Jane Bryant Quinn

Charge It, Santa Baby

Shoppers won't snub Santa this year. Confidence is rising, real incomes continue to increase and retail sales last month were better than the industry expected.

Your Money And The Gop

When you've got it, flaunt it--because if you lose it again, you're stiffed. That urgent thought is driving every member of the Republican Congress, as party leaders tackle bills bottled up since the Democrats seized the Senate in 2001.

When You Bet Your Life

Have you checked your term life insurance lately? Rates fell dramatically in the 1990s. Policies you bought several years ago may be available now for less.Unfortunately, most people don't really shop for their insurance.

Is Reform A Bad Joke?

While the accused manipulator, Enron's Andrew Fastow, took his perp walk last week, another and far more important drama was playing out in Washington. This back story raises the question of whether the White House plans to do anything more for reform than handcuff a few bad guys.

Rate Bait

Savers are clamoring for safe retirement investments, even if they come with low returns. One smart option is the Fixed Account in TIAA-CREF's Personal Annuity Select (tiaa-cref.org).Rates change from time to time.

Iraq: It's The Oil, Stupid

Ok, pessimists, gather round. I've a story to tell that you won't ordinarily hear--about Iraq, the Middle East and oil. Maybe it's just a fairy tale, but maybe not.

Ask Tip Sheet

When will I be able to write off my Enron shares and declare a capital loss on my income-tax return? -Stephen Riley, Willowbrook, Ill.You can book your loss right now.

Insurance: Is Yours Safe?

Creditors started meeting last week to divvy up Conseco, a large financial-services company. Conseco--yes, another hot, mid-'90s stock--missed some interest payments on its debts.

Borrowing 101

It's panic time for a lot of families whose students head to college next month. Maybe your job suddenly feels insecure or the money you saved for tuition lies buried in the stock market.For a crying towel, call the experts at the college aid office.

Burned!

Why We Need To Fix The 401 (K)

Global Funds' New Allure

Are you wearing investment blinders? Probably so, if all you can see is Wall Street, Alan Greenspan and the techs you didn't sell. With blinders off, a new world should edge into your peripheral vision--the world of international stocks.

Real Estate: Home Sweet Piggy Bank?

Three years ago the Quinns paid off their mortgage. We took a windfall out of the stock market, wrote a check and kissed the biggest debt of our lives goodbye.

New Rules For Stocks

It's almost over. Our love affair with stocks is going to fade. We'll get another little flutter of the heart, when the current business recovery lifts the market once again.

Ask Tip Sheet

The first thing to look into is how you invest. I'd bet that most of your funds carry names like "opportunity" or "growth." They owned high-tech and telecommunications stocks, with a few dot-coms tossed in for fun.

No, You're Not To Blame

I'm impatient with critics who blame small investors for being "too greedy" during the bubble, as if you deserved the drubbing you took. There are some things the average American can't be expected to understand--among them, the baffling calculus of risk.

Ask Newsweek

When the stock market and economy soared, housing prices kept going up. Now that the market is in a slump, how come the prices don't seem to come down?--N.

Now Who Do You Trust?

Among the 1990s fads was a rah-rah team-building game played at management retreats. You had to fall backward from a modest height and rely on your buddies to catch you before you crashed.

Paying Up For Quality Care

Get ready for the next scary change in your company health insurance. Employers have squeezed almost all the costs they can from managed care. Now they're working on ways to pass consumers the ball--and the bill.

Should You Buy Real Estate?

So you've had it with stocks and mutual funds and want to buy real estate instead. That's something I'm hearing everywhere. The stock market slid for most of last week, on war news, spurts in energy prices, stinky business profits and fears of slower growth this spring.

You Bet Your Life

In your mid-40s or early 50s, the light suddenly goes on. "Oh, yeah," you say to yourself in the early-morning hours, "the day is coming when I'll actually retire." That's when the counting starts.

Help! I'm Scared For My 401(K)

At the end of the day, what would really help employees manage their 401(k)s? Good investment advice, that's what. Your company may distribute an educational booklet that shows pretty pie charts and defines words like "diversification." But after all the reading is done--after you decide whether you're a conservative, moderate or aggressive investor--two questions remain: How should you invest your money and should you own company stock?Post-Enron, a laser beam has been turned on America's...

How To Find Honest Stocks

It's time to ask yourself the same questions that Congress wants to ask former Enron chief Kenneth Lay: What do you really know about your stock? If the answer is "almost nothing"--um, how come?

401(K)S And The Enron Mess

Now is the time for congress to clean up the mess in 401(k)s. I'm speaking specifically of the plans that offer you company stock. You tend to load up on this stock, especially when employers use it to match part or all of the money you yourself put in.

Making It Through 2002

Investors are peering over the valley to sunny, dollar-green hills beyond. But down in the shadows, companies are still laying off workers, and new jobs can be hard to find.

What We Need For Christmas

Santa, baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me..." Eartha Kitt, the original material girl, hit pay dirt with that torchy lyric back in 1953. But during wars and recessions, holidays don't reverberate with the same ka-ching.

Bad Luck Or A Bad Broker?

Q: In October 1999, just before I retired, I switched my mutual funds and various stocks to an account with a new stockbroker. I don't know much about stocks, so I didn't object when he bought techs, invested on margin and traded a lot.

Oil Prices: A War Casualty?

Finding someone who worries about America's oil supplies today is as hard as finding Osama bin Laden. We keep pumping gasoline into our SUVs as if oil and war, like oil and water, never mix.

Going Long On The Big Three

Everyone is waiting for things to get back to normal. But listen up: there is no "normal." We see one set of conditions and learn to run our lives accordingly.

Beating The Second Scare

The market came down as surely as the Twin Towers did, touching Americans with another kind of dread. In its first wave, terrorism leaves you in fear for your life.

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