I always have to brace myself for my semi-annual meetings with my financial planner. Yes, I have one because I am not a numbers guru or a financial genius. Terms like "compound interest," "simplified prospectus" and "index fund" give me the heebie-jeebies. I know my planner can see my eyes glaze over after just five minutes. Still, I endure our meetings because, as you know, a girl has to save up if she wants to retire in the style she's accustomed to.
If you don't have a planner and haven't gotten around to setting up a retirement fund, you should check out Betterment.com. I just learned about this investment site from one of my Twitter followers. It looks really appealing for those of us who would rather just set up a retirement fund, get the best return, and not have to think about it too much. In fact, one of their target groups is savvy savers, so it's right up the alley of any Krazy Coupon gal or guy.
What Is It?
Betterment (which is a clever contraction of "better investment") is a website that makes it dead easy for you to invest online for retirement. It offers various investment options, including Traditional and ROTH Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs. Once you sign up, you can set up your diversified retirement portfolio in less than five minutes.
Why Use It?
Besides what I just mentioned, Betterment is offering these other key features that any savvy saver looks for in order to maximize his or her savings.
- The all-important lower fees. High management fees really cut into your savings. You want to avoid them at all costs (no pun intended!) Betterment is offering some of the lowest investment fees in the business, but I’ll get to those in a moment.
- Next, the site promises a higher rate of return than other savings options such as a bank savings account or a typical investment portfolio.
- The third sweetener is the ability to withdraw your money any time you want to, which I really like. Many other savings plans lock in your money for a specified amount of time, limit the withdrawals you can make, or charge you a hefty fee to get it out. Betterment doesn’t do either of these.
- It's automated. If you're like me, and don't want the hassle of remembering to deposit money to your retirement plan, automation is really appealing. Just link your checking account to your Betterment account to transfer money, and you're set.
- The site offers a 30-day free trial. Although you won't be able to see your investment grow by leaps and bounds within just a month, the trial gives you the chance to figure out if you like what's on offer.
How do I Choose a Portfolio?
I know exactly how you feel. To borrow from Bobby McFerrin: "Don't worry, be happy." You won't need to have the know-how of a financial planner or investment broker to choose the portfolio that's right for you. Betterment does all the boring research for you and provides the tools you'll use to make the best investment choices to meet your goals and budget.
Is There A Catch?
So far there are a few potential pitfalls I've sussed out, but they're pretty minor. First, the site is new so it doesn't exactly have a proven track record, so keep that in mind. Also, even though Betterment promises an average remember of 7.86 percent, no one can promise how well investment portfolios will do in the future. Finally, although the fees are low, there are still fees to pay. (Guess you can't have everything!) Expect to pay between 0.15 and 0.35 percent, depending on your balance.
You can get your free Betterment trial to get your retirement fund off the ground.
This has been a guest post by Andrea from Ontario, Canada
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