How to Open Your First IRA Account

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No more excuses. It’s time to open your first IRA account. We walk you through the entire process, including where to open your account. It’s easy!

First IRA Account

Establishing your first IRA, or Independent Retirement Account, is a big deal in the world of finance. This tax-advantaged account is a great way to save and invest for the future. It generally earns more than you would in a high-yield savings account (thanks to compound interest!). And it allows your money to grow tax-free for decades. Aside from a 401(k)–if you have one–it’s the biggest first step you can make toward saving, and planning for a successful retirement.

Planning for retirement is imperative, too, if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life. No matter how much you make now or how much you’ll need in the future, set aside what you can, when you can. Believe me: your future self will thank you!

So, how do you go about deciding on and opening your first IRA? More importantly, how can you start saving in this retirement vehicle with a limited initial contribution?

Let’s talk about the first steps toward opening an IRA. Then we’ll discuss the best ways to fund one if you only have, say, $1,000 to contribute.

Who Can Open One?

First, know that not everyone is eligible to contribute to an IRA. So, who is eligible to establish and contribute to one? If you are younger than 70 ½ and have earned, reported income of any kind, you’re good to go.

The rules for an IRA are simple: you’re can contribute up to the maximum of either the annual contribution limit or your earned income for the year, whichever is lower. The annual contribution limit can change from year to year. For 2018 it’s $5,500 in or $6,500 if you’re over 50.

This means that if you earned $100,000 this year, you can still only contribute up to $5,500 (or $6,500) to your IRA. Conversely, if you only earned $2,500 this year, that is all you can contribute. Even if you have savings elsewhere or your parents want to give you a little extra cash, you can’t put more in the account than you earned in income.

Decide Which Type Is Right for You

There are two types of IRAs to choose from: traditional and Roth. Both are tax-advantaged. This means they both offer tax benefits as they grow. But they work very differently.

Both IRA types have the same contribution limit. You can have both types of IRAs and contribute to both throughout the year. But if you split the money, the combined amount you contribute to both accounts still can’t exceed the applicable maximum.

A traditional IRA lets you see the tax benefits now. You contribute money to this account during the year tax-free. You can contribute pre-tax dollars through your employer. Or you can contribute post-tax income on your own, and then deduct the contributions when you file your taxes.

Your earnings in the traditional IRA will grow tax-free over the years. However, when you withdraw the funds in retirement, you will pay income taxes at whatever your normal rate is at that time.

A Roth IRA is a little different. You will contribute to this fund with after-tax dollars throughout the year. So your employer won’t contribute from pre-tax dollars. And you can’t take a tax write-off for your contribution. Every penny you contribute has already been taxed.

Again, your earnings will grow tax-free over the years. However, when you withdraw funds, you won’t pay any income taxes. None, nada, zip. You’ll be able to withdraw dollar for dollar in retirement (after age 59 ½), without Uncle Sam taking another cut.

So, which one should you choose?

Well, first off, you don’t have to choose. You can certainly open both types, or even open one now to begin contributing and then open the other type later on. However, if you’re asking which would be the better choice for you, here’s the general rule:

  • If you think you’re making more money now than you will in retirement, go with the traditional IRA. Taking the tax break now, while you’re in a higher income bracket, is smarter and results in more savings.
  • If you think you’ll make more in retirement than you’re making now, go with the Roth IRA. A tax cut now, in the form of annual deductions, doesn’t do you much good if you’ll pay higher taxes on distributions when retirement comes.

Decide when you’re most likely to be in a higher tax bracket, and take the tax benefits then. You can also change this later down the line, if your career shifts and you wind up making substantially more or less than you do now.

Where to Open It

So, you’ve picked an IRA type and set aside some cash. Now, where is the best place to open your account and invest the money? After all, an IRA isn’t simply a savings account, meant to sit around earning a couple percent in interest. It’s a retirement account that you want to grow.

You have a few options available. Almost all major financial institutions offer IRAs. You can open one through a bank or a credit union of which you’re a member. You could turn to mutual fund companies or investment accounts for a more traditional option. Or you can even look into using your IRA to invest with a peer-to-peer lending site, such as Lending Club or Prosper.

You have many, many investment options–more so than with 401(k) investments, in fact. Which you choose is determined by your risk level, your ability to manage the account, and whether you have any specific investment goals.

