Why now’s a good time to seek dividends

By Mark Jewell
Posted on March 29, 2011

Glance at 2010 returns and it’s easy to see why mutual fund investors might be tempted to chase the stock market’s hot spots.Thinking small paid off big last year. Funds specializing in stocks of smaller companies gained an average of 23 percent, compared with 13.6 percent for large-cap funds, according to Lipper Inc.But avoiding those big stocks could mean missing out on one of ... READ MORE

Is it too late to return to the stock market?

By Mark Jewell
Posted on March 10, 2011

Investors are finally inching back into the stock market. But are they too late?While millions sought refuge in traditionally stable bonds over the past two years, they missed a more than 90 percent rally in stocks. Suddenly bonds don’t look so safe, and some of the $11 trillion that Americans have parked in mutual funds is shifting back to stocks.After putting more than $570 billion... READ MORE

Muni bonds offer income, but risks, too

By Kathy M. Kristof
Posted on March 10, 2011

Worries about out-of-control state deficits, underfunded municipal pension plans and rising interest rates have been kicking the teeth out of the municipal bond market lately, with prices plunging and yields soaring.And that’s got some contrarians saying that now may be the time to jump into the market.“This is a great time to get into munis for anyone looking for income in... READ MORE

IRS no longer mails packages of tax forms

By Carole Feldman
Posted on February 16, 2011

The start of tax season used to be heralded by the arrival of tax forms in the mail. Not any more.The Internal Revenue Service decided this year not to automatically mail them to individual and business taxpayers. “It’s a sign of the times,” said Terry Lemons, IRS senior spokesman. “More people are going electronic. We’re interested in saving taxpayers... READ MORE

Test your knowledge of common frauds

By Beacon
Posted on February 16, 2011

Con artists are very good at tricking consumers into parting with money or divulging personal information that can be used to steal funds or run up thousands of dollars in fraudulent credit card charges.How good are you at telling a scam from a legitimate offer or advertisement? Take the following quiz to see. Correct answers follow. 1. You agree to sell your valuable collection of... READ MORE

Now’s a good time to review your portfolio

By Mark Jewell
Posted on February 14, 2011

Mutual funds have been put to the test.Over the last three years investors saw their balances nose-dive, then edge back toward prior heights. But few investors have fully recovered.On the bright side, all that drama should make it relatively easy to perform an annual portfolio checkup, to decide which funds to keep and which to cast out.How a fund performed through meltdown and recovery are ... READ MORE

Convertible securities offer smoother ride

By Steven T. Goldberg
Posted on February 14, 2011

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that 2011 turns out to be a better year for stocks than for bonds. With the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the clear resolve of the Federal Reserve to spur economic growth, I think that the stock market will do well for the remainder of this year — albeit with its customary stomach-churning dips.By the same token, economic growth,... READ MORE

Online checking accounts offer benefits

By Candice Choi
Posted on January 24, 2011

You may never have to wait in line at a bank again.Now that most routine transactions can be handled online or at ATMs, you may be weighing whether it’s worth making the leap to an exclusively online checking account.Besides the convenience of never having to go to the bank, these accounts typically bear interest or come with other perks. There are, of course, trade-offs to be wary of ... READ MORE

What fund ratings do and don’t tell you

By Mark Jewell
Posted on January 24, 2011

As a mutual fund investor, you don’t want to pay “the stupid penalty.”That’s what Russel Kinnel calls the difference between the best and worst funds. It’s a penalty that he’s studied closely as director of mutual fund research at Morningstar.Consider Morningstar’s analysis of the best and worst large-cap mutual funds over a 10-year stretch ending... READ MORE

Retirees looking to become entrepreneurs

By Mark Miller
Posted on January 23, 2011

One of the Steve Jobs stories circulating in the wake of the legendary Apple founder’s death is the line he used to convince PepsiCo’s John Sculley to join Apple Computer: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or come with me and change the world?”Jobs embodied the spirit of creative entrepreneurship — and the Apple story began when he was ... READ MORE