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From the Editor

Picking the Best of Everything in 2011

We picked the brains of our staff experts to find out which blogs and other resources they swear by.

Want to know which cars are most energy-efficient? We’ve got a lineup in every price range. Need to find the best place to shop for health insurance? We’ve got it covered. Or how about the best exchange-traded fund if you’re looking for dividends? For the answers, see our annual best list.

SEE ALSO: Our Special Report on Best College Values

What I like most about our list is that we always have too many good ideas to use. This year was no exception. To pare down the list, we picked the brains of our staff experts to find out which Web sites, blogs and other resources they swear by.

So, for instance, you’ll find out where online editor Cameron Huddleston, our bargain maven and author of Kiplinger.com’s KipTips column, heads first on the Web when she wants to snag a deal. Anne Kates Smith, who writes about the outlook for the stock market, divulges her must-read market newsletter. Executive editor Manny Schiffres picks Ed Yardeni as his go-to economist (see “Dr. Ed’s” take on what should be done to curb market volatility).

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I’ll cast my vote for my favorite economics columnist: Robert Samuelson, of the Washington Post. Every Monday morning I look forward to seeing which sacred cow Samuelson is skewering. His columns are thoughtful, meticulously researched and refreshingly apolitical—meaning that he doesn’t hesitate to call out stupidity on the part of both major political parties.

Top colleges. The other “best” list I’d recommend in this issue is our annual rankings of the top values in private colleges and universities. There are lots of college rankings out there, from the serious to the silly, but for more than ten years our list has been focusing on value—how much you’re getting for your money in terms of a high-quality education at an affordable price. This year, our rankings team, led by senior associate editor Jane Bennett Clark, has honed the list even more—and made it more useful to readers—by giving added weight to four-year graduation rates and awarding extra points to those colleges that limit student debt.

The stats on student borrowing are especially critical because the data show that student debt levels have increased even as consumers have been repaying other types of loans, causing concern that student debt could be the next big bubble. That would be a tragedy for students who can’t repay their loans and for taxpayers who subsidize them. To avoid that outcome, you need to choose a school that fits into the family budget. We include additional information on each school and a sorting tool that lets you customize the data according to your situation.

Investment advice. Last month, I asked Kiplinger’s staff members to share their favorite investment advice with our readers. This month, it seems only fitting that I close the loop by passing along the best investment advice contributed by some of our Facebook fans.

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“Never bet the farm,” writes John Radford. “Diversify.” Kim Khan advises investors to “do a background check on your broker or adviser and the investment itself to ensure that you are dealing with registered individuals and products.”

“Buy the dip, sell the rip,” quips Zachary Meiners. Chris Baerman would “never borrow money for a depreciating asset.” And Michael Wagner gets the last word: “Start early and don’t stop saving, ever.”

P.S. Be a financial winner at every stage of your life. Pick up a copy of the 2011 edition of Success With Your Money.