Keep an Eye on Your Money With These 7 Online Investing Tools and Apps
I'll admit that I have used investing tools and apps sporadically until recently. Watching market fluctuations is dizzying to me, either causing me to slack off when my portfolio growth outweighs my daily earning potential or making me fret at losses that seem insurmountable to overcome.
So, in general, I'd rather keep my distance from a constant flow of real-time streaming information. But making decisions in a vacuum, without paying attention to the broader view of the economy on a regular basis, is not wise. (See also: Stock Investing Online: ShareBuilder vs. Discount Brokerage)
There are ways to stay tuned to investment-related happenings without being overwhelmed so you can focus on long-term results. These online tools and apps that can be useful for knowing what's up (or down) with the market and managing your portfolio.
1. Financial News From Bloomberg
Keep up with financial news, note market movements, and follow your holdings through the Bloomberg app, which is available for various tablet and smartphone platforms.
General information is available to all. Plus, you can get personalized reports by entering the stocks you own or are considering buying. Click on stocks to get information on daily prices and trading volumes, earnings reports, and financial stats such as P/E ratios and dividends along with news relevant to the company and its industry.
2. Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz
Assess and know your risk tolerance before investing. A great way to determine how to categorize your mindset in investing lingo is to take an investment risk tolerance quiz like this one developed by finance professors for a research project.
Typically, results will indicate classifications like these: Defensive (low tolerance for risk), Conservative (below-average tolerance), Moderate (average-moderate), Moderate Growth (above-average), and Aggressive (high tolerance).
Use your results to help you select a mutual fund from your employer's 401(k) offerings or determine asset allocations for your portfolio.
3. Smart Money's Asset Allocation Calculator
When deciding how to invest your money or rebalance your portfolio, you'll want to know how to allocate your assets. These asset mixes typically include cash, bonds, domestic large-cap stocks, domestic small-cap stocks, and international stocks.
Often, allocations are determined by taking a standard model and tweaking the percentages based on factors such as risk tolerance and age. Smart Money's Asset Allocation Calculator gives recommendations on ideal asset allocation based on inputs that include current asset allocation and future plans. This tool is interactive — change responses and note the impact on the recommendations.
4. Portfolio Analysis (Various)
There are a variety of online tools available for portfolio analysis. Such tools are embedded in stand-alone websites (although many offer links to private investment advisors), or integrated into the logged-in side of online brokerage websites. All have features that let you to build or recreate your portfolio.
SigFig and Personal Capital help you populate its tool with your portfolio holdings by pulling in account information from online brokerage firms (you provide the account names and passwords, and the site pulls in the data).
After loading your information, make use of portfolio management functions. Analyses that may be available include:
- Comparison of current asset allocation to targeted asset allocation
- Insights into the sector diversification of your current portfolio compared to global and/or domestic market indices
- Portfolio performance and historical returns, including comparisons to market indices such as S&P 500
- Mutual fund costs compared to industry averages
Interactive capabilities within these tools serve to optimize your portfolio. There are alerts to problem areas and suggestions that may include reallocation of assets by major categories (advising you to increase your position in small-cap equity and reducing large-cap exposure, for example) along with specific stock, ETF, and mutual fund recommendations.
5. Current and Historical Information From Yahoo! Finance
Even if you are not yet a serious investor or financial history buff, you'll love the vast resources of Yahoo! Finance for researching stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. Locate this treasure trove of current and historical information by entering the ticker of the investment you want to investigate.
The site delivers significant amounts of performance information in an easy-to-understand manner that is not overwhelming. Use its tools to see financial ratios, dividend payouts, SEC filings, and analyst commentary.
Add stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds to your portfolio (free registration and logon required) and you can view basic updates via the Yahoo! Finance app on your smartphone.
6. Stock Screener by Finviz.com
Don't let the busyness of the Finviz.com website (financial visualizations) scare you. The stock-ETF-mutual funds screening tool is intuitive to use. You don't have to enter values for all filters. Choose a few key attributes to get meaningful results; for example, let the screener find dividend-paying stocks in the services sector.
Click on "help" from the screener page to access a glossary that will explain technical terms, like Beta and Relative Strength Index (RSI). Use the screener to identify investments for further consideration.
7. Trading via Brokerage Mobile App
You can buy and sell stocks, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds from your smartphone. This feature is handy if you want to react to changes in stock prices quickly or are not available to enter orders on your computer during the day.
Download your brokerage firm's mobile app to get started. Login to check balances, note price changes, and review financial news. Handle transactions by initiating trades, sending orders, and viewing order status.
My picks are user-friendly, especially for novices, while offering analytical capabilities that can benefit those with larger portfolios and more complex needs. What are your favorite online investing tools and apps?
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