Free Powerful Investment Tools for End of 2016

Financial literacy means having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. (CNW Group/Financial Consumer Agency of Canada)

If there’s one thing Main Street has in common with Wall Street, it’s a common dislike for one of the most hated words in the finance industry — fees. And you can avoid them by employing one of the financial lexicon’s favorite words — free. For individual investors, carefully researching investments through the use of free tools can eliminate potential fees wasted on brokerage advice, research, and botched trades. Here are the best free sources on the web for researching investments.

The Motley Fool

Back when AOL was still cool, the Motley Fool emerged from the dot-com boom and quickly became one of the most popular websites on AOL for individual investors. Today, the Fool offers a broad variety of financial services, but still lives by its motto — to educate, amuse, and enrich. While I may not always agree with the advice from Fool.com, it’s a valuable resource for those looking to get a variety of viewpoints on investing. Articles are often intelligent, witty, and enjoyable to read. And the Fool offers a social media component, allowing fledgling and experienced investors to share ideas and investment picks.

Best for: Everything from advice for beginning investors to broad spectrum investment commentary.

Favorite Feature: The Motley Fool CAPS Community, where members research stocks, rank stocks, and share ideas.

Fund Fact Sheets

Buried in the websites of mutual fund companies and investment firms are “fact sheets” or “tear sheets,” one-page marketing tools designed to provide an overview of the fund’s holdings and past performance. These are often in PDF format and offered for free to prospective investors. For those looking to research a specific ticker symbol, fact sheets offer invaluable information on an investment’s risk and historical returns.

Best for: Detailed information on a specific stock, mutual fund, or ETF.

Favorite Feature: A one-page synopsis of information on a single fund or stock, including investment allocation, past performance, and the investing strategy.