A new study by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards finds that more people are using financial planners now than three years ago (37% vs. 32% in 1999), and more are using them as their primary financial advisers (22% vs. 19% in 1999).

"Online information is often useful," said Elaine Bedel, who chairs CFP Board's governing body. "But many people recognize that the complexity of financial planning calls for a professional who can address their individual goals and needs with a personalized financial plan."

Of course, Fools have known that for years, which is why so many of you subscribe to TMF Money Advisor. That and you have a crush on Tom Gardner, of course. We won't tell him -- promise!

Take our poll and let us know if you've begun using a financial planner during these tough market years.

The FOOL 50 called its adviser this morning, so it was up over 3% for the day.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Worried About Your Money?

An Oct. 7 article by Associated Press writer Jeannine Aversa opened with the following sentence: "Americans, anxious about the economy's direction and a possible war with Iraq, increased their borrowing in August by the smallest amount in eight months."

Let that sink in. We are supposedly worried about our finances, so instead of decreasing our borrowing, or even holding the line, we increased our borrowing -- though by not as much as we did last month. Boy, we're really battening down the hatches, aren't we?

The Federal Reserve announced Monday that consumer credit rose $4.2 billion (seasonally adjusted) in August, which would translate into a 2.9% annual rate. Revolving credit, such as credit cards, accounted for most of the increase, with a $3.9 billion jump in borrowing. July saw revolving credit increase by $6.3 billion. That brings the total amount of consumer debt in America to $1.73 trillion.

Folks, this is not the way to put your finances on war footing. If you're really worried about the economy (and who isn't?), then here are the steps you should take:

  1. Reduce high-interest consumer debt. (Recall that reduce is the opposite of increase.) Visit the Fool's new Credit Center for tips.

  2. Build a stash of cash. Nothing is more reassuring than knowing you have money on hand in case of emergencies. We provide direction in our Short-Term Savings Center.

  3. Start your Christmas shopp ing now. You'll spread out the expense and have more opportunities to find sales. (In case you're wondering, we could use a trampoline at Fool HQ.)

  4. Continue sav ing for your goals. If you can afford it (and you should do your best to do so), continue saving for retirement, college, or whatever your priorities may be. Socking away a few hundred dollars (or even just $100) a month will add up big time over the years.

Quote of Note

"I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart." -- e. e. cummings (1894-1962)

Yahoo for Yahoo!

Out of the soapy residue left behind by the bursting of the dot-com bubble, some forgotten giants are beginning to take baby steps forward. Bellwether Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO) posted healthy third-quarter results and was surprisingly upbeat about the future.

The company earned $0.05 a share for the September period. That was a penny ahead of Wall Street's estimates, reversing a loss registered the year before. The Internet giant saw revenue surge by 50% to $248.8 million. That figure also came in better than expected, though it is still far short of the $295.6 million the company claimed two years ago.

But it's a different Yahoo! now. While a company like eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) has been able to set its business model on cruise control, the same can't be said for Yahoo! The portal that used to live and die by the ad dollar is now less dependent on corporate banner ads. From its HotJobs.com acquisition to premium-priced email, hosting, paid search, auction, and dating services, Yahoo! has become a more complete company. But will the strong results be enough to thrust the company's beleaguered shares out of the single digits forever?

Why not? The company is now on track to produce record earnings this year. Yes, even more than what made its way to the bottom line back in 2000, when revenue peaked at $1.1 billion. And for top-line watchers, the company is looking to match or top 2000 levels next year.

The online powerhouse has already generated $159.6 million in free cash flow so far this year. Along with its $1.4 billion in balance-sheet greenery, a consistently profitable and growing Yahoo! can be like poetry in motion. Remember the frothy days when Yahoo! was fetching price-to-sales ratios in the hundreds? The stock is priced at just six times 2003 revenue projections right now. It's also asking for a little more than 20 times next year's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

"Do you Yahoo!?" used to be the company's marketing campaign. Right now, it might be an even more fitting question for investors.

Discussion Board of the Day: Yahoo!