You can invest your IRA with a robo advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront. These low-cost options can help you decide on a portfolio. They’ll even re-balance your portfolio over time to keep meeting your investing needs.

You could look into utilizing a broker, such as Ally Invest or OptionsHouse. If you want to invest in ETFs (exchange-traded funds) or individual stocks, this is the way to go. This is a great option if you want to pick and choose where your money gets invested.

Mutual fund companies, such as Fidelity, Vanguard, or Charles Schwab are some other preferred places to invest. Each company offers plenty of its own mutual funds to choose from, so you can pick the one that best suits you.

Within the “mutual fund” umbrella, you have a number of options for where your money actually goes. You can pick a target-date retirement fund, which is a fund based on your expected year of retirement. The company will rebalance your portfolio and asset allocation as you go, according to an established timeline. Essentially, the company starts you off in higher-risk, higher-reward investment options when you’re young. As you near retirement, they’ll move your money into safer bonds.

Lifestyle funds are similar, in that they automatically rebalance your portfolio as you go. However, with these, you choose your asset allocation from the get-go, and it doesn’t change over time.

You can also utilize financial advisor services to manage your investments. Each of the mutual fund companies mentioned here offers these services. This is a bit more costly of an option, but can be a great choice if you want to have more control over your money.

Which of these options really depends on your personal preferences and how much money you have to invest. Many companies have initial investment minimums of $0 to $500. But some have minimums of $2,000+. Be sure to check out the details and our reviews before you settle on a company for your first IRA.

Opening and funding an IRA is a great first start toward saving for retirement. It provides more of a return on your savings than a basic savings account would, and also offers tax advantages that help you keep a little more of what’s yours.

By wisely contributing and investing your IRA, you’ll not only grow your money but also save for a successful retirement future. And believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

 

https://w.graphiq.com/w/didjiNJ3PQF

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APR vs. APY: How One Letter Makes a Big Difference

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APR vs. APY: While the seem similar, there’s a big difference between annual percentage rate and annual percentage yield. Here’s what you need to know.

APR vs. APY

APR and APY are short acronyms with big importance. Despite the confusion, these two terms are not interchangeable. What exactly is the difference between APR and APY? Here’s a quick lesson:

  • APR stands for annual percentage rate
  • APY stands for annual percentage yield
  • APR is more commonly used regarding credit cards, mortgages, and loans
  • APY is more commonly used regarding interest-bearing accounts

One thing APR and APY have in common is that they come into play in our lives just about every day if we use credit cards, pay a mortgage, or keep money in the bank. Both determine how much you will earn or pay on investment products and loans. Understanding the basic differences between APR and APY is important before you do something like open a credit card or choose an investment account.

APR is going to be tossed at you when you shop around for credit cards, car loans, or home loans. APR represents the interest you’ll be responsible for paying. APY is a phrase you’re going to hear as you search around for bank accounts, CDs, and a variety of investment products. APY is the amount you stand to earn if you place your money in the hands of a financial institution.

The Basics of APR

The rate portion of an annual percentage rate refers to the amount of money a lender is charges when you borrow money. You can figure out the APR of a loan or balance by multiplying the period rate by the number of payment periods in a year. A simple way to look at it is that an account with an interest rate of 1 percent will have an APR of 12 percent.

On the other side, you can divide the APR by the number of payment periods to get the per-payment rate. Many loans will give you the APR rather than the per-payment rate. If your car loan has a 7.5 percent APR, you’ll pay .625 percent in interest every month.

Sometimes you’ll see both an interest rate and an APR for any given loan or balance. In this case, the APR is typically higher. That’s because APR includes interest, points, broker fees, and additional fees. This is especially common for accounts like mortgages.

The Basics of APY

APY is the rate of return of an interest rate. It takes into account compound interest. Compound interest is the interest you earn on top of the principal and simple interest. APY takes the interest rate and provides a percentage based on how often interest is compounded during a year.

Remember the account with an interest rate of 1 percent and an APR of 12 percent? That same account would carry an APY of approximately 12.68 percent. However, that’s just a basic estimate using the most basic scenario. Actual percentages will always depend on factors like the specific financial institution you’re dealing with and state laws.

Things to Keep in Mind When Shopping Around for Rates

Keep in mind that most lenders and institutions will list whichever number makes their products appear more appealing. This is why it’s important to always ask a potential lender or institution which percentage type they’re quoting as you’re shopping around for loans or accounts.

