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Surfing for stock information

Around the water cooler, people talk about playing the stock market. But the truth is, if you want to invest in stocks and bonds, it's a lot of work. There's not much playing involved.

Investing involves learning a whole new language.

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So for novices who don't know a stock from a bond, we've assembled a group of Web sites that can help you get started. Even seasoned investors may profit by checking them out. Surf on over to these suggested pages to find out how to invest wisely, create financial plans, build a portfolio and more.

You can do more on the NASDAQ page than check to see if your stock has gone up or (gulp) down. Click on "Personal Finance" in the left column and you'll see numerous articles on topics ranging from online investing to 401(k)s. The site also offers a set of online brochures designed to teach you about the process of investing, including: "Getting ready to invest," "Investing and the Internet" and "Setting up an account."

Not for monkeys, this site is loaded with basic information for the new investor. You can learn volatility basics, read an intro to modern portfolio theory, learn how to estimate compound interest and see graphs that explain bond yield, stock valuation and other investing concepts. Plus, you'll be treated to explanations of a whole alphabet soup of investing acronyms, from P/E to CAPM.

New York Stock Exchange
The NYSE site offers a glossary that gives definitions for hundreds of investing terms, ranging from "accrued interest" to "zero-coupon bond."
Sometimes it seems like Uncle Sam is all take and no give. Well, here's a gift that Uncle Sam has for you:, the federal government's Web site "dedicated to helping Americans understand more about their money." Topics of information include budgeting and taxes, credit, homeownership, retirement planning and paying for education.

Click on "Personal Investors" and then "Planning & Education," and you'll find a wealth of information on financial markets, stocks, bonds, retirement planning, investment planning and more. Written in plain English, the articles include "What is investing?" "Stock, bond and cash investments" and "Economics 101 for investors."

IRS Tax Tutorials
When do I have to pay self-employment tax? Do I have to claim tips on my tax return? What interest is considered tax exempt? The IRS's 12 tax tutorials will answer these and other basic questions to keep the tax man from banging on your door after April 15. Click on "Information for individuals" in the left column and scroll down to "Tax tips for 2005," and you'll find information on how to get faster refunds through direct deposit, order forms and publications, and more.

Personal Financial Education
The Federal Reserve influences the direction of interest rates in this country -- and it offers lots of information about money and investing on its Web site. How much do you know about the Federal Reserve system? Enough to fill out a crossword puzzle on the topic? Find out on this site.

If you don't know that much, articles and tutorials on the site will explain the Fed as well as mutual funds and annuities, the life of a check, the life of a dollar bill and more.

Securities and Exchange Commission's Roadmap to Saving and Investing
The SEC's roadmap tells you how to define your goals, make a financial plan, determine your risk tolerance, choose investment products, pick a financial professional and avoid problems along the way. For even more basic info, the publication "Investment products: your choices" describes the workings of mutual funds and stocks and bonds.

Women's Institute for Financial Education
WIFE is "the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial education to women in their quest for financial independence." The main page offers feature articles that appeal to money-conscious women and couples, and the site also offers a free e-newsletter full of tips, articles and exercises. Tools include a cost of living calculator that lets you compare today's costs of necessities with those of prior years, and a savings calculator that tells you how much you'll save in the long run if, for example, you give up your daily cappuccino at Starbucks. Money Guides from WIFE will help women -- for free -- start money clubs to learn more about handling money and investing.

-- Posted: March 15, 2005




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