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Investing

If you plan to retire early, you may be wondering whether it makes sense to invest in traditional retirement accounts, such as employer-sponsored 401(k)s/403(b)s and IRAs/Roth IRAs. The speculation comes into play because there’s an early withdrawal penalty when you take money out of these accounts before age 59 ½.

I argue that it’s still a good idea to invest in traditional retirement accounts if you plan to retire early. This is because there are tax benefits that come with these retirement plans. Money contributed to employer sponsored 401(k)s/403(b)s are pre-tax and reduce your taxable income for the year. Money contributed to Roth IRAs isn’t pre-tax but the money grows tax-free.

The best scenario is to have enough money outside of these retirement accounts so that you can live off other investments before age 59 ½ and then tap into your retirement accounts after turning 59 ½. Here are a few tips to aid you in your early retirement planning.

Avoid Early Withdrawal Penalties

Generally, the money withdrawn from a retirement plan before the age of 59 ½ is considered “early” or “premature.” When this happens, you must pay an additional 10% early withdrawal tax. For most, that 10% penalty is a big deal. It will likely result in enough money lost that you’ll want to avoid making early withdrawals.

One thing you can do to avoid early withdrawal penalties from retirement plans is to have other investments. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Another way to avoid early withdrawal penalties is via the IRS rule 72(t). This rule permits penalty-free withdrawals from an individual retirement account (IRA), provided that you take “substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs)” for at least five years or until you reach 59 ½, whichever period of time is longer. The payment amount will depend on your life expectancy as calculated by IRS-approved methods.

The withdrawals will still be taxed at your normal income tax rate. You can roll over a portion of your 401(k) into an IRA to take advantage of this rule as well. A good guide for IRA conversion can be found here on Dough Roller.

The IRS rule 72(t) is a bit complicated. You may want to work with a financial advisor to make sure you are complying by the rule’s stipulations. If you stop payments too early, you’ll have to pay the early withdrawal penalty on the previously withdrawn amounts.

It’s good to know there’s a way to access your retirement plan funds without the early withdrawal penalty. But, that doesn’t have to be the only option if you plan to retire early. Another option is to have other investments that you can liquidate before you turn 59 ½.

Plan on Other Investments

The best thing you can do is not touch your retirement plan funds until you reach age 59 ½. It’s best to have other investments that you can use as income until you reach IRS retirement age. This means you’ll have to do even more saving during your early years. But it’s worth it for the sake of early retirement.

Here are some options for where to save the rest of your money:

  • Savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) – These accounts offer lower interest rates but guaranteed returns. Your money is also FDIC insured up to at least $250,000.
  • Peer to peer lending – Companies like LendingClub and Prosper let you build an investment portfolio of personal loans. This gives you monthly cash flow.
  • Rental properties – This investment takes some time and skill. But it also offers monthly cash flow as long as you have tenants.
  • Dividend stocks – You’ll gain money in two ways. First, you’ll earn as the value of the stocks appreciate. Second, you’ll gain money from distributions paid out to shareholders by the dividend-paying companies.

You can use these investments to fund your lifestyle until you reach IRS retirement age. Depending on the age you plan to retire, you may not even need that much to sustain you until you reach 59 ½. It’s all about planning ahead of time.

Consider Phased Retirement

Most people work a long career and then jump right into retirement and stop working altogether. If you plan to retire early, though, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the path for you. Consider phased retirement as an alternative, in order to make early retirement work for you.

For example, if you work an office job now and want to retire at age 40, you can leave that day job and then start another career. You could start an online business that doesn’t require you to go into an office. Use the time between when you leave your first career and when you reach age 59 ½ to explore another one of your interests. Have you always wanted to write books? Do you have a passion for working with animals? The possibilities are endless.

Finding a new career to embark on during the first few years of early retirement will not only give you extra money to live on, but it’ll also keep you mobile and energized. Make sure it’s something you enjoy so you can still consider yourself “retired.”

