WITH THE DOW Jones industrial and other averages standing this morning at record highs, some hopefully helpful hints about your money:
AT MARKET PEAK: "Instead of buying individual stocks, track the broad market with 'Spiders,' trading on the Amex, ticker symbol SPY.
"Spider trust units mirror the S&P; 500-stock performance. Why 'Spiders,' not an index fund? Spiders reflect the raw index while index funds let managers tinker for better performance, which they seldom achieve." (Moneypaper, Oct.)
WHY WAIT? "Did you realize that taking Social Security early pays off? Even though payments are reduced, they'll usually add up to more in the long run.
"Example: If you receive full benefits of $750 a month for retiring at 65, you can get reduced payments of $600 a month by retiring at 62.
"You'd have to collect full benefits for 12 years to make up the $21,600 you'd receive in the three years of early payments." (Retirement Investment Strategies.)
COMPUTER CORNER: "Online Marketing Handbook" by Daniel Janal will keep you up to date in the fast-changing field of on-line marketing long after the last magazines on the subject are history." (Success, September)
READING LAMP: Top best-sellers from Business Week's latest hardcover list: "Buffett: Life and Wisdom of the Oracle of Omaha" by Roger Lowenstein, $27.50 "The Beardstown Ladies' Common-Sense Investment Guide" by the Beardstown Ladies Investment Club, $19.95.
Paperback: "Personal Finance For Dummies" by Eric Tyson, $16.95.
LOCAL LINGO (1): Robert Sanborn, manager, top-performing Oakmark Fund, says, "I like Black & Decker, but the market underestimates its power tool brand franchise. Almost everything B&D; makes leads its category. And stock sells at only 8 times earnings."
MORE LOCAL: Stock of USF&G; appears on Legg Mason's latest "Recommended Buy List." T. Rowe Price Small-Cap Value Fund is mentioned favorably under "Time to Buy Small-Cap Funds," in Fortune, Oct. 30.
HOUSE ORGAN HUNT: "In one recent month, employees at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point 'L' blast furnace produced 305,904 tons of iron, a monthly record for any blast furnace in North America." (Bethlehem Review, Oct.)
MONEY MAILBOX: Catherine S., Highlandtown, writes: "How do I find a good stockbroker?"
Ask friends whom they use. If that doesn't work, call sales managers of well-known local firms. They will refer account executives to you. Interview several, then pick the one in whom you have most confidence.
BUSINESS BEAT: "Meet with your secretary for 10 minutes each morning and go over what you want to accomplish that day. At day's end, get a brief status report from her. Yes, 99 percent of secretaries are women." (Lauri Kotcher, McKinsey & Co., business consultants.)
MARYLAND MEMOS: Tonight, locally produced "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser" examines "The Quantitative Approach," with fund manager John Bogle and panelists Elizabeth Dater, Alison Deans, Alan Bond.
Mid-Atlantic Medical, Rockville, is listed under "Rapid Earnings Growth, Low P/E Ratio," in the same Outlook.
LAST LINES: "Anyone who invests in technology stocks should have a time horizon of at least five years." (Kopp Investment Advisors)
"Reading two parts of a mutual fund's prospectus is a 'must' before buying -- statement of objectives and fee table." (The No-Load Investor, by Sheldon Jacobs)
"IRA accounts for minors are a good way to start children saving for retirement -- if they are earning income." (Peat Marwick newsletter.)
"European stocks are poised for a comeback, especially in Italy, France and Austria," says Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, Nov.