Optimize your financial planning using the Web

August 9, 2013

With the advent of modern technology, it is easier than ever for physicians to take control of their financial situation. Whether you are researching investment options or performing financial planning retirement projections, online resources abound.

I’d like to take a more active role with my investments. Which websites are helpful in this regard?

With the advent of modern technology, it is easier than ever for physicians to take control of their financial situation. Whether you are researching investment options or performing financial planning retirement projections, online resources abound.

Joel M. Blau, CFPFor investors, perhaps the most difficult task is keeping track of various investment portfolios. While it’s obviously important to know what you own, it is equally important to know how well, or not well, specific investments and the overall portfolio are doing, both on a dollar as well as percentage basis, over varying time periods. Morningstar’s portfolio tracker (www.morningstar.com; click on "Portfolio" tab) is a great tool to use to keep a close eye on your investments. You can enter your holdings on a screen or import the data from Quicken, Yahoo, and even many online brokerage statements. Heavy on analytics, it provides overviews, performance charts, and allows you to view a visual map and analysis using several factors, including a breakdown of holdings by asset allocation percentages. Similar tracking can also be accomplished through the MSN Money website.

One of the best overall financial sites is Yahoo Finance. Yahoo’s text-based interface makes navigating through the site simple as well as fast. The opening page provides up-to-the-minute market data, prices on individual stocks, and bond market commentary. From this site, you can also access respected outlets such as Briefing.com, Financial Times, and Business Week. Of particular interest is the stock research link, which takes you on a journey of exceptional research tools covering stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and options. International news is also available, as well as financial-based chat rooms.

Economic data, and the expectation of new data being released, certainly are major factors affecting stock market movement. Moody’s Analytics economy website provides access to raw data, general economic news, both domestic and worldwide, and helpful commentary to interpret it all.

Ronald J. Paprocki, JD, CFP, CHBCFor a general financial education, spend some time with the solid tutorials on market basics with The Motley Fool. Ease is the key on this site, as all of the educational information and tools are easily accessible from the website’s “Fool’s School.” Another option for general market and retirement planning education is the CNN Money website. This site takes advantage of the long-time involvement of many experts with varied interests and specialties. It serves as a valuable reference for both investment novices as well as the more seasoned physician investor.

Given that there are more mutual funds to choose from than common stocks, there is an abundance of sites dedicated to evaluating both load and no-load mutual funds. The leader in the field of mutual fund research is Morningstar. Via its website, visitors can obtain a one-page summary of almost any mutual fund. Included are analyst reports and the Morningstar ratings.

While most sites provide a variety of financial news, one of the best sites dedicated to U.S. and global events is the Wall Street Journal. Links on the home page will take you to news by region as well as topic.

For those who are students of technical analysis, the site to visit is Bigcharts, where you can easily chart individual securities and mutual funds.

There are, of course, many other sites investors may find valuable. For one of the most comprehensive glossaries of financial terms, go to www.investorwords.com. For a nice overall investment site, take a look at www.investorguide.com. For economics-based articles, both Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com) and Barron’s (www.barrons.com) offer an online alternative to their written publications.

 

What is a target date fund?

Target date funds (TDFs) are long-term mutual fund investments that typically include a mix of equities, bonds, and other investments. A fund’s “target date” is the approximate date the fund’s investors expect to retire. Over time, a TDF’s investment mix changes, becoming more conservative as it gets closer to the target date. TDFs are an easy way for retirement plan participants to make an investment, which changes internally on its own over time, to match an expected retirement date.UT

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