Home ownership plays key role in financial future

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The complexity of family aging is one of the prime reasons American households desperately need more sources of "financial literacy," according to analysts and educators studying the evolution of the home from a simple shelter to an extremely valuable, complicated asset. Neal E. Cutler, a professor in the school of business administration at Widener University in Chester, Pa., was asked to explain the new science of "wealth span planning" to a group of mortgage lenders trying to explore the need for consumer financial products and training that were simply not necessary a generation ago. Consumers simply have fewer years to accumulate wealth and retirement funds – and those funds must last longer. In addition, the role of home equity, employer pensions, reverse mortgages, social security payments, compound interest, health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid needs to be packaged under a sort of "financial gerontology," according to Cutler. "Gerontology is not the study of old pe...