While I don’t know your exact situation, I’m guessing that starting over at 50 was not something you ever thought about or planned for. The social narrative that governs our lives for decades is that of a linear progression.
You go through elementary school and high school, with some people moving on to higher education. Conventional wisdom dictates that these years in the school system give you the tools you need to find a high paying vocation in adult life.
Once you have a job, you work and set aside funds for your predetermined life choices. You may want to buy a car and a house, start a family, and work until you retire. By then, you should be covered by social security and health care insurance.
Unfortunately, the grim reality is this scenario doesn’t always play out. On the contrary, in an unstable world, volatility in your finances and personal life is likely. The paradigm of boom and bust economies leaves many out to dry. No matter how well you’ve done in life, having to start over at any moment is a real possibility.
Fortunately, you can start over many times in life regardless of your age. No matter how hard you fall, with a little ingenuity and a healthy work ethic, there is no financial hole you cannot rise from. However, it’s going to take a few changes in your lifestyle and possibly a change in perspective.
Starting Over At 50 Years Old vs. As A Young Adult
It’s much easier to make structural changes to a building when digging the foundations than finishing up the roof. A recent college graduate working for a few years can quickly switch gears and recover from adversity. After 50, such a recovery becomes more complicated.
There is a growing cultural bias of aging that older adults face. Many of the issues that younger people have to deal with for the first time, older folks see for a second or third round. Things such as raising children, marriage, death of loved ones, and health issues are familiar ground for those over 50.
Although young people are adaptable due to their age, life experience is a check in the advantage column for you. The tricky part seems to be putting that life experience to work in a world where things are rapidly changing. By building up your resolve and exhibiting resilience, life experience can be applied to your current circumstances.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Experiencing a devastating midlife crisis can be more than just struggling to come to terms associated with aging. The loss of your support structure can cause even the healthiest individuals to go into panic mode.
More and more older Americans see their finances in dire straits. Ideas like retirement, which have always been a part of the American psyche, are being questioned.
Retirement plans, pensions, and savings are vanishing in thin air, with many people beyond the age of 65 having to work. Many have to wait longer for full Social Security benefits, and pension plans require more out-of-pocket contributions.
While only 2.1% of people over 65 filed for bankruptcy in 1991, that figure is now over 12% according to the New York Times. This is a worrying trend as more people are approaching retirement without financial security.
Divorce is a significant obstacle in people’s lives. You spend 10, 20, or even 30 years with someone, and all of a sudden, your common path splits apart. Although separations can be amicable, a divorce is enough to send anyone’s life into a tailspin.
For those over the age of 50, the term “gray divorce” describes the separations rate increase. Indicative of this trend is the fact that the divorce rate in this age group is now 25%. This is a far cry from the 10% rate in 1990.
Illness Or Injury
A severe health issue is enough to knock anyone off the path of life. In an environment with pollutants, foods high in preservatives, and stressful working conditions, maintaining good health is challenging. Work accidents, sudden illnesses, or pandemics are all health hazards of the modern world.
The over 50 age group often overlooks emotional health. Any of the previous life obstacles can trigger trauma and debilitating emotional mental health issues.
Unresolved childhood trauma can persist into your 50s and beyond. These hidden issues can exacerbate your path to starting over.
What The Statistics Say
Between 1991 and 2016, the percentage of people aged 65 to 74 declaring bankruptcy increased by 204%. This is a sharp increase and shows the extent of the problem in older Americans.
On average, single people without children between 55 and 64 have almost $6,800 in the bank. Singles with children have about $6,900. Couples in the same age group tend to have a little over double the amount, around $16,000.
Starting Over At 50 With No Money
Starting over at 50 with no money may seem scary. The last time you remember someone handing you money without working for it is may have been as a teen or in college. It’s a cool thing to have your parents as a safety net when you’re young. The tricky part is when you’re older, and life pulls the rug out from under you.
It may seem that those with a buffer in a savings account may have a cushion to ease their fall. But what happens if you’re starting over with no money at all? It may sound strange at first, but you can turn it into an advantage in these trying times.
Rainy Day Funds And Emergency Savings
Having a rainy day fund is a prudent goal. It can also work against you if you allow it to. Those with an emergency fund or additional savings may have a lesser sense of urgency to seek a new income stream. A few thousand dollars can run out for people who are not particularly good with financial planning before they know it.
