If I paid attention to the some of the studies and statistics about women over the age of 35, I would have crawled in a hole after the age of 39 because my earning power was over, my dating prospects died forever, and I’d never have another adventure ever again.
Luckily, I didn’t listen.
Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. I’ve read the studies. I know that my earning power supposedly wanes in my 40s. But I DELIBERATELY do not listen. It’s not because I’m arrogant that I’ll be the exception. It’s because I’m not convinced those numbers are true.
And if they are, then I’m CONFIDENT that I’ll be an exception.
I mean, seriously. I was 39 when I got serious about paying off my student loans. I was in my LATE 30s when I FINALLY decided I’d had enough of the struggle and it was time to do something about my financial situation.
Until the age of 37, I still had never really committed to a career, except, in my mind, writing. I was an aspiring writer. At 37! Because you can STILL BE ASPIRING AT ANY AGE. Every job I took was a possible story, not a stepping stone on one defined career path.
Then, I spent one entire summer weighting my options while temping in office gigs and writing some freelance articles. My options? Take an office job in marketing or something, continue life as an adjunct writing professor, or leave the state to pursue a master’s degree in historic preservation. I would have graduated with a second master’s degree and entered into a whole new career at 39.
I would have been the new kid on the block at 39.
I was okay with that.
I’ve never been great about staying in my age range. Maybe it started when I attended a branch campus instead of going away to college as a freshman. All of my early college friends were retired steel workers or first generation college students who were trying to change their own lives in their 40s and 50s.
The odds were against them. But what’s the alternative?
Instead of a second master’s degree, I happened upon an opportunity to teach that paid more than I’d ever made. I took a long, hard look at my life and answered the very important question, “What do I want?”
It was the first time in my life that I didn’t think about what anyone else wanted for me. I didn’t factor in my age or my sex or my marital status. I got very clear.
The first thing that came to mind? I wanted rid of my student loan debt.
At 39, I was the new kid on the block in the personal finance blogosphere. I started a blog to track my progress in paying off $48,000 of student loan debt as quickly as possible. I had no idea HOW I was going to do it. But I was determined.
It took 14 months. In that time, I accepted a full-time teaching job. At 40, I finally felt stability, both financially and in my career.
A woman’s earning power supposedly starts to wane in her 40s. According to Christine Hennessey, in her article in The Billfold:
“Women tend to rack up raises in their 30s and then, at the end of that decade, stall out. We’ll receive cost of living adjustments and occasional bumps in pay, but nothing that would rocket us into the next tax bracket.”
I’m 41 and I want my spot in the next tax bracket.
I’m 41 and I’ve yet to publish a book. I always thought that would be part of my career trajectory, but I was always too busy trying to survive. I was somehow busy chasing stories instead of writing them down. Or, maybe I just didn’t make it a priority.
I can now. It’s part of my plan for earning more in my 40s. It’s part of my plan for financial independence.
I might be older but I’m not over.
I expect to earn a lot more money in the coming months because I’m hustling. I’m mindful and I mean it.
You can earn as much as you want at whatever age you want. You make the decision and you make it happen.
Statistics are helpful in a lot of situations. Privilege and poverty are real. The wage gap is real. I’m fortunate and I know it. But I still have to pay attention to when I’m succumbing to those stats. I won’t let them make me a victim. When it comes to being a single woman in her 40s, I won’t be controlled by them.
I’m pursuing financial independence. I’m making more money.
I’m doing it despite the statistics.
You can, too.
What studies or statistics have you read that made you feel stuck?