What are the best personal finance websites? Here are a few of them, for reliable advice about how money matters work, news for consumers, and ways to stretch a shrinking dollar.
At mymoney.gov, readers find financial guidance on subjects as diverse as child adoption, natural disasters, and buying a business. Under "tools," there are links to a college prep checklist, the Federal Reserve's consumer guide to credit cards, and the FDIC's suggestion for setting up a "budget box" to track household spending. Something called the Financial Literacy and Education Commission - an amalgamation of 21 government banking, consumer, and other agencies - provides the material for the site.
The Consumerist blog is still recovering from being hacked in September, an incident that basically forced the site to rebuild. Meanwhile, it provides a lively daily report on consumer issues, including last week's posts on a report that a key ingredient in beer wards off adult colds, hybrid cars that aren't getting the advertised mileage, and the hidden costs in a variety of "free" offers.
Learnvest.com's target audience is young adult women. But much of its material, such as recent posts on free online college courses and guides to banking, investing, and retirement, is gender-neutral. A guy even showed up in the photo on the home page when we visited. You also can sign up at Learnvest to get some free and paid services - everything from free e-mailed "boot camp" money tips to one-on-one financial advice.
The Dollar Stretcher, at stretcher.com, is all about saving money, with features like "7 habits of highly frugal people" and "10 free holiday gifts." If you think spending makes you happy, the Dollar Stretcher says to think again and consider the joy of becoming a tightwad. There is practical advice on how to buy cars online, year-end tax moves, and the dangers of so-called convenience checks from your overly friendly credit card company. Newsletters on surviving tough times, financial independence, and other themes are free upon signing up.