I used to spend way too much time obsessing about my looks. Honestly, I spent most of my life believing that if I didn’t stay young and attractive then I wouldn’t have much else to offer the world. Sad, huh? Unfortunately, I am not the only one who has carried around this kind of thinking. In fact, in 2012, Time estimated that over 6 billion Botox injections had occurred! Yikes! The crazy part is I’ve recently learned that this fear of growing old was actually keeping me poor. Not because I spent money on costly procedures to enhance my beauty and/or keep me thin. It actually goes a lot deeper than that.
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Photoshop and filters, oh my!
It’s no secret that the beauty industry has majorly impacted the way we view ourselves every day. Not only is every photo we view highly Photoshopped and airbrushed, but now, thanks to filters on social media, we can be airbrushed one tap of our finger.
I’m guilty of choosing the #filter over #nofilter because frankly the skin and eyelashes on those filters are amazing.
While these filters are flattering, all of these tweaks and changes leave so many people staring into the mirror dreading each new wrinkle and grey hair. What no one seems to tell us is that there are a lot of benefits that go along with aging and creating plans for the future.
Longing for Longevity
By nature, I am a person who loves to accumulate knowledge. A good portion of my younger years spent this talent soaking up all the best ways to be skinny while still having a nice butt. #priorities –ammI right?
These books are designed to teach women specifically how their bodies work, how to take care of them and how to love life (and food) while you do it.
One major thing I learned from The Longevity Book was that middle age for women used to be the end of life.
Our ancestors were lucky to make it to 40. Now middle age is often viewed as a massive inconvenience.
Your fear of growing old is shortening your life
This fear of wrinkles and old age has lead to a lot of people living in a state of panic when it comes to the aging process.
The funny thing is, those who embrace growing older get the chance to live an average of 7.5 years longer! That means more laughter, more memories, more chances to travel. It means more of everything.
So what am I getting at here?
The big problem with the fear of aging means most people are spending their time trying so hard to make time stand still and that can lead to serious repercussions in life. Especially when it comes to learning to manage your finances and plan for the future.
Taking notes from the animals
In the animal kingdom, they don’t often worry about aging or what’s to come. They simply prepare for it.
Of course, there are many great things that make us stand out from the animal kingdom, but our anxiety about the future isn’t one of them.
You don’t see a squirrel kicked back chowing down on nuts and seeds with the hashtag YOLO carved into the tree behind them. No way, man. They are scurrying around, staying busy and planning for the winter ahead. Yet, they really seem to have lots of fun. Jumping from tree limb to tree limb, running on telephone wires and occasionally cheating death with a fun game called, “Don’t Be Roadkill.”
Statistics say, you’ll get old anyway
The human kingdom lives a little differently than animals for the most part. For some, the future means fear, anxiety, and worry. When we don’t know the outcome of a situation, we can drive ourselves totally crazy. That’s why it’s so important that we plan for the things we do know are going to happen.
We do know that in 2014 there were an estimated 46.2 million people over the age of 65 living in America.
Yes, life will be cut short for some, but the truth is most people will make it to retirement. Even worse, of those who make it to retirement, most will do it with insufficient funds.
This means, in old age, when people should be allowed to kick back and relax and breeze through life, most people are having to cut back, trim the fat or continue working to get by.
The truth about debt in retirement
Right now, the average American household carries $137,063 of debt.
The average credit card debt is around $5,000 and actually jumps to $6,000 for those aged 65 and older.
So for the people who are reaching retirement age, not only are they retiring with less money saved, but 3/4 of Baby Boomers are still actually owing money by the time they retire. Yikes.
So what about the people who embrace old age and live 7 years longer? Are they doing it with 7 more years of debt?
Why Your Fear of Growing Old is Keeping You Poor
A study conducted at Stanford University found via MRI scans that some people when prompted to think about their future selves had their brains react as though they were thinking about a total stranger.
This makes sense, since we don’t know who we are going to or what we’re going to look like, but the truth remains that we will still be ourselves.
Then there was another group of people who saw their future selves as part of themselves. For this group, an entirely different part of the brain was activated.
