When you’re in your 20s or 30s, it’s easy to look at the 40-plus crowd and think, “Who are these people?” Yes, they look similar in many ways; wrinkles and gray hairs haven’t fully kicked in, after all. But deep down, pretty much everything—from their customs and beliefs to the clothes they wear and the products they buy—is wildly, otherworldly different.
But there’s also something comforting in that cultural seismic shift between pre-40 and post-40. It’s as predictable as death and taxes. Once you cross that age threshold, you’re going to start loving things you used to avoid, making upgrades that once seemed like a waste of money, and acting more like your parents than you ever dreamed possible. Here are 40 things that only people over 40 would ever consider owning. And for things you should definitely ditch as you age, check out the 50 Things No One Over 40 Should Own.
Furniture that wasn’t inherited from their parents
That lumpy hand-me-down couch that destroys spines, and the dining room table that hasn’t seen a varnish in at least a century? The 40-year-old has smartly replaced any items that don’t make their friends wonder if they find furniture exclusively in alleys.
They just can’t bring themselves to throw away (or even digitize) the VHS tapes with Seinfeld reruns (complete with hilarious ’90s commercials) or their six-hour wedding and reception video. And for fun facts on the contents of those tapes, here are 40 Hilariously Impractical Things That Always Happen in Movies.
Yes, there’s a ratio between metabolic rates and number of Spanx owned. As one precipitously drops, the other rises—steeply.
A nice set of luggage
Preferably with wheels. That well-worn duffel bag just doesn’t cut it anymore. And what 40-year-old has the upper body strength to carry it through an airport? If you need to cop a new set, just check out the 30 Unique Father’s Day Gifts for the Dad Who Has Everything.
Walls and walls of physical books
Did you know that books still get printed on paper, with hard or soft covers? It’s true! Just ask anybody over 40. They fill their bookshelves with these things and they carry them around, even though they’re considerably heavier than an e-reader (and contain only one multi-chapter story at a time). If you find yourself reading one of these relics on the reg, you may want to master The Secrets of Speed Reading Any Book.
If art’s going to be mounted on their wall, it’s got to be in a frame, ideally under glass, and certainly not that cheap acrylic stuff.
Paper airline tickets
The thing about being over 40 is you never entirely trust wireless Internet. Maybe it comes from living in a world before the Internet was readily available, so walking into an airport without a physical ticket, just assuming one will magically appear on our phones when you need it, seems irresponsible and just shy of witchcraft. But by forgoing printed-out tickets, you automatically avoid doing The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do With Your Boarding Pass.
A sweater for your teapot. Because once a person hits 40, they think tea needs to be pampered like a rich person’s Chihuahua.
You know who hasn’t given up his flip phone yet? Warren Buffett. Like so many people over 40, the genius investor would much rather stick with the simplicity of a flip phone over more addictive (and pricey) technology like smartphones.
AARP membership cards
There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as getting your first unsolicited AARP invitation card in the mail. It’s the old fogey license you don’t remember asking for.
Whether it’s nostalgia for your youth or a stubborn insistence that this antiquated technology is making a comeback, people over 40 love collecting vinyl records. It’s actually their preferred method of listening to music. Spotify? Pandora? No thanks. They’ll stick with Crosley.
A French-cuff shirt
Not a loaner shirt that comes with a rental tux. One that was purchased on purpose, and hangs in the closet waiting for a formal occasion.
Everybody gets them in the mail occasionally, but most people throw away these bulky catalogs—from Sears or IKEA or any number of other box stores. Not so with the over-40 set. These catalogs often make it into their homes, and sometimes into the pile of reading material in the bathroom.
There’s something hypnotic about these tiny creatures once you reach 40. They must lure hummingbirds to their house and bribe them with food to flutter outside their windows. Hummingbirds are to 40 year olds what a lava lamp is to those in their 20s.
Young people wear Crocs. But on your 40th birthday, you’re required (by law, if it were up to us) to replace that footwear immediately with a comfy pair of slippers.
People over 40 hoard coins like they have some sort if monetary value. Which technically they do, but not enough to interest anybody in their 20s or 30s. A fascination with coins can be a gateway drug to another curious behavior: owning and using a coin purse.
A war story from your past that proves how far you’ve come
One of the greatest things about growing older is that it means you’ve survived your youth. Every person over 40 has at least one juicy tale about the epic mistakes and terrible-in-hindsight adventures they had when they were too young to know better. But without those bad decisions, would they be the people they are today?
