Allan Sloan is a senior editor-at-large at Fortune
Allan Sloan is a senior editor-at-large at Fortune - 

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: We keep hearing it's a great time to buy stocks.
But our friend Allan Sloan from Fortune Magazine tells me, no, it's a great time to think about buying stocks. All right Allan, what are the guidelines for getting into the market right now?

Allan Sloan: Well, the first guideline is you shouldn't have any credit card debt, because credit cards . . . amongst more expensive than you're ever going to earn in stocks. The second thing is, your financial life needs to be under some sort of control. And the thing to do is to nibble -- and I stress the word nibble -- at, say, a Standard & Poor's 500 Index fund or a total U.S. stock market fund because you diversify your investment rather than being at one company, which as we've seen can go from a lot to nothing. That would be how to do it if you want to own stocks and you don't know how to buy them, that's how you would buy them.

Jagow: And what's my timeframe? How far out should I be thinking about?

Sloan: You should be thinking of holding the stuff for at least six years, maybe longer. Let's take Warren Buffett, I mean you've heard of Warren Buffett?

Jagow: Uh, yeah.

Sloan: He's supposed to be good at picking stocks? Last month, Warren Buffett published a really interesting piece in The New York Times. He said, "I am buying U.S. stocks." And when he said that, the S&P 500 was considerably higher than it is now. And in fact, shortly after he said it, the S&P fell almost 20 percent. You know, he wasn't trying to time the market, he was giving you long-term advice on the assumption that you have both the ability and the stomach to sit there and ride out things.

Jagow: And I guess you're also suggesting people keep their expectations kind of low on the return end of this?

Sloan: I would do that. Now, people of my generation -- I'm 64 -- we grew up in a market that ran from 1982 to 2000 that returned on average 20 percent a year in the S&P compounded. We are not going to see that again. But finally, stocks are at a point where I suspect in five or six or seven or eight years, you'll look back and say gee, I really did a lot better owning this than I would have owning Treasury bonds or money market funds, stuff like that. At least that's how I'm betting my personal portfolio, so I hope to heaven it's right. Otherwise, Scott, I may have to come out and live in your basement.

Jagow: Haha! All right, Fortune Magazine's Allan Sloan, thanks as always.

Sloan: You're welcome.