With (Middle) Age Comes Financial Wisdom

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Athletes are said to reach their prime in their late 20s. But when do consumers reach their peak years of financial wisdom?

According to a study cited in today's Wall Street Journal, it's in middle age – 53 to be exact. The study found that people in middle age borrow at lower interest rates and pay lower fees than younger or older consumers, and are less likely to make financial mistakes.

Why? The study suggests that middle age is when cognitive ability, which deteriorates over the years, and "experiential capital," the financial savvy that comes with experience, merge. "At younger ages, the lack of experience offsets analytical ability; at older ages, declining cognitive abilities offset experience," the Journal says.

The study, by the way, should probably be taken with a grain of salt – it was conducted by four economists, all age 40 or under.

More Worries About Veterans Health Care

There's more alarming news Thursday about the conditions at facilities caring for America's veterans. The Washington Post, which broke open the Walter Reed scandal, says the Pentagon is now investigating reports of a "rising death rate and rooms spattered with blood, urine and feces" at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C.

The Government Accountability Office told the Defense Department that some residents "may be at risk" in light of charges by medical personnel of serious health-care problems at the historic veterans home, including one man with maggots in a wound. The facility, founded in 1851, is home to some 1,100 military retirees, including many veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

The Post reports the Pentagon sent a team of doctors to look into conditions at the home on Wednesday after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates received a letter from David M. Walker, the head of the GAO. The letter included allegations of a "rising number of resident deaths," an increase in admissions to Walter Reed, rooms befouled with human waste and residents suffering from bedsores.

The home's chief operating officer, Timothy M. Cox, denied the charges, calling them "inflammatory" and "without merit."

Salt Lake City's "Rocky"

He's known to everyone as "Rocky," and as a liberal mayor in America's most conservative state, he's never backed down from a fight.

Now, in his final term in office, Ross "Rocky" Anderson, the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, is taking on the biggest opponent of his career as a national spokesman for the impeachment of President Bush.

"President Bush is a war criminal," Anderson, a Democrat, told a rally on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war. "Let impeachment be the first step toward national reconciliation."

Statements like that have made Anderson, a 55-year-old "lapsed Mormon," a divisive figure in conservative Utah and left him little hope of a political future in the state – something he "cheerfully conceded" in an interview with the New York Times.

"It's embarrassing for the rest of us; Mayor Anderson is so over the top, nobody wants to be associated with him," said Matthew R. Godfrey, mayor of the nearby city of Ogden.

Even fellow Democrats have a hard time with Anderson's outspokenness.

"He is one of those politicians who people love to hate," said Nancy Sexton, a Democrat running for mayor in November.

But Anderson stands his ground, saying, "There's a dangerous culture of obedience throughout much of this country that's worse in Utah than anywhere."

Anderson has said he's not seeking a third term and has no specific plans for the future - but he's certain to be spoiling for a fight somewhere.

"We need more people in politics who are divisive," he told the Times.