Final Thoughts

Yes, you should invest in traditional retirement accounts if you plan to retire early. They have many tax benefits that make them good investments. What you want to avoid is early withdrawal penalties. You can avoid this by taking advantage of the IRS rule 72(t) as explained above. Or, you could have other investments that fund your lifestyle until you reach age 59 ½ and can withdraw money from your retirement plans penalty-free.

Another consideration to keep in mind is phased retirement. Although you retire from your day job at an early age, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at all. Consider starting a new career based on another one of your interests or passions. This way, you’ll keep some money coming in until you reach age 59 ½ — and can withdraw from the traditional accounts — but you’ll still enjoy your early retirement.

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It’s been a long time since banks offered savings accounts with decent returns. The Fed may raise interest this year, meaning rates could finally rise. In the meantime, what do you do?

If you’re looking for a quick way to create an investment vehicle that is FDIC insured, and promises greater returns than online savings, Fidelity Investments has an option for you. The new Model CD Ladder tool is Fidelity’s attempt at bringing easy CD Ladders to its account holders. Let’s look at what this tool offers and see if it’s a better option than an online savings account.

Finding a Safe and Steady Return on Cash Holdings

For a detailed explanation of CDs, go here. Basically, in a volatile financial environment, CDs offer investors an FDIC-insured means to safely earn a consistent return on their cash. The rates of return can’t match the stock market, but they are better than what you’ll find with savings accounts. If the Fed finally decides to raise interest rates, the yield on new CDs should rise with them.

CD Ladders Explained

CD Ladders are multiple CDs purchased together, each with varying time horizons. This “ladder” is designed to return the owner’s initial investment at intervals, with interest payments paid out during the life of each individual CD. Each CD is a different “rung” on the ladder. As each CD matures and you climb up the ladder, your yield rises and liquidity remains the same. The goal is to max out the ladder with the highest yielding, longest term CDs and continually renew them as each rung expires. Your waiting time for each rung to mature should be the same as the very first CD that matured.

Yield, Liquidity, and the World of CDs

I just mentioned yield and liquidity. I want to find an equilibrium between the two when I am building my CD Ladder.

Yield is the rate of return that I’ll receive on my premium. My premium is my initial investment in each CD, and in Fidelity’s case, $1,000 is the smallest CD they broker. I’ll address overall minimum investment amounts later.

Liquidity is how easily or quickly I can access my investment.

Liquidity and yield are inversely related in the world of CDs. As liquidity rises, yield falls. As yield rises, liquidity falls. This is true when you first purchase the CD. Rates are generally locked in upon purchase.

But I said that “your yield rises and liquidity remains the same” when you create a CD Ladder. This is true, and you’ll understand why by the end of this article.

Put another way, the longer your CD time horizon, the less liquid it will be. It will take me more time to access the money I’ve invested, usually measured in months and years. If I have a 5-year CD, I’ll have to wait 5 years from the date of purchase to access the principal. If I want to access it before the 5-year period is up, there will be a penalty fee associated with that action. There is, however, a bonus to having to wait so long to get my premium back. Because of the inverse relationship of yield and liquidity, though, your yield is going to be higher. Ideally it’s high enough to make it worth waiting 5 years!

Conversely, the short time horizon CDs – such as 3 to 12 month CDs – are more liquid and yield much less than a 2 to 5-year CD.

In my ladder, I would start out with low yielding, shorter term CDs. They will mature in the first two years, while the clock ticks away on longer term, less liquid CDs with a higher yield. By doing this I am balancing my need for liquidity and yield with a mix of short and long term CDs.

Once I make it past the initial CD, or rung, my average percentage yield (APY) climbs with each rung expiration. That is why the CD ladder is a great tool for holding cash.

