Web Smarts

WHAT: The site of the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) offers a primer for novice investors and a clearinghouse of basic mutual-fund information.

It tracks daily the pricing and performance of more than 12,000 funds, and includes nifty education tools like a glossary of terms, lists of top-performing funds, and hints for assembling a diversified portfolio.

BEST POINTS: There's an emphasis on the beginner. One section offers advice on investing with $50 a month, and lists funds that let you get started with even less.

Other features focus on daunting subjects like bonds, individual retirement accounts, and income taxes with a light touch and an eye for practical information.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The MFEA is the not-for-profit trade association for "no-load" investment companies, which don't levy sales fees or "loads" on a customer's purchase. Its members serve more than 80 million shareholders and manage about half of all assets invested in mutual funds today.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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