Sites Worth Seeing
Mike Zaccardi | Mar 30, 2022
WHEN I TAUGHT at the University of North Florida, I always sought to arm my finance students with the best tools of the trade. College textbooks are notoriously expensive, so I aimed to provide some great free resources. Few things get me more pumped than when I come across an impressive financial website—one that doesn’t charge.
One of the most frequent questions from students: What sites do I visit every day? I would often share stories in class about various writing assignments and investment projects I was working on, so that probably sparked the students’ curiosity. In the end, my recommendations came down to the handful of stock market pages and financial information sites listed below.
There are so many types of data-digging you can do when it comes to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, portfolio management, news, charts—the list goes on and on. I gravitate to simple, quality charts and one-stop shops. I try to avoid sites I have to register for and, heaven forbid, whip out my credit card to use. Being on the impatient side, I also don’t want to spend too much time creating my own graphs, tables and data series.
Here are four fantastic free sites that meet my standards and offer great visuals:
- Yardeni.com. Economist Ed Yardeni’s treasure trove has pretty much all the economic information, in chart form, you could want. Many of Yardeni’s charts are updated daily.
- Fidelity.com. I hop over to Fidelity Investments’ site whenever I want to compare exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or even individual stocks. What I find especially useful are the research reports available on just about every stock and ETF. While the site and an account are free, some tools require you to have a Fidelity login.
- Vanguard.com. Want to see charts on index funds? Vanguard Group is your place. There are easy-to-read tables and pie charts that detail what’s inside the index funds so many of us own. Another feature I like is Vanguard’s target-date fund explanations and portfolio glide path visuals. I’ve shared that page with my students during asset allocation lectures.
- Fred.StLouisFed.org. Any economic geek knows FRED, short for Federal Reserve economic data, the popular public website run by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The charts might take some tweaking, but you can find almost any economic barometer you want. I use it often when citing data in my day job. The “download to Excel” feature makes creating charts simple.
College kids love the excitement of the markets. I would urge them to be cautious, but I still wanted to equip them with the best day-to-day pages for stock-watching. I have four websites that provide great market summaries, which I prefer over clunky news sites:
- TradingView.com. As a freelance market analyst, I keep a watchlist of index ETFs, commodity prices, interest rates and even some cryptocurrencies. I use TradingView’s charts to plot data that can go back decades. It’s helpful to keep a long-term perspective.
- Koyfin.com. Want the best one-stop market view? Go here. View market performance by sector, along with what’s happening with international index ETFs. I’d encourage my students to use Koyfin to graph fundamental company numbers, such as a firm’s price-earnings ratio or its historical sales trends. That’s quite handy for completing homework assignments.
- StockCharts.com. Not surprisingly, given the site’s name, this is a favorite place for stock charts. But I also like to use its performance graphs when prospecting for mutual funds and index data. Its sector “perf charts” web page is a regular stop for me.
- Finviz.com. Popular with many day traders, my favorite tool here is the market and ETF heat map. Users can also use the “bubbles” feature to plot index numbers, such as a graph of firms by market size or a dual-axis plot of S&P 500 companies’ market capitalizations and dividend yields.
I have a call to action for HumbleDollar readers: In the comments section below, let me know your favorite free financial resources. If there are enough great suggestions, next time I teach, this could even become my students’ go-to article for the best free financial tools. Maybe they’ll even be able to ditch those costly textbooks.
Mike Zaccardi is a freelance writer for financial advisors and investment firms. He’s a CFA® charterholder and Chartered Market Technician®, and has passed the coursework for the Certified Financial Planner program. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeZaccardi, connect with him via LinkedIn, email him at MikeCZaccardi@gmail.com and check out his earlier articles.
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well, if a book helps, I suggest the online reading of, ” The Intelligent Investor”, by Benjamin Graham. I have read it twice, and I agree with Buffet, who called it the best book, ever on investing.
