Old dogs, new tricks - MoneySense

Old dogs, new tricks


Financial literacy is a hot topic these days. But teaching it is usually something aimed at kids and young adults. This Wall Street Journal article makes a compelling case that the people who actually need to take personal finance 101 classes are the elderly.

That may strike you as odd. After all, the older we get the more experience we have. Presumably that includes knowing how to handle money.

True enough, but what differentiates people in their 20s and their 70s when it comes to personal finance is that people in their 20s have time on their side. They can rack up giant credit card debt, learn for their mistake, and slowly pay the bills off. They can make a lousy stock buy and not lose any sleep over their retirement–still 40-odd years away.

Seniors and aging boomers, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of time to make mistakes. Also, seniors have more wealth accumulated so a mistake can cost them tens of thousands of dollars, if not their life savings. No wonder scam artists and the Ponzi set tend to target people who are 50-plus. They actually have money to lose. A lot of it, in fact.

If we’re going to teach kids in school how to handle money, we might also offer a couple of refresher courses on money, investing and (most importantly) preserving wealth to seniors as well.