How to Have a Better Mid-Life Crisis

(Note: All calculations and charts rendered with

It doesn’t matter if you’re happily married or in the throes of a brutal, debilitating divorce. You may have been a conscientious saver, you may have formed wise money-habits – able to navigate narrow budgets with ease. But one morning you’ll wake up and feel the need to buy something – something stupidly significant and attention-getting, and in mid-life that can be expensive.

So, how do you choose which silly thing to buy?


Since we’re talking about stupidity, simply opening your wallet for whatever flashy car/boat/jewel/timeshare catches your eye might seem proper, but there’s a better way to make such a massive and financially burdensome mistake. Because the question is not, can I afford it, right now, in this moment? Rather, the questions are these: What are the long-term effects of this bad decision? How much damage am I really doing? And most importantly, how can I minimize the damage while sating my urge to spend good money on what I don’t need (and will likely under-use)?

Now the tricky thing about a mid-live crisis is that it’s happening mid-life. These are your prime salary years and also when you have the most demands and commitments laid upon you. So even if you can afford the extra payment for whatever ludicrous purchase you’re itching to make – you should judge the impact not only against your 5-10 year plan, but also against the far future of your final years.

We’ll look at 2 scenarios which compare the impact of purchasing a 2016 Convertible Corvette versus a 2011 29′ Sea Ray Sundancer. Our individual has a previous baseline Trajectory concluding at age 90 with approximately $65,000 in assets. As you’ll see, he currently has a spouse, two children, two cars, a mortgage and various other expenses typical of “mid-life”.

The screenshot below illustrates the financial effects of purchasing the Corvette:


As you can see, the result is a $40,000 decrease in overall Trajectory to about $26,000. Note that we assumed use of the Corvette as a regular car, if a different “daily driver” was required, the financial impact would be considerably greater.

Now let’s look at the “boat scenario”:


Although the monthly payment is lower (because one can finance a boat over a longer period of time) the financial impact is far greater. The first problem is that boats can’t be driven to work, so we’re including a car purchase at age 55. And since a 29 foot water craft doesn’t fit in most driveways, we have marina fees that continue until age 70.

In addition, our individual is projected to run out of cash around age 86, creating a shortfall > $90,000 by age 90. OnTrajectory calculates that to make up this shortfall about $100/month additional savings is required.

Of course these illustrations confirm the obvious – buying more expensive toys has greater financial impact. What OnTrajectory let’s us do is more easily quantify the destructive power we’re releasing on our “retirement years” – and, one hopes, help us make poor decisions slightly less poor, whether in a mid-life crisis or during any other period of our lives.

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The Complicated Mess of Your Financial Life

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Let’s say you’re 25 (pretending is fun, right?)…

If you place a quarter a day into a tax-deferred, moderate-risk-jar and because you’re awesome, you give that jar to your favorite great-grand-nephew upon your eternal “rest”: How much is in the jar?

About $43,000, here’s the chart…


Or how about something a little trickier to calculate. Let’s say you replace your car about every 10 years (until you turn 70), how many extra years of retirement can you afford if you pay $400 per month versus $500?

About 6 years — here are the charts…

carPayment_400 carPayment_500

Or a latte per week? About $100k of inheritance.

Or a bachelor/bachelorette party in Vegas? About a semester of college for your unborn daughter.

Or not taking the 401k match at your job? You don’t even want to know.

And we’re not saying you shouldn’t do these things (except the 401k thing, please do that). Not only because financial models are built on assumptions and assumptions are uncertain, but because lattes are delicious. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to see the information – to easily adjust various criteria, and display the results all in the context of your own situation?

Consider this scenario:

You’re a middle-aged adult with 2 young kids. Your house/apartment is too small and maybe the schools aren’t so hot. You’ve got a decent job and a growing 401k. But now you also have to think about 529 Plans and maybe an IRA for your spouse who only works part-time – perhaps an HSA too, maybe? How do you know ‘how much house’ to buy, or whether you should buy one at all? Is it better to put the cash in the HSA, the 401k, the IRA, or the 529?

How can anyone do serious planning with so many variables to consider? How can you map the interplay of these choices and run scenarios to clearly see the results?

Well, that’s why we exist – so give us a try at

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OnTrajectory Goes Live!

Imagine the ability to visualize a range of your possible financial futures – and by tweaking personal details, produce a high-fidelity graph of your most likely financial pathway. That’s OnTrajectory.


Designed for non-experts and pros alike, OnTrajectory guides users via interactive Alerts and Rewards prompting them to refine their financial life-plan. Other sophisticated products require entry of dozens of technical financial elements, but OnTrajectory produces initial results from 4 simple questions. On this foundation, users layer specifics at their own speed and comfort level.