U.S. News and World Report.com offers daily stock and ETF(Exchange Traded Funds) ideas which would be one way for students to become familiar with a range of companies and funds, their stock symbols and possibly stimulate research on sites such as Yahoo.com/finance.
ETF’s publish the 10 top stock holdings in their portfolios. Students can then do a deeper analysis on a company to explore their fundamentals and why it is a core holding.
–For cursory insights into daily market activity, they might glance at Bloomberg.com, Forbes.com and Barrons.com. The associated publications along with Kiplinger Finance might be available in the school library.
–Barchart.com provides a daily list of companies reaching new highs.
–Also, I find Fidelity.com to be one of the best sites in the business, especially after establishing an account. You can then subscribe to their weekly, insightful, easy to read and understand newsletters at no charge.
Adam Grossman’s “Daily Ideas” is excellent. It is immensely better than, for example, a financial subscription (that I won’t mention) that has been particularly costly for many poor souls who followed it’s advice. I fortunately never bought any of it’s recommended stocks. Exert caution when seeing paid commercials on reputable business television networks for any service that claim returns have been several hundred percentage points higher than the S&P 500.
If any readers are interested, they can get Adam’s email by signing up here:
Lots of great sites here, both yours and the ones others posted.
My economics and public finance students also enjoy the research at the St. Louis Fed. And the Yardani material. I also have used the San Francisco Federal Reserve’s research
Grad students and working adult students like to know how (well) they are doing, so I point them to the wealth and income calculators over at http://www.dqydj.com
After a “super” year, and while self-congratulations may be in order, checking one’s portfolio growth against others might reveal that we were not so special after all, just in a lucky moment. Flip side, after a “terrible” year, we may have plenty of company. There are many other calculators and links on this site clearly distinguishing between “average” and “median” values.
I also encourage students to review NBER working papers. Access to the working papers is free and unlimited to anyone with an email address affiliated an organization with an institutional subscription (like universities and government agencies); anyone with an email address of any sort can download three recent papers each year while everything over 18 months old is open access. For example, this month’s many papers include a study of the impact of computerization on white collar jobs, how investors ought to value financial data, and a study of household portfolios and retirement savings over the working years.
I am a fan of several sites mentioned below, and it’s not surprising to find them mentioned so often:
https://www.bogleheads.org (fantastic Wiki for investors)
https://portfoliocharts.com (amazing portfolio analysis)
https://abnormalreturns.com (a great sampling of financial discussion)
https://www.portfoliovisualizer.com (So useful for fund and asset analysis)
https://awealthofcommonsense.com (all the Ritholtz Wealth blogs are good, though this one predates Ben working for them and there are great post in the archive going back a decade or more.)
I also like Investopedia.com, IBD(Investors Business Daily), CNBC.com, Thestreet.com, Seekingalpha.com and Marketwatch.com for market information and ideas
My favorite is: https://www.bogleheads.org/
It follows the investment philosophy of John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard.
For Vanguard clients, there’s a very useful “Portfolio Watch” function, which analyzes all your holdings in multiple ways and can include ones held outside Vanguard as well.
Didn’t know that. Thanks, Andrew!
I agree wholeheartedly with the Bogleheads recommendation as well as Portfolio Visualizer and also wanted to recommend
It’s the most innovative and useful tool I’ve come across for looking at real-world performance of popular “lazy” portfolios and its investing insights section is also well worth a deep dive.
No question for me that https://www.bogleheads.org/ is one of the most valuable financial sites on the internet for nearly every person.
For those people that think the advice there does not apply to them, they probably just don’t realize that it does. The wiki is a great starting place and the forum has many thousands of great topics. Questions are almost universally answered in ways that are helpful.
I’ve used ceoexpress.com as a portal to the internet for many years. While all the sites listed aren’t free, it’s a wide view of the information available on many topics including investments.
Thanks for the link — I was unaware of the site. Looks like a great resource.
Taught me the correct way to invest and keeps me on the path through ups & downs.
