Investing On A Budget

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Q: I’ve noticed that many of your articles are about couples, but what about single professional women over 40 who are returning to school after 12 years when the children are grown and on their own? I’m currently working temporary nursing assignments and I’ve rolled over my 401(k), but I’m also interested in stocks like Wal-Mart and Walgreens. How can I buy stocks on my fixed income until I graduate (May 2002)?
–M. Stewart, Evanston, Illinois

A: The financial services industry has made several changes to accommodate investors such as you in recent years. In your case, the fact that you’re single and no longer have to care for children will, I hope, allow you to concentrate on devoting more of your income to your personal investment needs.

Buying individual stocks on a fixed income is easier today thanks to discount brokers such as Charles Schwab (877-476-2370) and online investment outfits like (888-638-7865) and BUYand (800-646-8212). These firms will also be especially helpful if you are relatively new to investing.

Typically, a discount broker will work with your wishes to invest sums as small as $20 or $30 per month over time. The online brokers mentioned will even allow you to buy partial or fractional shares of an individual stock. Opening an account generally costs less and the cost of trades is lower than with full-service brokers. We will have more investment advice for singles in our annual Money Management issue in October.