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How to Start Over at 50 With No Money and Little Hope

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Is it hard to start over at 50? Is it terrifying to start over at 50? Is it frustrating af to start over at 50?

Yup, yup, yup.

It’s all of those things and then some. And I know. I had to do that at 52 years old without a penny to my name. I had zippo, zilch, nudda. Except for hope. I had a tiny shred of hope that I clung to for dear life.

I had to hang on to that because I had nothing else. Nothing. I had to figure out how to start over at 50 with no money and no job.

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When you have to start over at 50 with no money (and alone)

I never once thought in a million years that I would have to start over at 50. I mean, when I threw my husband out 31 odd years ago, I kinda had to start over, but it was a lot easier then. Or so it seemed anyway.

And then, when I left my abusive partner in 2013 after just closing up my salon and declaring bankruptcy, I had to start over again, but this time, it was hard. And terrifying af.

To be honest, I have never felt so alone in my entire life as I did then.

I had to scramble to find an apartment and find things to put in my apartment, hopefully for free, because I couldn’t afford anything. I had to find someone to help me move what little belongings I did have remaining at the old house with my ex.

And I had to find a job. I needed money. I needed a lot of things. I was starting over entirely.

I was fortunate enough to have a former boss who really liked me and was happy to have me return to her salon. Tail between my legs, off I went.

I had to start over at 50 with nothing. And to say I was freaking out a little is an understatement.

Trying to figure out how to start over when you have a small child is one thing, and that in itself is exhausting and hard. But when you’re over 50, and you feel like most of your life is over, and then you gotta figure out how to start over again?

Ya. That’s terrifying and exhausting too but in a different way.

Starting over at 50 with nothing is soul crushing

People joke about having a midlife crisis. Honestly, it’s nothing to joke about at all; well, not my crisis anyway. I was 52 years old and had nothing to my name.

I even ran out of pride and self-confidence/respect/worth/love, you name it, I had no selfs left.

To say you feel like an absolute loser is an understatement. Starting over at 50 and broke is soul-crushing and frustrating af.

You look around at most of your friends and they are all still happily married or still have good jobs they had right out of high school. So many of them are doing so well in life, and here you are, at 50, starting over with no money, no nothing.

It’s sufficient to say you kinda feel like a bit of a loser.

So ya, to start over at 50 isn’t all rainbows and lollipops. But once you get past the initial shell shock and fear, you realize that you can reinvent your life the way YOU want. How it pleases you!!

That’s the amazing part!

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You can reinvent your life at 50 (or even older!!)

Once I left my ex and started to reinvent my life, I realized that the sky was the limit. I could do or be anything in the world that I wanted to. All I had to do was find out what that was.

I had no clue.

For the first time in my life, I was alone and had no one to answer to but myself. If anything needed changing or improving, it was up to me to do that.

It was up to me to change my life at 50 (something-ish) and to stop living in the same misery I had been living all these years. My life was an insane roller coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows, and I needed it to stop.

I needed some stability.

I needed some kind of normalcy. When you realize you can reinvent your life any way you want to, well, girl, lemme tell ya. You kinda feel like a 5 yr old on Christmas morning!

How to start over in life at 50

I had no clue how to start over in life, but I was about to find out.

The first thing I had to do was find out who Iva was and what made her happy. I needed to let go of who I used to be so I could become who I wanted to be.

I also had to forget how old I was. I mean, totally remove my age from this equation.

Too many people use their age as an excuse not to do or start something. I couldn’t do that. I had to throw my age out of the window. I had spent my entire life making excuses for things. Not anymore.

So while doing some life inventory, I had to stop and ask myself a few questions to find out exactly what the heck I was gonna do with my life now.

Five questions to ask yourself when you’re starting over at 50

  • What’s going to make me happy?
  • What will give me the greatest amount of freedom?
  • What can I do to help others?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What am I really passionate about?

Nowhere in there does it say, “Can I do this?”. Do you know why? Because you can do anything you set your mind to. Absolutely anything.

How to start over at 50 with no money and all alone. Pin

When you take some time to answer these questions and try to figure out your next step, you will see how things will unfold for you, almost miraculously, kinda like they did for me.

