Date of Award

Fall 2001

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pokrywczynski, James

Second Advisor

Garner, Ana C.

Third Advisor

Meyer, Gary


I wanted to conduct this study because in the past few years, I became one of the Baby Boomers who was putting more and more money into new avenues of investment, after decades of sticking only with institutions covered by federal deposit insurance and with traditional, rudimentary savings plans at work. I had always been good at saving and it was not that I was ultraconseNative or distrusting over the years; it was just that my local savings bank was serving my needs and that I never needed to expand my horizon. But eventually I did, starting with an account in a money market fund. Today, 20 years later, these are widely considered to be virtl,lally as safe as a bank, even if they are not insured. Then my spouse left her full-time job and had what seemed to be far too much money to put into traditional certificates of deposit. An adviser helped us venture into mutual funds. I finally stuck my toes in the new water, only to see quickly what exposure to the stock market looked like - my initial investment sunk as the market slid in the October 1987 crash. It had struggled back to the level of the original deposit when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, and it quickly sank again. I withdrew what remained of the money and put it back in the bank; my spouse remained. Finally, a few years later amid a dramatic downsizing at my media job, I opted to leave rather than remain in a reduced role. Now it was my turn to have too much money to put into traditional deposits, so I searched for communication material and soon ventured into several mutual funds. But I began to wonder: Have I done the right things so far in my life for retirement? Should I have started earlier? Am in the right places now? How could I have been educated better about it over the years? What will it be like when the day comes in which savings and Social Security generate the great bulk of my income? I read more and more about it, and soon after I started graduate school I knew my thesis would be about some issue involving investing by "the common man," in contrast to the years in which only accountants and financial planners were doing it. Over the months, and in work for various graduate courses, I noticed that while there were articles galore about common investors as a group, few of them actually bothered to quote individual people like me. And while we were bombarded with messages about places to save and how everyone was doing it, there were extremely few articles about the end result - what people who were tapping these savings after retirement were saying about what they had done right and what they wished they had known earlier. So I decided to ask them myself. The results are in the next 150 or so pages.