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Invest Like a Pro

Five great personal-finance Web sites for investing newbies.

You’ve paid the phone bill, treated yourself to dinner, and gone overboard at the mall. Now you need to figure out where to stash what’s left of that paycheck before temptation strikes again.

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No, we don’t mean investing in a PlayStation 2.

We’re here to talk serious financial management. The kind that’s riddled with scary terms like Keogh, P/E ratio, and front-end loads. But where do you go if you don’t know the difference between a regular IRA and a Roth, or if you think Fannie Mae was a character on The Beverly Hillbillies? Whether it’s your first job or your seventh, you can’t launch your career properly without knowing the basics about finance.

We’ve identified five personal-finance Web sites that offer entertaining, relevant, and helpful information and advice for rookie investors.

Surf through these, and soon you’ll be discussing triple-witching days and capital gains just for fun.

The Motley Fool

This entertaining and irreverent site promises to decrypt essential processes like stock-market investing, home buying, car buying, and the proper handling of a credit card. The Motley Fool’s easy-to-read articles and informative tips will get you on the fast track to financial know-how and will keep you laughing along the way. In addition to assuring you that you’ll increase your chances of making a fortune by learning to handle your money, the site professes, “We’re dedicated to educating, amusing, and enriching individuals in search of the truth.”

GreenMagazine.com

This site makes no pretenses about its intentions. The subhead on Green’s home page reads, “This site is about money,” and its “What the Hell’s a …” glossary defines everything from UGMA to FICO. You can check interest rates, track stocks, and read company profiles on GreenMagazine, which divides content into five straight-forward sections: Investing it, Earning it, Banking it, Protecting it, and Enjoying it. Sign up for the Green newsletter to receive weekly financial advice, and visit the site’s bookstore for recommended reads.

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SmartMoney.com

This robust site runs the gamut of advice from tips for Wall Street rookies, to solace for the victims of the recent market shakeout. In particular, SmartMoney University offers valuable content for getting started in its Investing 101, Debt Management, and Deal of the Week sections. SmartMoney.com’s language and layout are basic and easy to navigate. For the more experienced, stock quotes and daily finance news top the page, while the Analysis and Commentary section features various in-depth articles. Devoid of the frank humor and irreverence found on the Motley Fool and GreenMagazine, Smart Money starts with the assumption that you know your way around a 401(k).

Kiplinger.com

The personal-finance magazine’s Web site features original content in the areas of investing, managing, and spending money, as well as an extensive array of tools. These handy devices are plentiful and will help you compare costs of living, find stocks, and even buy a car. Kiplinger.com’s target audience is somewhat older, and the tone proves far drier than either GreenMagazine or the Motley Fool, but all of its content is easy to read, and its tools are unbeatable.

Epinions.com Personal Finance

No finance resource escapes from Epinions unscathed. Read advice from other Web surfers about how to choose the right bank, credit card, or brokerage house. In its What’s New? section, Epinions highlights the latest reviews submitted by users on a wide range of financial topics. Users rate trading Web sites, online personal-finance resources, tax software, and books. While it’s always a risk to let a layman’s opinion guide your financial future, this site provides a wealth of resources worth investigating.

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