I'm not as smart as I used to be. You probably aren't, either.
You see, human cognitive capacity peaks somewhere between 20 and 30 years of age.
But this doesn't mean that your mental life runs downhill after 30. Far from it.
Only a specific facet of intelligence declines once you reach that age.
Based on ongoing research, raw processing power seems to peak just before 20... short-term memory improves until 25 and starts declining at 35... and vocabulary grows until late in life.
You can improve your thinking in many other ways through thought and experience.
So maybe we're not as sharp as we used to be... but we can certainly be wiser.
Back in medical school, I couldn't memorize as much as my much younger classmates. But I could slot new concepts into mental frameworks I had built and collected through the years, allowing me to internalize and apply them quicker than the inexperienced students around me.
And I believe – and I hope I'm right – that I haven't stopped improving in that way. College kids may rip through a sudoku puzzle faster than I can (I wonder, actually), but I've little doubt I make sounder choices than they do.
In this pursuit, my decadeslong investment career has served me well. Because to me, investing isn't really about making money. That's like the batter who takes his eye off the ball to watch where his home run will land... He might get lucky and make a couple bucks on a trade or two. But true investing takes more work. It's about developing a feel for the moment and making careful decisions.
My longtime friend and colleague Dr. Steve Sjuggerud is an expert at that. Steve's one of the smartest men I've ever met. Even though we don't always agree on everything we think is happening in the markets, he's one of the analysts I always listen to... especially when he's making a huge call like he is today.
This past Tuesday, Steve finally came back after a two-year hiatus to address the state of the markets... why there could be a historic reset for stocks only weeks from now... and the right and wrong places to be before it happens.
Now, let's get into some of the things you've had on your minds this week. As always, keep sending your comments, questions, and topic suggestions to [email protected]. We read every e-mail.
Q: One item that gives me a little anxiety is the online accounts and the logins needed for the accounts.
We need a place to store the information, yet needs to be readily accessible when we make changes to our passwords.
Any thoughts in this area? – J.C.
A: You have a few options, depending on what works best for you. Web browsers – like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox – can save login information. The downside is that while a browser might fill in your saved passwords for you, it can take a lot of steps to look up what those passwords are.
An alternative is a password manager like NordPass, 1Password, or Bitwarden. The only password you would need to keep track of is your password for the manager. (We've previously recommended another competitor called LastPass, but it suffered a data breach, and security experts are now warning folks to avoid it.)
I also know some people who use a password-protected document to keep track of passwords and security questions. But keep in mind that if your computer is hacked or stolen, thieves will have quick and easy access to all of your information. So make sure you're using a strong password on the document.
Finally, you can just write them down as long as you keep the paper in a secure location in your home (like a fireproof safe).
Q: Is it no longer possible to get a stripped-down car? Many of us don't want all the luxurious extra goodies on their vehicles. Love my 2016 Subaru Forester purchased new. Have grandchildren graduating from college and would like stripped down "similar" for them. Never have bought second-hand problems. Suggestions? – B.B.
A: As always, I'll turn this question over to my team's in-house auto expert... managing editor Brady Holt, who tests and reviews new cars when he isn't cleaning up my grammar and banishing my worst puns.
Carmakers have two main reasons to load up cars with features. First, the more goodies they can sell, the higher their margins on the car. Secondly, they save money on engineering and production by offering popular features as standard equipment. When just a handful of people want crank windows or manual transmissions, it's not worth their trouble to create this choice.
The least expensive car on sale for 2023 is the Nissan Versa subcompact sedan. It's priced from $15,730, and that price includes a stick shift, a metal key rather than push-button starting, and plastic wheel covers rather than alloy wheels. That's stripped down by today's standards. However, it still has air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, Bluetooth, a touch screen, a backup camera, and an automatic emergency braking system.
But there's another value factor to consider... resale. Not many people will want this used base-model Nissan Versa. Even if you expect to run it into the ground, that's still a problem because resale values also determine your insurance payout if a tree falls on your car or someone crashes into you.
Here are a few new-grad-friendly cars that avoid fancy-feature overkill without skimping too aggressively...
- 2023 Toyota Corolla Hybrid ($22,800): This is a Toyota Prius without the Prius name... for a lot less money. It's a compact sedan that gets an estimated 50 miles per gallon, and Toyota pays for the first two years (or 24,000 miles) of scheduled maintenance – keeping costs low as your grandkids find their financial footings. And it has top-notch reliability ratings.
- 2023 Kia Soul ($19,890): These tall wagons aren't as stripped-down as the base-model 2012 version I used to own. (I sold it to a Stansberry Research colleague, and it's still going strong.) But as your grandkids spend their 20s moving apartments, they'll appreciate a small, easy-to-park, fuel-efficient car that has an SUV-like 62 cubic feet of cargo space. And with up to 10 years of warranty coverage, a breakdown won't ruin their finances.
- 2023 Subaru Forester ($26,395): Much of what you probably like about your Forester carries over to brand-new ones – spaciousness, ruggedness, an easy view out of big windows, and a reasonable starting price for an SUV. There are more standard features now, true, but many of them are safety technologies that can rescue younger drivers from potentially serious errors.
What We're Reading...
- Did you miss it? If you're afraid of a recession, then it's time to buy.
- Something different: How often is Punxsutawney Phil right?
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
February 3, 2023