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How can I control my investment costs?
Pointers to help maximize your returns by minimizing your costs.

Jason's Answers

The dark side of the muni
09/21/2004: Money Magazine
Municipal bonds seem safe, but buying or selling them is fraught with peril. Protect yourself.

The way of the calm investor
08/01/2004: Money Magazine
Follow these five steps and you`ll make better investment decisions -- and agonize less over them.

ABCs of Fund Fees
09/01/2003: TIME Magazine
Investors face an alphabet soup of shares. Here\'s how to sort them out.

Here Come the Bogleheads
09/01/2001: Money Magazine, Vol. 30 No. 9
On A Sunny Summer Weekend, Dozens Of Strangers Gather To Hear Jack Bogle Preach Vanguard\'s Investing Gospel. Don\'t They Have Anything Better To Do?

Index funds on PBS
Jason talks about the pros and cons of index funds in an interview with Betsy Karetnick of PBS’s “That Money Show.” View the video here:

Mutual Funds
11/01/2000: PBS
An interview with Betsy Karetnick of PBS’s “That Money Show” on the basics of investing in mutual funds. View the video here:

Mutual Competition
08/01/2000: Money Magazine, Vol. 29 No. 8
Are the new rivals to traditional funds – like folios and exchange traded funds (ETFs) -- a better bet?

Index funds
06/01/2000: IndexFunds.com
Should you have all your money in index funds? Jason debates the editor of IndexFunds.com on whether actively-managed mutual funds serve any legitimate purpose at all:

Back to school: websites for more advanced investors
06/06/2000: money.com
We're all getting pretty good at investing these days. Here are some websites to help you get to the next level.

The first step
05/18/2000: money.com
Good investing isn't rocket science. Here's a plan to get you started that can last a lifetime.

Alphabet soup
04/18/2000: money.com
B shares, C shares--even Q shares. Which class of fund should you buy?

Do health-care funds make sense?
03/10/2000: money.com
Depends who you ask--but if it's a financial journalist, think twice.

02/11/2000: money.com
Are two nickels ever worth 12 cents? You can play that game with stocks, but not with funds.

Dumbed down too far
01/18/2000: money.com
Lifecycle funds offer instant diversification, but they have their drawbacks.

Carrying the load
12/21/1999: money.com
Jason cuts through some financial jargon and gives the straight dope on mutual fund charges.

How much turnover is too much?
11/24/1999: money.com
Jason gives readers an easy way to evaluate fund portfolio turnover, and sheds some light on mutual fund share splits. (See also July 18, 2000.)

Looking Out for No. 1
11/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 11
With fund returns, what you see is not always what you will get.

To weight or not to weight?
10/28/1999: money.com
Jason advises a reader who wonders if he should weight certain sectors of the market more heavily than others, and debunks the idea that small cap stocks tend to outperform large caps over time.

Required reading
10/14/1999: money.com
Jason recommends a shelf-full of good books for the novice investor.

A Short Primer
09/03/1999: money.com
If you absolutely, positively have to short the market, Jason shows you how.

Fund Wars
09/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 9
A secret battle is raging between fund companies and financial planners--and you may be caught in the crossfire. (The first major article to point out that the fund industry was being infiltrated by fast-trading market timers who could hurt small investors.) Pat Regnier and Jason Zweig

Day Trading
08/26/1999: CNN
Transcript of a CNN broadcast in which Jason calls day trading “the most effective weapon ever devised to commit financial suicide.”

Should I trust my broker?
08/11/1999: money.com
Jason answers a reader who wonders whether her broker's telling her the truth about expense ratios.

Cast a wide net
08/03/1999: money.com
Jason explains the logic behind investing in a fund based on a total stock-market index like the Wilshire 5000.

Risks and Riches
04/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 4
Over the full sweep of time, mutual funds have shown that they are probably the greatest contribution to financial democracy ever devised. But like every democratic structure, they are far from perfect.

