Q. When I review my year-end returns for my investments, how can I figure the actual return after expenses? I’m confused about what I’m looking at on my statements.
— Unsure

A. It’s important to know exactly how much fees are eating into your overall returns.

There are several ways to better translate your statement.

One option is to enter your holdings into a web site such as Yahoo! Finance, which will give you a simple look at your investments’ returns, said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.

Or, Lynch said, you can do it “old school” by looking at the year-end numbers and dividing that by the number from the numbers at beginning of the year number.

But the best way?

“Fire your investment company and go to one that has statements that you understand,” Lynch said.

Lynch said the returns that you see on your statement, generally, are after all the expenses of the fund are already taken out, so you would not need to calculate the expenses — but you should know them.

He recommends you head to the Morningstar web site and check on your funds’ rankings, fees, manager tenure and other important items.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

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