Q: I want to find out the value of an old five-cent coin. Can you help?
S.L., via e-mail
A: Check the yellow pages for a list of coin dealers in your area. Call two or three coin shops, describe your coin, and ask them what they'll pay.
The year and mint of the coin determine its rarity and henceforth its value. Its worth also will fluctuate depending on its condition. If you're uncertain of how to rate it, you might visit the shops to let the dealers personally inspect it.
If you choose to sell the coin, don't expect retail price. Coin dealers buy at wholesale to sell at retail.
If you decide to keep the coin and want to insure it, obtain a price quote from the dealers in writing, and then take it to your insurance agent to discuss coverage.
For more information, visit the American Numismatic Association's website, www.money.org. It also lists names of dealers.
Q: I want to find a mutual fund that seeks out ethically run, green, good-to-employee companies that also pay dividends. Can you help me find such an animal?
E.M., Ryde, Calif.
A: There are many such funds, says Judson Gee, a certified financial planner in Charlotte, N.C.
Although it sounds to Mr. Gee as if you're looking for a specific fund that pays dividends, he approaches fund investing from what's called the "modern portfolio theory." This holds that investors should use multiple asset classes to diversify and lessen risk by spreading investments out
over small-, medium- and large-cap funds, as well as international and bond funds. Don't worry, he says, there's room in there for the funds you're hunting for.
Where to find these nuggets? Gee points you to www.socialfunds.com.
"I highly recommend it, as it has more than just mutual-fund information," Gee says. For instance, the website includes indexes that chart the performance of socially responsible funds, and a regularly updated listing of shareholder activism news items.