Alan Caroe:Monday, you asked: Doesn’t Barbra Streisand sing in the shower? Well, according to her October interview on NPR to promote her latest recording, the answer is no. Barbra reported that she does not sing around the house and that she will not tolerate background music. She reports that she spends her days talking on the telephone for political organization purposes. Please do your homework, keep up the financial writing and limit the political sermonizing. In Christ, Alan.’

Nancy Wolcott: ‘Re Tuesday‘s column, the Florida state legislature has already made 12th grade optional. Entering Miami-Dade high school students in Fall 2003 were given letters directing them to choose the 4 or 3 year option at the beginning of their high school career.’

Jim: ‘In determining how much of your assets to keep in stocks, how do you define ‘If you’re relatively young’ – as you state in Wednesday’s column? Not too long ago I would have answered very differently than I would today.’

☞ Well, under 40, for sure. And under 50, probably . . . but the closer you get to the years you will no longer earn new money to keep buying more shares if the market goes sharply lower – let alone the years you might have to withdraw money from the market when it might be sharply lower for a while – the more cautious it is reasonable to become.

That said, my friend Ken’s grandmother is fully functioning on her own – and can drive! – at 102 (although Ken has persuaded her to do so only in an emergency). So if you’re 65, you may have 35+ years ahead of you. Stocks would likely handily outperform safer investments over 35 years . . . so even at 65, you could well want some exposure to stocks.

‘It all depends.’ For example, if you’re 65 and stand to inherit money in a few years when your 102-year-old parent, by then 106 or 107, laughs herself to death watching an Arrested Development rerun, you’d have less reason to be conservative.

(Wherever you come out on this, do NOT miss Arrested Development.)

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