Starting over while being broke will trigger a sense of urgency. The survival instinct that evolution gifts humans is a powerful force. By clearing your head and focusing on the task at hand, you can enter into a flow state.
In a flow state, everything seems more evident, and your actions become extensions of your thoughts. By reducing stress and relaxing your body, a clear path forward will reveal itself to you. After all, you have successes in your life to draw on and better days ahead of you.
Focus On Your Goals
Focus on achievements from your past. What did you feel when you were pursuing them? Try reliving it in your mind. In the present, think of what you feel as you achieve that goal. Now, transfer that to your current state. What are your goals at this moment?
See yourself landing the job that will get you out of your current predicament. Envision the successful job interview you will have. Imagine it as if it has already happened. If you are coming out of a divorce, envision your new life. See yourself happy and healthy in your new environment. Money is essential, but a lack of it will not stop you from starting over and achieving financial stability in the near future.
Determining Whether You Need A Career Change
An important issue you will need to resolve is that of your career. You have likely spent decades in the same field until now. Since you’ll be making a new beginning, will it be in your current niche, or will you seek to change?
This depends entirely on your circumstances. If you have a good reputation in your field or a large clientele, you may not need to change niches. Maybe you lost a job in sales, but you have an extensive list of customers that trust you. You can leverage your standing with them to either move to a different company or start a business of your own.
On the other hand, the hard reality is your current occupation may have run its course. It may be time to branch out into a new career. Make a note of your best attributes and see how you can apply them to a field of your choice.
Spending your entire life in a job that doesn’t offer fulfillment is no way to live. When moving forward, be sure to engage in something that balances your preferences with your subsistence. The last thing you want to do is waste time pursuing something that doesn’t offer you financial freedom. This can be a painful setback in your effort to start over.
Bounce Back From Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. It is a temporary situation that you can remedy in due time with some diligent behavior.
For those who have a job, an excellent initial goal is to set aside three months’ worth of income. This safety net will increase with time but start with an attainable goal. Furthermore, saving 10-20% of your monthly income can put you back in charge of your finances.
Building your credit one step at a time will allow you more breathing room. Sign up for a secured credit card. This is a credit card with a credit line based on an initial deposit. By making small purchases, you can build your way up to a traditional credit card.
Moving Toward Your Full Potential
Humans function at their best when they achieve their full potential. People often get into a daily routine that runs on autopilot. This every day, almost scripted, regimen distracts you from becoming the best version of yourself.
Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations will cause you to rise to the occasion. A new job will make you break out of the mold that has kept you trapped until now. Starting a business of your own will cause you to take on many roles. The more you seek to grow, the more strengths, skills, small victories, and abilities will appear turning you into a valuable asset. Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.
It is reasonable for people with many failed past relationships to ask what the common thread is. The obvious answer is the person in question. However, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over the past. At the same time, it is essential to reinvent yourself to overcome the mistakes of the past.
Achieving results is a matter of finding the right tactics and strategies to follow. However, you should contemplate who you need to be to get the place you desire. Who do you need to become to get a new job, start a business, or meet someone new? What qualities do you need to possess to achieve your goals? By taking full ownership of your situation, you will start to see how many doors begin to open for you.
7 Changes To Boost Your Efforts While Starting Over At 50
Starting over doesn’t have to mean a hard reset. You aren’t deleting your past. Everything that transpired for you to get here is the prologue to your new beginning. In re-evaluating your life and making the necessary changes, there are a few tips that will make your efforts more productive.
Overcoming a difficult financial situation is as much about reducing expenses as it is about increasing your income. You need to stop the bleeding before you can recover and grow again. Downsizing your life for as long as it takes to get your books back in the positive is a necessary step, even if that means renting a tiny apartment. Your beautiful home and high mortgage payment may be crippling your ability to make progress.
Start with the things that are easiest to cut and have the smallest impact on your life. This process will become much easier when accompanied by a breakdown of your expenses. Take the time to record all of your current living expenses and rank them according to their importance.
Short Term Sacrifices For Long Term Goals
Furthermore, be willing to squeeze a few extra dollars from things that you may deem essential at first glance but may be open to trimming. For instance, do you need your mobile contract? Estimate how much phone time you need and get a pay as you go plan that meets your needs. What about your landline and internet plans? Do you need the highest speed and bandwidth your service provider offers?
