The blatant truth of turning gray

The blatant truth of turning gray


When you see your first gray hairs, it's a sign to start saving for when you're older and grayer.

Have you ever used one of those digitally aging apps? The ones where you upload a picture of your face, and they send you back a gray-haired image that looks remarkably like your mother?

You may even have been sent this app by your insurer or pension companies. Since as it turns out, offering people a glimpse of their future selves makes people more inclined to save additional money for this "future self": that stranger that we need to take care of, today, by saving for retirement.

I’m less inclined to share pictures of my face with random apps, but I’ve found the next best thing to meeting my digitally altered, future, older self: finding my first gray hair.

I’ll never forget where I was when I saw it for the first time. I was at the beach, enjoying an ice cream with my kids. The wind whipped my long hair all around, and I had to hold on to it, to make sure it wouldn't stick to my cone. As I held my hair, I saw that first unmistakable long, curly, thick strand of gray hair. I didn't drop my ice cream, but it was certainly a peek into a future that shouted old age, poor health, retirement, and (dare I say it?) losing my looks. Forrreverrrr.

And I'm not the only one. A quick round with friends and colleagues tells me it's a notable moment for almost everyone. 'I freaked out and called my mom,' said Clementine. 'She immediately told me that gray hair is caused by worrying too much.' Other colleagues tell me they completely skirted the issue of graying hair by dying their hair continuously, throughout their twenties or thirties.

Rocking gray on the beach

It's not all bad news

Tons of people rock gray hair! George Clooney looks better now, as a gray fox, than a decade ago. Not to mention the incredible Dame Helen Mirren! And some folks see 'the moment' as a positive. "I was in complete shock about the fact that my gray hairs are thick and curly," Berdien wrote. "My hair has always been straight, and I've always wanted curly hair. So, I envision myself with lovely gray, curly hair in a couple of years!"

There are a lot of theories on what causes gray hair, but scientists agree that genetics play the biggest part. If you're anything like me, it’s a wake-up call to start preparing and saving for the future. Because that future, old me? She’s not that far away anymore.

Lights, camera, action

If you're ready to seize the moment to take charge of your future finances, you could consider the following:

  • Contact a financial advisor to discuss what’s possible with your current income (and your plans for the future);
  • Call your pension provider or insurance company, and see if they can provide a status update or overview of what you’ve saved so far;
  • Look into options for long-term savings accounts that fit your lifestyle;
  • Consider low-risk investment accounts. Read my personal story about making my first 10 cents investing.
Elke Boogert

About Elke Boogert

As part of Aegon's content team, I love exploring inventive, new ways to tell "old" stories. Focus on budgeting, tech, data and personal stories.