You Know You're Over 40 If You Own These Things

You know a good thing when you see it.

There's something comforting in the cultural seismic shift between pre-40 and post-40. 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 owning things that seemed like pipe dreams in your younger years. Here are 20 things that only people over 40 have to their name, from the practical (cash) to the thoughtful (stationery) to the nostalgic (a camera, not a camera phone).

A cash stash

 Dollar Bills yo

We came of age in an era when digital banking was just a glimmer in Bank of America's eyes. So who could blame us for wanting the peace of mind of knowing that we always have actual cash on hand? Besides, you never know when a store might have a card charge minimum or their machines might be down entirely. Having cash on hand is the responsible thing to do and as a 40-something, you're prepared for anything.



Sure, texting and email has made everything so fast and easy. And we enjoy those modern conveniences as much as anyone. But there's something about taking the time to actually write a letter, on personal stationery made of the finest paper stock, that just feels special. Above all, we still remember the excitement of getting a letter in the mail. It makes the recipient feel important in ways an email never will.

Physical books


We own Kindles, sure. But no futuristic technology will ever make us give up our books. We love the smell of them, we love the ritual of flipping through the crisp pages of a new read. We love the weight of them in our hands, the way they look on our shelves, like a piece of art representing all the stories we've enjoyed over the years. Nope, sorry, you'll never take our books.

Framed art


We're not talking about those cheap acrylic frames you can find at box stores. Yes, a frame made of wood might cost a little bit more, but it looks so much classier hanging on your wall. You just reach a stage in life when you want your house to look like a home and not a college dorm room.

A working kitchen

older couple hugging and smiling in the kitchen

Remember the day you first discovered that cooking wasn't just a chore but could be one of the most satisfying and relaxing parts of your day? A 20- or 30-year-old might be fine with a kitchen that barely has more than a microwave, but anyone over 40 can't survive without their Instant Pot, KitchenAid Mixer, and on and on and on.

A fully stocked medicine cabinet

acetaminophen and other pill bottles in a medicine cabinet, parenting tips

There are few things as frustrating as digging through a drawer looking for ibuprofen. People over 40 have learned to anticipate their needs, and that means stocking their medicine cabinet not just with the things they need today but also the things they might need in the near future—like antacids, headache relievers, cough drops, nasal decongestants, and extra tubes of toothpaste.

An industrial-grade flashlight


Being ready also includes having whatever we need for an electrical blackout situation at any moment, starting with a functioning industrial-grade flashlight. That's a point of pride for any self-respecting 40-year-old. Even if that big emergency never comes, we still like the feeling of being prepared. We may even check the batteries every now and then. That's right: We are ready.

More than one pair of dress shoes

dressing well in your 30s

In your 40s, your closet has much more than one measly pair of dress shoes—and sometimes in more interesting shades than just brown and black. After all, our shoes shouldn't be an afterthought. We want footwear that looks like an essential part of our wardrobe. We've walked miles by the time we reach mid-life—and we're going to do it in style.

A resume that's not padded

Looking at resume

Anyone over 40 has been around the block enough that we don't need to exaggerate our work history anymore. If anything, we need to leave jobs off our resumes, so it doesn't look so cluttered. Isn't it nice to finally have a career worth bragging about?

Business cards

Man handing woman card

Well, of course, they're not necessary. We just really enjoy the ritual of exchanging business cards. It's so much more sophisticated than reaching for your phone and clumsily typing in each other's details. James Bond wouldn't text you his contact info. He'd give you a business card.

A home office

Perfect home office for working from home

Yes, an entire room just devoted to your career. 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.

Drink coasters

drink coasters

When you've actually invested in a nice living room set, you're going to be a little more protective of it. That means all beverages, hot and cold, go on a coaster. No exceptions!

And a bottle of really expensive bourbon

Bourbon, cocktails

No, 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. You might even have invested in a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, which costs more than most college tuitions. People may scoff, but to us, it's an investment in our taste buds.

Extremely clean cars

Cleaning out Sand in Car Summer

Why wouldn't you want a car that doesn't look like it's been used as a makeshift trash bin? It's not enough just to make sure the back seat isn't filled with fast food containers and old plastic grocery bags. When you're over 40, you take your car to get cleaned even if it's not especially dirty. The smell of a dashboard after it's been scrubbed down with a wet rag is one of our greatest pleasures on planet Earth.

A trained pet

man walking dog on city sidewalk, relationship white lies

Most 40-year-olds prefer the company of a pet who at least knows how to be calm around people, and isn't likely to bite a stranger with no warning or take off running the moment a door is left open. We don't take our puppy-rearing lightly at this stage of life.

A newspaper subscription

a stack of newspapers

Sure, it's not as convenient as getting your news online. Newspapers are bulky, and have a tendency to leave ink on your fingers. But there's an intimacy to curling up on the couch with the Sunday paper and a cup of coffee. If there's a better way to start a lazy weekend day, we'd like to hear it.

A nice set of luggage


Preferably luggage with wheels. That well-worn duffel bag was fine when your wardrobe didn't need to be ironed and professional. Now, we're too dignified to wear clothes that arrive at their destination looking disheveled.

Paper airline tickets

boarding pass

Printing out an airline ticket might not seem necessary to younger folks, but for us, it's worth it to have one less thing to be stressed about at the airport. As you may or may not have noticed, airports tend to have unreliable wireless internet. Or you could leave your phone at a kiosk or in a taxi. It's always a good idea to have back-up. (And yes, we promise to recycle the paper version.)

A camera that doesn't make phone calls


We have nothing against devices that can do everything, but we also enjoy the simplicity of an old-fashioned camera that's capable of doing just one thing and doing it well. We don't care if we can also use it to text our friends or answer our emails or scroll through social media. We like all those things too, but there's something sublime about a camera that's only a camera.

A retirement savings that doesn't need "time to grow."

saving money for retirement

Is there any better feeling than checking the balance on your 401(k) and realizing that while you may not be ready to retire next month, or even in the next few years, you're at least building toward something? You have the foundation for a bright and secure future. It's amazing how these little reminders that you've made smart financial decisions can make all the difference in the world. And for how to stow away even more, check out these 31 Best Ways to Save for Retirement.

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