DEAR HARRY: We are in our late 40s and have never owned stock. My wife is a child of Depression survivors who taught her to avoid risk with money. She won't let me buy into any investment that doesn't have some type of federal guarantee (like FDIC). We have had many a discussion about this, even before we were married. People around us have made out well with mutual funds and stocks, but I cannot get her to budge. I don't want to do this behind her back, so I'm in a real bind. Can you give me any words of wisdom to help persuade her to take some risk? We are both public employees with solid pensions and fine health plans.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: To me, peace in the home is the top priority. Nothing is even a close second. I would suggest that you start by setting a limit of, say, $10,000 for a sort of "fun fund." For the next five months, put $1,000 into each of two index funds issued by Fidelity, T. Rowe Price or Vanguard. This will get your feet wet and will enable you to diversify, thereby spreading the risk two ways and limiting the amount you're putting into the market. I strongly agree that you should be open about this. If this plan can persuade her, you're on your way. But my first statement still stands.

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