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Need financial advice? Check the Internet

December 26, 1996
Web posted at: 6:25 p.m. EST

From CNN Interactive Staff Writer Liza Kaufman Hogan

With an impressive array of sites devoted to managing money, the Internet is well on its way to putting a few well-heeled financial advisers out of business.

Who needs a hired hand when you can get instant stock quotes, investment tips and financial reports delivered in moments straight to your desktop?

But for those who don't know a penny stock from a junk bond, the Internet can be an overwhelming place to seek financial help. The sheer number of Web sites can be overwhelming, and many are geared to professional traders and others who manage money for a living.

Here are a few sites for amateur traders and those planning to carry through on New Year's resolutions to take control oftheir finances.

FinanCenter

Wise advice

For general tips on handling your money, try FinanCenter. The easy-to-navigate site is divided into eight basic categories. Much of the site promotes the services of its associated lenders. There are lots of goodies, such as the mortgage-payment calculator in the homes section and information on how to dispute a charge in the credit cards section.

A highlight are the near two dozen calculators from SmartCalc Financial calculators.

Eight interactive calculators in the budget section can help you figure out how much you are spending and come up with a sensible spending and debt-reduction plan. The stocks section will help you decide whether to invest in growth or income stocks, and the savings area explains what it would take for you to become a millionaire. The news isn't so bad if you don't mind waiting 45 years, and if you're not dissuaded by the fact that $1 million will be worth only $275,714 by the time you get it.

And from the people who brought you Quicken, the financial management software, comes Quicken, the Financial Network. The site is chock full of information for money mavens and novices alike. There's a stock ticker that is updated every 15 minutes when the markets are open, articles on financial matters and advice on banking, insurance, taxes and retirement planning.

Consumer Credit

Climbing out of debt

If climbing out of debt is your first financial goal, try Consumer Credit Counseling Center or Debt Counselors of America. The Credit Counseling Service has tips and advice on reducing debt and keeping your credit under control. The site also includes a simple loan calculator. The Debt Counselors site has useful articles on common scams and rip-offs and explains how you can access your credit report. In the debt forum, you can ask about debt-related matters and find out more about debt-counseling programs.

For keeping your budget in check once you have debt under control, try the Household Budget Manager.

Invest-o-Rama

Capital improvements

If you think finances are boring, you haven't been to Douglas Gerlach's Invest-o-rama. This entertaining site will take you through the basics of investing.

The Motley Fool is another easy-to-read site featuring tips from America Online's fun-loving stock market experts. Here you'll find articles such as "10 Investment Ideas for 1997" and highlights from the Motley Fool's message board on AOL. The Motley Fool Portfolio allows you to follow the stock picks of Motley Fools and compare them with performance by the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

The Vanguard Group.com is one of several sites sponsored by brokerage firms. Ahighlight of this site is the Vanguard Online University where you can peruse 10 seminars, ranging from investing in mutual funds to retirement planning.




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Related sites:

  • Life.net - advice on home finance, insurance, estate planning, retirement planning, and taxes.
  • Kiplinger Online: 101 Investment Terms You Should Know
  • CNNfn's Your Money - financial advice for individuals from CNN's financial network.
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