Fidelity’s New CD Ladder Tool

Fidelity Investments new CD Ladder tool lets you quickly make a CD Ladder that meets your individual yield and liquidity goals. Divided into three easy steps, your Model CD Ladder can become a reality in just a few minutes.

When creating your CDs with the Model CD Ladder tool, you will pick between a 1, 2, or 5-year ladder. Let’s look at what it takes to create each one, and what kind of return you can expect.

Minimum Amounts and Yields

If I want to create a Fidelity CD Ladder, it will take $4,000 or more. The next minimum investment amount is $8,000 (you calculate by $4,000 increments). Also, the $4,000 minimum applies to the 1- and 2-year ladders, and a $5,000 minimum applies to the 5-year model.

If I’m going to create a 5-year CD Ladder, I’ll need the $5,000 minimum and increase that by $5,000 increments if I want to invest more.

The yield for each ladder varies day-to-day, but as of this writing you’re going to see the following:
cd
Time Horizons

I can choose between a 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year CD Ladder.

The 1 year option will consist of 4 CDs that mature at the 3, 6, 9, and 12-month maturity date. For example, if I buy a ladder on November 1, the first portion (3 months) of the ladder will mature on or around February 1. This specific CD will pay both the interest accrual and full principal upon maturity. At 3 months, the amount will be relatively small. The 6-month CD will mature on May 1, the 9-month on August 1, and the 12-month on November 1 of the following year. Here’s an example of a 1-year Model CD Ladder:
cd1
The 2-year ladder will hold 6, 12, 18, and 24-month maturity dates. The same example above will apply with the modified time horizons. I will receive the original principal as each rung expires, and interest payments for the life of each CD. Here’s an example:
cd2
The 5-year ladder will hold CDs with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5-year maturity dates. Remember, I needed a $5,000 minimum investment to start this longer-term ladder. This means I’ll get 5 annual principal payments and interest payments throughout each year. Here’s the 5-year ladder example:

cd3
*Assumes that I reinvested each premium into the longest term, highest yielding CD after the first CD expired. For the 1-year CD Ladder, I’d purchase another 12-month, 0.80% yield CD. For the 2-year ladder, I’d buy the 24-month CD yielding 1.20%. The APY listed in each chart is the starting APY, and this climbs as you reinvest each rung.

Using the 5-year model as an example, I should re-invest the principal from the 1-year CD into the ladder when it matures. I’ll then buy a 5-year CD to add another rung and keep the ladder going. This will cause my average percentage yield to climb. Consider that I would add a 1.80% yielding CD – or higher if interest rates rise – and eliminate that short term low yielding CD by letting it mature. My 2-year CD is now only 1 year from maturity and yielding 1.25%, and so on. At the end of the 5-year period, I’d have a CD ladder with a 1.80% APY.

This is the power of the ladder. If I do nothing and take the principal out as each rung expires, I am losing out on future higher returns.

Author’s note: I used this CD Ladder calculator to do the calculations for these examples. This website has over 400 financial calculators for personal finance, business analysis, and more.

Ladder Strategies: Investment or Income

After choosing the time horizon for my ladder, I must decide between two strategies to achieve my goals. Do I want to just contribute an initial investment, or do I have a specific annual income that I’m after?

With either option, the job is easy. If I desire $100 in annual income from a CD ladder, I see I’ll need to invest $10,000 in a 5-year ladder. Fidelity automatically fills the ladder with the best CDs that match my strategy. This is true whether I’m using either strategy.

Overview and Estimated Interest

The overview tab lists out the key details for each rung of the ladder. The coupon rate (yield) and maturity date are available for the user to see immediately on each rung.

The estimated interest tab breaks down the payment schedule for the ladder. A key point to note here is that it does not illustrate the power of executing the ladder. The chart does not assume you reinvested the principal each time a rung expired.

Choosing CDs and Attributes

If I want the freedom to pick and choose CDs, I’ve got it. I can replace any rung in my ladder by choosing other CDs on the market.

