Going Broke Trying to Prevent Aging?

There’s no need to disclose exactly how old I am. Let’s just say I’m at the age where my hair is turning gray, wrinkles are appearing, and things are starting to soften a bit. My hairdresser asked me the other day, “Well, when are you going to start coloring your hair?” as if it was a foregone conclusion that I would be doing so. My dermatologist recently asked me if I was ready for some of the anti-aging creams she sells or, perhaps, some Botox? I said no to all of it.

Anti-aging cosmetics and chemicals are a billion dollar business. Women are spending fortunes on creams, lotions, serums, and injections that they hope will keep them looking young. Here’s an example of how out of hand this business has gotten. Once I was helping one woman with her finances (which were a total mess and she was in debt to the tune of $73,000). I told her to think about what she could cut from the budget and what were “sacred” items that had to stay (meaning, I thought, lights, heat, food, shelter, etc.). On her sacred list were her Botox injections, hair coloring appointments, and a host of expensive creams and lotions to prevent wrinkles and cellulite. I asked her if those weren’t really “wants,” not “needs” and she told me in no uncertain terms that she would not live without them. Ok, then. I told her she’d better start liking Ramen noodles because the money was going to have to come from somewhere. I’ve met plenty of other women like this who believe that spending a lot of money and going into debt to look young will actually keep them young. From where I stand, it’s not worth it.

It’s not that I don’t want to look good. I do, within reason and within my budget. And it’s not that I relish getting older. I certainly do not. But there’s a line that I have to draw. I’m just not willing to spend a fortune to engage in a battle that I have no hope of winning. If aging were like a disease that could be cured, of course I would fight it tooth and nail with everything I had. I would pay a ton of money if I could stop aging in its tracks and remain young forever. But the truth is, no matter what I do, aging isn’t something I can cure. I can’t even slow it down. No matter what I put on or in myself, the aging process is still going on.

The best I, or anyone, can do is to cover the effects for a while. But even then, there will come a point where I will just look silly. (You know the women I’m talking about; the ones that are clearly senior citizens with jet black hair, faces that look pulled too tight to smile, and caked on makeup. That look’s just not going to work for me.) I’d rather age naturally and gracefully than reach that point where I say, “I think I’ll stop coloring my hair or stop getting Botox,” and age dramatically and suddenly so that everyone can see me change in front of their eyes. No thanks. It’s no use fooling yourself that cosmetically covering the effects of aging is really keeping you young.

There are so many other things in this life that I’d rather spend money on that have a better return and add value to my life than anti-aging products. I can save for my future health care which, unlike cosmetic anti-aging products, may literally be a matter of life and death one day. I can travel and see the world so that when I am old I have those memories to look back on instead of looking back on hair appointments and chemical peels. I can save for my retirement so that when I am old I can live freely and comfortably. I can spend my money on books and theater shows and outings to museums that enrich my mind. I can spend money on things that keep me young internally, where it matters. I can eat better food, invest in exercise equipment, and get good healthcare. All of that will add to the value and (hopefully) length of my life over time. But to spend a fortune on trying to remain young looking? It’s a waste of money and time. I’m going to get old and die regardless of what chemicals I put on and in my body and I’d much rather be able to afford my old age and die with a lot of great memories than be a beautiful corpse.

Unless you have unlimited money, in order to be financially healthy you have to choose your battles. Make them battles you can actually win. Aging is, unfortunately, not a winnable battle. Whether you’re covering up the effects or not, aging is still going on inside your body and mind. You are getting older and there’s no sense denying that fact. I would argue that it’s better to accept it and move on, spending money on things that you can control, than to keep fighting a war that none of us will win. No one gets out of this life alive and, if you’re very lucky, you don’t get out of it young, either.

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10 Responses to Going Broke Trying to Prevent Aging?

  1. ben says:

    Im going to have to disagree with you on this one. Plenty can be done about aging.

    Firstly, you can exercise and eat right. It will add years to your lifespan, and more significantly your health-span.

    Far more important in my opinion, you can support the efforts of biologists who are currently attempting to prevent and reverse the effects of aging through science. David Sinclair at Harvard University for example is working on genetic pathways linked to the aging process, and has shown that compounds like Resveratrol (found in grapes skin) and others can extend youthful health, possibly for years. Drugs are in human trials and should be on the market in the next few years, ushering in a new era in health.

    Elsewhere, the Methuselah Foundation is a charity funding research into the ‘engineering approach’ to the conquest of aging. In other words, they have a strategy for re-engineering tissue so as to restore youth by the use of regenerative medicine (making biologically old people possibly decades biologically younger) and are pursuing its implementation in the lab. This is respectable science and its happening right now. In a few decades, this kind of work could be able to restore people in their fifties to the health of a twenty year old. And that’s no joke.

