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I don't think anyone answered your bond fund questions--

<From a very cursory exam of her income, I know her tax rate is more than the minimum 15% but
less than the 28% rate. She has money invested in fed tax exempt govt securities mutual funds - two
to be precise. I believe she'd be better off moving that investment into the short term bond fund she
already owns - Morningstar ranks her short term bond fund as five star. Does this appear to be a
better direction or is there some other issue I should look at. My mother's mutual funds are not held
within an IRA.>

With interest rates trending upward, it is not a particularly good time to own bond funds. However, do not dismiss tax free bond funds out of hand. Some are now paying 6.6%. At many tax rates you would need to buy junk bonds to match that in taxable bonds. But do the calculation against her short term bond fund to be sure.

Cd's and Money Markets are a better fixed income investment for most at the moment unless you own the bonds themselves and plan to hold them to maturity. A short term bond fund may be the best of the bond funds at the moment.

There's a Bond and Fixed Incomes board in the Investors Roundtable folder where some of these issues are discussed. Feel free to join us there.
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