All CDs will tell me if they have sinking fund protection, call protection, and FDIC insurance. I have yet to see one that didn’t have those three options.

If I click on the CD name, I’ll get the Overview and Price/Performance tabs where I can get the CUSIP, Issuer Information, and see how often the CD pays out interest.

Other Options – Custom Rungs

There is an option to select different bond types and ratings. Don’t mess with it. The Fidelity Model system operates on the same page as their bond ladder program. By selecting your model CD Ladder, you’ve already notified the system you want to see CDs and there are no additional settings you should adjust here.

There is a custom “number of rungs” option, and after experimenting with the tool I could modify the ladder to between 2 and 5 rungs.

No Fees and Renewal Options

Fidelity charges no fees for buying CDs using their ladder tool. There are no annual cost or commission fees.

Fidelity will not automatically renew your CDs for you, so it’s important to track when your CDs are maturing. Reinvest the principal of your maturing CD into the longest term, highest yielding CD available for your ladder.

A Word on Penalty Fees

If I create a CD Ladder, and an emergency – or opportunity – pops up that requires me to cancel one or all my CDs, what will happen? Many investors assume they will automatically face an early withdrawal penalty. This isn’t the case with Fidelity’s CDs.

Since I’m creating my ladder out of brokered CDs, there are no termination penalties brought on by Fidelity. If I do want to exit my CDs, I must find a buyer for each one to get my principal back. The CD will be sold on the open market to other individual or institutional investors, so I may not get the full-face value when I sell. This is a slightly better option than facing steep fees associated with canceling some types of non-brokered CDs.

This is a factor you’ll have to weigh when deciding whether to start CD Ladder. If you have extra money sitting around that is not “working” for you, I’d seriously consider a 2 or 5-year ladder.

But what about Online Savings Accounts? Don’t they provide a decent yield with great liquidity?

Well, sort of. There is no debate as to the liquidity of a savings account compared to a CD. But I’ll bet your online savings account won’t be able to beat the yield of a CD over longer time horizons.

The best online savings accounts will yield about 1 percent. That is better than most brick and mortar savings accounts. But I must consider how often and in what circumstances I’ll use the cash I have put away in my savings accounts. I will not use my emergency fund for anything other than an emergency, which statistically does not happen often in my life. My personal earnings are sufficient to cover most unexpected expenses with the help of a credit card, if necessary.

If I am going to hold large amounts of cash outside of what I need for my emergency fund, I should consider using a CD Ladder. That way, I can increase my returns and at least maintain pace with inflation.

Online savings accounts can be beat within one year of starting a Fidelity Model CD Ladder.

Right now, a 1-year ladder will never match the online savings account.

But, if I use the 2-year ladder, I will beat online savings accounts by the 12-month mark! Boom. Every 6 months, I’ll have $1,000 due to me that I can either use or reinvest back into the ladder and earn 1.25%. If interest rates rise during the life of this ladder, the longest I’ll have to wait is 6 months before I can purchase a new rung with a higher interest rate. Here’s how the math works out:

cd4

For a 5-year ladder, Fidelity beats the best online savings accounts immediately. The only disadvantage it has against the 2-year model is the liquidity. I’ll have to wait 12-months for each rung to mature, rather than 6-months with the 2-year model.
cd5

The Evidence Favors the Ladder

If you agree that you generally don’t access your cash stockpiles in your online savings accounts, the evidence favors using a CD Ladder. It doesn’t have to be from Fidelity, but this tool illustrates that you can quickly outpace the returns of the latest 1% online savings account. I wish my bank offered this tool and the great rates that come with it. Right now, I’m only seeing a CD for 1% at my home bank.

Fidelity CDs vs Ally Bank and Others

In the 5-year CD Ladder, Fidelity beats Ally Bank on a $5,000 investment by 10-20 basis points. Ally has a 3 and 4-year Ladder option that beats the Fidelity 2-year model. Fidelity also sells 3-year CDs that yield just 5 basis points lower than Ally’s 3-year term. You can use the model tool to insert a CD like this into your custom ladder.

