The 25 Best Mutual Funds -- 2009

Yes, we know most of them stank the past year. But they're still the best bet to build wealth in the long run.

If you're like most investors, you're probably in a state of shock, paralyzed by fear. Stock markets everywhere have crashed. You may not even be looking at your deflated monthly account statements, unwilling to confront the real damage to your wealth caused by the most cataclysmic bear market since the Great Depression.

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But you must continue to save and to invest for your long-term goals. There are no certainties in investing, only probabilities, which can work in funny ways. For example, the ten-year Treasury note is a proxy for the risk-free rate of return in investment theory. But Treasuries today offer only 2.8%. If you hold this "risk-free" Treasury for ten years, you are virtually certain to lose money after taxes and inflation take their remorseless toll on your money.

By contrast, stocks seem reasonably valued today for those investors who are able and brave enough to invest for the long run. There are also good values in bonds outside of the Treasury sector. The Kiplinger 25 is our list of the best no-load stock, bond and commodity funds to help you achieve your long-term investment goals. Keep in mind that no matter how highly we think of these funds, they are not miracle workers. As our table shows, all of our stock-fund picks, in particular, have taken a beating in the past year -- which has dragged down their long-term results as well.

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See our picks, based on type of fund:

Large-Company Funds

Small- and Mid-Cap Funds

Overseas/Global Funds

Go-Anywhere Funds

Commodity Funds

Bond Funds

What's changed from the 2008 list

Get updated data on all the funds

View portfolios using the Kiplinger 25