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INTRODUCTION

Los Angeles Times personal finance columnist

Many people find investing complex, intimidating and somewhat mysterious. But it doesn’t have to be.

Investing wisely is easy. All it takes is paper and patience.

The paper--like this one--tells you what you need to know about economic trends, market prices and daily movements involving your portfolio, whether you’re invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds. A little scratch paper helps too, since it’s wise to periodically check the fundamental values underlying your investments. (The following pages include numerous work sheets that should help guide you through that analysis.)

This special investing section is designed to aid your endeavors to become a wiser investor. In it, you’ll find tips on picking individual stocks to buy and sell (page 15); bond basics (page 19); and information about investing in mutual funds (page 21) and in international markets (page 25). These stories have modified and adapted from Wall Street California, a special feature that runs Tuesdays in the Business section of The Times and periodically offers advice on personal investing.

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We’ve thrown in a glossary for those who need a little help translating the often arcane lingo used on Wall Street. And, there are interviews with some of Wall Street’s best-known experts.

But you just want to know how much to save for a specific goal, such as college or retirement? Starting on page 27, we’ll teach you a little mathematical trick that makes long-range financial planning as easy as punching a few buttons on a calculator or on a computer keyboard.

If that’s not enough, there’s also a primer on choosing a professional advisor who can do the investment selection and management for you.

Once you’ve used the paper to learn investing basics and to formulate a program that works for your portfolio, you should be able to sit back and let your wise planning pay off.

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We sincerely hope you’ll find this special edition enlightening and enriching--in more ways than one.


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