Nationwide Bank offers more competitive interest rates than Fidelity. The 5-year yield is around 2.25%, which over the first 5 years of a ladder will earn you about $120 more than Fidelity’s model.

Discover Bank is about the same as Fidelity for anything 5 years or less. It’s the same with Alliant Credit Union.

Fidelity beats Capital One by half a percent on a 5-year CD, and beats all other time horizons.

What Works for You

Fidelity’s Model CD Ladder tool makes it fast, simple, and easy to start earning more on your cash. If you don’t have any fixed income vehicles in your asset allocation plan, this may be the perfect place to get started. Balance your liquidity and yield needs to come up with the perfect ladder, either by choosing a target annual income or initial lump sum investment. Online tools like this are perfect for experimenting – use it to find the right CD Ladder for your investment strategy.

Have you ever tried a CD ladder?

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What if you could increase your after-tax investment returns by 15% over 30 years? Betterment is claiming you can do just that with their Tax-Coordinated Portfolio. What’s more, they claim that it can even work across several accounts at the same time.

Interested? Read on…

Who is Betterment?

Betterment is a robo-advisor. In fact, it is the largest independent robo-advisor in the US, with more than 175,000 customers and more than $5 billion in assets under management.

As a robo-advisor, Betterment is an automated, technology-driven investment platform that creates and maintains a diverse portfolio for each of its investors. They do this by compiling what they believe will be the best mix of exchange traded funds (ETFs) in your portfolio. They use index based ETFs because they are both low cost and tax efficient (their low turnover minimizes the amount of short-term capital gains generated).

Learn More: Index Funds versus ETFs — Which is Right for You?

Your entire portfolio is constructed of just 13 different ETFs — six stock ETFs and seven bond ETFs — which essentially represent the global financial markets as a whole.

Betterment’s investment management method is based on Modern Portfolio Theory, or MPT. The theory holds that proper asset allocation is more important in portfolio management than individual security selection. This is also why Betterment uses broad based index funds in creating your asset allocation. The right asset mix will provide both a maximum rate of return while keeping risk to a minimum.

Your portfolio is constructed only after Betterment determines your investment horizon, goals, and risk tolerance. This will enable them to include the appropriate blend of both stocks and bonds to fit your investment profile.

Once your portfolio is established, it is fully automated – including regular rebalancing – so that you don’t need to get involved in the process at all. Your sole responsibility is to fund your account to help it grow.

Betterment offers both taxable and tax-sheltered (retirement) accounts, so that you can do all of your investing on the platform.

Betterment Fees

Best of all are the very low fees that they charge. They are just a fraction of what typical traditional investment advisors charge to perform essentially the same service.

The fee is based on a percentage of the amount of money that you have invested on the platform. It is a single, annual fee, as there are no separate charges for transactions or rebalancing. There are three fee tier levels, based on account balance:

  • Less than $10,000: 0.35% of your average annual balance. There is no minimum initial account balance required. However, you must commit to a $100/month minimum automatic deposit. You will be charged a flat rate of $3 per month otherwise.
  • $10,000 to $99,999: 0.25% of your average annual balance.
  • $100,000 or more: 0.15% of your average annual balance.

What is the Tax-Coordinated Portfolio?

Betterment’s Tax-Coordinated Portfolio, or “TCP,”  is based on the use of an automated strategy referred to as asset location. Within that strategy, they manage multiple accounts as a single portfolio. That includes placing assets that are taxed at higher rates into more favorably taxed accounts, like those for retirement. Betterment’s research has estimated that TCP can produce an average annual benefit of between 0.10% to 0.82%.

Using one generalized scenario, TCP boosted after-tax returns by 0.48% per year. After 30 years, this provided an additional 15% for retirement. That’s an impressive benefit, considering you don’t need to do anything extra in order to utilize its advantages.