OnTrajectory does not focus on narrow questions like: “What number do I need to retire?” or “How much will my kids need for college?” – we address your central concern: Where is my money taking me?

You pick the Income/Expenses/Investment details important to you, and outline the critical changes over periods of your life. Leveraging various analysis techniques – Monte Carlo, Average Growth, Historical – we render and rank the most likely outcomes.


And since we save a history of your progress, the more you use OnTrajectory, the better. With your past charted, you can postulate possible futures with more confidence and insight. So log on today at and begin to lift the fog of financial planning.

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UPDATE: Premium Subscriptions to OnTrajectory  are currently FREE for a limited time. For additional information email We can also be found on Twitter “@OnTrajectory”.

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OnTrajectory: Features and Functions

See Where Your Money Is Taking You

moneyEyeOnTrajectory does not seek answers to questions like, “How much do I need to retire?” or “How much do my kids need for college?” It addresses a simple, central concern: “What’s my financial trajectory?” i.e. Are you on course for economic independence – or will you financially crash and burn? Here’s how we do that:


  1. Enter your unique Income, Expense, and Savings/Investment Items
  2. Set Age Ranges for each item, as necessary
  3. Enter unique criteria, including Tax and Growth Rates, for each individual Item or Range
  4. Create Expense Groups for budget tracking

Interactive Modeling & Simulations

mindChangePeople are visual, and they like to change their minds. OnTrajectory supports both of these very human traits – here’s how:

  1. Visually-engaging and interactive graphs
  2. Plot your Goals on future dates or for hypothetical rates-of-return
  3. “Exclude” items instantly for easy “what-if” analysis
  4. Visualize the effects of Inflation while working in “Today’s Dollars”
  5. Compare Average Growth, ‘Monte Carlo’, and Historical analyses all at one time

Start Simple & Refine Over Time

refineOther financial tools (online Retirement Calculators, Investment Simulators, etc.) love to set your goals for you. What’s more, they lack a way to track your progress toward achieving them. OnTrajectory provides a persistent, historical view that adds value to your data the more you come back. Yes, it’s super-simple to get started, but as your situation becomes increasingly complex, so does the information OnTrajectory can provide – here’s how:

  1. Track and save a History of your total progress and project it against your Trajectory
  2. Calculate individual Savings/Investment balances for any future-date
  3. View and analyze all underlying data
  4. Store your unique scenario through a secure connection to our server

More to Come

We are constantly adding new features and fine-tuning existing modules. We hope that OnTrajectory will become an indispensible part of your financial planning and that as we grow, so will you!

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Free versus Premium Features: A List!

As you know we’ve been adding new features every month for the past year — and a lot of folks are wondering what will remain Free and what will be included in our “Premium” subscription? I’m here to clear some of that up for you…

Free Features

View the Financial Trajectory of your life:


Easily Input Income, Expenses & Savings / Investments for various periods of time:screenshot_itemEditing

Save and track a History of your progress:


Track future Goals:


View basic underlying Data:


Premium Features

View “Monte Carlo”, Historical, and Average Growth projections in a single view:


Define multiple Individuals with different ages (such as a Spouse):


Create multiple “Scenarios”:


View detailed underlying Data:data_advanced

And there’s more to come! So keep logging in and keep tracking your plan — stay OnTrajectory.

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1:30 Video – 60 Years of Your Future

We just posted a short video about us on our home page. It would be so nice if you checked it out!

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PRESS RELEASE: Public Beta, a financial-modeling tool for financial non-experts, announces public access to its latest beta to begin November 1, 2014.

Baltimore, MD, November 1, 2014OnTrajectory, a Baltimore-based start-up, wants to turn upside down how folks approach financial planning questions. For example, rather than calculate a static amount for retirement or target a single monthly savings rate, OnTrajectory lets users visualize finances over their lifetime and make adjustments based on their actual progress. Access to the online beta provides a fully-functional preview of their free version and will be available throughout November 2014.

Taking cues from the gaming industry, OnTrajectory is highly-visual and interactive with models that begin as broad estimations and subsequently reward users for refining and detailing their plan. Users also receive access to a library of multimedia resources that explain complex financial concepts and provide tips for increasing the accuracy of financial models.

Unlike competing retirement calculators and investment simulators, OnTrajectory retains a history of progress, which helps users validate past assumptions and encourages them to keep on-top of their financial plan. Flexibility in modeling circumvents the highly-structured assumptions found in most other tools, and OnTrajectory’s “Warning” system helps users identify and resolve shortcomings in their financial models.

Full roll-out of OnTrajectory is planned for early 2015 and will be offered in both Free and Premium versions. Pricing for the Premium version will be provided upon release. For additional information, please call (410) 530-3646 or send email to OnTrajectory can also be found on Twitter at “Are You@OnTrajectory”.

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