How to Have a Better Mid-Life Crisis

(Note: All calculations and charts rendered with OnTrajectory.com)

It doesn’t matter if you’re happily married or in the throes of a brutal, debilitating divorce. You may have been a conscientious saver, you may have formed wise money-habits – able to navigate narrow budgets with ease. But one morning you’ll wake up and feel the need to buy something – something stupidly significant and attention-getting, and in mid-life that can be expensive.

So, how do you choose which silly thing to buy?

boat

Since we’re talking about stupidity, simply opening your wallet for whatever flashy car/boat/jewel/timeshare catches your eye might seem proper, but there’s a better way to make such a massive and financially burdensome mistake. Because the question is not, can I afford it, right now, in this moment? Rather, the questions are these: What are the long-term effects of this bad decision? How much damage am I really doing? And most importantly, how can I minimize the damage while sating my urge to spend good money on what I don’t need (and will likely under-use)?

Now the tricky thing about a mid-live crisis is that it’s happening mid-life. These are your prime salary years and also when you have the most demands and commitments laid upon you. So even if you can afford the extra payment for whatever ludicrous purchase you’re itching to make – you should judge the impact not only against your 5-10 year plan, but also against the far future of your final years.

We’ll look at 2 scenarios which compare the impact of purchasing a 2016 Convertible Corvette versus a 2011 29′ Sea Ray Sundancer. Our individual has a previous baseline Trajectory concluding at age 90 with approximately $65,000 in assets. As you’ll see, he currently has a spouse, two children, two cars, a mortgage and various other expenses typical of “mid-life”.

The screenshot below illustrates the financial effects of purchasing the Corvette:

Midlife_Corvette

As you can see, the result is a $40,000 decrease in overall Trajectory to about $26,000. Note that we assumed use of the Corvette as a regular car, if a different “daily driver” was required, the financial impact would be considerably greater.

Now let’s look at the “boat scenario”:

Midlife_Boat

Although the monthly payment is lower (because one can finance a boat over a longer period of time) the financial impact is far greater. The first problem is that boats can’t be driven to work, so we’re including a car purchase at age 55. And since a 29 foot water craft doesn’t fit in most driveways, we have marina fees that continue until age 70.

In addition, our individual is projected to run out of cash around age 86, creating a shortfall > $90,000 by age 90. OnTrajectory calculates that to make up this shortfall about $100/month additional savings is required.

Of course these illustrations confirm the obvious – buying more expensive toys has greater financial impact. What OnTrajectory let’s us do is more easily quantify the destructive power we’re releasing on our “retirement years” – and, one hopes, help us make poor decisions slightly less poor, whether in a mid-life crisis or during any other period of our lives.

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