Look Back and Learn
04/01/1999: Money Magazine, Vol. 28 No. 4
Booms And Busts, Fashions And Binges, Have Been Part Of The Mutual Fund Experience Almost Since The Beginning.

Mutual Bet: Beating the Odds?
10/01/1997: PBS
In this interview for PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Jason discusses the chronic underperformance of mutual funds: what causes it and what investors can do about it. Transcript available here:

Why Do Mutual Funds Cost So Much?
06/01/1995: Morningstar Investment Conference
In this speech, Jason told the history of rising expenses over the years and reviewed – then dismantled – the fund industry’s justifications for the ever-higher flood of costs. If you want to learn more about how high fund expenses are, how they got there, and what to do about them, you may find that this speech (given while Jason was the mutual funds editor at Forbes) remains a useful resource.

12 Deadly Fund Myths -- and How to Profit from Them
02/01/1996: Money Magazine
Like the Ancient Greeks, fund investors believe in myths. Here we debunk the biggest and give you advice to make you a richer shareholder.

When to Desert a Fallen Idol
02/01/1996: Money Magazine
Is your fund manager just in a slump, or has he turned into a chump? Here are some rules for knowing when to stay and when to walk away.

Funds on Sale! Why now may be the time to open your wallet to closed-end funds.
02/01/1996: Money Magazine
Amid the greatest bull market in history, closed-end funds are about as cheap as they have been in years. How to find top choices at terrific prices.

A Fund Fee Shareholders Should Be Glad to See
04/01/1996: Money Magazine
Why redemption fees are a good idea for long-term investors.

How You Can Avoid the Worst Year-End Mutual Fund Mistake: Giving Uncle Sam a Handout
11/01/1996: Money Magazine
Tips on steering clear of big mutual-fund tax bills at the end of the year.

Your Funds May Be Making You Rich...But You Are Also Getting Robbed
02/01/1997: Money Magazine
An article documenting all the ways fund companies overcharge their investors, and how you can fight back.

How to Beat 77% of Fund Investors Year after Year
08/01/1997: Money Magazine
A new argument about why most investors are better off in an index fund.

Five Investing Lessons from America\'s Top Pension Fund
01/01/1998: Money Magazine
How TIAA-CREF manages $210 billion for millions of teachers.

How Funds Can Do Better
02/01/1998: Money Magazine
Ten proposals to make mutual funds a better deal for their owners.

Stocks or Funds?
04/01/1998: Money Magazine
How to do decide whether (and where) mutual funds or individual stocks will work better for you.

Confessions of a Fund Pro
02/01/1999: Money Magazine
A manager explains how the deck is stacked against you: a chat with the pathologically candid Ted Aronson. (The second link offers a more complete transcript.)

Flavor of the Month
03/01/1999: Money Magazine
Are enhanced index funds (and 184% returns) too good to be true?

How Losing Less Can Cost You More
06/01/2005: Money Magazine
Why stop-loss orders are often better for brokers than for investors

What a Mutual Fund Is Worth to You
11/01/2005: Money Magazine
A new measure of fund expenses shows that you may be paying far more than you think.

Still Scolding After All These Years
04/01/2007: Money Magazine
Vanguard founder Jack Bogle talks about what he has learned about investing and about getting a new lease on life with a heart transplant.

Getting a Frazzled Mr. Market to Settle Down
11/08/2008: The Wall Street Journal
A proposal on how companies could moderate the volatility in their share prices.

Joe Investor, the Markets Are All Yours Now
11/15/2008: The Wall Street Journal
The `smart money` has turned tail and run away, creating value for anyone with cash and courage.

Giving Your Portfolio a Year-End Face Lift
12/06/2008: The Wall Street Journal
Some ways to turn a market crash to your advantage.

How Managing Risk with ETFs Can Backfire
02/28/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Why the hottest investments around -- leveraged ETFs -- are too hot for just about anybody.

