Cyberspace Finance

There's real money in the virutal world of the Internet

As the influence of the Internet grows, so does people’s reliance on it as a repository of information, especially on how to manage your money. But like other mass media, the World Wide Web offers a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Without a doubt, the Web is a dynamic medium. For example, the number of online investors is expected to more than triple to 16.28 million, according to a study commissioned by Gomez Advisors, an e-commerce research firm based in Lexington, Massachusetts, and Harris Interactive, an Internet market research company in Rochester, New York.

And while there are certainly a number of places on the Web where you can get reliable information on personal finance and use it to invest online, there’s a great deal of misinformation as well. For proof, go to any financial news site. There you’ll find banner ads promising to reveal the foolproof secrets to investment happiness. If that were the case, wouldn’t such purveyors of financial paradise keep those secrets to themselves?

Of course, you’ll find financial hucksters in every medium, either hosting their own infomercials on TV, or touting their moneymaking schemes in-dare we say it?-the pages of reputable national magazines.

Unlike such modern-day snake oil salesmen, we won’t promise you that “Cyberspace Finance” will cure all your stock market ills or inoculate your checkbook against an outbreak of insufficient funds. Rather, we’ll deliver information to help you manage your money more effectively.

For example, in “Net Resources,” we’ve found 14 of the best personal finance-oriented sites in such categories as investing, insurance, mortgages and taxes. What most of these addresses have in common is the capacity for the user to perform a variety of tasks and glean a great deal of information in the confines of one site. And in “Virtual Banking,” we show you some of the benefits of balancing your checkbook online. We’ve also listed 10 online banks-some pure “Internet-only” institutions, others owned by traditional brick-and-mortar concerns-which offer the lowest-cost, no-frills Internet checking accounts.

Now that we’ve shown you some of the tools to better manage your finances, it’s your turn to dig for money management gold on the Internet. So log on, click and profit.

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