The Ultimate Fund Guide
Everything you need to succeed
By Penelope Wang

(MONEY Magazine) – Every year around this time you have two big questions about your funds. The first is, "How did I do?" In 2004, the answer was that you probably made money. The average stock fund was up 10.6% through Dec. 16, according to Lipper, while the typical bond fund earned 3.9%.

The other big question is, "How can I do better?" Smart fund investing is about devising a plan, implementing it with reliable, low-cost funds and staying the course. That's where this year's fund guide comes in. In these pages you'll find our new list of recommended funds, the MONEY 50, as well as returns for 1,469 stock and 352 bond funds. And we'll show you how top financial planners helped three families design mutual fund portfolios for the long haul.