Jane Bryant Quinn


If you believe the hype, mutual funds are oh-so- yesterday. They're boring, old-fashioned, meant for the masses--not for younger, cooler types. Those in the know pick their own stocks, use investment advisers to build zippy personal portfolios or swing with ETFs (exchange-traded funds, the new kids on the block).


Bill and Joyce Cothey of Cleveland like to live large. They've remortgaged their home, taken vacations several times a year, reveled in new cars, and they're paying their youngest daughter's college tuition.


Who are those kids hanging out by the school computers and shouting, "Buy Cisco, sell Intel"? They might be yours, using play money to bet on stock prices in class.


Here's a thought for those of you who'll need more income from your investments--if not today, then a few years from now when you retire. Put some money into dividend-paying stocks or a mutual fund that buys them.


What do you really pay for your mutual fund? Even if you tried to find out, you couldn't do it. Sales charges and fees are disclosed in the first pages of the fund's prospectus.


Higher education is getting less, not more public financial support. That's astonishing, in a country that knows the jobs of the future will require more knowledge and technical talent.


Wow, what a year investors had. The misery of 12 months ago turned into bliss as the stock market flew. The roaring economy lifted every market index. Standard & Poor's 500-stock average, up 22 percent.

The Drug Bill's Hidden Costs

On reading the details of the new, $400 billion Medicare drug legislation, I had an epiphany. Here, at last, lay the secret of holding down Medicare costs.

Fighting The Fund Cheats

Are you disgusted enough with mutual funds to raise a stink? So far, savers don't seem nearly as outraged as they were about Enron--yet deceptive funds and sneaky "financial advisers" have swiped more money, from more people, than all the corporate scandals combined.

Special Money Guide: A Tax Cut Just For You

Tax cuts are the gift that keeps on giving. The laws passed in 2002 and 2003 offer some-thing to almost everyone, with bright red ribbons wrapped around the presents for married couples with children.

Mutual Funds' Greed Machine

One thing you can count on: when you invest, a lot of the people you trust are going to cheat. Billions of investor dollars whirl through the system. It's all too easy for insiders to stick their hands into that current and grab.

Risking Your Money Again?

Wow, what a quarter! Growth took off in the past three months, thanks to tax cuts, low interest rates and rising incomes. Now you know what the stockmarket rally that started last March has been trying to say: "Hey, kids, the government's jazzing the economy.

Is Your Health Plan Crooked?

"We panicked," Jeanine Evans of Manitou Springs, Colo., told me over the phone. She's thinking back to a terrifying day in February 2002. She'd stopped at a hospital pharmacy to pick up some essential drugs for her daughter, Krysta, a cystic-fibrosis patient who'd just endured a double lung transplant.

The Shame Of Mutual Funds

As an industry, mutual funds have never been as squeaky clean as investors thought. Some exaggerate their performance in ads. Some create phony "hot funds" that haul in dollars and then bomb out.

Escaping The Trap

It's one thing to say that you shouldn't fall into the two-income trap, where you need both incomes to pay your bills. But it's quite another to break free.

Does Indexing Still Work?

The results are in. Index mutual funds behave no better, but no worse, than any other mutual fund when the market falls. Money managers like to say that index investing fails when stocks decline.


Last Oct. 9, did you shout, "aha!," clean out your bonds and savings accounts and plunge into stocks? Probably not. Yet as chair of the Wall Street Hindsight Committee, I can see clearly that that was the day we waved bye-bye to the bear.

Retire Early? Think Again.

Pretty clearly, boomers aren't going to live their dream of quitting work at 55. For starters, you aren't saving enough, and part of your money disappeared when the stock market freaked.

Better Bets For Safe Cash

What should you do with cash today? A couple of years ago, happiness was a money-market mutual fund. You earned only 5.89 percent but stocks were down 50 percent or more.

Tough Course In Tuition Aid

As college tuition continues to jump, say a prayer for the able children of the working poor. They're being squeezed the most. You might think that families with low or moderate incomes would get extra student aid to help cover costs, but you'd be wrong.

Bad Medicine For Medicare

Whenever you hear the president talk about "reforming" a social program, that's not his real thought. "Reform" is a code word for slicing public benefits and Medicare's are no exception.

The Street's Latest Lure

Hedge funds for the masses? Uh-oh. Until recently, these investments were strictly a hide-out for rich folk and institutions, such as college endowments and pension funds.

Rethinking Buy-And-Hold

No god-given tablet says that investing should be made easy. In the years running up to the 2000 market peak, any dummy could make money in stocks, and did.

Coping In A War Economy

On the home front, wars mean nothing but trouble. Treasure squandered, loves lost. A persistent myth links war with prosperity. But that's a communal memory dating back to World War II, when massive military spending dragged the country out of the Depression.Generally speaking, wars mess things up--if not right away, then eventually.

Special Finance Guide: Make Your Money Grow

Ok, Gen-xers, forward march. You've done parties and credit cards, hookups and unemployment lines. Now it's time to get serious about your money. You won't have as much fun today as we all had years ago, when any dummy could get rich in stocks.

The Big Cost Of Small Fees

It's hard to take small numbers seriously. Consider those teeny-tiny fees you pay your mutual fund (listed in the front of the prospectus, if you bother to check).

Rolling The Market Dice

Friends and investors, it's time to decide. How much of your money should be in stocks and how much in bonds or cash? Economists are sharply divided on the economy's real health.

Sizing Up The Savings Plans

Saving money tax-free? Who could resist? With war fever climbing and stocks still running scared, President Bush has popped a surprise on American savers.

Get Ready For The Blizzard

This is not your grandfather's stock market. You'll be seeing more ads for old-fashioned income investing, now that the president plans to make dividends fully or partly tax-exempt.

Oh, No--More Pension Blues

I hope you're getting a really good tax cut because you're going to need the money. More bad news is trickling in from the retirement front. You already know that your 401(k)--slashed by falling stock prices--won't be worth as much as you expected.