How Old Are You Financially?

by Kelly · 14 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

How old are you financially? A baby? A toddler? A child? A teenager? A young adult? Mature? A senior citizen? It’s not about how old you actually are, but rather how you act that determines your financial age. Here are how I see the different financial ages.

A financial baby has no knowledge of his finances, nor of any personal finance principles. A baby relies on others for everything: bill paying, checking, savings (if he has any that is) and any interaction with the outside world.

A toddler is characterized by her interest in the world… and her full scale temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. So a financial toddler is interested in learning about her finances, but wants to do it her way. Right now. She’ll pay full price for something shiny and pretty, but lose interest in it a few hours later.

One thing I notice about children is that they have quite grasped the concept of delayed gratification, even though they’re learning about it. A financial child will want to buy something now, but might be able to put it off for a day or two. During that time however, all he’ll talk about is what he’s going to buy, and all he’ll do is rub his shiny new pennies together.

Teenagers are on the cusp of independence but haven’t quite gotten there yet, much like toddlers but only bigger. Prone to mistakes and stubbornness, they’re very into doing things their way, but aren’t interested in hearing any words of wisdom from their elders. This means reinventing the wheel with each financial transaction and living through mistakes that might not have been necessary had they listened to the advice of others.

A young adult is learning her way around things. First job, starting out financially, beginning to contribute to retirement accounts. Might also have a first credit card, car loan and the all important student loans as well. Lots of expenses are part of the ‘latte factor’, disposable purchases that still eat up an important chunk of the budget.

A mature adult has her ducks in a row. Sensible spending patterns? Check. Saving for the future? Check. Earns more than she spends? Check. Check. Check.

Finally, a senior citizen is more conservative in his approach. He spends his time looking for a bargain, possibly even more for the thrill of the hunt than out of necessity. He doesn’t necessarily feel the need to have the latest and greatest model that is released, on the other hand, if he has expensive hobbies, he’s well able to afford them.

I’m 19 financially. And you?


1 Lucie @ Unconventional Origins November 26, 2008

This is great! I think I am between a teenager and a young adult – so I must be around 19 too!

Man, I need to grow up 🙂

Lucie @ Unconventional Origins´s last blog post..Raising Conscious Children: When Your Family is Uncomfortably Unconventional

2 Emma November 26, 2008

Kelly, you’ve done it again – an amazingly structured breakdown of the various spending habits. And a really enjoyable post. To your question, financially speaking, I am one of those boring senior citizens, I must be a 100 years old 🙂 I am not easily impressed with all the innovations and can hold my horses until they are on sale. The only thing that “rejuvenates” me is shopping for my son or buying gifts for close friends 🙂

Emma´s last blog post..Childproofing – locks that do work

3 CC November 26, 2008

I’m with you. Around 19. can I be that age in real life too???? 😉

CC´s last blog post..Where is Super Woman?

4 Endorphins November 26, 2008

I'm a young adult in my finances, though I like to think I've got it a little more together than that due to my savings habits. My husband is a senior citizen. That is so funny on so many different levels. LOL

<abbr>Endorphins´s last blog post..Protected: Unheard</abbr>

5 Kelly November 26, 2008

Thanks Emma!

As for the others- we’re a whole bunch of teenagers here… anyone want to sneak out after curfew?

6 Crystal November 27, 2008

Add me to the teenagers, I think I’m coming in around 15 lately. Which is to say I think I know everything, but that’s only because I don’t know how much I don’t know.

The only reason I’m even self-aware enough to label my immaturity right now is that I was doing better for a while, definitely a young adult. It’s easier to be mature when there’s “enough” money. Ah, the good old days. My husband has become such a toddler and I get to where I resent his frivolous spending when I’m sacrificing diligently and now I find myself regressing as if his bad spending somehow justifies my own. Tsk, tsk. I guess that’s why I’m always finding my checkbook grounded again, lately.

Crystal´s last blog post..Losing Sleep

7 Coupon Artist November 27, 2008

I suppose I’m a senior citizen trapped in a young adults body, lol. I don’t like to spend money and I definitely chase a bargain, but I have quite a mass of student loan debt, so I’m well able to afford nothing 🙁

8 Early Retirement Extreme December 1, 2008

Okay, this was a funny way of seeing it. I guess I’m 60 (at least, that’s what my parents keep telling me). Why chase bargains when you can sit and wait for them to come to you?

Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog post..The best Xmas ever

9 Chelo Marroquin December 4, 2008

Great perspective!!!

Chelo Marroquin´s last blog post..Week in Review: 11/17/2008

10 Funny about Money December 8, 2008

LOL! I think I’m in my second toddlerhood!

Funny about Money´s last blog post..Monthly budget updated; enforced “retirement” planned for

11 Eden December 8, 2008

Nice! I guess I’m a toddler, but I think I have the potential to skip a few stages as I am finally getting my act together. 🙂

Eden´s last blog post..Weekly Web Favorites: Crazed-Consumerist Edition

12 Becky December 11, 2008

I want to say that financially i’m my real age (23). I’m proud that i’m a lot more responsible than others my age. I guess it depends on who you compare yourself to. We don’t spend a lot, but we also don’t pay for our own cell phones, health insurance, DH’s auto insurance (the car also belongs to his parents), and don’t have retirement accounts. No 401k offered and IRA’s require a lot of money to justify the fees. However, our friends, of whom we’re the youngest (save for the children of said friends) spend more than we do on coffee and such. We only go to Starbucks on a gift card and Redbox with free codes. We occasionally go to the dollar theatre, but the internet has plenty to watch for free. We are still largely living off of Target gift cards from our wedding for groceries and supplies.

I think we’ll grow up a bit more once DH finds a steady job. Stupid economy.

Becky´s last blog post..Mid-Week PSA’s

13 The Happy Rock December 12, 2008

I am probably in my mid to late thirties which is a little higher than my age. No debt except a mortgage, control of our spending, solid savings, good income.

The analogy is thought provoking though.

The Happy Rock´s last blog post..My Finances and Saving System With ING Direct

14 Value For Your LIfe December 13, 2008

Very creative Kelly! My large student loans, yet sensible spending patterns have me rapidly agingl from young to mature adult… my hair is even starting to gray early 🙂 Yikes!

Value For Your LIfe´s last blog post..My 25% Grocery Savings Rule In Action-Part 1-Intro

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