Betterment came up with TCP through their team of quantitative analysts, tax experts, software engineers, designers, and product managers, who spent more  than a year building the service. They believe that they are the first investment service to offer such a product, and are now making it available to all investors on the platform.

How Betterment’s Tax-Coordinated Portfolio Works

The Tax-Coordinated Portfolio places high tax assets in tax sheltered accounts, such as IRAs. Lower taxed assets are then held in taxable accounts.

That means that high dividend yielding stocks would be held in an IRA to reduce what is called tax drag.Tax drag refers to the reduction in return on investment that comes from the tax liability generated by an investment.

In order to take advantage of TCP you need to have both a taxable account and either a tax-deferred account, like an IRA, or a tax-exempt account, such as a Roth IRA. The benefit will not extend to any non-Betterment accounts.

This means that if you want to take advantage of TCP, you will have to roll outside accounts into your Betterment account. That includes your taxable and tax-deferred investment accounts. Part of the reason that TCP requires at least one retirement account is that Betterment can make larger rebalances in such accounts without increasing your tax liability.

You will still have the ability to change your allocation in your TCP, right on the investment platform. However, any time you do, you run the risk of causing “taxable events,” so Betterment recommends against this. If you do make changes, you can use Betterment’s Tax Impact Preview feature (see below), which will show you a real-time tax estimate before you confirm any allocation changes.

TCP is available to all Betterment investors. However, it is generally not recommended for those whose federal tax bracket is 15% or less. You should also be aware that TCP does not have any impact on any investment accounts that you hold outside of Betterment.

Betterment Tax-Coordinated Portfolio Components and Tools

TCP is comprised of three major components, including:

Tax Impact Preview – This tool provides a real-time tax estimate for a withdrawal or allocation change, and you can use it before you confirm the transaction. It will show you the information you should be focusing on to make an informed decision, before you actually make the changes. It has the potential to lower your tax bill as a result.

Tax Impact Preview will consider if the benefits of the change will outweigh the costs, or if you might consider waiting in order to avoid short-term capital gains. It may also ask you to consider if there is another source of funds you can access that will not have any impact on your tax liability.

TaxMin – This tool will help you select the most tax-efficient lots, selling losses first, and short-term gains last. TaxMin considers the cost basis of the lot, realizing all losses for any gains, regardless of when the shares were purchased.

Lots are sold in the following order, so as to minimize the tax impact:

  • Short-term losses
  • Long-term losses
  • Long-term gains
  • Short-term gains

The algorithm exhausts each category before moving to the next. Within each category, lots with the highest cost basis are sold first. With a gain, the rule is as follows: the higher the basis, the smaller the gain. This results in a lower tax burden. In the case of a loss, the opposite is true: the higher the basis, the bigger the loss. This can, of course, offset gains.

Tax Loss Harvesting (TLH) – This service is available on taxable investment accounts only, since tax-sheltered accounts don’t need it. According to Betterment’s Tax Loss Harvesting White Paper, Betterment’s TLH service generates as much as 1.94% in annual tax offsets. This compares to 0.95% by other automated investment services.

In general, tax loss harvesting involves selling securities that have sustained losses, then buying correlated assets – those that provide similar exposure – to replace the securities that have been sold. The strategy generates capital gains losses, but keeps the portfolio consistent with its intended target allocation mix.

Should You Invest With Betterment Tax-Coordinated Portfolio?

What can you say about a service that has the potential to improve your investment performance by an average of almost 0.50% (OK, 0.48%) per year? Oh, and it charges no extra fee for the benefit.

With the growing popularity of robo-advisors, and Betterment being the largest in the field, TCP  makes the case for using this platform more compelling than ever. This is one of those rare situations in your investment life where you will have nothing to lose, but much to gain.