Tempest-Tossed? Take Some Control
03/04/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Instead of plunging in and out with both feet, take some baby steps.

Investors Face Tough Duel When Fighting Brokers
04/11/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Why arbitration can be so arbitrary from the investor`s point of view.

Will Leveraged ETFs Put Cracks in the Market Close?
04/18/2009: The Wall Street Journal
A look at whether leveraged ETFs may be responsible for higher market volatility.

Should Managed Futures Be in the Cards for You?
05/16/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Making money in commodities is not quite as easy as it looks.

Is Your Fund Pawning Shares at Your Expense?
05/30/2009: The Wall Street Journal
A peek into the shadowy world of securities lending.

Transferring Wealth via the Bank of Mom and Dad
10/03/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Today`s low interest rates make some estate-planning techniques unusually attractive.

Take off the Blinders When It Comes to Fees
10/17/2009: The Wall Street Journal
Why individual and professional investors alike pay too little attention to how much they pay for money management.

Staying Calm in a World of Dark Pools and Dark Doings
10/24/2009: The Wall Street Journal
What should investors make of insider trading, `flash` orders and `dark pools`?

Can Angel Investors Earn Heavenly Returns?
10/31/2009: The Wall Street Journal
It`s a very good time to become a mini-venture capitalist. It`s also a good time to think twice before you do.

Will 12b-1 Fees Ever Stop Bugging Investors?
12/19/2009: The Wall Street Journal
What should the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission do about mutual-fund marketing fees?

High Trading Is Bad News for Investors
02/13/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Why investors, including big institutions, keep acting like traders.

When ‘Stop-Loss’ Trades Backfire on Investors
05/15/2010: The Wall Street Journal
A technique intended to keep you safe can put you in danger when you least expect it. A news story with Mary Pilon and Karen Blumenthal.

Hey, Money Managers, Stop Putting the Squeeze on Investors
06/05/2010: The Wall Street Journal
How the investment business should restructure its services to provide clients a fair shake.

ETF Wars: the Deflation Scenario Investors Should Cheer
10/09/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Price competition arrives in earnest for the fund investor.

Are Index Funds on Track to Become Even Harder to Beat?
11/27/2010: The Wall Street Journal
New techniques that should increase the efficiency of index funds.

Look Before You Reap: Tax-Loss Harvesting Can Backfire
12/11/2010: The Wall Street Journal
Selling at a loss for the tax break can be trickier than it looks.

Will New Rules on Fees Slow Down Eager-Beaver Brokers?
03/26/2011: The Wall Street Journal
How the ``markups`` on stocks and bonds can skin you out of up to 5% of your money.

Hi Ho, Silver: Some Fund Investors Could End Up Tarnished
04/23/2011: The Wall Street Journal
The hazards of buying a silver fund at a premium to its net asset value.

Fee Deflation: ETF Costs Dwindle, but Don`t Disappear
09/29/2012: The Wall Street Journal
As expense ratios approach zero, investors need to watch a range of other costs.

Now That`s Performance Art
12/24/2011: The Wall Street Journal
A look at how hedge funds goose performance -- and fees -- with manipulative trades at yearend.

Borrowing Against Yourself
09/22/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Before you take out a margin loan on your brokerage account, remember that you shouldn`t borrow unless you`re prepared to lower your other risks.

Flash Tax: Why Levies on High-Speed Trading Won`t Work
09/03/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Transaction taxes have a long history -- of failing to serve their purpose.

Why a Legendary Market Skeptic Is Upbeat About Stocks
09/10/2011: The Wall Street Journal
An interview with Vanguard founder John C. Bogle.

When Funds Lend Stock, Who Gains?
10/22/2011: The Wall Street Journal
Is your mutual fund or ETF getting the most out of its securities-lending operations for you?

In New Funds, Old Flaws
04/14/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Exchange-traded notes sound like exchange-traded funds, but their fees -- and behavior -- can be nothing alike.

