debt can end up harming your credit score.
How to Avoid a Midlife Crisis
Make sure you don’t waste your money on a midlife crisis and do everything you can to avoid engaging in costly behavior. Since the crisis is often fueled by fear of aging and losing attractiveness, you could start to make it a habit to exercise and eat healthy. Doing so will help you keep your shape and live longer.
Another common cause of a midlife crisis is a fear of not fulfilling one’s dreams. Make sure you don’t wake up one day questioning whether you have lived up to your potential. Set goals now and try your best to work toward them. Think about what makes you happy and make sure you have that in your life. Put your family first and maintain your friendships. Keep your mind engaged by continuing to learn as you grow older. Read books, develop new skills and find new hobbies. Make sure you are spending and saving wisely so you can avoid financial struggles. And most importantly, don’t fight change. Embrace it.