    So, if you are worried about aging, get behind this sort of research. Write about it on your blog. Get the word out. Volunteer. Or, if you’re comfortable doing so you can always donate.

    A new era of healthier, possibly much longer lives lies ahead for humanity. And the sooner we make it happen the better. Aging is humanity’s oldest problem, no pun intended. It not only kills – it kills by slow degree, often causing great suffering. It’s the job of science to overcome it for us.

  2. Annie Jones says:

    I am 45. I quit coloring my hair about 18 months ago. I haven’t worn makeup more than a handful of times in the last 10 years. I use plain soap and water on my face and sunscreen as my face lotion. That’s it.

    I do save money by not buying cosmetics and anti-aging “remedies”, but that’s not really why I avoid them. I simply do not want to use them.

    The way I see it, this is the way I’m supposed to look at my age. I can’t fight aging with cosmetics, and I don’t wan’t to try.

    However, I do believe a good diet, lots of water, exercise (which I admittedly could use more of) and stress-reducing hobbies and activities can all help a person look and feel younger. Those are my anti-aging secrets.

  3. David G. Mitchell says:

    A lot of money is not needed to remain youthful. My wife looks two decades younger than her real age. She achieves her youthful look by protecting her skin from the sun, living a healthy life and going to the gym regularly (with an emphasis on weight bearing exercise). If people live healthy lives, they will not age nearly as quickly.

  4. Jay Gatsby says:

    I agree with the posters who wrote that exercise can slow the aging process. I’m closing in on 40 (next year), and am in the best shape of my life. This isn’t to say I was in bad shape before, but I’ve transformed my physique into one that with a little more polish, could get up on a stage in skimpy underwear and put it all on display.

    It takes time, dedication and discipline to achieve a fitness goal that will have a dramatic effect on your health. You can’t just go on the Atkins Diet to lose a few pounds or start jogging and lifting weights a few days a week. Those are good starts, but they most certainly will not slow the aging process all that much. All they will do is put you back where you should be from an age perspective. Most of us engage in behavior that causes us to look – and actually be – older than we should be. Losing 20 pounds will prevent early-onset Type II diabetes, heart disease, etc… But it won’t “reverse” the aging process. Taking things to the next level will achieve this, but you must start when you are young.

  5. Princessperky says:

    While I am all for maintaining health (which tends to keep you looking younger)

    I agree the billion anti aging creams and medical procedures are not worth it.

  6. Marissa says:

    I agree with Princess… it is one thing to slow (or beat) aging by embracing healthy habits, but going through the expense of just APPEARING younger (while being “full of sawdust” as my sis puts it) is another… a lot of people don’t care about being healthy as long as they LOOK young (and/or thin) and that is definetely not worth it!

  7. Diane says:

    I’m in the middle of the road on this one.

    I believe in eating right, exercising (for stress relief & to maintain weight) and avoiding smoke & excess alcohol.

    I’m not interested in botox or plastic surgery, or $200 face creams.

    I do color my hair at home – which costs about $6-7 every 6 weeks – and I consider that a worthwhile investment. It not only looks younger, but actually conditions my hair so it’s more manageable and looks better overall.

    I also invest in decent quality cleansers & face creams & make-up by Olay – which work great for me.

    The amount of money & effort involved are not huge, but the improvement is pretty impressive for the investment. Why not spend a few dollars a month to look your best?

    I don’t expect to look 30 at 50, but I do want to look my best at every age.

  8. Empress Juju says:

    I have a $200 face cream. I had a huge melasma on my forehead that is a result of aging, and it was making me crazy!

    The $200 cream was prescribed by a dermatologist, and did take care of the spot, and it “saved” me an $800 laser treatment. Since the spot disappeared, people guess my age about a decade younger than I am, but when I had it, they were putting me at five years older.

    The spot tries to come back, and so I use the cream occasionally. I bought my second jar after 18 months. I would have to have the laser treatment repeated, as well.

    I use inexpensive face wash, moisturizers, and hair care products, but I guess we all pick our battles when it comes to looking our best!

  9. Diane says:

    @ Empress juju – Don’t get me wrong, if you have a reason to use a $200 face cream, you can afford to buy it, AND it fixes the problem I’m all for it. It is an individual decision.

    My point was just that you can get decent skin care, make-up & hair color for basic needs without spending a fortune. I can’t see going without cosmetics at all just to prove a point or save a few dollars.

    I’m all for looking your best at whatever level you can afford to fund it!

  10. Tightwad says:

    Hey it ain’t just females…!…look at Kenny Rogers…he spent a fortune on his face and he doesn’t even look the same anymore!
    But speaking of females…. that Joan Rivers…. she’s just scary!

    I can always tell who has had Botex injections because they have what I refer to as a “monkey lip;” their skin between their nose and top lip looks exactly like a chimpanzees!!

    Age gracefully ladies…. it’s sooo much classier.
    (Just a tip from a guy!)

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