34 Bad Habits Everyone Should Stop by Age 40

Yes, you'll live healthier, longer, and happier.

Unless you're living out a death wish—or you happen to be the New York Knicks—chances are you're looking to improve as the years go by. You know: as a wife, a husband, a parent, a worker, an all-around member of society. And by the time you reach early middle age, you've accumulated enough knowledge and experience to live a much better and more meaningful life. For a lot of us, that means shedding old, bad habits from our younger years.

Now, we know that change is hard—and old habits die hard—but once you do it, you'll find that stamping out these particularly insidious habits once and for all was well worth the effort. (And, frankly, they're beneath your newly exalted station in life.) So, without further ado, here's a complete list of the bad habits that should no longer have any place in your life after the age of 40. And for more great guidance on getting older, here are the 40 Reasons Being Single in Your 40s Is the Greatest Thing Ever.

Racking up unnecessary debt.

bad habits

Credit cards can have interest rates as high as 22 percent nowadays. Next time you feel the need to throw down the card for something you must have, it might be time to redefine "must." Also, there's a little thing called "compounding interest"—and yes, it applies to debt, too. (One banker estimated that $5,000 of debt picked up at age 30 will turn into nearly $45,000 by the time you hit 40.)

Not making your bed.

According to one Navy admiral, making your bed each morning gives the satisfaction of accomplishing a task and encourages you to accomplish more. Plus, it's the littlest thing—and if you can't tackle the small things, how can you expect to tackle the big things? For more advice on living your best life, watch the 25 Most Inspiring Keynote Addresses of All Time.


being single, stay lean, bad habits

Quaffing drink after drink in some bid for respectability is immature and lame. You're not 21 any more. Plus, prolonged binge-drinking—especially now that you're not a pliable 20-year-old—can lead to ulcers, kidney stones, high blood pressure, minimized libido, erectile dysfunction (sorry, fellas), gastritis, strokes, and memory loss. If you're worried about your alcohol intake, read What Your Boozing Habits Say About Your Health.

Gossiping Behind a Close Friend's Back

bad habits

I know, I know. Gossip is healthy and a crucial part of human society. But when it comes to close friends in your 40s, you've been through thick and thin, and you've got their back—full stop. And if you've got an issue with anything they've done, you don't complain to others about it, you settle your differences the adult way: directly and in person.

Overloading on dietary supplements.

breast cancer prevention, vitamins, supplements

Dietary supplements sound like a shortcut to healthy living—helpful nutrients in an easy-to-consume capsule. But the truth is more insidious: Many aren't regulated by the FDA and, according to the American Cancer Society, have been linked to increased rates of breast cancer.

Eating fast food.

bad habits

In your younger days, you could eat crap and your body would easily bounce back. Not anymore. Filling your belly with all that sodium, sugar, grease, chemicals, and preservatives is literally helping to put you six feet under. Just eating french fries twice a week can double your risk of death. And for more healthy living advice, here are 40 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer After 40.

Raging into the dead of the night.

bad habits

There is some evidence to suggest that those who sleep in are smarter, but you know what they're probably not? Employed and productive. The truth is, if you can't get up before the last hour of the Today Show, you're no doubt partying way too hard. On the other hand, if you can't get enough sleep, try these 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster Tonight.

Watching terrible TV.

bad habits

At 40, you're a person of taste—and with more quality programming at your fingertips than ever before in the history of mankind. You have absolutely no excuse to be wasting any brain cells on low-budget reality TV.

Not bothering to vote.

bad habits

You're old enough to have real perspective on politics. You have no excuse not to pull that lever.

Pounding soda.

bad habits

In 2017, we're fully aware of the fact that a lot of soda is really just liquid sugar. You know, one of the biggest causes of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes on the planet.

Being chained to your phone.

bad habits

You're 40. You were a young adult before cell phones came around. You don't need to whip it out every time there's a lull in the conversation. Leave that behavior for the 20-somethings on awkward first dates who have nothing to talk about. If you have a problem, however, don't fret: read these 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.

Deploying Millennial terminology.

bad habits

"Sus." "Adorbs." "Amazeballs." Leave these terms—and the other 40 Words No One Over 40 Should Say—to the generation of folks who coined them.

Sitting with bad posture.

good posture, destress, bad habits

Your mother was right. It's time to sit and stand up straight. Also, great posture can boost self esteem and fight off feelings of angst—in fact, sitting up straight is one of 30 Ways to Strip Away Stress in 30 Seconds or Less.

