We've gathered some of the best financial Web sites that cover everything from buying a home to filing taxes to investing in a mutual fund.
Each site is easy to use and designed to give you immediate answers. Simply fill in the blank or choose an item from the pull-down menu, and your computer does the rest.
Included are several online publications, which have free reports, advice from the experts, and tools that will calculate how much money you need to save for college, a new home or your retirement.
We all know life has some unexpected turns. The MetLife site offers some "life advice" for all aspects of life, including family, money, business and home. The Life Events Line can help you get through just about any financial situation. It starts with getting married and covers other events, such as getting your first job, losing your job, being audited by the IRS and being sued--and these are only some of the speed bumps.
TRY THIS: Select the Toolkit option from the Life Advice pull-down bar. Here you can play with the Wallpaper Calculator , a nifty tool that will compute the amount of wallpaper you'll need for any room in the house.
Personal financial management is a time-consuming task. If you are just starting out, there is a wealth of advice at FinanCenter. The financial categories here include homes, autos, credit lines, credit cards, budgeting, savings, insurance, investing and retirement. The approximately 100 financial calculators alone make this a useful site. They can help you solve real-life questions, such as "Should I lease or buy?" or "Is it profitable to refinance my home?"
TRY THIS: In the Budgeting category, select the question "What will it take to pay off my balance?" Enter all the required information, and it will calculate how much you should be paying each month (probably an increase from your present monthly payment) and how many months it will take to have a zero balance.
Quicken's online home is equipped for the 21st century. Quicken.com is equipped to handle online banking, with Intuit's BankOne program included. The site is also a step ahead of the competition, with free access to Morningstar Profiles for mutual funds--normally a fee-based service. For noninvestors, there is a bank rate monitor for credit cards, auto loans and mortgages to help keep you on top of those percentage rates.
TRY THIS: Click on Insurance and select The Family Needs Planner. Then fill out the Peace of Mind Worksheet to evaluate how much life insurance you need.
FINANCIAL CENTER ON-LINE
For those who want a little bit of everything, Financial Center online boasts that it is "a one-stop investment-research and financial-planning site." The content is updated frequently and includes features, analysis, investment resources and a weekly TFC Market Mavens Stock Report, making it worth a bookmark.
Block Financial offers this comprehensive site. Not quite Quicken.com, but a good runner-up. You can download KIPLINGER TAXACUT FOR 1997 and other software titles. Also, you can obtain stock quotes and insurance quotes from 1,500 different term life and annuities policies. Watch or online banking, bill payment and brokerage services in the near future.
No one enjoys haggling with a car dealer, but when you know how much the dealers pay for the car, the ball is in your court. Once you get the MSRP and dealer invoice prices for the standard and optional features, take advantage of the Buying Tips and Loan Calculator . If you are ready to buy, consider using their Auto Purchase feature.
The Digital Daily, the IRS' online newsletter, offers daily tax advice and record-keeping tips. For those of you who can't wait for April 15 to file your taxes, download your tax forms now. (However, don't mail these forms in unless you download the finalized versions.) To make sure all your tax filings are on time, check out the tax calendar. Each month shows all federal holidays and color-coded tax deadlines for individuals and businesses. A detailed explanation of the tax accompanies each date, so don't panic if your color comes up--it may not pertain to your financial situation.
TRY THIS: Select Taxpayer Help & Ed at the bottom of the home page, then choose Tele-Tax Topics . Now select from a list of topics that will then open a page of frequently asked questions--a great substitute for the automated telephone system.
If you are confused by taxes, TaxWeb could be your answer. Find out how to file an extension, request the status of your state refund, or just find out more information about taxes than you probably ever wanted to know. Watch for TAXWEB the magazine, which will discuss developments that affect federal, state and local taxes.
Debt is a fact of life, but at least it is one we have some control over. The information at GetSmart will help you make better financial decisions when it comes to mortgages and credit cards. Compare the various options associated with each form of credit to find companies that offer what you need. Fill out a quick form and then sort through the data warehouse of local and national mortgage lenders in your area.
AMERICAN STOCK EXCHANGE
Before investing your money, you'll want to take a look at more than just how the stock is doing. At the American Stock Exchange's Web site, you can get behind-the-scenes information such as performance graphs, company news, who's who, and where the companies are located.
More quotes and market information for both NASDAQ and Dow Jones Industrial Average. One added bonus here is the Investor Training area , which explains the basics of investing and includes links to various resources.
THE MOTLEY FOOL
If you get lost in the world of investment advice, this site can help you stop feeling like a fool. Written by brothers Tom and David Gardner, best-selling authors of the MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE, the site offers everything but foolish advice.
Not for novices, this online magazine is for the serious investor. Columns are updated daily and written by top financial journalists.
Ready to try your hand at investing but not willing to pay high broker fees? Then get acquainted with online trading by using E*TRADE's demo. Once you have it mastered, you can manage your portfolio as you trade online, where almost all transactions are at a low, fixed price. More experienced investors can even buy on margin.
This is a comprehensive Web site with valuable articles for novice to experienced investors. It does a good job of keeping abreast on the technology market and also includes much of the print magazine's content.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
The Wall Street Journal Online offers only limited information without a subscription ($49 a year, or $29 for print subscribers). If you are not willing to pay, you can still access the career listings, free annual reports from selected companies, small-business information, and several special reports on varying topics.
Taking most of its content from the popular print version, Worth Online offers professional advice and information on a variety of money issues. Peter Lynch, WORTH 's financial guru, contributes regularly, providing original articles.
The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.