Managing My Mailbag


Managing My Mailbag

Janet Bodnar shares how she handles readers' questions and comments and thanks readers for their feedback.

This is my annual thank-you to all my loyal -- and brand-new -- readers. The response I get from you lets me know that I've struck a chord -- not only with parents who want to teach their children money-management skills, but also with young adults who are eager to learn. I'll do my best to pass along useful advice on everything from allowances to college loans to setting up your first retirement account.

When my file folders and e-mail box are crammed with reader questions, I also like to take some time to explain how I handle your queries and comments.

First, another big thank-you for your feedback. Your input keeps me in touch with what's on your mind, and what I should be writing about.

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Although I can't respond to each question personally, I do read every one and answer as many as I can in this column. I try to vary what I write about from week to week, addressing a wide variety of subjects and different age groups. If your question doesn't turn up right away, it may mean that I'm waiting for the right opportunity to use it.


I'm delighted to hear from both adults and children, whether you're looking for information or sharing an experience. Occasionally I also use questions I have been asked on radio call-in shows, by audiences I speak to, or even by friends and co-workers, if I feel they would be of wide interest.

When I receive several questions on a particular subject, I try to choose one that's representative of the whole group, or come up with a composite. If you don't see your exact query, you may see one similar to yours. Keep watching.

Sometimes I get questions on a subject that I have recently addressed. If possible, I try to do a follow-up, especially if the subject is one that generates a lot of reader interest.

To avoid being repetitious, however, I can't always return to the subject immediately. But I do save your questions for future use. And you may find an answer in my column archives.


Occasionally I get a question that requires extensive research or a lengthier reply than I can give in this space. In that case, I use the question as the basis for a longer story in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, which I can then adapt into several columns online. And often I write on a topical issue -- reporting on some new trend or product that affects children's finances, weighing in with an opinion on a news event or media report or relating a personal experience.

I do that because part of my job is to keep you up to date and anticipate what you'd like to know, even if you haven't actually put your thoughts on paper or in an e-mail. One thing I've learned from you is that we're all working toward the same goal: raising money-smart kids who have a healthy attitude toward money and the ability to manage it wisely.