_ B PERSONAL Finance By JEAN SHERMAN CHATZKY Long-distance buzz W ANT TO GET the best rates on long-distance calls? Some of the best deals are available only to people who sign up on the Internet. MCI's rate is 9 cents a minute Monday-Saturday, 5 cents a minute on Sunday. AT&T's deal is 9 cents a minute all week. And America Online has partnered with a reseller called Tel-Save to do the same. Through May, AOL is offering a rate of 5 cents a minute all week. The hitch: Some programs' preferred link to customer service is e-mail. "Extra efficiency is saving the long-distance companies money and allowing them to offer deals," says Geoff Mordock of the Telecommunications Research and Action Center. It's a good idea to assess your rates every three months or so. Notes Mordock: "Prices are falling so quickly, it's difficult to keep up." I ARE MUTUAL FUNDS TOO RISKY? Q: I participate in my company's 401(k) plan. All of my money Is Invested In a stock mutual fund. People at work think I'm crazy to take such a "risk." I figure since I'm 30 and single, I can take the market's ups and downs. What do you think? Daren Lee, Torrance, Calif. A: Daren, I don't think your asset allocation is crazy at all. But I hope you don't have all of your money in one fund. Just as you would with stocks, it's important to diversify among the funds you hold in your 401(k). That means mixing small and large company (or small and large cap index) funds as well as some participation in real estate and international markets. As you age, lessen your risk by adding some fixed income and cashlike components. But at 30, you still have a long, long way to go. News to use, free online W HETHER YOU'RE looking for information on leasing a new car or the lowdown on being executor of an estate, chances are you'll find" it on the Web site of the Consumer Information Center (www.pueblo.gsa.gov), where hundreds of handy government publications — some of which would come with a charge if you had them mailed to you — are available for free viewing on your screen. A couple of favorites: "8 Things You Should Know About Telemarketing Fraud" (which includes the helpful fact that there's "no way to positively determine whether a sales call is on the up and up simply by talking with someone on the phone") and "Life Advice About an IRS Audit" (including advice on businesses that are likely audit targets and what to do — don't rush and don't lie — if it happens to you), ra Contributing Editor Jean Sherman Ctiatzky, a Money magazine editor, wrote 77ie Rich and Famous Money Book. She Is seen on NBC's Today show and MSNBC. CocwttoCocitfc Available only at participating stores. —————___^_ - - "?
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