Compare all the options you’re considering based on the same percentage type to get a true picture. Anything else would be like measuring apples against oranges instead of making a true apples-to-apples comparison. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) requires all lenders to provide you with accurate cost information that allows you to comparison shop for loans.

2018 Review of Prosper Lending and Borrowing

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Prosper claims to offer great rates for both borrowers and investors. In this Prosper review, we put these claims to the test.

prosper review

Prosper offers a different way to look at lending. The Prosper platform is a peer-to-peer marketplace where people can borrow money for all aspects of life. It’s an interesting platform for people who need to borrow money. But it’s also great for investors, who have potential to get solid monthly returns. Prosper offers loans for the following:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Home improvements
  • Vehicles
  • Babies and adoptions
  • Small businesses
  • Weddings and other special occasions

Prosper’s big strength is that it removes the roadblocks between people and the funding they need to make the next big leap in life or pursue their goals. It’s a virtual platform for funding that provides both lenders and borrowers with the tools and transparency they need to make informed decisions. There are no in-person meetings with lenders or lengthy application processes.

The Basics of Borrowing Through Prosper

Borrowers can get a rate quote in minutes just by answering a few questions on Prosper’s website. Once you’ve been cleared to receive the loan, Prosper deposits funds straight into your bank account. The process usually takes between three and five business days. Here are the basics of Prosper loans:

  • Fixed terms of either three or five years
  • Maximum loan amount of $35,000
  • Minimum loan amount of $2,000
  • No early payment penalties
  • No hidden fees
  • No minimum income requirement
  • Minimum credit score of 640
  • Payment schedules cannot be adjusted
  • Late fees are charged if payments are not made on time
  • Borrowers can file joint loan applications
  • Payment modification plans are available in some situations

Prosper assigns every borrower on the platform a grade. This grade determines the interest rate Prosper offers and the origination fee borrowers pay. In addition, it’s what investors will look at when deciding whether or not to invest in your loan.

How does Prosper determine your grade? They look at things like your credit score, income, and current debt level. The average income of a Prosper borrower is $88,746. The average FICO score is 710. Those two figures should give you a good idea of how you’d do when seeking a peer-to-peer loan from Prosper’s investors.

The Basics of Lending Through Prosper

Prosper offers the opportunity to invest in personal loans. Lenders can browse loan options for creditworthy borrowers based on factors like FICO scores, Prosper ratings, and loan terms. Prosper assigns each loan opportunity a rating based on its levels of risk and return. As with other investment types, you can earn a higher return. But you generally have to take on more risk for that.

Lenders can either select individual loans or use Prosper’s Auto Invest tool to create a target portfolio. Prosper deposits monthly returns from investments directly and automatically into your account. Prosper does require a $25 minimum investment per loan. The estimated return for Prosper investors is 7.57 percent.

Is Prosper a Good Choice?

Prosper offers a simple and solid way to take part in the peer-to-peer lending world. With loan amounts between $2,000 and $35,000, it’s a good option if you’re looking for a way to finance just about anything without going through traditional banking channels. One thing that separates Prosper from peer-to-peer lending platforms that may appear similar is the fact that the company doesn’t fund loans using its own money. Prosper does underwrite applicants.

What’s the bottom line on Prosper? Borrowers can enjoy a fast way to get funding as long as their credit history is in decent shape and they have a solid income. Lenders may find Prosper to be a simple investment tool that allows them to enjoy some diversification.

MATCHMAKING SINCE 2009

Have you been introduced to our superb team of ‘Matchmakers’? They specialise in making dreams come true – making sure that you  LIVE HAPPY EVER AFTER. This awesome team are experts at matching you with your dream home. Not just the initial match, their goal, along with the whole team, is to move you into your dream home! We would love to introduce you to the very best Matchmakers in the business – and you don’t have to take our word for it…their previous clients have shared with us what it is like to work with them (we have shared just a  few of our 635 five star RaterAgent Reviews)! If you click on their name you will find out even more about this brilliant team!