How to start over: changing careers at 50

I’m going to really try hard to make this a Reader’s Digest version of my life, but I share it with you now because I want you to see that if I can do it, so can you. And I don’t care how old you are.

So many people are worried or scared because they don’t know how to start over or if they can even change careers at 50 (or even 40 or 60!), but you most certainly can. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

This is how it went down for me.

It kinda happened like this:

  • Went back to the old job, grateful but miserable
  • I spent a year doing self-discovery
  • Started volunteering at the homeless shelter while I was healing my own demons
  • Found my passion there, helping and serving the homeless
  • I decided I wanted to do this in Central America
  • I went on a volunteer mission for three weeks in Costa Rica
  • Came back home and decided I wanted to do more of that and move to Central America
  • While still cutting hair, I read eBooks and blogs to learn how to become a freelance writer (it was the only thing I was really good at and could work online at)
  • I spent almost a full year honing this craft (writing) and looking for jobs (while still cutting hair full-time)
  • Finally found good jobs as a ghostwriter
  • In July of 2015, I retired from hair, became a full-time freelance writer
  • In October 2015, I moved to Guatemala with two suitcases on a one-way ticket.

See how that happened? While working on myself and helping others, I found my passion and did what I could do to do more of it. Just not in Northern Ontario where I was living at the time.

At 53 years old I had started a new career. I hung up my cutting shears, and I was now a freelance writer. Who would have ever thunk? Certainly not me.

But that’s how things happen. That’s how life changes.

I knew what I wanted. I wanted to leave Canada, I wanted to leave winters behind and I wanted to help poor people in another country.

I knew if I wanted to do all that, I wouldn’t be able to do that as a hairstylist, so I had to totally reinvent myself and start a new career over 50 that would allow me to travel and still support myself.

And that’s exactly what I did. And so can you.

Some tips to follow when you’re starting over in life

Before we get into this, please check out my new YouTube channel for women over 50 (or 30 or 40 or even 60 or 70!! HA!) Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button while you’re there.

I recently made a video on this exact topic and I think you’ll really like it. You can click here to watch that inspirational video now.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not easy (well it wasn’t for me) and it can be stressful and super scary but you most certainly can start over at 50, or even 60!

How to start over in life: 5 Tips

  1. Forget your age-it’s just a number. Too many of us think we are “too old” to start anything new or make any significant changes in life, but nothing is further from the truth. Forget how old you are and do life the way you want it.
  2. Find your passion. What are you most passionate about? Are you doing that? What are some of the things that bring your heart great joy and happiness? Do more of those things. Your heart knows.
  3. Do some research -Find out what it takes to follow your passion and what is required to do your “new thing.” All the answers you need are at your fingertips on the internet.
  4. Make the decision. You must decide to start taking the necessary steps to change your life (so many never make it that far). That’s by far the hardest step of all, but you have to do it!!
  5. Stay focused. Your new life and happiness are steps away, but it’s up to you to stay the course. Don’t give up. Be brave, determined, and courageous -you’ll need all 3 to succeed in your big life changes!

The way I look at it is this:

We’re more than halfway through our lives (give or take a few years).

We don’t want to die with regret.

There are probably so many things you still want to do but have always been afraid to do them (go do them)

This is your only life.

Nothing changes if nothing changes and it’s up to you to make those changes

Don’t you want to be happy? Aren’t you tired of being stuck in a cage like you have been your entire life? Don’t you want to be free?

Of course, you do!!

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You so got this!!!

Starting over at 50 with no money is very scary

It’s not going to be easy starting over at 50 with no money, and it’s so terrifying, but you can do it!!

Yes, what you are about to embark on may be terrifying. Do it anyway. You don’t think it was scary for me to leave my country and move to a third-world country that I knew nothing about?

Of course, it was scary. I was terrified out of my tree. But it didn’t matter. I had to face my fears and shut them down.

I wanted this; I knew it would be ballsy and scary. And I was prepared to do whatever it took to make this a reality.

I was tired of my life. It had to change. So I made it happen. Alone!

How bad do you want it? How badly do you want to reinvent a life that totally pleases you? Take your age out of the equation and do what your heart calls you to do.

The benefits when you start over at 50

Let’s face it, your life is about to become beyond amazing. You are going to be doing things you have only ever dreamed of. Yay you!!

