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The Wall Street Journal has just published data, showing that fewest financial errors are made, around age 53.

Why Middle Age May Be Healthy For Your Wallet
Your Financial Savvy May Hit Its Peak at 53, Survey of Data Suggests
by David Wessel, Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2007; Page A1

in ordinary life, there's an obvious tension between sheer smarts, often seen in the supple minds of the young -- and experience, which comes only with age.

Which one is more valuable in making personal-finance decisions?

.... Younger and older consumers were more likely than others to get hit with easily avoided fees.

...middle-aged adults tend to borrow at lower interest rates and pay fewer fees than younger and older adults. The age at which consumers are least likely to make financial mistakes: a few months past their 53rd birthday...

Cognitive ability ... deteriorates steadily beginning at age 20, they say, citing psychological research. That decline is partially offset by ... the savvy that grows with experience.

The two lines cross in middle age, they hypothesize. At younger ages, the lack of experience offsets analytical ability; at older ages, declining cognitive abilities offset experience.

...the brain functions differently at older ages, relying more on recognizing familiar patterns than unraveling new ones.
[end quote]

The Talmudic Tractate, Pirkei Avot ("Ethics of the Fathers") says that the age of giving advice is 50. Interesting, that modern data supports that.

So, who is smartest? The clever young, the balanced middle age, or the experienced old?

I would say: the smartest people are the Motley Fools! This is where the young come, to get the advice, of the middle aged and older. This is where the middle aged and older come, to discuss new ideas, with the young. We all benefit :-).

Wendy (see below, for credit card situation optimization)

[begin quote from WSJ]

how best to take advantage of a credit card that offers a low, teaser interest rate for six to nine months after a customer transfers a balance. (The catch: Payments on the new card go first toward paying down low-interest-rate balances, not toward higher-interest debt incurred on new purchaser. The trick: Transfer a balance, but use the old card for new purchases.)
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