FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 2008

Bond, U.S. bond: United States Treasury notes, bonds and savings bonds have a long track record as a low-risk saving vehicle. Government securities come in many forms, ranging from inexpensive $25 savings bonds to larger notes with a $1,000 minimum.

To learn more about government bonds, here are a few Web sites worth a look:

•AARP: /money/financial_ planning/sessionsix /bonds.html

Provides overview information about bonds in general and government bonds.

•Bonds Online: www.bondsonline .com/asp/treas /direct.asp

Explains the government bond purchase program.

•TreasuryDirect: www.savingsbonds .gov/indiv/indiv.htm

Covers different ways to purchase Treasury bonds, with details about specific bond types.

529 Panic: With the credit crunch crimping the student loan market and financial market upheaval crunching investments in college savings plans, what’s a parent to do?

That depends on when your child will need those college funds.

If you’ve got a long time horizon, some say investing in the tax-advantaged college-savings tools known as 529 plans still makes sense. Investors contribute after-tax dollars; investment gains are tax-free if the money is used for qualified education expenses.

“The long-term appeal of 529 plans, despite all the painful losses in recent months, is still very much intact,” said Marta Norton, senior mutual fund analyst with investment research firm Morningstar Inc., in Chicago.

“If you saw higher expenses or a management team that had changed, those would be reasons to consider switching funds, but solely because of painful performance over a year’s span isn’t reason to jump ship,” she said.

Search for “529 plans” on – it’s a free membership – to see the firm’s take on the five best and worst plans.

Note that, with some exceptions, 529 plan investors can change their investment options only once a year.

From wire reports


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