Here are a few benefits of starting over at 50:

  • Build self-confidence
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Have more pride in yourself
  • Become unstoppable (yasssssssss)
  • Have courage to do more life-changing things
  • Become an inspiration to other women who want to start over at 50

This is the only life you have. Don’t live with regrets.

xo iva xo


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  1. Thank You, you’ve given me a starting point, and it was just what I needed right now.
    You were talking to me, you were saying just what I’ve been thinking I needed, but just needed to shut down that negative ninny voice in my head.

    1. Yay I’m so happy to hear this. That negative voice thinks it knows best but it doesn’t. You go girl!!!

  2. Hello Iva-
    I just Subscribed to your YouTube channel and thrilled to get to know you! I had tears and butterflies…as I read your story, up above.
    🙋🏼‍♀️Sixty-Single/Divorced-Scared in a rut. You are a breath of fresh air-inspiration! 🙏🏻🌞Thank you.

    1. Yay thanx for doing that and thank you so much for your kind words! You will get out of this rut!! Forge ahead girl..you’re gonna be ok!!

  3. Thank you, what I read is what I needed right now.I am a 48 years old man that wasted many years of my life because I was trapped in a doomsday cult, the Jehovah’s witnesses.I was 21 years old when i surrender my brain to this group and at that time I was working with my older brother in a foreign country but my cult involvement led me eventually away from him and while he became rich i stayed poor until now and last year my wife left me because of the fact that I had woken up to the reality that I was trapped in a cult, something for which my dear brother had warned me telling me that this so called religion would destroy my life, and two months ago the most terrible thing happened my beloved Brother died from covid and for the last two months i live in pain for the years i lost away from him and for the years i spend to take care of my wife and her family who without any regret thrown me out of the house after serving them for 18 years.So here i am 48 with no older brother no children without a house and with no money but whith an inspiration,my brother Peter, what would he do?Yes i am free, especially from this destroying and mind controling cult,i speak and write English and i have nothing to loose, and if Peter is watching me from heaven i want to say that I am sorry for not listening to you all those years ago but now you will be my inspiration

  4. George…. where are you now? Are you ambitious? We are starting over too. We need those that would work for nothing, but with hopes at succeeding. My hubby and I want to start a business, move, and start over. I am inspired anything can happen. Hope and faith. I pray you have found your way back to God. He is the miracle. With God, all is possible. Prayers.

  5. Every article on the internet says the same thing. All of these 50 something women say they are starting their lives over with nothing….but that’s not true. Do you have a car? Do you somewhere to live? A job? Plus all of you were married…so you got something out of that to. Like money and alimony and other material goods. That ‘s not nothing. Nothing is living with someone over 22 years and having no place to live, no car, no money, no… well… NOTHING. Rent is over 1500.00. No one wants to hire me for anything that makes more than that a month. I can’t find a full time, good paying job. All of that is NOTHING. I need help starting from actual NOTHING.

    1. Hey thanx for reading and I’m sorry that you feel that way about “all of these women” . I hope you can find some hope and try to believe in miracles. Good things will come if you change your mindset. If you can’t find a job, create one. That’s what I recently did. You haVe to start somewhere….Figure out a way, and have faith.

    2. Hi there.. am relating, and hearing, what you’re saying. I’m 54, about-to-be divorced, but with no alimony/material possessions, have lost over 70% of my hearing (wear over-ear hearing aids, both ears), scoliosis, carpel tunnel both hands/arms, no family/friends (died last several years), and Major chip-on-my-shoulder. So am curious what you’re doing now, where you’re at now in your starting-over (?) It’s the likes of ‘us’ that need to stick together!

      1. Thanx for your comments RaggDollaz. I feel it’s important for all women to lift each other up and help each other out when we can. Starting over is lonely and scary so it’s great to have support! 🙂

    3. I feel the same I am homeless with nothing like you tell me how are you now? I am stuck and health is a issue too. I actually have a hard time finding any hope.

