Updated from Oct. 29, 2001

The proverbial chips, well, they're down.



bubble had popped and the economy was already grinding to a halt before Sept. 11. A $10,000 investment in the average U.S. stock fund and tech fund a year ago would be worth about $8,700 and $5,100, respectively, according to Chicago fund tracker Morningstar.

Most fund managers we talk to think the economy will start to liven up in 2002. But they also think the chances of seeing Nasdaq 5000 anytime soon are about the same as seeing President Bush and Osama bin Laden sharing a booth and a strawberry Fribble as they talk football in your local Friendly's.

Rather than obsessively wondering when stocks will rise again, let's make sure we've got the basics covered. How much money do you have and how much do you need to reach your goals? Are you saving enough? These are the types of mundane questions we may have overlooked in recent years.

So here are 10 fundamental financial steps we should all consider. Check out each piece by clicking on the link below.

One last note: If you'd like to go a step further and press the reset button, talk to a financial adviser who'll focus on the big picture. Check out the Financial Planning Association via its Web site (

www.fpanet.org) or the phone, 1-800-322-4237.

10 Things You Should Do Before You Invest

  • Figure out what you're worth.
  • Set your goals and figure out how much they cost.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Build an emergency savings fund.
  • Pay off your credit card debt.
  • Insure yourself against the unexpected.
  • Contribute to tax-deferred retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs.
  • Consider using software to keep track of your money and help with your taxes.
  • Be your bank's thriftiest customer.
  • Check out your credit report.

Ian McDonald writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to

imcdonald@thestreet.com, but he cannot give specific financial advice.