Are you ready for the market? check these websites

Stocks have had a good year, but experts say many small investors remain on the sidelines. These sites help you know whether the stock market is the right place for you to be, and how to invest wisely.

A beginner’s guide to investing at About.com suggests that there are four major ways for individuals to get into the stock market: 401(k) retirement accounts; IRAs; brokerage accounts and dividend reinvestment plans. The last of those, referred to as DRIPs, may be the most mysterious to the uninitiated. About.com “guide” Joshua Kennon explains the mechanics behind the mystery that allows some savvy investors to live off dividend checks. http://bit.ly/Ywge0D

A “cheat sheet” from the publisher of Stock Investing for Dummies looks like a good thing for experienced investors as well as novices to keep on hand. It starts with the “most important points” about investing in stocks, such as the one ignored a decade ago by feverish Internet-startup investors: “If you buy a stock when the company isn’t making a profit, you’re not investing – you’re speculating.” The page also includes reassurances for nervous investors, such as: “Keep a tight control on your debt and finances” to ease the pressure to invest aggressively. http://bit.ly/Y40dTc

The “Investing Classroom” at Morningstar.com is a collection of brief, helpful “courses” in the lingo and principles of investing in stocks and bonds. The introductory lessons on stocks cover such subjects as “the magic of compounding,” how to gather relevant information, and how to read a company’s financial statements. You don’t have to register with Morningstar to read this material, but if you do, you can earn credits toward temporary access to Morningstar analyst reports and stock buy-and-sell recommendations. http://bit.ly/Ytz6Ax

An investment club may be your path to success. Clubs agree that each member will put in a set amount of money, say $25 a month, to jointly invest in stocks or funds researched by the group. If you can get together 10 to 15 people with some common interests and financial goals, it could work. For a how-to guide, see this page at the Motley Fool investing site. It will provide a broad outline for how to get a club up and running. There are even reminders to agree on snacks and to pick a cool name for your group. http://bit.ly/Xvc3Sl

Detailed club information, organizing tools and other help for clubs and individual investors is available from the National Association of Investors. Membership in the association costs $8.95 a month, but there are free trials at its BetterInvesting.org site. http://bit.ly/ZRV7Y1

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