Louise Simpson – Area Sales Manager for our Head Office (Reigate, Redhill & Caterham Region)

“We had such luck finding Louise at Move Revolution. The whole process has been super smooth from day one! She was really interested in us and our situation, and took the time to get to know our house. She has a great eye for detail, and ensures that follows through to each potential buyer. The images of the house were much better then any previous agent, and they really helped sell our house so quickly.. We went on the market on a Friday and the house was sold on the Monday… could not be happier!! “

By Danielle

“We swapped to Move Revolution having had some trouble with another high street agent. We discovered them whilst viewing a property we wanted to buy and from the second we met her Louise has been utterly wonderful.  She really cares about all of her clients and their circumstances and tries her best to take as much of the stress out of the process as possible by keeping the lines of communication totally open and honest which is incredibly refreshing. She has helped and supported us the entire way through our property search. She listened carefully to our needs and desires and ended up finding us the perfect property and alerted us the day it came on to the market. We felt that she was very considerate to both the seller and ourselves when dealing with offers.  Thank you so much. Such a different experience to any other agent. “

By CB

Paul Mulligan, Area Sales Manager for Croydon Region 

“We used Move Revolution for our sale this year. This was the most professional service I have experienced with an estate agent. We dealt with Paul Mulligan, who was very polite, knowledable and a pleasure to deal with. Moving is never easy and this was a difficult chain. At all times Move Revolution were informative in the processes that we needed to follow. “

By Lisa B

“We chose Paul and his team after his first meeting with us. He made everything easy for us and gave us confidence . We knew our decision was the right one after viewing houses in different areas and seeing how much contact the rest of the teams made with each other always followed from a call from Paul. I also like how Paul and his team work very well together. So easy to contact and very good with feedback. “

By Leanne

Mathew Gurr, Area Sales Manager for Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and Lindfield Region

“From the very start the service I had from them Mathew and his team was first class. They sent prospective buyers around from the start and agreed a sale within 10 days. They are professional, but not aggressive with their selling techniques. I would recommend MOVE REVOLUTION to anyone who has a property to sell, I can’t praise them enough. They even provided me with an excellent solicitor to handle the sale for me MANCINI LEGAL LTD, Harriett Harrison. Big thank you to you all.

Mrs Pauline Swinscoe”

“We viewed a house on the market, and yes Mathew is the best agent I have met , Mathew was there early to have lights on etc, he knew the property, very impressed, we had our property on the market, and we were in a contract, Mathew talked to us after the viewing and advised us to change things that the other agent hadn’t and didn’t do … Move Revolution have 5 star photos and excellent advice highly recommend, I would advice anyone to go with them, a few word to sum them up, professional, helpful, and know what they are doing, open long hours and will help you anytime, many thanks “

By Kevin M

Zac Ship, Area Sales Manager for The Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks Area

“We have just completed a purchase through Move Revolution and were very pleased with the service provided. Our agent, Zac, was extremely knowledgeable and well-informed about the local market and local area. After our offer had been accepted, Zac kept us in the loop about any key developments and was always on hand to help with any issues we encountered. Thanks to his excellent communication, a potentially stressful process became relatively straightforward.”

By Glenn

“From the very start of the buying process, Zac Ship was very professional. He answered all the questions and if he did not know the answer he went to the owner for the correct information. He was always accessible and quick to respond our emails. We are happy with the service and support provided. All the staff we dealt with were efficient, prompt and professional. We totally recommend Move Revolution.

By Marina

Paul Brice, Director, Crawley Area (covering Crawley, East Grinstead and Lingfield)

“Having used Move Revolution for a previous sale I had no hesitation in using them again. Paul heads a great team and put simply, I felt that they all had a real desire to sell my home. The mark of a good agent is how they deal with challenges – and I had my fair share! Paul did not hesitate in going above and beyond his remit in order to secure my sale..Move Revolution;s availability for both viewings and contact was another distinct advantage. Don’t jeopardise your house sale by using an ‘ ordinary’ agent, use Move Revolution.

