Betterment.com: Investing in Stocks and Bonds Made Simple – Review

Betterment portfolio screen

Have you been wanting to invest your money but haven’t been sure how to go about it?

Let’s face it, there are lots of choices out there when it comes to investing.  Even if you choose a couple of funds to cover everything you need to know which ones and find a brokerage to invest with.

There may be a simpler, easier way to do it for those who those who want to invest but don’t know where to start or think it is too difficult for them.

That answer may be Betterment.

Follow along in our review

What is Betterment?

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Don’t Forget Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job! Here’s What You Can Do With It

What to do with your 401(k) when you leave your job.

A 401(k) plan is an awesome vehicle to save for retirement!  

You get to lower your tax basis (the income you get taxed on).  You might get a great company match… What’s not to like?

But what do you do with your 401(k) if you leave your job? 

Do you take the 401(k) with you?  Where do you put it?  Should you leave it?

You have some choices for your 401(k) which I’ll outline for you below:

Choices For Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job

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Investing Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive – The Best Online Discount Brokerages for Cheap Trades

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Do you recall the days when you needed to call up a stock broker in order to make a stock trade?

And you needed to make the trade in a “round lot” (you had to buy 100 shares)?  Did I just date myself? 

Thanks to the internet that’s no longer the case and it’s easy for anyone to invest in stocks with an online brokerage (like, you can do it on your smartphone easy).  And not only is it easy but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get started.

“So which account do I open,” you ask?

There are a number of places to go these days thanks to the rise of online trading and brokerages.  I want to make sure you find one that works well for you.

I’m going to tell you about some great brokerages but I want you to first understand what you should look for before you open up an online brokerage account.

stock trading on Wall Street

Consider the Following When Opening a Brokerage Account

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Do You Know What All Your Investments Are? – Personal Capital Review

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It’s tough keeping track of all of your money and investing accounts.

There’s your savings, checking, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 529 plans, investing accounts, 401(k) plans… it can go on and on.  If you’re lucky some of those accounts are with the same company so you can see a few of your accounts in one place.  But odds are you’re still going to need to jump around to get a complete picture of your finances.

It’s not impossible to track everything, for sure, but it can be a pain switching between accounts to see exactly what you are invested in for which account.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had one place that can give you a snapshot of your money?

And then wouldn’t it be awesome if you could get a better idea of your allocations to better make sure you are diversified  in the right places?  Oh, and if you could see what your fund fees were costing you in one spot that would be nice too, right?

Some objective financial advice based on your accounts would be a sweet thing to have access to as well, wouldn’t it?

Enter Personal Capital.

Personal Capital describes itself as “Your Next Generation Financial Advisor”, and it may be just that.

Not only does the application allow you to combine your various financial accounts in one place, but it also provides expert, personal investment management with low fees.

How Personal Capital Makes Your Life Easier

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Buying Municipal Bonds: Do You Understand the Risk?

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One of the more popular investment strategies during tough economic times is to turn to bonds.

Bonds are considered relatively safe, when you invest in entities that are highly rated and stable.  Since you are supposed to get your principal back (barring a default), plus a small amount of interest, many people like the idea of bonds.

A type of bond that has seen an increase in popularity recently is the municipal bond.

Municipal bonds are issued by localities.  They often come with higher yields than Treasury securities and even many corporate bonds.  On top of that, there are tax advantages to investing in municipal bonds.

But before you decide to take the plunge with municipal bonds, make sure that you understand how they work, and the types of risks involved.

How Do Municipal Bonds Work?

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How to Invest in Real Estate Without Speculating

Let’s get one thing straight: the kind of real estate investing you often see on the television flipping shows is not true real estate investing.

Sure, it involves putting money into a deal and expecting to make something back.  And yes – sometimes these individuals make incredible profits.

However, the kind of real estate seen on the flipping shows is more closely related to the buy-wholesale, sell-retail model of a clothing store at your local mall than it does to real estate investing.

As Glen mentioned in his popular article, Seven Ways to Get Rich Quick, many people have tried to “get rich quick” by buying real estate only to lose it all when the market dropped out.

Flipping houses, as well as most development, raw land purchases, and betting all your chips on “black” is not investing but rather “speculation.”

Speculation involves taking a high risk with the potential of earning a high reward, often in a short period of time.  Investing involves taking calculated but dependable risks with the assumption of earning solid returns.

It’s important that for you, as someone looking to grow their financial position in life, to make that distinction in your mind now, rather than later.

Now, don’t get me wrong: house flipping can be fun, profitable, and entertaining.

However, flipping houses involves heavy risk with a smaller hope of return.  It’s a business, at best, and while it can be exciting and profitable if done correctly, it’s not what I want to talk about today.  Millionaires are generally not made through speculation (at least not for the long haul.)

Let’s talk a bit about what true real estate investing looks like, without the speculation added.

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What You Must Consider Before Opening a Brokerage Account

Picking stocks

Shopping for a brokerage account is very unlike choosing a bank.

People often choose a bank based primarily on a convenient location.  Since banks are tightly regulated, and all provide essentially the same services, convenience can be the deciding factor.

There’s a lot more to consider when opening a brokerage account however, since the transactions you enter into with investments will be both more complicated and more diverse.

Consider the Following When Opening a Brokerage Account

Investment choices

How important investment choice is to you will depend on what you intend to do with the account.

For the most part, you’ll want a brokerage account that has the widest investment choices available.  That will include stocks – both foreign and domestic – mutual funds, ETF’s, options, REITs, bonds and other debt securities, and even commodities.  You’ll also want the investment choices within each asset class to also be as wide as possible.

But if you plan to maintain the account for a very specific purpose, you may be more interested in a specialized account.
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