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Conquering Your Fear of Fees

Savvy investors know to read the fine print about money-management charges.

This story appears in the October 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As business owners, we pride ourselves on knowing what things cost and on never paying retail (unless, of course, we run out of toner cartridges in the middle of the afternoon before a big presentation).

That's why, when it comes to investing, trying to get the best deal on money-management fees can be so frustrating. Even if you decide to manage your own money instead of handing it over to a brokerage firm, it's hard to avoid paying fees.

Turn to the Authority
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the largest independent regulator of securities firms doing business in the United States, offers a wide range of education materials on its website, including calculators, tools and quizzes.

Features such as an investor knowledge quiz, for example, tests your investment knowledge against the results of a FINRA survey (and explains the answers).

FINRA's fund analyzer , meanwhile, offers a live data feed that captures expense information for thousands of and analyzes the impact that mutual fund fees can have on your investments over time. Choose up to three funds, type in the amount of money you plan to invest and how long you plan to keep the fund, and the analyzer does the rest. For investors with a wide range of knowledge, FINRA's tools are useful for everything from calculating potential return on investment to checking the background of a broker.

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