Personal finance journalist Jane Bryant Quinn is the "maven of money," a Harvard Business School professor wrote in a recent review of Quinn's book "Making the Most of Your Money."
To earn this appellation, Quinn has spent nearly 30 years reporting on the subject for national publications and network news. She writes a syndicated column appearing in 250 newspapers nationwide, including the Los Angeles Business Journal, and is a contributing editor for Newsweek.
Although based in New York, Quinn was in Los Angeles recently to promote the just-published revised edition of her book and to visit her stepdaughter, former MTV personality Martha Quinn, who lives in the San Fernando Valley.
Question: How did you end up focusing your writing career around personal finance?
Answer: I had a job at something called the "Insiders Newsletter" in the early 1960s, a consumer newsletter where I was assigned to women's issues. I was the new person there and they had me cover personal finance because no one else wanted to. I thought doing those stories was terrific and couldn't see why no one else wanted to.
Q: You started at a newsletter?
A: Women couldn't be writers in mainstream newspapers back then. My first job out of college was at Newsweek in the mailroom. When I saw that the highest position a woman could reach there was as a researcher, I quit and found a job at the newsletter where at least I could write. Ralph Nader also worked there at the time.
Q: And from there you evolved into a personal finance specialist?
A: My big break was in 1968 when McGraw-Hill called and asked me to found a newsletter focused solely on personal finance. I was editor of "The Business Week Letter," but they asked me to use my initials so people wouldn't know I was a woman. I was J.B. Quinn and I had everyone on staff use their initials, even the men. In 1973 I became its publisher and the first thing I did was drop the initials, and nobody said a word to me.
Q: How did you make it to mainstream publications?
A: The Washington Post knew of my work at the newsletter. They called me in 1974 and asked me to start a column.
Q: After living and breathing personal finance for so long, do you ever get tired of the subject?
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