High-Frequency Scalping
12/02/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
How, in the world of high-frequency trading, it can suddenly cost 26% of your money to buy a stock.

Why a Financial-Transaction Cost Could Backfire
12/13/2011: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
Imposing a transaction tax or `Tobin tax` on high-frequency traders sounds like a great idea. But it won`t work.

When Cheap Funds Cost Too Much
10/13/2012: The Wall Street Journal
How to shop wisely among the increasingly popular `ETF managed portfolios.`

Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Investor
03/01/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
The first stock I ever bought, and what the stock market of 1976 tells us about today.

When Will the Retail Investor Call It Quits? (Again)
08/23/2012: WSJ Online: Total Return blog
How much do short-term trading difficulties matter to long-term investors?

Are You Brilliant, or Lucky?
12/08/2012: The Wall Street Journal
Why are investors pouring money into actively managed bond funds despite the massive evidence that bond index funds will do better?

Inside the Self-Driving Index Funds That Finish First
01/12/2013: The Wall Street Journal
A look at the simple, cheap, high-performing index funds in the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees.

The Retirement Gamble
04/23/2013: PBS Frontline
Video interview on 401(k)s with PBS` `Frontline.`

Wayward Trades, Then and Now
05/30/2013: WSJ Total Return Blog
In today`s high-frequency trading markets, your order can get filled at weird prices. Decades ago, Wall Street had a different way of handling that.

What`s Eating Your Munis?
06/08/2013: The Wall Street Journal
You can easily fork the entire first year`s worth of income on a tax-free bond over to your broker in trading costs. Here`s how to do better.

Going Dutch: Could Fee Hurdles Come Down Everywhere?
06/22/2013: The Wall Street Journal
What will happen as regulators in Australia, Holland and the U.K. ban commissions on funds and other investments?

The Forgotten Funds That Are Suddenly Drawing Crowds
07/20/2013: The Wall Street Journal
Unit investment trusts, long neglected, are hot again. Should you invest in a UIT?

06/11/2013: The Wall Street Journal
Responses to questions from readers about how best to buy municipal bonds.

Other Resources

Efficient Frontier

Link to William J. Bernstein's "Efficient Frontier" online newsletter, where he serves up opinion that is, at one and the same time, both biting and mathematically rigorous, both challenging and fun to read. Full of righteous anger at the knaves and nincompoops who dish out most financial advice, Bernstein is an invigorating breath of fresh air.

Bogle Financial Markets Research Center

This site, featuring John C. Bogle's speeches and research papers, enables you to keep up with the latest thinking of the founder of the Vanguard Group. Jack Bogle is probably the best friend the individual investor has ever had, and the materials archived here are rich with insights into how the money management business really works and how you can take control of your own financial destiny.

Return to Your Questions by Topic

JasonZweig.com is my place to tell you what I think about a whole lot of investing stuff. I’m the only one responsible for my opinions, but I can’t guarantee they’ll always be right. If you don’t like what I say or it turns out to be wrong, I’m sorry; you can’t sue me. The material you find here is not meant as specific investing advice for you, and if you use it that way and something goes wrong, that’s your problem, not mine. To get individualized investing advice, you need to do your own homework or else hire a financial advisor, a tax professional, or a lawyer to do it for you (and even then, you’d better watch like a hawk!). If you think anything on this website is an invitation for you to buy or sell any investment, you need to get your head examined. What’s more, I’m not soliciting business of any kind, because I don’t have any business to solicit. (Believe it or not, I don’t want your money.) I’ll do my best to avoid any conflicts of interest in running this website, but I don’t have silvery wings and a halo, and somebody might manage to corrupt me. If that happens, it’s your job to notice and to be disgusted by it. In short, none of my best efforts to be honest, sensible, and trustworthy exempt you from your constant duties to treat what I say with the same skepticism you should treat anyone’s pontification about investing. I wish you good luck!

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