Net Resources

Surfing is easy. Finding useful information is hard

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The Internet has long been heralded as the great equalizer, a place where neophyte and expert alike have access to the same information. This is especially true when the information sought is financial. From mortgages to insurance, there are reference sites that can help you handle your finances better, faster and more efficiently (see “All Around the Web,” March 1999). But just because a site has the marketing dollars to attract your attention, doesn’t mean it has the best offerings. In searching for personal finance sites, we found useful information at some well-known destinations and at others we think of as diamonds in the rough. Here are some of the gems we found.

Whether you are interested in a particular type of vehicle or you’re an all-around investor, this guide offers an array of information that will fill your exact needs. Investorguide offers real-time quotes on stocks and mutual funds, business news from a variety of news sources, an investment glossary and stock analysis. This site also allows you to create a portfolio and review a variety of links to investing sites. For new users, this site offers a tour and answers over 1,000 investing questions in its Answercenter. View a listing of online banks, as well as get tips on online trading and car buying. Investorguide even offers advice on choosing between online and traditional brokers, lists sources for mortgages and managing debt, and answers FAQs on mortgages, financial planning, financial aid, car buying and loans, among other topics.

That someone could make sense of the gyrations of the stock market is a feat in and of itself. StockSense isn’t a pretty site but it takes you through the valuations and rationales behind stock prices and discount rates, for example. While there are some confusing formulas presented, they are explained through examples and leave you more informed than any talking head on the boob tube could. There’s an interactive applet on Risk and Return, which will help you determine and explain your tolerance for risk. The site also includes a Double Quote feature, which permits you to enter a stock’s symbol or name and search two company news and quote sites simultaneously. The results are shown in two browser windows. There’s also a feature called QuoteTV, which provides quotes and company news about preselected stocks in your browser window.

The Investment FAQ is a collection of frequently asked questions (and answers) about investments and personal finance, including stocks, bonds, options, discount brokers, information sources, retirement plans and life insurance. This is a great site for investment newbies. It’ll walk you through the basics of financial planning, teach you about stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and also clue you in to some common mistakes investors make so that you won’t repeat them. The site includes informative articles on everything from analyzing reports to more sophisticated topics, such as Long-term Equity AnticiPation Security, or LEAP. The analyses are informative and well presented. If you have questions

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