Two new publications from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offer excellent investment advice. "Invest Wisely: An Introduction to Mutual Funds" (item 383B, 50 cents) explains different types of mutual funds and how they work and defines key terms you should know.

To learn about choosing a broker, selecting investments and protecting yourself from fraud, send for the booklet "Invest Wisely: Advice From Your Securities Industry Regulators" (item 361B, 50 cents).To order send your name, address, item number and 50 cents for each booklet to R. Woods, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009.

To buy and sell securities, you'll probably need a broker. Your options range from full service brokers to discount brokers.

When you're looking for a broker ask what services are offered, what fees and commissions will be, what's the experience and background of the sales staff.

"Invest Wisely: An Introduction to Mutual Funds" explains that mutual funds pool resources of many investors to purchase large numbers of stocks, bonds or other securities. They are managed by professional investors. You'll earn a portion of the portfolio and will share in the earnings it generates. You'll also share in any losses.

Some funds invest only in low-risk ventures while others take more chances. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the fund's investment strategy before you buy in.

Mutual funds charge fees. A front-end load is a fee based on a percentage of your investment when you buy. A front-end load cannot legally exceed 8.5 per cent.

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A back-end or deferred load is a fee based on a percentage between .25 percent and 1 percent of the fund's assets annually.

12b-1 is an ongoing maintenance fee, usually between .25 percent and 1 percent of the fund's assets annually.

Keep in mind that bank deposits, including checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit,

are insured by the federal government. But a mutual fund or any other investment product that you purchase through a bank has no federal insurance guaranteeing against loss.

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