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If you like the idea of investing on line, INVESCO is the first fund family to allow folks to open a mutual fund account and make fund investment selections with the click of a mouse.

Many mutual fund families have information-packed Web sites, but visit INVESCOs site at www.invesco.com and you'll also be able to open a new account, have your money transfered and choose a fund or funds to invest in --- all by keyboard. (Or you can use the old fashioned way--by mail.)

The straight-forward process consists of filling in boxes, reading through a lengthy but important and informative legal rights and responsibilities contact agreement, and deciding which way you want to open the account---electronically or by mail.

Make the electronic choice and once you've activated the Automated Clearing House (ACH) option so that money can be transferred electronically from your bank account to your INVESCO account ( $25,000 is the most you can transfer), it will take about one day but no more than two for the account to be processed.

Once the application is submitted, the per share price for the funds selected will be based on that day's net asset value at the market's close. So, if you filled in and submitted the account forms today before 4 p.m EST , the per share price you'd pay for your fund investments would be based on the funds' net asset values established at the 4 p.m. quote that day. Submit your appliation after 4, and it's the next day's closing prices that dictate.

In the application process you've already stated the amount of money you wish to invest, so that money will be deducted from your ACH account within two businesses days following the acceptance of the application. Then, a written confirmation of the transaction(s) will be mailed---not e-mailed--- to you.

John Hancock Funds likes the idea that Social Security is sending out statements to everyone so that they'll be able to get an inkling of the amount of payment they might see from that agency come retirement time. To make sure that info is digested correctly, Hancock's Retirement Services department has even come up with a checklist for reading the statements.

According the Hancock, here's what you need to remember when reading through your soon-to-arrive-in-the-mail Social Security statement:

  • First, the numbers on the statement are estimates. That means those figures aren't carved in stone and could change by the you retire.

  • The statements are not inflation adjusted. So, because inflation corrodes the power of a dollar, the dollar figures shown won't go as far in the future as they do today.

  • Use them to gauge your lifestyle. Check the Social Security statement and monies in all of your other retirement accounts, like IRAs, 401 Ks and pensions, to try to determine if you can meet your monthly income goals during retirement. If you think you're going to come up short, consider saving more.

  • Do the math. Compare what the Social Security statement says you've earned to what you think you've earned. Contact them if you think there are discrepancies.

  • Finally, get help. If it looks as though you need some help with your retirement planning, consider working with a professional.Got some Y2K concerns?. A recent survey shows not all fund shareholders are spooked by it.

T.Rowe Price conducted a telephone survey asking about 400 of their shareholders if they had concerns about potential Y2K problems. Most weren't. Here's a peak at some of the survey's results:

  • About 70 percent of shareholders don't feel that Y2K issues will cause problems for them personally.

  • Most think that financial institutions will be prepared for Y2K believing that the mutual fund industry will be the most prepared to handle any challenges. Next in line, the banking industry followed by brokerage firms.

  • Few expect Y2K concerns to change the way they manage or transact their mutual fund investments.

  • And, most are confident about their knowledge of Y2K.

Hope you are too. And, that you make sure to keep on file in hard copy, i.e. paper form, all of the monthly and quarterly statements ---beginning with the third quarter one you've just received----from each account you've got with various mutual funds along with those from your banks and brokerage firms.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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