“Paul Brice and Move Revolution were recommended to my wife and I by a colleague who had sold his home quickly where other agents had failed. Paul has a very engaging manner and really does focus on the client and their needs. He is a good listener and has the experience to navigate the ‘twists & turns’ of a sale and purchase. What sets Paul and MR apart from other property professionals is his communication and keeping his clients informed at each stage. Our transaction was very involved and without Paul’s care and attention (and advice) we just wouldn’t have moved – it’s as simple as that.
Patrick & Anita “

We are incredibly proud of our 635 five star RaterAgent reviews (at the time of this going live!) if you were ever in any doubt which estate agent to contact to sell your home in Surrey, Sussex and Kent – we hope you that all these five star reviews will be just the incentive you need to give us a call and book a valuation! LIVE HAPPY EVER AFTER in your new home with the Move Revolution team! To book a free valuation call 0330 223 1000 or click here!

source http://www.moverevolution.com/blog/matchmaking-since-2009/

Fall in love with Cumnor Rise, Kenley

February is definitely the month of love! We have a very special home ready and waiting just for you to fall in love.  And.. best of all, for February, the price of this wonderful house has been reduced by 5% to £850,000 saving you a massive £40,000. We will let 5 Cumnor Rise ‘do the talking’ – for you to ‘fall in love’!

Fall in Love with me : 5 Cumnor Rise, Kenley

Profile 

I am a beautiful five bedroom detached home, hopefully I make a very good impression with my gorgeous white rendered finish, offset against the natural exposed brick. Are you tempted to have a look inside…

My Age 

I’m brand new, built by the prestigious developer Brookworth Homes, who are well known for their quality of build and attention to detail!

Key Facts

I am a five bedroom luxury home, boasting (!) a stunning Master bedroom with a separate dressing room.  On my ground floor I have a gorgeous open plan dining and family room, a kitchen which is perfect for entertaining a large sitting room

I’m all about the detail – I thought you would like to see me close up!

Have you got a cup of coffee and tempted to read more about me?!

Where do I live? 

I am in leafy Kenley which is surrounded by the picturesque North Downs and Surrey Hills.  If you love going out ‘in town’ I am just a hop skip and jump from reaching central London – just 14 miles from the central London, I am only six miles from the M25, with the M23 just a few miles further along. I am an easy walk from Kenley station which has a direct service to East Croydon, from their you can go to so many destinations ….St Pancras or Portsmouth and from Brighton to Bedford.  I thought you would be interested to know that Kenley to London Victoria takes around 33 minutes, with trains every 10-15 minutes. If you have a family or are thinking of having a family I am located near fantastic schools – both private and state.

What are my hobbies? 

I love being near a walk in the countryside I am cocooned in parkland and open green space, Kenley is a quiet town, which I like to think of a ‘highly sought after’. If you are interested in local history then you must go up to Kenley Airfield! Do you love to shop – nearby Caterham and Purley have a wide range of shops, services and supermarkets (Waitrose and Tesco) in  many of the nearby villages offer boutique shopping in picturesque surroundings and, of course, you can hop on the train to London or Brighton and have a day out shopping

Why fall in love with me?

  • I am gorgeous to look at inside and outside,
  • I am perfect for a family – fantastic for entertaining and everyday family life
  • I have a brilliant location to get to work or visit friends – easy to get to London, easy to pop on the M25
  • I am a perfect place to relax, enjoy the private tree-lined avenue and my semi rural location
  • Your friends and family will love me to (and that is so important!) they will love coming over and spending time with us!
  • I am a fantastic price at £850,000

How to ‘book a date’ !

If you would love to meet me, 5 Cumnor Rise, it’s really easy to get in touch! Just call 0330 233 1000 and chat with Paul or Ryan or to booking a viewing or click here to get in touch – I’m looking forward to meeting you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

source http://www.moverevolution.com/blog/fall-love-cumnor-rise-kenley/

10 Steps to Break the Credit Card Habit

stop by transfs.com web-site for a great deal more facts on personal finances 

Credit cards offer convenience, security, and rewards. Overspend with a credit card, however, and the interest and fees can bury you. Here are 10 tops to stop using credit cards.

stop using credit cards

If you’ve got a bad credit card habit, chances are you know it. Whether or not you’re willing to admit it is a whole other story. But admitting you have a problem is the first step to making changes.

If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, you need some major changes:

  • Do you pay interest fees when you send in your credit card payment?
  • Have you ever paid your credit card late because you didn’t have the money for the payment?
  • Do you use your credit card when you don’t have enough cash?
  • When your issuer raises your credit limit, do you spend more because you can?

Credit card companies just love credit card users like this. They pay interest and late fees. They spend more on their credit cards, too.

This means credit card companies can charge merchants for more transactions. Altogether, these credit card users are the ones who are putting food on the table.