    1. Yay so glad you found this and it has inspired and motivated you!! Thanx for reading xoxo

  6. Hi Iva. I walked away from everything aged 45…home city and country, friends, a secure apartment, my teaching job. It wasn’t a conscious or positive move..in all honesty I was running away from one thing, and have ended up much worse off. During Covid I finally stopped dreaming and began to wake up to the reality of what I threw away..the last 18 months have made me question who I am and if I had some kind of personality or identity takeover. I turned 50 last month and am scared sh£&tless at the prospect of poverty and homelessness in old age. As I said, I used to be a teacher..also taught English in Spain and Italy when younger, haven’t taught since leaving London 5,years ago but it is the one skill I have on my favour. Other than that I have no savings, no pension, no home of my own..In other words no assets at all. I have had 5 wasted years since arriving in rural Ireland,I can either stay here looking out at the rain and wasting the rest of my life, or I can be inspired and start living again. I love teaching, I love working with kids and have been told I have a talent for writing. I hope I can use both skills to at least keep a very modest roof over my head, and eat. As I have no savings I am wondering what far flung continent to move to and get old in. No partner or offspring, it will just be me. Best wishes, Claire.

    1. Oh you can teach online anywhere in the world…. the door is wide open for you now to do what YOU want….go do it!!! Thanx for sharing your story…you so got this girl 🙂

    2. Hi Claire – I agree with Iva, there are plentiful legit online teaching needed. There is HOPE and your will be good again! Keep the Faith! sending love and prayers from South Africa

  7. Your story was so close to mine. I’m 56, divorced a 16 yr marraige w/ 4 children, no child support, left our home due to fear of ex, struggled for years, fast forward to 4 grown children, 2 grand babies, had my life together and feeling strong & stable until I gave it all up for a life with what turned out to be a seriously toxic relationship & left with a car load of my things. Now staying in a friends spare bedroom and starting over. Wanting to be here for my kids & their children but needing to find a new home with no money, a job that isn’t paying so well right now and rents sky high. I’m scared, confused, angry I let this happen to myself. Thankyou for the encouraging words. Any advice on the finding a home in this situation would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi sorry you are feeling a little lost, scared, confused, etc. It can be stressful leaving a relationship and having to start over again alone. The only thing I can suggest if your current job doesnt’ pay enough is to find other work or another part time job. I worked up to 14 hour days some days to make ends meet and reinvent my career and my life. Yes it was long and hard but I wanted a better life for myself so I knew if I put in the hard work first, I would see results. Stay the course, have faith and be open to step out of your comfort zone, try new things. Hope this helps…xoxox

  8. Hi there, thank you so so much for sharing. I am 53 years old, and I am literally LOST at the moment! I had my own home, well still had a bond payments to bank but I had to sell it last year due to COVID and unemployment. I have an addiction which I cannot get rid off!!!! At times, I think death is the BEST thing cos this addiction is with me for 15 years!! I tried to reach out to support groups but ….I guess it is me that didnt want the proper help. So I am stuck with the addiction, I could have had a comfortable life but with the addiction lost most of my money. I recently lost my furbaby and it broke me; with guilt and sadness! My Peki baby was my BABY, my hope of living! I cannot think of what my passion is in life is! I am good with people, worked at global organisations and gel well with diverse cultures. I am a Personal Assistant / Admin by trade of 35 years under my belt! I am in a mundane job, which I should be grateful off as the unemployment rate is horrific in this country! I have lived alone for 27 odd years and have had a good life in my 20s, 30s, 40s etc but sadly at 53, no house, have excellent family and friend support though…but I dont feel grateful! Yes, I know how this sounds but I am being honest! what is wrong with me?? i am trying to reach out to support groups in my area but sadly, that too is so stagnant and unhelpful! apologies for the long write but I just needed to vent…Blessings from South Africa

    1. I think you’re just in a funk to be honest and paralyzed with indecisive and fear. You are creating your life with your thoughts and actions so it’s up to you to create new helpful thoughts and actions. You can stay miserable or you can change. It’s entirely up to you xoxox

