The best age for financial choices

Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

The 1% down mortgage

Forget 20%. Zillow is offering some homebuyers a 1% down payment, said Matthew Fox in Business Insider. For now, the hefty financing option is “only offered to eligible borrowers in Arizona, though the company intends to expand the program to other states.” As part of the program, Zillow, which started its lending unit in 2019, will contribute an additional 2% of the purchase price at closing to bring the total down payment to 3%, the minimum allowed by mortgage backer Freddie Mac. According to Zillow’s analysis, it would take less than a year for a person making 80% of the Phoenix median income to save enough money for a down payment of 1% on a $275,000 home.

The sleep-deprived nomadic life

Digital nomads have experienced some trouble in paradise, said Jo Constantz in Bloomberg. During the pandemic, U.S. office workers and freelancers relocated to inexpensive and idyllic settings on the Pacific rim. But for many of them, it’s not been a picnic. Many have had to adjust to the graveyard shift in order to keep connecting with U.S.-based colleagues in meetings, and their idylls are “becoming hellish journeys to the land of sleep deprivation.” A lot of them have already thrown in the towel, saying that navigating the time zones was too challenging and left little energy to enjoy travel. Marketing tech specialist Therese-Heather Belen is still “living the dream” traveling abroad, but it comes with “many, many alarms set for random hours” to jump on to meetings.

The best age for financial choices

You tend to make your smartest financial decisions when you turn 53 or 54, said Clare Ansberry in The Wall Street Journal. A study by ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research in Australia found that “financial literacy, which is the ability to understand financial information and apply it to managing personal finances,” typically peaks at age 54 and then declines. That correlates with other studies that have found age 53 to be the age “when adults make the fewest financial mistakes, related to things like credit card use, interest rates, and fees.” That’s not to say you can’t make prudent financial choices in your 20s or your 60s. But the early 50s are a sweet spot because you “have accumulated knowledge and experience about money, spending and saving, but haven’t begun losing key analytic cognitive skills.”

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