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The world of finance has changed amazingly during the rise of the Internet.  What used to be expensive pay services are now available for free online.  Here are some examples of fantastic information and data that is available absolutely free.

INO TVhttp://tv.ino.com/

INO’s TV service is an invaluable source of information.  The service itself costs about $100 to watch all the educational videos that you want, but you can get 4 for free simply by registering.  Of course if you go ahead and subscribe, that will be money well spent as well, but at a minimum you should register and get your four videos for free.

Yahoo’s Interactive Charts and Historical Datahttp://finance.yahoo.com

Not that long ago I was writing my own charting software because I couldn’t stand what was available.  Now I can get a killer interactive chart tool written in Javascript for free on demand.  I don’t have to even download data or anything.  Additionally, if I do want the data, I can just hop to the historical data section and download almost everything I could want.  You can even download it to a spreadsheet.

Investor’s Hubhttp://ih.advfn.com/

The one thing I can’t get from Yahoo! as far as I know is a full database of financials.  Investor’s Hub provides a fantastic historical database of earnings, cash flow and balance sheet information for public companies.  For example, if you want to get a detailed picture of a company’s financials without parsing their filings, this site is a live saver.  Here, for example are the annual reports for Caterpillar.  You can see quarterly data is available as well.

Edgarhttp://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml

EDGAR, the Electronic Data-Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system is a database with filings by public companies.  In the olden days I used to write scripts to scrape data from here to do historical analysis of companies.  While this information is now easily available on sites like Investor’s Hub, it can still be a good place to go make sure a company you’re getting involved in is what you think it is and that the numbers you’re looking at have some basis in reality.  I’ve saved myself from catastrophes when a company’s financials and chart looked too good to be true simply by reading their quarterly report.  In two cases in particular I learned about litigation they were almost certainly going to lose.

Investing In Bondshttp://www.investinginbonds.com/

Investing in Bonds is a good way to get some broad information on a sector that can be quite cryptic.  The well written articles and indexes can help you make wise decisions in the bond markets.  Bond information does not flow as freely as stock data yet, but this site is lessening the gap.

Yahoo Finance Stock Screenerhttp://screener.finance.yahoo.com/newscreener.html

It may seem that I’m in love with Yahoo! finance, but they really do have some good tools.  They have two different versions of their stock screener.  Either one is a great place to start building up a list of stocks to analyze.  It can be a great tool when you seem to be unable to get your cash allotment down to the level you would prefer because you can’t find appropriate investment vehicles.

ClearStationhttp://clearstation.etrade.com/

I used to track all my purchases on ClearStation.  For a long time it had the best available online charts.  It still remains a valuable community to get some “crowdsourcing” insight into the markets.  You can use it for paper trading and for getting the sentiment of the public at large.  It also tends to have a better level of conversation than most Internet stock discussions, although don’t expect too much, this is the Internet after all.

When so many tools are freely available you’re putting yourself at a handicap if you do not use them.  Be sure to make use of these tools and seek out more to make yourself as informed as possible.  Education is one of the best weapons to prepare yourself in the markets.

Photo Credit: Peter Martin Hall

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