While it may not exactly be in the same category as the other sites listed in your article, Personal Capital’s financial account aggregator at http://www.personalcapital.com offers a treasure trove of free and up-to-the-minute information on all assets, including overall net worth (house, non-portfolio assets like emergency cash, 529s, etc.). PC’s “Investment Checkup” page shows where your portfolio falls on the Efficient Frontier, which was a helpful visual for me — and demonstrating the effect of having too much allocated to cash right now.
The site’s goal is to get you to hire an advisor, of course, but there is no requirement to talk to an advisor to use the site. Be careful on the recommended high allocation to “alternative investments,” which PC defines very broadly to include REITS as well as gold, etc.
I’d love to see one of you personal finance gurus who use Personal Capital write an article with a critical analysis of this site’s recommendations from a Modern Portfolio Theory perspective!
I agree PC is a valuable tool, just for the simple yet powerful functionality of aggregating all of your accounts in one place. It helps me stay on top of our total net worth and overall portfolio allocation to different asset classes.
I don’t follow their portfolio allocation recommendations either. I’m also not impressed by their “Retirement Planner” and use other retirement calculators for that.
PC also has some “Mint-like” spending tracking. I don’t use it but it appears fairly straightforward.
A few I like:
https://ritholtz.com/ – particularly the “10 AM Reads” pages, which are a collection of ten interesting financial articles from around the web, updated each day
https://www.firecalc.com/ – my favorite retirement calculator
https://earlyretirementnow.com/safe-withdrawal-rate-series/ – in-depth discussion around safe withdrawal rates and drawdown strategies
My go to site for mutual fund and ETF investment research is the Schwab “schwab.com/research/mutual-funds/quotes/summary” page. It does not require a Schwab log-in to use.
I especially like the “Growth of $10,000 Investment” chart which shows what your current investment value would be if you had invested $10,000 some number of years ago. I look at the 10-year time frame.
The search feature brings up data for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.
I usually download the PDF-format “Mutual Fund Report Card” or “ETF Report Card”.
Do any of these sites provide an option for a “total return” view on charts for ETFs so that dividend reinvestment would be included for selectable time periods? Charting and comparing returns on price change only leaves out a significant fraction of total return, particularly over longer periods.
Yes! Stockcharts.com is my go-to for total return charts.
For daily quick looks, I use https://www.marketwatch.com/ which has occasionally published past Humble Dollar articles.
Morningstar is good for comparing funds on measures like exposure to foreign vs US stocks and credit quality, rate sensitivity and sector breakdown of fixed income portfolios. WisdomTree has a great ETF comparison tool. And I love Ben Carlson’s A Wealth of Common Sense blog. And don’t forget Twitter itself! My FinTwit feed is lit with all the best commentators.
It’s not a site that serves as an analytical tool like the above, but I really enjoy https://abnormalreturns.com/. The site has lots of curated, interesting, varied analysis, which is more my jam as the kids used to say.
Tadas is a big fan of HumbleDollar, too!
As a self-directed portfolio manager, I have leaned on a limited number of resources, namely, Fortune, Barron’s, and Seeking Alpha. And they have worked for me. However, I must commend you for expanding my research horizon via the suggestions in the above article. You go about it as the pros do and I wish to gain such expertise. Thanks for sharing with your readers such invaluable research aids. Now, the onus is on me to roll up my sleeves and do the heavy lifting. My only regret is that I never had the opportunity to sit in one of your classes and gain this knowledge firsthand.
Thank you so much, Charles. We are all here to learn from each other.
Mike, I’m retired and manage my investments. I use some of the sites that you mentioned, but my favorite website for portfolio mgt is Portfolio Visualizer. It’s a data rich site that allows an individual to build and backtest portfolios with various asset allocation mixes, monte carlo sim and a rich collection of mutual funds, etfs and closed end funds.
It used to be on my list, but then they got quite strict with costly subscriptions.
True — but this is a favorite free page of mine:
Jonathan, I like this one as well:
Oh, good one. Thanks, Jonathan!