How do you envision your golden years? Do you see yourself riding off into the sunset on your AirCycle 5000 (...speeding to an electronics superstore to buy the latest model PC Titanium wristwatch)? Living the life of a pampered beach bum? Enjoying the view from Luna City?
Whatever you do, you'll want to have lots of money—or whatever they'll be calling it then—to support your lifestyle.
Here in the present, you might look into a little old-fashioned money management and investing. The following sites can help you manage your funds (and some of them will even entertain you at the same time).
Do be foolish
The Motley Fools make me laugh while they're making me think. The key to the site is to remember that being foolish is a good thing. (The background on the name involves a story about a kingdom of fools, where only the jester is a wise man.)
The first time you visit (or the first time you visit in a long time), you'll probably see a special welcome screen for newbies. If you opt to bypass the tours, you can click "Dive Right In" to reach the home page.
If investing is new to you, you'll probably want to scroll past the info near the top of the home page—which offers links to the latest stories and features—and focus on links a little farther down on the right under the "First Time Here?" heading. You can click links to read an introduction to personal finance and investing basics.
Scrolling to the bottom on the home page, you'll find more targeted links for newbies. I got a lot out of "13 Steps to Foolish Investing" and "Start With Very Little."
To head straight to information about retirement planning, find the Personal Finance How To box at the bottom of the home page and choose "Retire Rich" from the drop-down list of links.
On the Retirement Planning page you'll find the "13 Steps of Retirement Planning," retirement primers, links to related info (IRAs, 401(k)s, and more), plus retirement and savings calculators.
Heard it on the street
SmartMoney.com, calling itself "The Wall Street Journal Magazine of Personal Business," offers stock charts, market overviews and news, news, and more news on the financial market. It also offers overviews on investment topics. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and you'll find links to information on retirement, college planning, and 401(k)s.
Be your own broker
Anyone who watches TV these days cannot escape advertisements from online brokerages. Numerous Web-based brokerage houses let you trade online—buying and selling stocks and managing your portfolio—all from the comfort of your Web browser.
AmeriTrade , E*Trade , and Datek all have high TV profiles.
But which brokerage houses are best? SmartMoney.com rounds up its 21 top picks of all brokers on its Broker Ratings page . For rankings of online brokerages only, check out the Gomez.com Scorecard page , and click on Brokers from the list of links at the left. More than 50 online brokerages are rated and reviewed.
E*Trade hosts an online investing game where you're given $100,000 in play money to invest. The rewards to playing well are two first-place prizes of $1,000 each month.
The League of American Investors also hosts an online stock market simulator designed to teach newcomers how to buy and sell stock.