    2. First, there is nothing wrong with you! Every individual has their own background/experiences/influences that has shaped them, and who/how they are at present. Second, addictions are insanely difficult to shed, I finally axed just one of mine recently, which in part is why I’ve woken up to the horror that is my current reality and pathetic excuse of a life, which in turn has caused me to be extremely angry with myself, but also realize that I have to forgive myself to move forward… and Third, I’ve attended/participated in several support groups, even psychotherapy, only to find most of these people are looking for people like me to use, abuse, or attempt to manipulate to their own selfish gain. So!, here we are, those of us who’ve made not-so-great decisions earlier in life and now paying the price, so-to-speak, also carrying around loads of hate/self-loathing.. If only we could all find each other, tune out the negative thoughts, focus on the positive one/s (gotta start somewhere, even if only ‘I’m alive, not dead, and have the ability to recognize the only way is up, but there at least is still a chance because I am ALIVE), and go from there, encourage one another, listen to one another, learn from our mistakes, understand each other, and support all of us in our newfound endeavor for healthy living/thinking on this crazy difficult, but yet another chance to ‘get it right’ this time around!

  9. Hello Iva,

    I’m a 45 year old man now recognizing that my life is my own. This means that I’m starting to take REAL constructive steps to chase my dream. It is up to me and I’m taking full responsibility for all of my actions.

    Your article really helped me contextualize the effort that it takes to manifest my goals and it furthered the notion that life is worth living. I’m grateful for your article.

    Your words really saved my life…

    With much APPRECIATION…


    1. Yay I’m so happy to hear this James!! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  10. It seems like you were able to get an apartment. How did you do that with nothing, nada, zilch? Housing is one of the hardest things to get in life period. If one has secure housing…anything is possible. What do people do who have no home, no clothes, no money? Those are the answers I am looking for. How did you get an apartment?

    1. Hi Christine. I had to reach out to people to borrow money for rent and was able to pay it back once I secured a job. I’m not sure what your situation is or where you live but in some cities/provinces/states they do have funding/grants/special funds for people who need money for rent. I’d look into the services offered in your area. Thanx for reading and hope this helps you.

    2. Amen! I’m 52 andon the streets for 4 months now with no money, job, or car. Housing is outrageously expensive and no one will hire me with no address. What to do now?

      1. I’m sorry you are going through this. Can you create your own job? What are you good at? What can you do? What are your skills? Sometimes we really need to think outside the box and scramble on our feet (I’ve had to do that a couple of times )…don’t give up… xox

  11. Hi Iva,
    I am 49, heading towards 50. I do have a job, I have a home, a common law husband, so I am not starting from zero but I feel like I have nothing if things go south. I work to survive, my savings is low and barely started putting into a 401K. The job I have is not my dream job but I have one. My husband is good with me, he pays for everything, I just buy groceries. The house is in his name and he is the one that has the better paying job and loves what he does. He has 2 more years before retirement. I am grateful for all I have been blessed with but I feel I could do more. Reading your article has motivated me and I hope I can achieve something out of this. I know I want to help others and I love music. Thanks Iva. I will continue to follow. prayers for everyone

    1. Your life sounds amazing but I can see how you want to do more…do it girl!!! I know you can. Sounds like you have a gift to offer the world. Time to share it 🙂 Thanx so much for reading and sharing your story.

  12. Going thru much of the same, except I have a list of health problems I’m dealing with, that prevent me from working a regular job. I also left an abusive relationship, and am still dealing with the hacking of my phone and internet, and stalking. I had an online job, but now I cannot even do that. I’m truly so very lost. I have no friends or family, and am running out of reasons to stay alive. 😔

    1. HI Maria I’m sorry you are going through so much. I’m sure it’s so overwhelming for you. You can email me at [email protected] if you need to talk more or want help or solutions. xoxo

  13. I left my 22 year marriage at age 48 and I will never forget going to the grocery store for the first time. I had NO idea what to buy. I didn’t know what I liked to eat. I had bought what my kids liked, what my ex liked and I ate it without even considering if I liked it. I freaked out and left the store with two yogurts and a can of Pringles. It was scary to realize i had lost so much of my identity.

    1. Omg Laura I can so relate. There are so many things I left out of this blog and one of them was being able to do things for myself and trying to figure out what I really liked. me. iva. no one else. I had no idea who I was. I hope you’re reinventing yourself now the way YOU want to live and be. xoxox

  14. Im only in my mid 30 with 5 kids after 17 years in a relationship I’m now forced to start over with nothing but my children. Thank you for this.

    1. Awe I’m so sorry but I know you can do it. It’s hard and messy but you will get through this!! I’m glad it helped. Reach out anytime if you need to talk. xoxo