And putting more money in the pockets of credit card issuers means you’re putting less money in your own pocket. So the goal should be to stop these bad credit card habits. Instead, work to get to a place where you can use credit responsibly. This means taking advantage of rewards programs but never paying interest or fees.

Don’t think you can do it? Think again. Take these ten steps to systematically break your bad credit card habits.

1. Look at your spending carefully

Deep down, maybe you know your credit card habits have come about because you’re spending more than you earn. And this is a self-perpetuating issue. Once you get stuck in the cycle of paying interest and fees, it becomes harder and harder to get back to spending less than you earn.

So your first step is to track your spending faithfully. You can do this on a pen and paper. Or an Excel spreadsheet. Or you can use a program like Mint.com that will automatically import your transactions.

The key here is to total up all of your spending from all sources–credit cards, checking account, savings, and cash. Keep this up for at least a month, and you’ll see where you’re spending money you shouldn’t spend. Keep it up for multiple months in a row, and you’re likely to find that you automatically reduce your spending.

2. Create a new budget

Once you’ve tracked your budget for a month or two, you can see what you are spending versus what you should be spending. Now it’s time to actually create a new budget. This budget should be based on the money you actually make each month.

Again, you can do this in different ways. You can stick to cash-only spending. Or you can use a program like Mint to track where you stand in various budget categories. Either way, you’ll need to use discipline to make sure you stick to your budget. The best way to do this is to cut back on spending slowly, particularly in essential areas like groceries.

Try to take your grocery spending from $500 per month to $200 per month overnight, and you’ll probably fail. But you can succeed by cutting just $20 per week from your spending. Keep doing this until you reach a comfortable, but frugal, level of grocery spending.

You can do this with other areas of your budget, too. The key is simply to budget for what you need and then stick to the budget. This will be more possible if you consistently check in on your spending. Make this a habit, and you’ll find you’re more likely to stick to your budget.

3. Build an emergency fund

This step can take some time, especially if you’re in the habit of overspending rather than saving. But find places where you can stash back even $10 per week. Over time, you’ll build up a pad of savings that can help you in an emergency.

Start by opening a high-yield savings account. Then, begin with the first goal of putting about $1,000 into the emergency fund. Sure, you’ll eventually want to save three to six months’ worth of expenses. But this can take a really long time. Starting with this smaller goal lets you be prepared for minor emergencies, which can help you cut back on credit card spending.

Remember: an emergency fund is to be used in true emergencies only. This doesn’t take the place of your credit card. The purpose of the emergency fund is to remain untouched for regular expenses but accesible when major spending is required. Some examples might be the loss of a job or a significant medical expense.

For more details, see Five Components of an Emergency Plan, but ignore component number four.

4. Stop using your credit cards

Building up an emergency fund is essential for this step to start working. If you’ve consistently used your credit card for minor emergencies, you’re relying on it too much. When you have a bit of money in savings, you can reduce your credit card dependency. And this can let you stop using your credit cards.

Now that you’re living on a budget, you should not need to rely on your credit cards anymore. Instead, you should only be spending the money that actually comes into your bank account each month.

So stop using your credit cards. You might want to take baby steps here. Start by simply leaving the cards at home all the time. Then remove them from your PayPal account and other automatic online payment options. Then, start shredding them, which will lead you to the next step.

5. Destroy your credit cards except for one or two

You can play this one of two ways. If you’re disciplined enough, you can simply destroy the physical credit cards and remove them from your online accounts. This means you’ll stop spending on the cards but won’t actually close the accounts. This is because closing old credit card accounts can actually damage your credit score.

But if you have a serious problem, this may not be enough to stop your overspending. Instead, you may need to go as far as actually closing your credit card accounts. Overspending, after all, is a larger issue than getting a better rate on your next mortgage. So if you want to really take away your ability to overspend on credit, you can close the accounts.

However, you’ll only be able to close accounts that have no outstanding balance. You may want to skip to step seven if all of your cards have an outstanding balance.

6. Lock away your remaining credit card

Now that you have one credit card left, realize that you will not be using this card for everyday spending; for now, cash is king. Put your remaining credit card out of sight. Lock it away. I’ve even heard of some people who put their credit card into a cup of water in the freezer. The extra step of breaking a block of ice to get to your credit may be an extra demotivator.

