I might be young, but I’m not dumb

August 11, 2009 · 37 comments

I really have no idea what the average age is of a Punch Debt reader, but I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and assume the majority are 30 or under. It may be my terrible grammar, but I’m pretty sure my writing style appeals to the twenty somethings and not so much the sixty somethings. So I figure it’s time for a little 20 something dialogue (but feel free to contribute even if you are 30+).

Do you ever feel like people treat you like you are less important than them? Or that you are somehow dumber than they are just because you are younger? I’m a 24 year old investigator and I spend 4 to 8 hours a day out in the field interacting with a wide spectrum of the San Diego population. I have had to meet with high school students and fortune 500 CEO’s. I find the older the individual I meet with, the less respect I am given (as noted by my graph below).

Without divulging too much about what I do for a living, a good majority of my day is spent sitting down with people and interviewing them. Sometimes the interviews are planned and cordial, while other times I must be abrupt and confrontational. It’s fun work, but I have found myself becoming more and more frustrated with the 50+ crowd.

I remember one time, while I was interviewing an older gentleman, he interrupted me mid sentence to ask me how old I was. I have been asked this question before, but usually the person has done it in a sweet way so as not to be offensive. But this man was totally asking me as if he did not believe that I was old enough to be interviewing him. I responded with “Old enough to conduct investigations.”

This is not the first, and I’m sure it wont be the last, time that I am treated as though I am less important than someone simply because I’m younger. I have also felt this way when it comes to discussing finances. Have you ever tried to talk to an older individual about investing and they look at you like “Oh isn’t he cute, he thinks he can teach me about my money?” I wonder if older individuals skip past my website after they discover I’m only 24? I’m totally down to learn from anyone that has more experience or knowledge than me in any subject. If I want to learn how to play the tuba, I don’t care if the kid is 8 years old that is giving me the lesson. If he is a baller on the tuba then I’m all ears.

Now I do realize age discrimination probably works both ways and older individuals feel like the younger generations show them no respect, but I can only speak from a 24 year olds point of view. So how bout it bloggers? Have you had to deal with someone speaking to you like you are less intelligent than they are, simply because you are younger? Am I being a total drama queen and making this a way bigger deal than it should be? Do I look fat in this dress? Oh and after reading this drop me a comment with your age cause I’m curious if my readership prediction is accurate.

1 Jake Stichler

Here, buy yourself this t-shirt: http://www.printfection.com/shop/dude/T-Shirt/product.2732722/show_sideid.5252266

22, and how in the hell did you get so many readers out of nowhere? Jeesh.

2 Josh

I hear ya Ninja. Wisdom does not automatically come with age, and respect must be earned. I find that my bosses (both 65+) don't recognize the abilities I have, and even my Dad to some extent does the same. When people treat you like this and don't listen to your opinions, your ideas, or talk over the top of you you lose respect for that person right away.

Hopefully none of us that read your blog will grow up to be a condescending grumpy old-timer.

And I'm 28.

3 Becca

Occasionally, though it helps that mine is typically a phone interaction at work. For the most part, though, I haven't noticed much age discrimination. (Except for work's retirement planning offerings; you'd think they'd offer retirement planning discussions for people who are more than 5 years away from it!) 24.

4 HB

Very good post.

FunnyBusinessCartoons

5 Erin

Oh boy.

In my three years out of college, I have found that I receive one of two reactions when the older people I work with meet me face to face.

1. They assume I have the intellegence and experience of a high school student (which isn't bad if you are a high school student) and that I must be a man-eater based on my chosen profession

2. They treat me like their 12 year old granddaughter.

I happen to be a just-turned-25 female engineer. Not quite on the level of a licensed engineer with 20 years of experience, but a bit higher than a recently graduated student. This probably won't change much for 15-20 years though because I'm still regularly mistaken for an 18 year old outside of work.

Sigh.

I just have to remind myself I would rather they think I'm not intellegent and completely suprise them than they think I'm crazy smart and completely prove them wrong.

6 me in millions

I'm 26. And I look like I'm 17. Which isn't the best since I work with high schoolers (and have been doing it for 4 years). Getting mistaken for a teenager is getting old. Real old.

7 Amanda

Been there – especially when I was first teaching right out of college and dealing with older co-workers/parents. I'm 28 and look a little younger.

