Web sites that show you the money
Many financial tasks are made manageable with online help
The Internet has made it possible for individuals to become proficient financial planners and investors. (iStock Photo)
Usually people don't consider college costs until it's so late that options are limited. Start by saving small amounts early, and find information on 529 college savings plans at savingforcollege.com.
Scholarships can help. Find them at fastweb.com, scholarships.com and finaid.com. Finaid.com is essential for understanding student loans. Most sites steer you to private loans, but finaid.com provides real help.
Also try: ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DirectLoan/index.html.
To see whether you are on course to retire the way you'd like, start with the "ballpark" estimate calculator at choosetosave.org. Your expenses will be different than those now.
For a glimpse of the income your savings will provide in retirement, try finance.cch.com/sohoapplets/retirementincome.html.
Many assume their savings will last longer than they do. See the picture clearly: mindyourfinances.com/calculators/retirement-planner.
Don't forget that inflation will stop today's big sum from going as far tomorrow. See how far at nylim.com/retirement/0,2058,30_1010606,00.html or esplanner.com. And remember Social Security www.ssa.gov.
Legal contracts, taxes
Find an array of legal help at nolo.com.
Broad information on personal finance and taxes at finance.cch.com and fairmark.com/index.htm.
Tax laws and forms are at www.irs.gov.
To check on a credit counselor, try nfcc.org.
To find a financial planner, try napfa.org, garrettplanning.com or cfp.net/search.
If you are interested in investing in individual stocks, try the "research wizard" tool at moneycentral.msn.com/investor/research/wizards/SRW.asp. It teaches you to analyze a stock like a pro.
Lack patience? Stick with mutual funds. Learn what you need and find top funds at morningstar.com. It has a free 30-day trial. For exchange traded funds, etfconnect.com.
The key to investing success is assembling stock and bond funds in the right proportion. Try it free at dinkytown.net/java/AssetAllocator.html.
Diversify, including stock screens, at finance.yahoo.com.