Betterment offers a compelling combination of automated professional investment management, along with TCP. It also has one of the lowest fee structures in the industry. And you can invest on the platform with both your taxable accounts and your retirement accounts.

You owe it to yourself to check Betterment out.

 

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In case you didn’t know, today is National Online Bank Day! Exciting, huh? (Don’t worry, I didn’t have it marked on my calendar, either). Some online banks are offering promotional discounts and interest rates to celebrate, with Ally being one of them.

Ally Bank is one of the more popular online banking institutions, offering a range of checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as a number of CD options. And to celebrate National Online Bank Day, they are offering a promotional CD rate for the next few weeks.

From now until November 7, 2016, you can get a 15-month select CD with an appealing 1.25% APY. After the initial 15 months are up (around January 2018), it will automatically renew into a 12-month High Yield CD. In case you were wondering, Ally’s High Yield CDs are currently earning 1.05% for the 12-month term version (as of 10/11/16).

The promotional 15-month CD also includes Ally’s Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee. All you need to do is fund your CD within 10 days of opening. Then, Ally will automatically give you the best interest rate for your term and balance tier. This ensures that you’ll get the best rate available, even if it goes up between when you open your CD and when you fund it.

Of course, as with all Ally CDs, your deposits are insured by the FDIC up to the maximum amount allowed. Your interest is also compounded daily, ensuring that your money grows even faster.

Lastly, make sure to note that if you decide to pull your money out before the 15 months has passed, an early withdrawal penalty will apply. Ally does offer a No Penalty CD, if there’s a chance you’ll need your money before the term ends. However, the promotional interest rate mentioned here does not apply.

If you’d like to open one of these promotional 1.25% CDs, you can visit Ally here and sign up.

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Why 60,000 Morgan Stanley Employees are Suing Over Their 401(k) Accounts’ Management

by Stephanie Colestock

If you’re unhappy with your 401(k), rest easy… you’re not alone. In fact, on August 19, over 60,000 employees joined up and filed a class action lawsuit against their employer, Morgan Stanley. Their reason: questionably managed and poorly performing 401(k) plans. It’s one thing to ask workers to stay late or forget to restock the […]

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How Much to Save for Retirement in Your 30s, 40s and 50s

by Satta Sarmah Hightower

Saving for retirement is a long game, but the idea of preparing for something decades away is counterintuitive for many of us. However, consistent saving is crucial for retirement planning. Here’s expert advice for how to prepare in your 30s, 40s and 50s. Your 30s Saving for retirement really should begin in earnest during your […]

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Can You Blame Them for Not Being Invested in Stocks?

by Luke Landes
Luke Landes

After the stock market closed on Friday, my portfolio was at an all-time high. That was likely also the case for a lot of investors living in the United States who are similar to me: earning income, investing in the stock market with a buy-and-hold strategy for the future, and leaving money invested during the […]

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How the Financial Media and Stock Market Analysts Manipulate You

by Luke Landes
BBY XRT

Best Buy, the big box retailer that most shoppers have abandoned sometime in the last decade and a half in favor of Amazon.com, announced better-than-expected earnings for the last three months of 2014, which includes the all-important holiday season. The announcement sent the financial media into a frenzy, as many had all but dismissed Best […]

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Robert Kiyosaki Gives Readers a Second Chance

by Luke Landes
Robert Kiyosaki [via YouTube]

Over the years, I haven’t been too kind to the best-selling author, Robert Kiyosaki. He’s certainly built a successful empire, and a large community people respect him for his business acumen, his willingness to try or to appear to try to help others, and his advice. However, I’ve always found his advice thin at best […]

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Who Benefits From 529 Plans, the Middle Class or the Wealthy?

by Luke Landes
Child in college

When I first began reading that President Obama was considering reducing the tax benefits for savers who make use of 529 plans and other education savings accounts to reduce the cost of education-related expenses, I was surprised. It has been my understanding that 529 plans, all though I do not have one, are intended to […]

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