Using filler words.

bad habits

Per the New York Times, you're more likely to use filler words if you're 20 than if you're 40. But still, some "like"s and "um" slip through the cracks. And the unfortunate truth of our unforgiving society is that you could be harshly judged for using them—especially if you're a woman.


bad habits

By the time you've hit 40, you have presumably heard of hotels by now. And if you're too cheap to spring for one, don't worry: Here's the Best Way to Get Your Hotel Room Comped.


bad habits man smoking

There's some evidence to suggest that dropping cigarettes by age 30, your risk of death becomes the same as a non-smoker. So knock them out as early as possible.

Using curse words as a crutch.

bad habits woman on phone

No, it doesn't make you sound edgier. It just makes you sound like you're too lazy to choose the right word. And by age 40, your vocabulary should have expanded enough to ditch the curse words.

Not washing your hands after using the bathroom.

wash hands sick at work, bad habits

A recent study found that, in the average bathroom, there are 77,000 distinct types of bacteria. Now, those "employees must wash hands" signs make a lot more sense, right? By the way, men are more likely to be guilty of not washing their hands than women, studies suggest. Now think of how many hands from both you shake in a week.


bad habits

Unless you're starting at safety for the Seahawks, we don't recommend it.

Overusing emoticons.

couples texting

Likely to make the person on the other end actually angry, not just cartoon angry.

Dousing yourself in cheap fragrance. 

Can they smell you before they see you? You're probably doing it wrong. Spring for a few spritzes of a more sophisticated parfum, like Tom Ford or Gucci.

Skipping out on the doctor.

If you're one of the 30 percent of Americans who skip the doctor, we've got bad news for you. Bagging the regular check up was something you might have been able to get away with in your 20s, but not now: Illnesses spike once you top 40. And in a world where Julia Louis-Dreyfus can get breast cancer or Alec Baldwin lyme disease, anything can happen.

Relying on your mentor.

mentor bad habits

By the time you hit 40, you should be the mentor.

Not moisturizing.

You know the difference between how a president looks at the beginning of his term and at the end? That's what will happen to you in your 40s without proper moisturizing. Moisturizing traps water—hence, "moisturize"—in your skin, giving it that ethereal, golden glow.

Holding on to out-of-style clothes. 

You're old enough now to have lived through many style and fashion trends, so you know that the world of clothing is indeed a flat circle. And yes, those wide-legged jeans might come back in style in the next five years. But for now, they're just taking up space. For now, Marie Kondo them.

 Getting all your news from alternative sources.

shock, panic, smart word

Late-night comedy monologues are there to entertain you and Facebook is best for pictures of cats, babies, and baby cats. To truly understand the world, you might have to dig a bit deeper. You're 40. You can read a news story without someone else explaining it for you.

Buying lesser goods purely based on the (cheap) price. 

Friend date, friendship, female friendships

Whether it's clothing or furniture, it's time to invest in quality items. They're more expensive, but they last longer are less likely to go out of style and at least you won't have to spend four hours putting them together with a manual in Swedish.

Using Ibuprofen literally all the time.

ibuprofen painkiller painkillers

Everyone needs little help fighting that backpain or the occasional hangover. But according to the NHLB, more than 75 percent of women over 40 exhibit at least one tell-tale risk factor for developing heart disease, and do you know what makes it worse? Ibuprofen (and other NSAIDs). A new study showed that popping NSAIDs on the reg can increase your heart attack risk by up to 50 percent. If you're already in an at-risk group, stay away from any additional factors.

Whipping out your guitar at parties.

Acoustic Guitar, 40s, what to give up in your 40s

Back in college, no one ever asked for that impromptu cover of "Wonderwall." And guess what—no one's asking for it now. So, in a social setting, keep your six-string where it belongs: In its case.

Spending all day playing video games.

Man Playing Video Games, 40s, what to give up in your 40s

Yes, some video games boost creativity, dexterity, and reaction speed. No, you shouldn't spend all day on the couch—ever.

Maintaining a collection of empty alcohol bottles.

liquor bottles things no man over 40 should own

Your portfolio of wild nights survived may have been a badge of honor in years past. But now, all it says is, "Wow, this person has a drinking problem."

Playing with a fidget spinner.

You might not do this yet. It's a relatively new thing—and it's a trending habit. As such, you may want to pick it up. Here's why adults shouldn't.

Not swapping out your razor.


Old razors are more likely to pick up bacteria, hair, follicles, dead skin—you name it. All that stuff can clog up your pores and dry out your skin. And once you've topped 40, your skin—which isn't as supple as it once was—doesn't need that. (And while you're at it, never soap. The stuff also dries your skin out like nothing else.)

Ignoring mom.

woman on phone in cafe, where she can strip away stress bad habits

"You never call!" Well, maybe you should. Or at the very least, stop missing ("missing") her calls. A quick conversation with mom releases oxytocin, which in turn reduces your stress levels.

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