How To Plan Your Finances Many Americans are worried about their investments due to the economic downturn. Los Angeles financial planner Jennifer Hartman discusses her clients' concerns and offers tips for safe investing.
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How To Plan Your Finances

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How To Plan Your Finances

How To Plan Your Finances

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.


I'm Alex Chadwick. The presidential debates are tonight in Nashville, Tennessee. Slate's John Dickerson has this advice, beware the pony tail guy. We'll have more in a moment.

BRAND: The headlines are filled with dire warnings about a worldwide recession. The Federal Reserve is rushing to buy billions of dollars of short-term debts to loosen the credit crunch.

CHADWICK: And the plummeting stock market is making Americans very worried. CNBC's Jim Cramer has not added much hope about where the markets are going.

Mr. JIM CRAMER (Host, "Mad Money," CNBC): What ever money you may need for the next five years, please take it out of the stock market right now, this week.

BRAND: We thought we'd check in with someone who is hearing from worried Americans, maybe Americans who called up and asked whether they should do that right now, this week. Jennifer Hartman, a financial planner in Los Angeles, welcome to the program.

Ms. JENNIFER HARTMAN (Financial Planner): Thank you, Madeleine.

BRAND: Did you get calls from people after they heard Jim Cramer?

Ms. HARTMAN: I'm getting lots of calls. I did have calls specifically that referenced him. First question I always ask these people is, how's your health? How's your job? Are you incurring any unexpected expenses in the future because we're looking at not only this long term, but also the short term. So if they have expenses, then maybe we do want to evaluate the situation and see if we need to change course. But if that isn't the situation, don't panic.

BRAND: Don't take your money out of the stock market.


BRAND: This week.

Ms. HARTMAN: Selling low is a terrible strategy.

BRAND: Well, what if you are just a few years away from retirement and/or may be even a few months away from retirement, and you really do need this money, and you can't wait. You can't do a buy and hold strategy?

Ms. HARTMAN: Well, you're going to need some money in the near term, but also, most people getting to the age of retirement are going to live 20 years into retirement. So they are going to need the overall returns of the stock market to have enough income for that time period, too.

BRAND: So you're getting lots and lots of calls from panicked clients?


BRAND: And are they all asking whether or not they should get out of the stock market?

Ms. HARTMAN: No. I had one person yesterday who called me and said do you think this is a great day to buy?

BRAND: And what'd you say?

Ms. HARTMAN: I said I'm looking at my accounts and seeing what kind of cash that I can scrounge together to buy. It could go down lower tomorrow but seems as good a day as any to me.

BRAND: Really? So you're advising actually buying into the stock market?

Ms. HARTMAN: Sure. If you're young, and you got many years, prices are low.

BRAND: I wonder if you can give us a sense - you've been a financial planner for a while. How would you assess the feeling out there right now amongst your clients? Is this...

Ms. HARTMAN: People are scared. Everybody fears uncertainty. I'm not denying that this situation isn't serious. However, once again, we do feel strongly in following the course and not getting risk and return mixed up with fear and grief.

BRAND: And do you see this as a normal part of the cycle?

Ms. HARTMAN: Um hum.

BRAND: Or as something else?

Ms. HARTMAN: I always tell people, it's not the first recession in my life, definitely won't be the last. Life would be easier if we had smooth sailing, and we knew what rate of return we could expect every year, but that's never going to happen.

BRAND: So is this a time of financial uncertainty? Is this actually good for you, for your business?

Ms. HARTMAN: Yes and no. We say we work the hardest and get paid the least.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HARTMAN: I am getting calls from prospective clients who are complaining they can't get through to their brokerage, broker. They need some calm, and they need to know their money is OK, or somebody's watching over it.

BRAND: Jennifer Hartman, Los-Angeles-based financial planner, with some calming words. Thank you, Jennifer.

Ms. HARTMAN: Thank you, Madeleine.

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