According to the online Urban Dictionary, the Grey Pound is “the money being spent by old people…the old people putting money into the economy.” The online Cambridge Dictionary’s definition is “the money that all old people, as a group, have to spend”.
So who, exactly, are these ‘old people’ spending the ‘grey pound?
Well, according to a 2005 article on catererandhotelkeeper.co.uk, the ‘grey pound’ describes the money spent by consumers over the age of 50. Yes that’s right…50. The article states that the ‘grey pound’ was a 70s term. Apparently, it became such a cliché that around the start of the new Millennium, advertisers and businesses decided the over 50s market was too ‘untrendy’ to ‘target overtly’. So there you have it, over 50s were seen as untrendy and not worth bothering with. So it isn’t our imaginations going wild when we feel invisible out there and that we are treated as a bit of a joke by any young ‘trendy’ people who do happen to notice us.
Grey Pound v Generation Y
The author the 2005 Caterer and Hotel Keeper article went on to say that the people advertisers had in their financial sights at that time were ‘teenagers and Generation Y”. Generation Y, in case you didn’t know, refers to those born in the 80s and 90s. In other words the children of the grey pounders…OUR children. Perhaps it is no wonder that the younger generation came to disregard us as a viable section of society when the business world had apparently written us off as ‘too untrendy to target overtly’. We were deliberately down-played in the media.
Brainwashing takes many forms and maybe younger people subliminally picked up on the fact that they were the darlings of the consumer world while we, the over 50s, were unworthy of being sold anything ‘trendy’ by anyone. Maybe we should have stayed indoors with bags over our offensive ‘untrendy’ heads. However, the 2005 article did go on to say things were changing. It said: ‘those conspicuous consumers born between 1947 and 1961 – the so-called Baby-boomers, the next wave of grey pound spenders – are making a comeback. They are appearing in the strategic business plans of corporate leisure companies.”
Ok, we have gone from being ‘untrendy’ to ‘conspicuous consumers’. WTF! Not sure what makes us ‘conspicuous’, certainly not the color of our pounds which are a drab grey apparently, (not like the nice ‘pink pounds’ of another much insulted section of our society – but that is another story). So the business world was finally waking up and realising that it wasn’t really a good idea to sideline us because there are a lot of us and we do have spending power. But have they woken up enough in recent times to understand that if they want our money, they have to stop insulting us? I think not. I think Generation Y was so brainwashed by the media’s disdain for the over 50s back then, that those now in their 30s and 40s see no wrong in using a very insulting term to describe our collective spending power. I found this out first-hand last year at a business exhibition in London.
As a woman who was part of a busy working world only a couple of years ago, I found it very hard to come to terms with being flung out, overnight, from a job I loved and excelled at. It was done in the most callous, uncaring and illegal way possible by younger but more senior colleagues, to cover-up some serious wrong-doing I was about to reveal.
After I was done with the very robust and successful legal case I hurled back at my shocked, arrogant employers (how could I do such a thing! Why didn’t I just go away and play Bingo for goodness sake?), I found myself in an employment wasteland where the only job I could get at 56, was wiping the bottoms of those in possession of the seriously grey pound. And much as I love my fellow human beings, I have no desire to clean up their waste products for £7 an hour.
So The Great British Business Exhibition 2014 was the ideal place for me to go to get inspiration for starting my own business. When I saw the list of speakers, I was excited to find Vince Stanzione, a self-made millionaire, on the list. Vince was one of the people I most wanted to hear speak. I also wanted a copy of his book The Millionaire Dropout. So off I went on the train to the Big City to hear a whole list of successful business people speak. All the speakers were good but Vince Stanzione was going to be the icing on the cake of my day out.
