Saturday, April 12, 2014

Retirement Advice for People Who Aren't Rich

I write a retirement finance blog primarily to help people who don't have enough money to attract the interest of a good financial planner. (Hence, the tag line above.)

In reality, retirement planners are effective for a relatively small group of people who have enough money to be profitable for their planners but not so much that they don't need a retirement planner. Bill Gates doesn't need a retirement plan (though he certainly needs tax plans, estate plans, insurance plans, etc.) and households with no retirement savings probably won't find good, inexpensive planning help — except for my blog, of course!

There are ways that people who couldn't save enough money for retirement can improve their situations, by postponing Social Security benefits as long as they can work, for example, and I try to cover those in my blog.

Ron Lieber wrote a column in the New York Times entitled Retirement Advice for People Who Aren't Rich identifying some new services that may also provide retirement planning help for the "unwealthy". Betterment, Wealthfront, WiseBanyan and LearnVest are such services. Though they are all young and unproven companies, they sound interesting enough to consider.

A big caveat here, I have not vetted or used any of these services, so I can only recommend that you research them. I cannot recommend that you actually use them, though I will try them out in the near future. No one knows if these companies will flourish or fail.

The company I feel much better about is Vanguard. I am a longtime Vanguard customer. I love the company and its investment offerings. (I thoroughly dislike their banking services, however, and recommend you consider Charles Schwab if you are looking for a top quality investment company with outstanding and inexpensive banking services. I love Schwab Bank.)

According to Lieber, "Vanguard’s full-service offering, called Personal Advisor Services, costs 0.3 percent annually of the assets it’s managing. For now, customers need $100,000 in accounts there to join, but the company plans to drop the minimum to $50,000 at some point soon. An existing Vanguard service that resembles the new one costs 0.7 percent annually on the first $1 million and requires at least $500,000 on balance."

Vanguard is certainly not a start-up, and their entry into this market suggests that the smaller companies are on to something.

If you have any experience with any of these companies, or similar services, I'm sure my readers would love to hear from you.

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