What can this website do for me?

When it comes to investing, there’s a world of difference between good advice and advice that sounds good. The vast majority of personal finance commentary, both online and in the “dead-tree” world, certainly sounds good enough — “put all your retirement money in stocks,” or “aggressive growth funds are the place to be,” or “small stocks return more than large stocks.” But there’s something odd about this kind of advice: It’s always asserted as if it’s true, and yet its truth is never proven. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to take investing advice on faith. To prosper in the long run, you’ve got to be able to separate the good advice from the advice that just sounds good. My goal here is to help you do that.

I’ve designed this website to be a safe haven where you can learn what you need in order to think for yourself as an investor. I’ve also worked hard at keeping everything at www.jasonzweig.com crystal-clear. Not only is there something here for everyone from the beginner to advanced investors, but you should be able to find your way around and be able to tell at a glance what’s suitable for your level. And the Resources section is different from the indigestible directories of links you’ll find at most other websites: I’ve personally checked out every single link you’ll find here, in order to make sure the information and advice are reliable and worthwhile. If I haven’t inspected a site myself — or if I think legitimate investors can’t visit it safely — then “you can’t get there from here.” (My definition of a “safe” website has three parts: 1, it consistently delivers responsible advice that’s appropriate for long-term investors; 2, it does not bombard you with pop-up ads or try to sell you something with every mouse-click you make; 3, it does not capture your e-mail address or other personal information and use it for commercial gain.)

Why should I listen to you?

Good question. I’ve been writing about business since 1986 and covering investing and personal finance full-time since 1992, first as the mutual funds editor at Forbes magazine, then as a commentator for Money magazine and a guest columnist for Time, and now as the investing and personal-finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal.  In 2003, I edited the revised edition of Benjamin Graham’s classic text, The Intelligent Investor, which Warren Buffett has called “by far the best book about investing ever written.” (You can read my bio here.)

Unlike a lot of journalists, I don’t think I’m smarter than everybody else.  Instead, I’m only smart enough to know how much I don’t know — and to keep asking questions of the smartest people I can find until I get answers I do understand. (I figure if I can finally make sense out of the answers, then so can you.) I never take anything on faith — because I know that if something I write is wrong, it will cost real people like you real money.  My goal, in everything you’ll see here, is to give you the highest possible odds of reaching your long-term financial goals, with the lowest possible chance of risk and regret.

I’ve learned that the financial world is populated primarily by two groups of people: those who don’t know what the heck they’re doing (and insist on giving advice anyway) and those who think you don’t know what the heck you’re doing (and can’t wait to get their mitts on your money). Your most powerful defensive weapon against both kinds of people is your own skepticism. I’ll show you how I keep my skepticism sharp, and I hope you’ll learn how to hone yours as well.

Who doesn’t belong here?

If you’re interested in “getting rich quick,” please leave this site immediately.  I hate to sound inhospitable, but there’s utterly nothing here for people like you, and there never will be. I have no advice whatsoever that would be helpful to you, and I can’t recommend anyone else who would either.

The problem with getting rich quick is you have to do it so often. That’s because right after you get rich quick, whatever gimmick got you there will stop working, and you’ll get poor quick, and you’ll have to start all over again. You’ll spend years of sheer investment heartbreak always grabbing for more, always missing it or holding onto it for only a split second, forever coming away empty-handed.

On the other hand, I think I might be able to help you get rich slowly. And I’ll try to help you stay rich in an investment world that’s bursting with shysters and hypesters who can’t wait to drain your wallet dry.

After all, wealth isn’t just about getting rich; it’s about staying rich once you get there. As Europe’s greatest merchant banker, Nathan Mayer Rothschild, said in 1834: “It requires a great deal of boldness, and a great deal of caution, to make a great fortune; and when you have got it, it requires ten times as much wit to keep it.” At this website, my unwavering desire is to deliver the right amounts of boldness, caution and wit to help you build a fortune over the years to come.

But if you want to make a fortune now — right away — overnight — today — this very minute — by year-end — then you’re just going to have to look elsewhere.

And by the way, you’re never going to find it or keep it.  So when you’re finally ready to give up the futile search for the next great get-rich-quick scheme, come on back.  We’ll leave the light on for you.

What’s the catch?

Most so-called “investment” websites are always selling something: books, videotapes, newsletters, e-mail hotlines, money-management “services,” memberships, hats and T-shirts and coffee mugs, seminars or “webinars,” even the articles you could easily download elsewhere for free — not to mention the incessant flashing of pop-up ads from their “sponsors” who will pounce on you if you click your mouse in the wrong place.

Phew! So far as I’m concerned, all that junk belongs in a flea market or a tag sale, not on a website that aims to bring you good investing advice.

Isn’t it strange? Here you are, wondering how to improve your financial future — and the folks who run these websites are telling you that the best thing you can do with your money is to put a fat chunk of it straight into their pockets! Whose financial future do you suppose these guys really care about: yours, or their own?

That’s why www.jasonzweig.com is different:

  • I don’t accept advertising or “sponsorships.”
  • I don’t publish an investment newsletter.
  • I don’t make you register to use the site, and I will never send you an unsolicited e-mail or sell your e-mail address to anyone.
  • I don’t manage money for anyone but my own family.
  • I don’t get any “referral” kickbacks from any website whose links are shown here.
  • So far as I know, everything I’ve ever written or said that’s available anywhere online is reachable directly from here.  I haven’t left any of my mistakes buried in some Internet boneyard.
  • Nothing is for sale here (if you want to buy my books, you can click here to be redirected).
  • I pay to run this site entirely out of my own pocket. And so long as I can afford to do so, I won’t compromise on any of the things I just told you about.

In short, this aims to be a conflict-of-interest-free zone.  I hope you’ll never need to worry that anything I tell you has been bought or biased by anybody who greased my palms or lined my pockets.  And yes, I write every word you’ll read here — not my “researcher” (I don’t have one) and not my “editorial assistant” (I don’t have one of them either).

These are the steps I’ve taken to try to ensure that www.jasonzweig.com will be honest, impartial, and useful. Since my day job already provides me with an adequate living, my goal isn’t to use this website to make myself rich; my hope, instead, is that you might be able to use it to help get rich yourself.

What’s the catch? There isn’t any. Down the road, if visitors like you really like what you see here, maybe I’ll be able to figure out some way to make this website pay its own keep. But you have my solemn word that www.jasonzweig.com will never take any compensation of any kind from any company in the financial-services industry.

So you be the judge. Browse around. See what you think.

Let me hear from you about what you like, what you don’t, what you’d like to see more of. And thanks for stopping by.