The Economics of “Too Old”

At what point in life do we start to acknowledge that we are too old for something? When I was in my early teens (the 90’s if you couldn’t guess by my writing style and subjects) I would watch skateboarding videos and think “yeah, if I keep at it I’ll be able to do that someday.” Now I watch skate videos on YouTube and I’m like “fuck, I wouldn’t even jump off that if someone was chasing me with a knife.”

This goes deeper than the simple denial of “you can do anything you put your mind to” (thanks mom). The decision to not even attempt grinding a handrail is perfectly rational.  The risk of hurting myself and missing work and paying hospital bills is too great to justify taking a chance at the thrill and glory of riding a railing down a flight of stairs on a skateboard. Same deal with tattoos. I think they’re cool, but the value of having another one is too small to justify paying a few hundred bucks to sit in a chair getting jabbed by a needle for several hours.

This is the economics of “too old.”

I mean, who cares, right? What difference does it make in my life or anyone else’s if I never become a heavily tattooed sick skateboarder?  But, the economics of too old applies in every area of life and becomes a lot scarier in other contexts. I’m starting to worry about getting too old to realistically consider a 30 year mortgage; too old to start saving money;  too old to retire; too old to die.

More than just for myself, I’m worried about society. I’m “lucky” to have 30 years of working life left, so I’m not too old for those important things yet. But a lot of people are.  Not just people in their 60’s but people in their 40’s who don’t have savings. It’s almost irrational for them to start now. If you know you’re going to be working until your death anyway, why not spend your money now and enjoy it? If too many people do this (and a lot of them already are) then we are going to have a massive social problem that the government has never proven it can solve.

(and, I guess, FWIW, when I was 24 I realized that eating like I was still going through puberty wasn’t yet a problem, but would be if I kept it up. For those who didn’t realize it, watch out).


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