A mega bottle of chewable antacid
Because they never know anymore when a delicious meal is going to betray them.
They don’t care if it’s June, it feels cold to them and they’re going to wear a sweater, dang it! For more on aging, check out 40 Hilarious Things Only Over-40 People Do.
Next to a Lamborghini, it’s the best car for a midlife crisis. Because if your car has gull-wing doors, that means you’re not really old. Hey, did you know a DeLorean is the same car used in the Back to the Future movies? Don’t worry, that 40-year-old will tell you again, and again, and again.
An industrial-grade flashlight.
Being ready for an electrical blackout situation at any moment, one that could possibly last for days and even weeks, is a point of pride for any self-respecting 40-year-old. They’re like Boy Scouts but in creakier bodies.
More than one pair of dress shoes.
Sometimes even in a variety of tans and browns. Black may go with any outfit, but other stuff works, too.
Cushioned toilet seats
Laugh all you want, the post-40 set doesn’t care. They’re warm and comfortable, and that’s all that really matters.
A resume that’s not padded.
When you’re over 40, you’ve been around the block enough that you don’t need to exaggerate your work history anymore. If anything, they need to leave jobs off their resume, so it doesn’t look so cluttered.
A home office
We made an entire room just devoted to your work. Not a spare bedroom that also has a desk shoved into the corner. If a home office contains a pull-out couch and an elliptical bike, it doesn’t count. For things that actually make a home office work, stock yours with the 20 Things Everyone Over 40 Should Have in Their Home Office.
The timeless art of handwritten letters are still practiced by some people, and the vast majority of them are old enough to remember when the word “mail” didn’t come with the prefix “e.”
Enough lotion to fill a bathtub
People over 40 love lotion. They have moisturizing lotion for their face, their hands, their body, their feet. Some of the lotions have SPF, for sun protection, and some are intended solely for bedtime. Don’t attempt using lotion from an over-40’s bathroom vanity without getting very clear instructions.
Extremely clean cars
When the floor mats are so clean you could eat off them and there’s no evidence of discarded fast food containers anywhere, you’re sitting in the car of somebody over 40.
A trained pet
A dog that doesn’t sit on command or requires a leash to stay in one place and might bite a stranger with no warning is not an animal owned by a 40-something.
A subscription to the Sunday New York Times
It’s the same news you can read online, but printed on a hefty 5-pound package that hits the floor with a thud. Any 40-plus person will tell you: reading the news is always more satisfying when you get ink on your fingers.
It’s parked in their garage, right next to their lawnmower. And no, you can’t borrow it.
A camera that doesn’t make phone calls.
It’s also incapable of checking email. If this doesn’t fill you with terror and confusion, we don’t need to check the birthday on your ID. You’re over 40.
Old wrapping paper
Not only do they hold on to the rolls of unused wrapping paper from past holidays and birthdays, they salvage discarded paper from previous gift-giving occasions.
They’re not about to let your filthy water rings destroy their otherwise pristine wood coffee table. But don’t worry, the coasters are all printed with totally hilarious one-liners like “I Give Into Beer Pressure.” (Right.) For more groaners like that, check out the 50 Dad Jokes So Bad They’re Actually Hilarious.
Their bathrooms don’t just smell fresh—they smell like a peppermint garden belonging to an animated bear with a rainbow belly.
A 20-year-old with a personal assistant is just being an ostentatious braggart. A 40-year-old with a personal assistant is just trying to stay sane.
A rusty metal coffee pot, on the other end of the convenience scale from those Keurig pod machines, is among every 40-plus person’s dream. It’s like you’re camping, but in your own kitchen. That metallic taste means it’s been brewed to perfection.
A bottle of really expensive bourbon.
Not that mass-market bourbon you pick up at the grocery store. We’re talking rare and premium, straight-from-the-cask single barrel stuff. They might even have invested in a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. It may mean college tuition is on the line, yes, but hey, it’s worth it.
A cash stash
For emergencies. Like, say, a spontaneous road trip to Vegas.
Farmers market tote bags
Ironically, these bags hardly ever get used for their intended purpose. Instead, they’re just a way of announcing to the world, usually with a name-brand magazine’s ubiquitous logo on the side: “I’m at an age where I purchase only organic fruits and vegetables, and I’m kind of smug about it.”
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