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Online Investing Hacks by Bonnie Biafore

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Hack #66. The Best Mutual Fund Screens for Free

With over 14,000 funds to choose from, you can use help finding the ones that meet your needs.

Looking for a good fund is like sifting through grains of sand on the beach. Not only are there thousands of them, each with its own objectives, costs, and track record, but fund companies and financial advisors also compete against each other, touting favored funds in print, on the Web, and on TV. Fortunately, free screening tools on the Web help dig you out of this sand pit and find funds for the long term.

Sifting Through Fund Criteria

Screening tools offer a bewildering variety of criteria, ranging from the important to the inane. When using a screen to find funds, focus on key criteria, ignoring the others altogether. For example, if you’re looking for funds for long-term growth, use measures such as three-, five-, and ten-year total return, manager tenure, turnover, loads, and costs. If you’re trying to choose funds for your 401(k) plan, use a screening tool that includes a filter for fund family so you can evaluate only the fund families available in your 401(k) plan.

Warning

Avoid screening for short-term or year-to-date performance, as these melt away as fast as last winter’s snow.

Most personal finance and financial sites offer screening tools. The two best screening tools feature industrial-strength capabilities that help you hone in on important variables. These tools use slightly different values for key criteria, so Table 7-8 provides ...

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