His one and only seminar of the two-day event was so popular, I had to sit on the floor, almost at the front, almost at his feet actually, surrounded by other floor-sitters who were so keen to hear him, they didn’t care about the discomfort involved. He had me in the palm of his hand as I devoured every word. I wanted his book and I had thirteen of my precious pounds ready and waiting. Then came the blow I did not expect. Without batting an eyelid at the very mixed age audience, Vince spoke of the ‘grey pounds’ spent by the over 55s. I sagged inside. He may as well have said the ‘wrinkly’ pound.
I looked round the room and saw many people like myself. Many of us, incidentally, sitting on the floor and getting up again with no problem! I knew from observing the thousands of other visitors at the exhibition that it was likely there were many ‘over 50s’ rejects from the working world who had suffered the same fate as me and who were looking for a new lease of life as their own boss. In the sleepy backwater where I live, it is easy to feel old and over-the-hill.
London, I always think, is different. You can be who you are there and no one bothers you. In my case, the ‘who I am’ is a woman still keen to work, live life to the full and be a part of life, not someone peering at it from behind the wall society tosses you over on reaching 50. The grey pound thing happened about halfway through Vince’s talk and for the rest of the seminar, I fought to forgive him. I wondered if it was just me or whether any of the other 55+ people felt stung by the reminder that we are old and defined by the color grey.
At the end, I left without the book. I decided to keep my horrible grey little pounds in my bag and make my fortune without the help of Vince’s book. Cutting my nose off to spite my face? Yes definitely, because this book is a good read for anyone wanting to create wealth. It is packed with honest, simply written information about how to change your life. It covers areas that similar books do not even touch on because Vince Stanzione takes a holistic approach to the concept of making money. However, I really only want to give my money to people who don’t insult my whole generation by calling our money horrible names that insinuate we, as a group, are drab and old. Many of us have to fight that prejudice on a daily basis whilst being forced, by economics, to participate in a world that doesn’t seem to take us seriously any more.
I have since relented and bought The Millionaire Dropout from Amazon because the author is one person that people who are sick of the 9 to 5 grind, with all its injustices, may need to listen to (in spite of what our mother’s told us about dropouts!). On reading the book, I am convinced that Mr. Stanzione is the last person on the planet who would want to want to insult anyone. He comes across as a thoroughly genuine and humble person who, despite his current wealth and status, has memories of being badly bullied as a child. I am sure his use of the term the ‘grey pound’ is simply an indication of just how brainwashed younger people have been into seeing us ‘oldies’ as fair game for insults because we have the audacity to show faces in public.
So all you marketing people out there trying to sell stuff to us ‘Baby-boomers’, you really need to find another more upbeat and respectful name for our pounds if you want them that badly. Perhaps you need to understand that we are not a blanket demographic of grey people shuffling around sucking peppermints. Rather, we are a generation of individuals, many of whom are still young and fit at 50, 60, 70 and 80+ who resent the portrayal of us as grey old people with grey money. After all, we are expected to go on working well into our mid 60s now that the pension age (in the UK) has been rudely shoved up our former expectations.
What about all those pounds we will be earning? I wonder what they will get called because the ‘grey’ pound is definitely well past its sell-by date now. Any ideas anyone? My choice is the ‘golden’ pound because I consider we are in the long autumn of our lives once past 50 and I for one am enjoying an Indian summer that could go on for many, many years before turning into the winter that will be my last. I quite like ‘purple pound’ because it’s funky. like us ‘oldies’.
If you think I am the only person speaking out for Generation F (fabulous) – think again. Check out this website:
Scroll down Elena’s page to link up with some brilliant bloggers about mid-life. And if you are 35 – take my advice – don’t assume this isn’t for you! One day you will wake up and it will be your 50th summer – trust me, it won’t be long!
Please share your thoughts on the grey pound issue with me – and I would love to hear from readers in the US to see if your dollar gets called insulting names too!
If you forgive Vince Stanzione and would like his book – click the link below to get it on Amazon. And yes, I will get paid a teeny-tiny commission if you buy it. But that is not the reason for this article. My article is the real deal and the book is an add-on to give me an outbound link – and that’s the truth!