When downsizing, the more you can trim from your budget, the more room you will have to pursue your financial goals. It may be a hassle, but moving to a small apartment can save you hundreds of dollars. Consider using public transportation or even selling your car. You can always buy another one when you structure your life in a viable manner.
Other areas that provide potential cost-cutting opportunities are gym memberships, entertainment, cable television, and streaming services. Depending on your needs, you can potentially trim enough money off your monthly expenses to make a difference in your goal-setting.
2. Finding The Right Career Coach
Finding a knowledgeable consultant to guide you in your efforts can save valuable time. A career coach can be someone that works in a field you are looking to enter. It can also be a professional recruiter. It can even be a friend or former colleague that has the network to help you on your way.
Be careful not to invest in time-wasters. Most people want to be helpful, but not all have the means to aid you in your journey. Their intentions may be pure, but your circumstances require that you find gainful employment as soon as possible, even if that means an entry-level position. Try and find a success expert that successfully helps people achieve their career goals. You don’t want to spend time with people that talk a lot as a means of self-validation. Try out different coaches until you find one you can make a real connection with.
3. Acquire Marketable Skills
If you think that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you should first undergo a mindset shift. Secondly, if you believe education ends in college, you look at your resume building in a limited manner.
What kind of skills does your desired field of employment require? Seek out courses that offer you the appropriate knowledge. This can be at a community college, an online course, or even videos and tutorials online. The more skills you add to your arsenal, the greater the chance that an employer will hire you.
4. Avoid Information Overload
Information overload is the bombardment of your senses with so many stimuli you freeze up. This can be a devastating trap for people looking to start over by entering a new field. Consider how social media works. There are so many conversations going on simultaneously that it’s hard to focus on one thing.
If you’re looking to make money online, the possibilities are practically endless. A simple search on YouTube regarding the topic of making money online will produce thousands of results. There is an infinite number of suggestions for business opportunities.
Whether you’re thinking of starting an e-commerce website, a YouTube channel that you will use to build an audience, or merely advertising your offline services, stay focused. Jumping from one business idea to the next is an excellent way to never really get started with anything.
Many people start a business on the internet with dreams of making it their full-time job. However, with each new opportunity that avails itself, they drop the idea and move onto the next one. In the marketing world, this is called shiny object syndrome. This condition is akin to a cat chasing a laser around the floor.
5. Leverage Social Media
Whether you’re building a business online or getting your skills out to an audience, using social media is critical. LinkedIn is a social network geared towards professionals. Creating a full profile on the website with examples of your work will attract potential employers. Also, you can use LinkedIn to show your proficiency in certain areas.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a good place to build a network in a less business-driven environment. Post your skills and contact friends about potential job opportunities.
6. Choose Proper Life Partners
Life partners aren’t only the people you choose to share your life with on a personal basis. Your financial health can come down to finding the right business partners or employers. Choose to spend time with stakeholders in the types of things you want to invest your time in. Networking is an integral part of your job search, and you should attempt to use it to your advantage.
7. Give Back
This may be the essential ingredient in your efforts to start over. It seems counter-intuitive, but giving to others when you seemingly have lost everything can make a difference. No financial asset can compare with the feeling of giving to others. Also, giving when you have very little to provide shows resilience and strength of character.
Some people only give when they have amassed riches, and even then, it comes at a price. However, you will be surprised at how the universe works. When you extend a helping hand to others in greater need than you are, it will change your perspective on life. You will find amazing things that will manifest in your life when you show strength.
Extend a helping hand out to those that have a hard time. Though there may be no law of karma or reciprocity in the real world, you will find that you are building goodwill by volunteering to help others.
Move Forward With Confidence
Starting over at 50 requires living with confidence and an uphill battle. Take a deep breath and have faith in your ability to adapt to meet the challenges that lay before you. After all, you have five decades’ worth of life experience to draw from. There is no age limit on success, and no one can dictate whether you can change course and begin again.
Life is a series of challenges that define who you are. Your character is as much about your values as it is about your accomplishments. Though life presents some tough roadblocks, starting over at 50 or at any other time in your life should be a challenge that you accept wholeheartedly.
With the proper mindset, the right knowledge, and the guidance of a life coach, your midlife restart can be more glorious than anything you’ve accomplished before, and come out on the other side as a better person.
There is no ideal time to move forward. Muster your strength and follow your intuition. Visualize the journey and manifest it into your reality.
This post originally appeared on Arrest Your Debt.