Do you think that Yahoo! has bottomed out here? Are you impressed by the third-quarter results? What's the deal with paid searches, anyway? All this and more -- in the Yahoo! discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Rockin' Radio

In what's being called a win-win situation, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved a standard for digital radio today, meaning the first real advances for the medium in years are just around the corner.

The FCC approved technology created by iBiquity Digital Corp., a privately held company that counts Viacom(NYSE: VIA), Disney's(NYSE: DIS) ABC, Clear Channel Communications(NYSE: CCU), and Cox Communications(NYSE: COX) as investors. As a result, stations are expected to begin broadcasting digital signals in the next several months.

What will this mean for you? For starters, you can expect CD-quality sound through your radio's speakers once digital receivers hit the market. (You'll still be able to listen to digital stations with your current equipment, however.) But there will be other benefits, too. Because the digital signal can piggyback on the normal analog signal, it can send separate information through the two channels. That means customers could get programs on demand to listen or record for a later time. The alternate signal could also send other types of information, such as pictures, news, and artist information.

It's worth considering what effect the new technology will eventually have on XM Satellite Radio(Nasdaq: XMSR) and Sirius Satellite Radio(Nasdaq: SIRI). One of their major selling points (besides being able to listen to a single station coast to coast) is the digital-quality sound. Once that's offered for free, however, the two companies -- if they even survive -- may see a drop-off in the number of subscribers willing to pay $10 or more per month.

Shameless Plug: Selective Service

What's the best-kept secret at the Fool? Certainly not David Gardner's love of meringue! No, it's The Motley Fool Select. Every month, our writers produce outstanding analysis on companies that are worthy of your investment consideration. Subscribing to Select may feel like joining an exclusive club, but this is one secret we don't mind letting out.

Quick Takes

September retail same-store sales numbers aren't pretty. Discount department-store chain Kohl's(NYSE: KSS) reported a 3.2% drop in year-over-year comparables but an 8.5% increase in sales for all stores, because the chain is on a tear to add almost 20% new stores this year. But Kohl's lowered Q3 EPS projections to $0.34 to $0.35, down from $0.35 to $0.39.

Classic women's clothier Talbot's(NYSE: TLB) undressed its unhappy September numbers. The home of the familiar red and brass doors reported a 6.2% drop in monthly same-store sales against a year ago, and projects Q3 EPS of $0.59 to $0.61 against the Street's $0.70 expectation. Talbot's warns of worse numbers for holiday season Q4, saying EPS will fall between $0.48 and $0.53 against $0.62 analysts consensus estimates. The stock collapsed 25%.

Curiously, high-end retailer Neiman-Marcus(NYSE: NMGA) reported a 16.1% increase in same-store sales. Doubtless it has something to do with Sept. 30 press release, boasting the longest headline we've seen in a while: "Neiman Marcus Unveils Its Most Spectacular Christmas Book Ever, Brimming With Luxurious Fantasy Gifts and Imaginative Holiday Offerings From London to Bali and Everything in Between -- The 2002 Christmas Book Showcases a London Taxi, a Balinese Hut, the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition 2004 Cadillac XLR, 'His And Her' Personalized Action Figures, a Collection Of Warhol Paintings and More." Oh dear.

USA Interactive (Nasdaq: USIA) says it has agreed to buy the remaining shares of Ticketmaster(Nasdaq: TMCS) it doesn't already own for about $15.17, a 20% premium over yesterday's close. Barry Diller's conglomerate said it would suspend efforts to do the same with majority-owned, profitable, and growing Expedia(Nasdaq: EXPE) and Hotels.com(Nasdaq: ROOM), after facing wide criticism for lowball offers.

No. 2 health insurer Aetna(NYSE: AET) provided solid evidence that its turnaround is starting to work. The company said its Q3 EPS would be $0.70 instead of $0.35, doubling estimates, citing higher returns on premiums and a lower rate of cost increases. The news injected 17% into the stock.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com: Robert Brokamp's feeling low on flying these days.... Pepsi satisfies with a strong third quarter.... In Fool's School, the difference between growth and fixed-income mutual funds.... The Fool Community wonders if McDonald's is fried.... The Post of the Day: examining Yahoo!

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim