Online UPDATES

February 18, 2005



What kind of investor are you?

Investors fall into four main personality types, and your type can predict the mistakes you're likely to make, says a study of 1,000 people by Merrill Lynch Investment Managers.

Measured investors (32 percent of the sample) start investing early in life and stick with it. They don't try to beat the market, but they tend to hold on to losing investments for too long.

Reluctant investors (26 percent) don't like investing, and try to spend as little time as possible managing their portfolios. But most squeamish investors end up waiting too long to invest.

Competitive investors (17 percent), on the other hand, enjoy trying to beat the market. But they tend to chase hot stocks, which sometimes burn them.

Unprepared investors (11 percent) are anxious about investing and unhappy with their financial situation. They know little about financial topics, and waited too long to start investing. Moreover, they're the least likely to rebalance their portfolios.

Another 14 percent of the sample didn't fit into any category. To find out your investor personality, take the quiz at www.hindsight2insight.com.

Here's a small benefit of rising gas prices

You'll get a bigger tax break for driving back and forth from your office to the hospital this year, thanks to a three-cent increase in the standard mileage deduction rate for business transportation. You can deduct 40.5 cents a mile on your 2005 federal income tax return, up from 37.5 cents a mile last year. The increase, prompted by higher vehicle and fuel prices, is the largest one-year rise ever.

Gutting out the bear market—and earning a cool million

The number of households with more than $1 million in net worth (excluding the value of their homes) shot up by one-third in 2004, to a record 8.2 million, says TNS Financial Services, a market information firm. The addition of 2 million households to the millionaires' club was the largest increase recorded by the firm, which started monitoring affluent households in 1981. Nearly half the new millionaires say they waited out the bear market by leaving their portfolios virtually unchanged, and reaped the financial benefits of being in the market when it started recovering.

Power up your credit card

Visa is launching a new card that contains a tiny battery that can power a mini-flashlight, play melodies, or display information such as transaction details, currency conversions, and loyalty points. The card can also be embedded with a small magnifying lens to enlarge the information to more than three times its normal size for visually impaired cardholders. It'll be rolled out this year in Spain and Singapore.