The Eternal Question of the Potato Chip Purchase

Ok – to be honest, here’s a question I never thought to ask: at what age do people buy the most potato chips?

Or how about their first home? How old on average is the person buying that luxury car? For that matter, at what age does a person’s spending peak?

Turns out, all these age-related questions have highly predictable answers.  And because the answers are highly predictable, there are trends you can pretty much hang your hat on, particularly when it comes to expenses related to aging.

On February 11 the weekly Congressional Budget Office reported:

Beyond 2017, CBO expects that economic growth will diminish to a pace that is well below the average seen over the past several decades. That projected slowdown mainly reflects long-term trends—particularly, slower growth in the labor force because of the aging of the population. (Read the full report at:

But who is responsible for paying for aging-related costs? That was a question posed to nations around the globe by the Pew Research Center. In January of this year Pew reported the U.S. is one of only four countries that believe seniors should be self-pay throughout retirement. In fact, 46% of U.S. respondents believe the elderly should be financially self-supporting, topping by a fairly wide margin the other three nations, which include South Korea, Germany and Britain.

Frankly, count me squarely among the 46%. I don’t want my daughters footing the bill for my retirement years: they’re going to need for their own retirement every penny they can save.

However, saying you want to be self-pay and actually achieving it are two different things. In fact, according to some studies, in the U.S. nearly 70% of seniors receive family assistance – both financial and physical.

There are no easy answers to financing longevity. It would be nice to think someone holds the magic solution to financial issues related to aging. Expecting the government to come up with the solution clearly is not going to work. Hoping for a miracle is a long shot, and hitting the lottery a longer shot still.

It’s going to take planning, creativity, help from family, friends and faith communities, and cooperation at the hyper-local level to get most Americans through retirement with as much independence and dignity as possible.

Fortunately Americans in general, and boomers in particular, are characterized by creativity, resilience, and determination, and I, for one, think we’re up for the challenge.

And, as I have said many, many times: reverse mortgage is going to play a role for many of us.

Reverse mortgage was never meant to be the full financial solution to retirement needs.  For most of us, there is not going to be one all-inclusive solution that meets evolving needs in retirement. However, when combined as part of a comprehensive plan, reverse mortgage funds will combine to fund our ever-increasing longevity, and make aging in place possible for many.

Oh, and by the way – age 42, 31, 53, and 46. Just in case you were wondering.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS 506562] is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant at Middleburg Mortgage. She can be reached at: 703-477-1183 or

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