Reflections And Advice From A Woman of a Certain Age

My 20s were about the here and now.  I didn’t keep a journal or blog (blogs didn’t exist…) and wasn’t much of a picture taker.  So other than a few random notes, letters and postcards, I don’t have a great record of my youth.
 
Turning 30 did not really hit me. I did not feel older. I didn’t have kids. I still got to sleep in on saturday mornings. I still made travel plans. 
 
My 30s were about bigger life changes. I took some classes for my career and made a major job change, for the better. I got more style savvy and comfortable in my own skin. I got married and had kids. I made a lot of New Year’s resolutions, bucket lists and goals. I did not gain fame and fortune and I was mostly okay with that.
 
Turning 40 has not really hit me.  I am tired but can’t blame this entirely on the big 4-0. I haven’t had youthful energy for quite some time. I don’t worry too much (yet) about gray hairs and aging skin.  I feel like it’s time to change styles again — not too old, not too young, and with more character yet classic (?)  I am not too worried about hitting a mid-life crisis because I think I’ll be too busy dealing with dirty diapers. A lot has not turned out as planned but I’m working on accepting that.
 
Since the assumption is that you’re older and wiser after a certain age, I am sharing advice that I would have given my younger self (not that I would really have listened back then).
 
In Your 20s
1) Live as close to work as possible: I did that for the most part until my late 20s/early 30s.  Now that I have a long commute, I really miss all that extra time. 
 
2) Travel: You don’t have to go into debt to finance a 4-star stay at a pricey resort.  Just save a few thousand, get your passport and get out of the country at least once in your life. Don’t wait until you’re too old to hike around.
 
3) Invest some time in your career: I did not do this and it shows in my career path.  I can’t say I regret it too much but it wouldn’t have hurt to read a few career articles and invest a bit in my professional appearance.
 
4) Start investing in mutual funds but watch for high fees: I didn’t even consider fees when I first started picking mutual funds. Big mistake. I later sold several funds and switched to no-load index funds. In most cases, the returns are not high enough to justify the fees.
 
In Your 30s
1) Have kids by early 30s (if you want any):  While your maternal or paternal instincts may not have kicked in, your body wants to know ASAP.  Don’t wait too long (like I did) because your energy level also tends to lag as you get older.
 
2) Save more money than you think is possible: The longer your money sits in a ROTH, IRA or other savings account, the more interest/returns you’ll earn and the more you’ll have in your golden years.  I did save but I wasn’t as aggressive in funding my accounts as I could have been, hence I’m trying to max out now.
 
3) Do good for the world: In your 30s, it’s common to get wrapped up with career, relationships and just life.  While family and friends are always priority, I think it’s also important to look outside those relationships and support other causes (environmental, political, etc..).  I have to follow my own advice on this one!
 
4) Be honest about working or staying at home:  This advice is mainly for women. When you calcuate whether working is worth it or not, don’t just factor in your current wages versus the costs of daycare, drycleaning and gas.  You need to factor in the lost opportunity – had you continued working, you would have probably earned more than your current salary through raises and/or promotions. You would have had more money to invest.  Plus you’ll likely earn less when you do return to work.
 
After doing an honest calculation, you may still want to stay home but don’t go into it without knowing the real numbers. Daycare is short-term but life is long!
What advice would you give to those younger than you? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from someone older?
 
A good post about turning 40: 
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9 responses to “Reflections And Advice From A Woman of a Certain Age

  1. I love this.

    And couldn’t agree more about commuting – this is currently the nicest area I’ve ever lived in and the closest I’ve ever lived to work (got sick of the one-hour one-way bus ride). Assuming I continue working in the central areas, my commute will only increase from here, as I refuse to live in a CBD hole of an apartment, and if we can ever afford to buy, it will be further out.

  2. This is fabulous and solid advice. I guess the only thing I could add would be (for my 20-something self): Calm down, everything’s gonna be fine; No One is Coming (you are your white knight) and Men Don’t Solve Anything; and for all ages–Movement is Life. So, get off your ass. (This has become my daily mantra. I wish I would have understood it long ago.)

  3. Love this. Especially 30’s, #4 – so often on blogs or in life I hear people exclaim things like “and i realized we’d SAVE money if I quit and stayed home with kids!” Sometimes it is true, but often it doesn’t take everything into consideration. Which is fine – it is still a valid life choice. Just don’t try to convince yourself (and me!) that it was a rational financial decision!

    I also like that kids were in the “30’s” bucket – all of my highschool girlfriends have had their first babies. And all little girls too! 30 is not too late!

    Also, just a polite blog request – would appreciate a full RSS feed rather than partial. I always request this because sometimes people don’t intend to have a partial anyway.

  4. SP — You know, after I posted this, I realized that many people do have kids sooner than 30! It’s just my circle of friends and family all seem to wait longer. However, I haven’t kept in touch with high school friends so most of my friends are from college or later in life.

    I’m not sure how to fix the RSS feed. I went into the wordpress widget and clicked “show content”.. hope that works!

  5. Pingback: Link love: Powered by Google calendar, and juggling acts « Musings of an Abstract Aucklander

  6. “Daycare is short-term but life is long!” – YES! Agree 100%.
    I am in my mid-20s but I struggle with the kids thing. How do you ever feel like you are ready for a kid or figure out when to fit a kid into the equation? Looking down my life plan for the next 5 years, I see marriage, business school, career transition, building career, travel… very little room for starting to have babies. But I also know that if I do want to have a kid, I should do it by my mid-30s (preferably early 30s) because of the biology / energy, and plus I don’t want to be a very old mom.

    • Well-Heeled – I think the problem is you’re never 100% ready and that biology, unfortunately, does not cooperate with career goals. Truthfully in my early 30s, I made an important career transition. Would I have been able to do that if I had kids? I may have the energy and determination to make it work but there is A LOT of discrimination against women with children. At the same time, I haven’t climbed high up the corporate ladder so I actually don’t think having kids earlier would have made have had too much effect on my career.

  7. Good sound wisdom; age is under valued in this society, more’s the pity. The only thing I would say here is that I think investing in the stock market is a gamble I’m loathe to make any more. I’ve invested money and seen two pensions crash and burn in two recessions. If I had my time again, I would have bought the house instead of getting the pension. I would be a wealthy woman right now if I’d have bought that apartment in Central London twenty years ago.

  8. Pingback: Fees, Fees, Fees | Oilandgarlic's Blog

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