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Top financial Websites.

To manage your money, check out these

When it comes to investing, you're not exactly plying with Monopoly money: Your cash is real. And brokers, analysts, and financial advisors are waiting online, ready to influence what you do with the capital you've worked so hard to accumulate, while financial Websites can be a convenient place to learn about investing, you should always evaluate a site's worthiness before letting it influence your financial future.

"One good sign of a respectable site is a track record," says the Securities and Exchange Commission's Ronald C. Long, a district administrator in Philadelphia. "A reliable site has probably come from a brick-and-mortar investment firm or advisory service; that's not necessarily the case, but it's a good start."

He also offers the following pointers to help you decide which sites offer valuable and reliable information:

1. What's the catch? "If the site itself is focused on selling it may be all right, but may [also] be going after the money in your pocket," says Long. "That's not a crime, but something to factor into your assessment."

2.Watch the language. Watch out for terms such as "risk-free," "guaranteed," or "make big money." Those terms are pretty much nonexistent investing.

3. Be wary of foreigners. "Offshore sites should be less useful to the U.S. ivestor," says Long, particularly if they're encouraging you to send your money without knowing where or to whom it's going.

AMERITRADE (www.ameritrade.com)

Features such as wireless trading, free research, and 24-seven customer service support are only a few of the perks you get when you sign up with Ameritrade. Visitors can open a basic cash account with as little as $1,000. The site also offers portfolio-allocation tools and analysis on premium memberships. Trades start at $8 for as few as 100 shares or as many as 10,000.

BLACKENTERPRISE.COM (www.blackenterprise.com)

With tools such as ShareBuilder and the Black Stock Index, blackenterprise.com offers a wealth of information for novice and seasoned investors. Produced by BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine, the site provides news and features to help investors make educated choices about their finances. Visitors can also set up a Myblackenterprise.com start page to get the latest news and information instantly.

BLACKSTOCKS.COM (www.blackstocks.com)

Blackstocks.com Inc., a subsidiary of Strategic Interactive Media Inc., is a small business that encourages African Americans to accumulate wealth and get involved in the stock market. The site's Black Index features Black Funds, Black Companies, and Market Recap. Explore areas for the old, young advanced investor; read about retirement issue, small business resources, investment clubs, and professional organizations.

CNNFN (www.cnnfn.com)

CNNfn reports on events and issues that affect the financial markets, and its Website keeps you in the loop top news (deals and debuts, technology, and the economy), markets (bonds and their rates, earnings estimates, IPOs, Wall Street research), world business, and small business information. The Company Search feature lets you drill 24 industry categories so you can grab just the headlines you need.

DATEK ONLINE (www.datek.com)

An easy-to-use interface, low transaction fees, and no minimum purchase make Datek Online an attractive place to trade stocks online. Datek offers NYSE, AMEX, Options, mutual funds, Nasdaq, and OTC Bulletin Board securities (except Non-DTC eligible" securities). Trades are $9.99 each for up to 5,000 shares, regardless of order type.

DIRECT.COM (www.direct.com)

Whether you need information about opening a retirement account or simply want to check current savings and investment rates, you'll find it at Direct.com. The site is a federally insured cooperative that provides financial resources to its members. Check out the useful Savings, Loan, and Retirement calculators to figure out how to make your money work as hard as you do.

INVESTOR'S CLEARINGHOUSE (www.investoreducation.org)

Get an online education in financial planning, saving, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, futures, Treasuries, helpful agencies, and straightforward information about online investing, day trading, scams, and more. Hosted by the Alliance for Investor Education, the site includes strong investment sections for the elderly and for young people.

MERRILL LYNCH (www.ml.com)

Merrill Lynch offers members seasoned analyst reports, and a wide range of investment products. For up-to-date financial news, click on Merrill Lynch Today or visit Financial Education to learn the basics of investing. Members can choose to handle investing themselves with Merrill Lynch Direct and receive free, top-rated market research.

MOTLEY FOOL (www.motleyfool.com)

You've seen them on PBS for years, and whether you have faith in the Fools or not, their Website is chock-full of information: The real draw for many is the discussion boards, which buzz about practically every aspect of investing. Log in at http.boards.fool.com and talk to others about investment books, industry and market analyses, managing your finances, investment clubs, and stocks.

MSN MONEY/CNBC (www.moneycentral.msn.com)

MSN'S Money site heads its menu with My Money, a place to keep your financial information, provided that you sign up for a free e-mail account on HotMail, MSN, or passport.com. The rest of the menu covers topics such as investing, banking, and taxes. High-lights include a free bill-paying service for up to three bills per month and a spending quiz.

PERSONALFUND.COM (www.personalfund.com)

How much does it cost to own your mutual fund? What's the expense ratio? The tax efficiency? PersonalFund by Lipper, a Reuters company, itemizes last year's cost of owning your fund by the cost of transaction, fund management distribution, taxes paid for holding the fund, and the total cost of ownership. You also see what you'd get if there were no costs.

SCHWAB (www.schwab.com)

Whether you're a seasoned investor or are just getting started, Schwab has the information you need. The site offers a wide range of investment options and mutual funds and provides you with a customizable MySchwab home page to easily track information. And StockAnalyzer helps clients access key data to accurately track stocks.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION (www.sec.gov)

When it comes to looking out for investors, nobody does it better than the agency created to protect them. The wealth of information for the financial consumer includes an EDGAR tutorial, links through which to check out brokers and advisors, a complaint center, investor alerts, and information for small businesses, such as whether it's a good idea to go public, and how to do so once your company is ready.

THE STREET.COM (www.thestreet.com)

Learning things "on the street" was always more interesting than what your parents taught you. The Street.com is both smart and hip, with incisive, on-target reporting, practical commentary witty invective, and tools such as stock alerts and an extensive array of financial calculators. Ads and sponsored links are clearly marked as such, and TheStreet.com Inc. doesn't allow its editorial staff to individually own stock in anything but TheStreet.com Inc. Outside writers must disclose conflicts of interest.

VANGUARD (www.vanguard.com)

Vanguard features a wealth of investor resources and tools to help visitors make the best financial decisions. The Retirement Resource Center, for example, offers advice along every step of the way--from scooping out the right retirement options to choosing beneficiaries. And the Vanguard Online Planner is a free, personal financial planner available to clients and site visitors.

YAHOO FINANCE (finance.yahoo.com)

The name Yahoo conjures up images of an all-encompassing source of information--and the finance arm of the Web behemoth does just that. Packed with market news, investment options, and resources, Yahoo Finance lets visitors view trading activity for their brokerage accounts, purchase Wall Street research, and handle other personal finance issues.
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Author:Rohan, Rebecca
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:1279
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