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This Troubles Me

By Dian Vujovich

Calling all mutual fund investors—and that’s most of you!

If you don’t know the names of the mutual funds you’ve got money invested in, either via personal portfolios or through assorted retirement accounts, what’s the matter with you? We’re talking money here. The thing that some think makes the world go ’round.

Okay, we all know that there’s certainly much more to life than money, although we do need the stuff. But not knowing where it’s invested is just plain dumb. Unfortunately, there are plenty of dummies out there, according to a recent Charles Schwab survey.

Of the more than 600 mutual fund shareholders interviewed earlier in the year, 36 percent said that they didn’t know which mutual funds they owned. Thirty-six percent. That’s over one-third! Not good.

Additionally, these same fund investors weren’t big on talking with their brokers as less than one-third (31 percent) said that they chatted with them on a regular basis since the financial crisis began. And, only 45 percent said that they’ve become more knowledgeable about their investments since then.

If you’re one of these dummies, it’s time to smarten up. Here are four ways to begin that gray matter process:

• Find out the name of the mutual fund family, or families, that you’ve money invested with. Write it/them down.

• Then write down the exact full name of the mutual fund(s) you have money invested in.

• Learn the symbol(s) of the fund(s) you’ve money invested in. Write them down, too. Keep all in a place you can easily get your hands on. Once you know a fund’s full name, fund symbol information is available at http://www.allaboutfunds.com .

• Take the time to research your fund(s) data from Morningstar.com or via Lipper Leaders (you’ll find fund symbols and Lipper Leader info at http://www.allaboutfunds.com).

• At least twice a year, check the prices on your fund shares and read all research available on those funds.

There are absolutely no excuses for not knowing the names of the funds your money is invested in and keeping abreast of how they are working for you. Denial, or being afraid to look at how your fund(s) are performing, isn’t an investment strategy many would recommend.

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