Mutual Funds: Picking A Mutual Fund

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buying and Selling
You can buy some mutual funds (no-load) by contacting the fund companies directly. Other funds are sold through brokers, banks, financial planners, or insurance agents. If you buy through a third party there is a good chance they'll hit you with a sales charge (load).

That being said, more and more funds can be purchased through no-transaction fee programs that offer funds of many companies. Sometimes referred to as a "fund supermarket," this service lets you consolidate your holdings and record keeping, and it still allows you to buy funds without sales charges from many different companies. Popular examples are Schwab's OneSource, Vanguard's FundAccess, and Fidelity's FundsNetwork. Many large brokerages have similar offerings.

Selling a fund is as easy as purchasing one. All mutual funds will redeem (buy back) your shares on any business day. In the United States, companies must send you the payment within seven days.

The Value of Your Fund
Net asset value (NAV), which is a fund's assets minus liabilities, is the value of a mutual fund. NAV per share is the value of one share in the mutual fund, and it is the number that is quoted in newspapers. You can basically just think of NAV per share as the price of a mutual fund. It fluctuates everyday as fund holdings and shares outstanding change.
When you buy shares, you pay the current NAV per share plus any sales front-end load. When you sell your shares, the fund will pay you NAV less any back-end load.

Finding Funds
The Mutual Fund Education Alliance™ is the not-for-profit trade association of the no-load mutual fund industry. They have a tool for searching for no-load funds at


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