The Paula Gordon Show
Money Sense

Jane Bryant Quinn

. . . is a contributing editor to Newsweek. She writes regularly for Good Housekeeping and her New York Daily News column is syndicated by The Washington Post to newspapers nationwide. She is author of the best selling Making the Most of Your Money, now revised and updated for the 21st Century and Everyone's Money Book.  Her publisher is Simon & Schuster.

Excerpts3:30 secs

"Keep it simple"is key to managing your money, according to Jane Bryant Quinn. For starters, she's convinced that a big fat credit card balance is "crazy,”paying only the minimum on the credit card debt you do carry even crazier -- the interest is simply too high.

In this conversation with Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, it quickly becomes obvious why Americans trust Jane Bryant Quinn to tell us the truth about how to handle our money.  She is not a salesperson. She has been reporting insightfully on business and finance for over 25 years. She believes in details and disciplined common sense. She tells the truth as she sees it. And she focuses her acquired knowledge and wisdom on the nuts and bolts of personal finance.

She's very clear there's no one "right"answer to how people "should"handle personal finances. Each of us is responsible for evaluating our own needs, wants and expectations. Then there's the reality that the world does change unexpectedly. Put yourself in a position where you are not going to get in trouble, no matter what happens, she urges. And tells us how.

Quinn says learning to make the most of your money is a lot like learning to play golf. You need to know the basics. Put some time into it. Practice. No one else can do it for you. Financial advisors and stock brokers may be the last person you need to go to. Put your money in the bank until you've learned something about how money can serve your own very special needs. Do the work. Make a spending plan (she HATES the word ‘budget')! Only after you have a basis from which to judge what's right for you, you might chose to use the services of people who are in business to sell you things -- that includes financial advisors and stock brokers.

Where to start, whatever your age and situation? Make sure your home and life insurance are safe. Reduce your debt, especially credit card debt. After that, consider investing in a good balance for 4 or 5 mutual funds. Put money into them regularly. Then sit back and let your simple system run while the world changes around you. And the world will change.

Does Ms. Quinn practice what she preaches? You bet. In this conversation, she willingly tells us how she and her husband have made the most of their own money, while staying in touch all the joys that money can't buy. How does she -- a reporter, writer and editor whose work is money -- keep it in perspective? "Money is my business, but it is not my hobby!" So she keeps her money management simple. (Surprise!)

Conversation 1

Jane Bryant Quinn describes good and bad changes she's witnessed in the 25 years she has been writing about people and their money, in conversation with Paula Gordon and Bill Russell. She recalls the era from 1966 to 1983 when the Standard and Poors' 500 stock average "went exactly nowhere"and describes how our life experiences affect our attitudes toward our finances.

Conversation 2

The kinds of choices people have to make are increasingly complex, but Ms. Quinn explains why we don't need to know most of the complicated stuff in order to wisely manage our personal finances. The most sophisticated way to manage your money is the simplest, she advocates.

Ms. Quinn tells her personal story, which reflects monumental changes in America's social structure and economy. She describes all the sales people -- from financial counselors and advisors to stockbrokers -- who are in business to sell you something. She offers advice for establishing a basis for making your own sound judgments. She preaches simplicity, tells what she thinks is a good mix of mutual funds to buy, urges regular savings over time and tells just how to do all of the above.

Conversation 3

No one has a clue what tomorrow holds, Ms. Quinn believes. She urges us to arrange our money so we won't get in trouble, no matter what happens. And she tells us how to do it. She starts by listing those things which we should keep safe, no matter what, then describes how she has done so in her own life.

Ms. Quinn is not an individual stock investor. She explains why and describes the kinds of funds she does buy, which she thinks will do the best over time.

Conversation 4

Ms. Quinn compares personal finance to the risks people chose to take or avoid in business. She discusses how real estate investments have attracted people, especially Baby Boomers, who "believe"in real estate, sometimes to their sorrow. She reminds us that nothing is forever.

There are a lot of Baby Boomers and Ms. Quinn describes their current financial situation, noting the continuing role ‘Boomer's parents play in their lives.  She has a great deal of respect for "Generation X"and explains why. She also speaks to the profound changes in the lives of individual women.

Conversation 5

There is no one answer to personal financial questions. Ms. Quinn describes how to evaluate one's own needs in the context of all the variables in life.

Ms. Quinn describes how people can avoid the trap of creating more "necessities"as one makes more money, balancing what we want, against savings and investment. She describes the need to plan one's expenditures no matter how much or little we have. She tells how to stave off fear as we approach our money. She makes a passionate plea against credit card debt.

Conversation 6

Money, says Ms. Quinn, is her business, but not her hobby! She tells how she and her husband are managing their own resources.  She urges people to find a balance in their lives between money and the reasons we accumulate it, recaps precisely how to do that and offers ways for us to become more capable of making good decisions.  She concludes by describing major shifts in the economy when everything changes and reminds us that we never know when that will happen -- so we need to be prepared!

-- Paula Gordon (smiling) and Bill Russell (not), absorbing Jane Bryant Quinn's insights in the alcove of the Mills B. Lane Room at The Commerce Club.


The Commerce Club responded splendidly when the opportunity to talk with Jane Bryant Quinn presented itself. We are grateful.

Additional Links:
Ms. Quinn has revised and updated Making the Most of Your Money for the 21st Century. It's published by Simon & Schuster.

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