Poverty at 40 is Not Cool

When I was 20 years old, somehow I lived off $50 a week and still managed to eat, go out and mingle with the ladies. I probably managed this because – other than my own education – I had few responsibilities, shared a tiny shack with roommates and mooched off various people.

Now that I’m in my 40s I often joke that I make much more money but have much less to show for it.

The truth is I earn a decent paycheque and have a lot to show for it: a house, car, kids, savings, etc. I am doing things I could not have done during my sardines-on-toast-eating 20s.

Let’s look at this another way. How would I be living today if I had the same income as I did in my 20s? 

I’d probably be living exactly how I did in my 20s: sharing a small apartment, no car, likely alone. 

Maybe I’d have a sugar-momma, because that’s probably the only way I could afford anything beyond peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. But what kind of sugar-momma material is a 40-something year old, balding guy with a little extra cushion? This is why I think most sugar-mommas cut off their boy toys at age 30.

Poverty at 20 is cool and artsy. That’s what we all reminisce about. We had nothing, yet we had it all. We had newfound freedom and were discovering life. Our curiosity and the value and energy of youth made up for whatever we lacked. Plus, most of our friends were in the same boat.

Poverty at 40, however, is a very different story. It’s no longer edgy, it’s no longer grassroots, it’s no longer artsy. The broke people who surrounded you in your 20s have grown up, built careers and saved money. Not everyone becomes a Rockefeller, but flat broke at 40 is just sad. Perhaps this is for good reason, as it signifies a lack of foresight and discipline. Even people pursuing the most noble of causes have bills to pay and want to enjoy the occasional nice restaurant meal.

If you’re reading this and you are in your 20s, picture your life in a decade or two. Picture where your friends will be. Ten bucks says they will have done something with their lives. They did this by working hard on themselves – even though they claimed they enjoyed SPAM as their primary source of protein. I suggest you invest heavily in your brain and body. Because you’re going to need at least one of those things when you’re my age.

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