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.

Investors Ask: To Buy Or Cry?

Look into your mirror and repeat after me: "I don't know where stocks are going next." Then say, "Neither does my stockbroker, my mutual-fund company, NEWSWEEK or anyone on CNBC." Will the market get better or worse this month?

Don't Lose It: Seven Tips

You've got credit-card bloat, a monster mortgage and an expensive auto lease. You're saving for retirement but not nearly enough. If you have kids, you haven't a clue how they'll get through school.

Capital Gains; Discounts On Your Rx Drugs

Pay close attention to the drug-discount cards for seniors just announced by President George W. Bush. At first blush, they sound like a small, stopgap way of cutting the cost of prescription drugs while you're waiting for "real" drug benefits under Medicare.

Rethink Your 401(K)--Now

You have to start over, start over, start over. Forget what your stocks and mutual funds were worth a year and a half ago. That money is gone. The only question is what you're going to do next.

Wow, Are Fleet Customers Mad

Note: In May I printed a letter from a reader angry at Fleet Bank. In a mailing Fleet offered a credit card at a "revolutionary low fixed rate" of 7.99 percent--a rate that wouldn't rise after "only a few short months." Then the rate rose.

Tax Cuts: Who Will Get What

It was like watching a fatal accident in slow motion. For a few moments everyone was alive, and then--kaboom. In the same way, for just a few moments we had breathing room to provide for Social Security, Medicare and other unmet needs.

Get Out Of The Bubble Bath?

Let's hear it for bubbles. Give me a six-week market surge, and I'll give you tech investors dreaming of Cisco Systems (now $20) piercing its former $80 peak and Priceline.com (now $5) soaring to $150 again.

Should You Invest In Death?

I dare you to try to take notes during a talk with Gloria Wolk. The conversation feels like mental speed-skating. Her rattling sentences dash from stories of fraud victims, to her beloved German shepherd, to a lawyer who took her research without paying her for it, to a tumble of names of investment firms accused of fraud.

Buying Power By The Hour

Where will the energy-price bubble strike next? New York and New England are especially worried about catching the California disease. Retail prices are regulated in most parts of the country.

Do You Dare Buy Stocks?

--Fred Schwed Jr., "Where Are the Customers' Yachts?"An ancient story has a hick admiring the bankers' and stockbrokers' yachts riding high in New York Harbor. "And where," he asks naively, "are the customers' yachts?" Stockbroker Fred Schwed swiped that joke for the title of his immortal book on the brokerage ("quote-and-fib") business, published in 1940 and, blessedly, still in print.

Getting Paid, Selling Out

Q:I want to warn people about something that can happen to them in stock arbitration. I brought a case against a broker and a major brokerage firm for churning my account.

The Mayhem In Mutual Funds

It's the year of atonement for owners of what used to be called high-growth mutual funds. Some of those funds are off by 30 percent or more, shocking investors to the core.

Toting Up The Real Bottom Line

Bushies keep a branding iron in the fire to use against dissenters like me. The moment you open your mouth about how the president's tax plan helps the rich--whup, sssss, your forehead bears a steaming mark.

Getting Past Today's Layoffs

If you ever have to lose a job, let it be now. new positions are cropping up faster than old ones are being chopped. Layoffs hit the headlines when several major companies tossed out hundreds of workers amid reports of a slowdown in economic growth.

BUSH: THE NEW MONEY AGENDA

CORRECTION: IN "BUSH: THE NEW MONEY AGENDA" (JAN. 22), I WROTE THAT CONTRIBUTIONS TO EDUCATION IRAS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. THEY'RE NOT. INSTEAD, THEY'RE TAX-FREE WHEN WITHDRAWN FOR COLLEGE.

What Investing Women Want

Friends, I've had it. Don't send me one more book about feminine "fear of finance." No more stories on "what women need to know about mutual funds" (is it any different from what people need to know?).

Yes, It's Later Than You Think

I've just filed an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. I demand a recount of my age. Surely, someone can tape up a few hanging chads and put me back 10 years.

$ $ $ $ Tactics

Q: I turned 50 in 1998 and finally opened an IRA. My insurance agent recommended an equity-indexed tax-deferred annuity--American Eagle. It's tied to Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, except that my gain can't fall below 3 percent.

In The Voters' Pocketbooks

It's thought that elections turn on the economy. Your personal vote might hinge on abortion, guns or Medicare. President Clinton could be a factor, pro or con.

What Medicare Really Needs

Don't sweat the small stuff. The dueling Bush and Gore plans, which add a new drug benefit for seniors, are sprinkled with vote-catching details. But either plan would change before being presented to Congress, and change again, after being spun through the Congressional Cuisinart.So instead of comparing what may be meaningless clauses, you might want to reflect on the candidates' very different views of Medicare, and how they want the program run in the years ahead.As a country, we're going to...

Smart Choices

Q: I'm interested in the high-rate certificates of deposit I see on the Internet. Some are yielding more than 7 percent. But how do I know that the institutions are legitimate?

Utilities: An Electric Shock

First came road rage (infuriating traffic), then phone rage (incomprehensible bills), then air rage (need I even mention airports?). For the next frustration of everyday life, I offer you "juice rage"--the shock of deregulated electricity.If it drives you crazy to have to figure out which phone company costs less, just wait until the juicemen come.

Forced Saving: The Easy Way

I've probably written a zillion times how cool it is to save and invest through automatic payroll deduction. You don't miss the money that's taken out of your paycheck upfront.

How To Be A Money Guru

Q: I became interested in financial investments 10 years ago, and have been successful enough to be able to retire. My friends are tied up in high-expense, low-performing mutual funds.

Health Plans: Not Always Safe

With respect to our health insurance, Americans live in a state of permanent instability. We usually don't notice because we think ourselves safe (anyway, most of us do).

The Estate Of The Nation

Sob. Pity the poor rich. They have to pay a "death" tax--or rather, their estates have to pay, which means less for their heirs. Poor kids. All that heavy lifting in the stock market by Mom and Dad, and the kids don't get to keep it all.

Revisiting The Mommy Track

Average wages are rising. Employers are beating the bushes for hires. There's more flexibility and equality in the workplace. As you might expect, these attractions are changing women's approach to work.

A Challenge, Not A Crisis

Dear friends, how do I get your attention? I seem to be the only kid in the village who's not crying wolf. Here's the quiet truth: Social Security is not in crisis.

I-Bonds, Cds: Amazing Rates

Q: I have the option of buying Series I Savings Bonds through payroll deduction. How do they differ from the old Series EE bonds?A: For the money you keep safe, I Bonds are a beaut.

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