8 Duddes02

Ditto. Age and Intelligence don't have any correlation.

Alot of old men and women ask me "what school are you in?". I have no idea if they mean elementry school, highschool, or college- but I finished all of those.

9 Anonymous

Wow, you hit the nail on the head. I'm 35, work as a manager in the corporate world and I have an MBA. However, I look like I'm about 25. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it. I love to get ID'd, but it really ticks me off when people think I have not idea what I'm talking about. It makes me want to say "Hello, do you think I've moved up the ranks like I have because I'm an idiot." It's really annoying. I will say that I do love the instant gratification when I see the looks on their faces when they realize I do know what I'm talking about. Priceless!

10 Frugal Urbanite

I'm 26, female, and look like I'm about half my age. Apparently that means I couldn't know anything about my degree, running a business, electronics, cars, money, kids, my own future or just about anything else.

I usually don't read the blogs of people over 35. Not because of age-ism, but usually because I'm living in a totally different world and I don't relate well. I actually started my blog because I was having trouble finding personal finance blogs that a) gave good advice and b) weren't written by people who expected you to have a house, a spouse and 2 kids.

11 Jesse

I am 22 and I once had some furniture delivered and the guy asked to speak to my parents when I answered the door, at my house.

I have a house, spouse and 2 kids now. Both my wife and I look like teens (but dont dress like them, we are very conscious of what we can control about our looks) and it sure does get old but when I get to talking with someone and they find out I have a degree, career, house and kids they get that shocked look. Those that know me already give me credit and listen to what I have to say.

12 Donnie

Really, the only time old people piss me off is in the grocery store.

"Hey, let me park my cart on one side of the aisle, and block the other side while looking at the price of prunes for 5 minutes."

13 NPT

This is called ageism, discrimination based on age. A similar thing happens between adults and children, it's called adultism, when adults feel superior to children and disrespect their opinions.

14 calquist

I'm constantly carded for R movies and it is annoying, but my job is all over the phone so I don't see it a lot at work. My favorite part is handing over my ID so that they can see that I am 23, not 16 and the look on their faces. HA!

15 SS4BC

@Calquist

This happens to me and I'm turning 29 on Friday. I think most of the time they just do it to be nice though. ;)

16 ajae

I have this happen to me all the time (as recent as Sunday). 28

17 Anonymous

Okay, y'all have NOTHING to complain about. (Yes, I did just use the word "y'all. No judgements, please). Do you have any idea how hard it is to get by as a financially-savy 17 year old? Earlier this year, when I went to the bank to talk about saving for retirement, they actually laughed in my face. While I can talk shop with most people on everything from pension plans to investment funds, they didn't stop smirking until I told them I'd be taking my ten grand in savings to another bank.

My age is actually one of the main reasons I try to handle most of my finances online, from banking to kick-ass PF advice.

18 Punch Debt In The Face

Sounds like ageism is pretty universal and most of us 20 somethings have experienced in one way or another. Let's all go punch an old person in the face?

To the last anonymous poster…you are gonna be freakin loaded if you are investing 10K for retirement at 17y.o. Just let me get in on a share of your millions when you actually cash it out :)

19 @Lyddzz

Your sooooo dramatic!! jaja j/j… =D I don't care how old you are.. as long as you keep posting and putting your stick figure people i'm good (yes i'm learning also =p) and it seems i'm the oldest of your 18 commentators… 39 baby!! (hmm.. Pamela Anderson says that the 50's are the new 40's so i'm 29 in Pamela Anderson years!! booyeah =]

20 Revanche

Apparently the old people I associate with are open-minded because they mostly don't hesitate to discuss finances and other responsible schtuff with me. Then again, I do act like I'm much older than I am (30s), and look like I'm much younger (14), so they're just confused as all get out. I'm really 26, but it's more fun to let people guess.

21 Candy

I'm 22 and know exactly what your going though.

Doesn't help that I finished college when I was 19 and work in a company where everyone else is 30+.

22 starbursidereus

Hi! I came across your blog from a shout-out from Fabulously Broke. I'm 25 and I totally understand where you're coming from :-) Only thing I don't like is younger (single!) people giving me marriage advice. Other than that, I'll take anything I can get! :-)
Thanks for blogging, it's appreciated!