So, what significant difference did this make for each of these groups of people?
The second group, those who were more connected to their future self, were better at delayed gratification. They were better able to delay gratification because they didn’t see it as withholding anything from themselves. They understood that the delay would still allow them to benefit in the future.
To take the study even further, they looked at people around the age of 54. It was noted of each person’s savings, how they manage their finances, their total wealth as well as all their assets. No surprise, those who related to their future selves more closely, found themselves in a significantly better financial state.
Take off the filters!
So what happens when you give people a visual aid?
Another study by Stanford decided to do more than leave their future selves to their imagination. Instead they created avatars that looked like each study participant. Some were given a young avatar, resembling the person at their current age, a separate group was given avatars that looked like them but were aged to be about 68 years old.
These two groups were then asked a series of financial questions.
Some dealt with the ethics of making money and others were more focused on building savings and managing finances.
The group that was given the visual aid of themselves at the age of 68 chose to create a savings plan that was 30% larger than those who saw themselves only in the present time.
These studies just go to show the more you embrace old age and connect to your future self, the better off you and your finances will be.
How to embrace growing old and build wealth in the process
So what can you do now to try and help improve your financial situation? How do you connect more with your future self if and enhance your ability to withhold gratification?
I have taken some ideas from my own experience, from The Longevity Book as well as another book about delayed gratification called, The Marshmallow Test.
- Keep a healthy diet and exercise – Creating a healthy diet and exercise plan allows you the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life. More than that, studies have shown a significant link between a healthy diet and exercise and an improved mental state. So not only might you start slimming down and feeling great physically but you could see a reduction in your anxiety, stress and depression levels as well.
- Get sleep and plan your dreams – Just like diet and exercise, getting a good night’s rest can all around improve your body’s physical and mental health. On top of that, try planning your dreams before you doze off. Dream of a bright future. Dream of traveling without financial worry. Plan your future in your head and then take those good thoughts into your dreams!
- Laugh – Yes, please! Laughter really is the best medicine. It takes your mind off worrying and stress and actually improves the quality of your cells.
- Spend time with the elderly – I know so many people who are uncomfortable with “old people.” Personally, it
has always brought me so much comfort. There is so much beauty in listening to their stories and learning from them. Get comfortable with wrinkles and life after retirement. It can only serve to benefit you and your finances!
- Make a list – How have you improved in the last 10 years? Don’t focus on your body, but on your accomplishments. What new things have you learned? What major life lessons. If things are rough for you right now, make a goal list and get organized on how to improve your current situation.
- Love what you do – Enjoying life is a lot easier when you feel like you are living on purpose. If you don’t feel fulfilled at work, take time to think about your life’s passion. What can you do to make work feel enjoyable?
- Find frugal people – If you need help to manage your finances, then spend time with people who are good at this already.
- There’s an app for that – Having a tough time picturing yourself as an old person? Have some fun with it and try out the Aging Booth app. Here’s me at apparently 60! (I kind of feel like I won’t be in this rough of shape…but ya never know. I did do a lot of sunbathing when I was younger.) Get the Aging Booth App.
Start planning today
If you are worried about the financial shape you’ll be in when you hit retirement, then it’s crucial that you get started right away! If you have no idea where to start, you can take advantage of some of my free helpful budgeting and finance posts or take advantage of my Fun Sized Budget Bundle and I also recommend opening a Savings Builder account with CIT Bank.
The Savings Builder account only requires $100 per month and will pay you 2.45% in interest! That means if you save $100 minimum for the next 30 years, you will have $53,298 in the bank. Open a Savings Builder.
Keep in mind, $53,000 is not enough money to retire on. Not by a long shot. While saving the bare minimum of $100 per month, I also recommend paying off debt, planning sinking funds and living life on a budget.
Here are some helpful posts to get you started.
- Pay off $6,000 of Debt with the Snowball Method
- Sinking Funds. Tips for Beginner Budgets and Debt Payoff
- 38 Things You Might Not be Budgeting for but Should
- What to do When Budgeting Goes Wrong
Remember this quote: “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightengale
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