Monday, November 23, 2009

Peaking mentally at this as good as it gets?

Age 53 is your sweet spot where handling money is concerned according to some Harvard researchers quoted by Ryan Sager at

That's about when you've picked up as much financial street smarts as possible before aging begins slowing your brain functions, according to the lead scientist, David Laibson, who incidentally is 43.

That doesn't mean best is good, though. I know I made some dumb decisions at 53; technology stocks were hot at the time. Many of today's 53-year-olds - who make up a big swath of the U.S. population -are apparently in the same boat.

Few of us handle all our retirement savings questions brilliantly, reports the online 401(k) Help Center. Throw in the trauma of a layoff or other collateral damage from the recession and we become even more unhinged, adds Prudent Money Financial Services.

Fifty three is a tough age. You are maybe nine years from retirement - planned or otherwise - and reaching your peak earning years, but with probably way too little in life savings. The Employee Benefit Research Institute calculates many 53-year-olds probably have about $44,000 stashed in their retirement plans, which is not a lot of money to stretch over two decades of retirement.

And pulling that money out early generally is not one of the most brilliant moves a 50-something can make, despite some attractions recently listed by John Credule in the New York Post.

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