By , Posted on May 14, 2010

Make a date with a financial planner
You need help with a crucial decision, such as figuring out how to invest a six-figure insurance payout or how you’ll pay for your kid’s education.
• Internet access.
• Telephone.
• Visit to locate planners in your area. (If you have time to spare, you can also search at the Garrett Planning Network or the Financial Planning Association for other names.)
• Research a few to see whose skills and resources mesh with your situation.
• Call to schedule a free, no-obligation meeting.
Total time: 15 minutes.

Take an X-ray of your fund portfolio – See how well-balanced your mix is.
• Internet access.
• Portfolio of mutual funds.
• Current fund statements.
• Visit’s Instant X-Ray tool.
• Insert your funds’ symbols in the first column, put the dollar value or percentage value of each holding in the second, and hit the “Show Instant X-Ray” button.
• You will see how your portfolio breaks down — how much is in each region of the world, in each stock sector (energy, utilities and so on) and in each investment style (such as large cap growth or small cap value). You can also get portfolio statistics, including the average price-to-earnings ratio of your stocks and the average expense ratio of your funds (and the amount you pay in annual fees).
The service is free. A more detailed probe of your portfolio requires a premium membership, which costs $179 per year, but the site offers a 14-day free trial.
Total time: eight minutes for a six-fund portfolio.

Find your risk tolerance
Create an investment plan that suits your goals and fits your personality.
• Internet access.
• Go to this risk tolerance and asset allocation calculator.
• Complete the assessment to estimate how much of your money you should invest in stocks, with the rest in lower-risk investments.
• Consider the suggested allocation, and invest appropriately.
Total time: two minutes.

Thrifty Mom 2
Family shocked by $18,000 phone bills

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