How many times have you been watching TV or cruising the internet and a story mentions some financial term you’ve never heard of before?
Short sell? Margin call?
You could call or email your financial professional and hope he or she gets back to you in timely manner. But, in today’s world of instant gratification, you’re probably more than likely to get out your phone or laptop and cruise the web to read about that topic.
Chances are you might eventually find what you’re looking for. But you’re also likely to be subjected to more than a few biased stories or — worse yet — a sales pitch or two before you can get your question answered.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource or two you could depend on to give you the straight facts on all things financial without subjecting yourself to possibly biased information, encouraging you to buy something the company just happens to offer?
Uncle Sam’s library
There are objective resources out there, you just have to know where to look. Start with the U.S. government’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) public-facing, easy-reading library. It’s packed with investing and saving material for you to peruse every time the mood should strike.
For investing rookies, Investor.gov walks you through the basics with its “Roadmap to Saving and Investing” section. This section covers terms and topics like defining goals, building a rainy day fund, and understanding how stock markets work. And if you’d like to check out an investment professional before meeting with them, pull back the curtain and protect your hard-earned money by researching them first.
For more savvy investors, there are deeper chapters into everything from exchange traded funds (ETFs), reverse stock splits, microcap stocks, variable annuities, target date funds, and structured notes with principal protection.
Dive in as deep or as shallow as you wish. The information is all free, and the feds won’t collect your personal information, tell you what you should buy, or what you should be invested in. Plus, there are free tools such as a compound interest calculator, a required minimum distribution (RMD) calculator, and other financial planning aids.
In addition to free information for investors, the SEC provides access to a vetted library of offsite information including:
- mymoney.gov which discusses good financial habits.
- The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Stock Market Game to teach children about financial markets.
- An A to Z glossary of financial terms.
- Tools on digging for information about a particular publicly traded company.
- A library of deep-dive reports on topics including crowdfunding, affinity fraud, and cybersecurity.
Other financial guidance
A second source of objective information is The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). They’re a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) national foundation that’s been researching and providing free financial information for more than 25 years. Consumers from all backgrounds can find practical articles on saving, worksheets, budgeting, and other money tips.
Worried you’re not saving enough for retirement? Get a second opinion using NEFE’s My Retirement Paycheck, and learn about the different factors that can affect your retirement savings, without someone trying to sell you anything.
Are you an educator? NEFE offers a wide range of commercial-free materials, courses, and workshops for elementary to college-aged students that can be incorporated into your curriculum.
So the next time you hear a talking head on financial TV mention something about “hog bellies” or your financial professional says something about getting a “codicil”, don’t wonder for days what they’re talking about. Look it up yourself using one of these free, objective, online resources and start feeling a little more financially savvy. After all, knowledge is power.
Things to Consider:
- Visit the SEC or the NEFE websites and increase your financial IQ.
- Visit the library and ask for other good, objective resources for financial information.
- Call or email your financial professional for more trusted resources they’d recommend.