23 gwenavyre

I think that you are right on the money with this post. I'm 26 and many of the older generations have issues with the "millenials" as we've been branded. I'm sorry that I don't want to work myself to death and have time for friends and family in the process, but just because you're old and want to that doesn't bother me. They just don't seem to understand the way we think.

24 Jessie

It can be very frustrating when some believe that your age dictates your experience, education and wisdom..

I'm 25

25 MoneyGrubber

HAHAHA your blog is hilarious. I get the exact same treatment at work alot too, worse part is that i'm 24 but look much younger.

A couple coworkers took me out for my 24th birthday after work one day and everyone seemed overly excited about buying me a drink. When I asked them why, it turns out that they all thought I was turning 21…and it was going to be my first time drinking… Nevertheless, I have no shame in saying I tried to mooch off them as hard as I could.

26 kilaxy

Man, you are speaking the truth! At my gov job, I am the youngest person in building (24). Sometimes I have to request info or direct tasks to folks that are at least 20+ years older than me. A few are cool, but most are slightly appalled to have a young person work in the same place as them. I just replace their faces with dollar signs to feel better.

27 Anonymous

I'm 37 and I pop into your blog every now and then after getting the link from "fabulously broke". :)

28 Ola Loa

One think I don't skimp on is my health. It's very important to me that I am putting quality health food into my body, right on down to the type of vitamins I choose to consume (Ola Loa).

29 Ola Loa

I apologize! Meant to respond to your post about what you'll shell out the big bucks for. At 23, I guess I still have to learn to read :)

30 skeeter319902

I'm 28 years old and people assume I'm starting out careerwise. I've been in my field for 7 years. Eek.

31 eking out

YES, yes, and yes. Try being a 25 year old WOMAN and getting respect from old men. When you try to command more respect by acting serious and professional, they think you're a prudish bitch, and no one likes you. But when you're fun, no one takes you seriously. I've found that I really can't win when I'm faced with a work situation that involves an "old boys' club."

32 Canadian Debt Girl

Yes, I agree…

And I'm 27.

33 camorra

I'm 18.

My parents think that it's hilarious when I talk about retirement savings, despite the fact that they are teaching me how to manage my personal finances by giving me a lot of money to handle by myself. I may be young, but I still know about compound interest.

34 Greg

I break the record here at 42.

It's not your age, it's the person you are dealing with. I use to think the same damn thing. I was a manager of a multi-million dollar business at 19 and had the same issue.

Over time I learned if the person on the other side of the desk doesn't discriminate because of age it will be because of where you went to school the style of your hair or some other thing.

Just do the right thing for the right reason. If they don't like it, $%^&* em'

35 b-bo

this post is pretty stupid, I'm 27 and have experienced what you describe in your post, however I also feel like you have some unfounded hubris and sense of superiority for some reason. "if [an 8yr old] is a baller on the tuba, then I'm all ears?" I'm pretty sure in your job you're not trying to teach anyone about psychology in your investigations and even if by some chance you were, I don't really think a vanilla bachelors degree makes you a baller. Throwing up a blog about your savings plan doesn't make you a baller about anything. I have a sense you receive this types of comments you describe not necessarily because of your age, but because of the (seemingly) invasive nature of your position, or I would imagine same sort of smugness that comes across in your blog coming out in your job could piss people off too. I think old people probably just care less and less as they age, and just call it like they see it.

36 PunchDebt

You’re 100% right :)

37 Dennis

actually i believe alot of you posters have a problem with old people..gwenavyre's post is an example of that .//statistically ,theres going to be alot of older people who believe that age matters in situations such that are posted here.but that's not going to be the majority//but i also think that many of you need to understand that alot of people in your age groups have a problem with "old people". i'm 54,but look to be in my mid 30's. because of this i attract people in their 20's and 30's so most of my friends are younger than i and many are half my age.they very often forget my real age and many times in the past,during the course of conversation,i've picked up on the fact that they for some reason,have a real problem with "old people". in fact many times they've applied the term"old people" to men and women that were no older than 40 something. i wonder what 20 somethings who think like that ,will do when they begin to show their late 30 or 40ish side. suicide? facelift??depression clinic?? all 3??

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