Jill on Money: Investments, index funds, allocation

generic call-in radio show for Jill Schlesinger

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With markets stuck in a range, "Jill on Money" concentrated on the easiest way to make money as an investor: by reducing fees!

Brian from WA has a portfolio of approximately $2.5 million and has always used low cost managed mutual funds or index funds. Given the size of his assets, he has wondered whether this strategy is still valid. (Hint: YES!) Whether you have a large portfolio like Brian, or just getting started out, like Kori from FL, using low cost index funds are the easiest way to see 1-2 percent drop straight to your bottom line. Reducing fees is just about the only way to increase return with NO RISK!

That's why Emily, Tyler, Bernard and Bruce should all stop spinning their wheels trying to find a "good stock" or a fund with "high return" and instead, head straight to one of my favorites: Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Charles Schwab or Fidelity and build a diversified portfolio of index funds or use target date funds.

You can't beat the market, so stop trying

We fielded some debt questions: 24 year old Scott needed guidance on paying down student loans, while Robert and his wife are about to remodel and wanted to know if they should re-fi or use cash in bank.

Both Deb and Ben are in transition periods, so I cautioned each of them against buying a home before they were ready. To some, renting may sometimes feel like throwing away money, but there is amazing freedom in not being tied down to a home.

Bert from NJ wanted to know whether or not to keep his whole life insurance policy, which currently seems too good to be true. Meanwhile, Bill from Buffalo checked in on when to file Social Security, given that his wife will be relying on one-half of his benefit.

Here are web sites and resources mentioned in this week's show:

-- Jill's Blog

-- NAPFA: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (fee-only advisors)

-- Social Security: Manage your account online

-- Social Security estimator

-- When to take Social Security?

-- Retirement Plan Required Distribution Calculator

-- NYT Rent vs. Buy Calculator

-- Re-Fi Calculator

-- Another Re-Fi Calculator

--Financial documents: What to shred, what to keep

-- Estate Planning: the Documents You Need

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world and to Special K, intern extraordinaire. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE

Send an email: askjill@moneywatch.com

Tweet me: @jillonmoney

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    View all articles by Jill Schlesinger on CBS MoneyWatch »
    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.