Why keep a credit card at all? You may need it in a real emergency before you emergency fund is fully built up. But making it difficult to access will mean you’re less likely to use it for non-emergencies.

7. Consolidate your balances onto one or two cards

Gather the latest statements for the cards containing balances. Choose one or two with the lowest interest rates, and consolidate your balances onto these cards. By calling the credit card company, you can provide the information for your other cards with balances. Then they will initiate a balance transfer. Ask for a transfer fee waiver. If they aren’t willing to waive the balance transfer fee, consider using a different card to consolidate your balance or apply for a great balance transfer credit card.

Another option is to look at an unsecured personal loan to consolidate your balances. This type of loan can get you into a lower interest rate and help you pay off your credit card debt more quickly. Plus, once you’ve consolidated debt off of some of your cards, you can then close those zero-balance accounts.

What if you don’t have good enough credit or enough available credit to consolidate your debt? In this case, you’ll need to skip to steps eight and nine. You can make this work without consolidation. Consolidation can just make it easier.

8. Enact a cash-only policy

Once you’ve lived without your credit cards on hand for a couple of months, your budget should be in a good place. Now you know what you can and need to spend each month. So now you can enact a cash-only policy.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend physical cash. But that can be a good idea. Spending cash actually helps you spend less money. But spending cash can also be unwieldy at times. So another option is to keep cash on-hand for certain expenses, such as groceries, but to use your debit card for other expenses.

The key is that you have to actually have the money in hand–either physically or in your bank account–to spend it. Getting into the swing of this can be difficult. But, trust me, it’s worth the learning curve. Once you start spending only what’s coming in, you can turn your attention to spending less than what you make. And this is how you’ll really start to make financial progress.

9. Pay down your balances

Now it’s time to start reversing the damage you’ve done with your bad credit card habits. You’ll likely need to pay more than the minimum payments on your accounts to start getting out of debt. So use that money that you’ve suddenly found in your now-strict budget to get this done.

There are a couple of different ways to pay down your balances. And, really, either one is sufficient, as long as you keep on keeping on. One option is the Debt Snowball method popularized by Dave Ramsey. This has you start paying off your smallest balance first. Once that balance is paid off, apply its minimum payment and any extra money to the next-smallest balance.

The advantage of the Debt Snowball is that you get some quick wins up front. This can help you stay on track as you work towards paying off larger and larger balances.

The other option is the Debt Avalanche. This has you start with the highest-interest account first. Then pay off lower-interest cards as you move through your debts. The advantage of this approach is that you wind up paying less interest over time.

The Debt Avalanche is the most logical way to pay off your debts. But it doesn’t make a huge difference unless you’re in a lot of debt or have a big differential between your interest rates.

You can check out a more in-depth discussion of these two options here. But, really, the main issue is that you start paying off your debts and keep on with it until your credit cards are paid off.

10. Check your progress each month

Paying off debt takes time and dedication. You’ll need to keep moving forward towards your goals, even when things get tough. One way to keep making progress is to see how far you’ve come.

The best option is to come up with a way to consistently track your balances each month. You’re already checking in on your spending frequently, right? Well, make a chart where you keep track of your credit card balances month after month, and watch as they disappear.

You can do this with some budget-tracking softwares, such as Mint. Or you can create your own spreadsheet for tracking your credit card balances. Either way, be sure you’re checking in at least once a month to keep track of your progress. Seeing how far you’ve come will help you keep moving forward until you finally break your bad credit card habits and reverse the damage they’ve done.

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2018

read www.transfs.com site for additional details on financial resources 

Enjoy free travel with this list of the best travel rewards credit cards of 2018. I’ve personally used several of these credit cards for free flights and hotel stays.

best travel rewards credit cards

It’s time to plan your holiday travel. That may mean cashing in the travel rewards you’ve accumulated on credit cards–or it may mean starting to use a travel rewards credit card. Chances are you spend money on some necessities, and when you do, tailoring the rewards you receive to your travel needs could end up financially benefiting you and your family even more than a cash back credit card might. Keep in mind, of course, that increasing your spending just to earn rewards doesn’t make sense, and it would be worse if you had to pay interest on your balances.

When you have controlled spending that you can afford, and you pay your credit card bill in full and on time every month, you can offset your costs of travel by earning rewards. Using the travel rewards credit card that best matches your travel needs for the spending you would be doing anyway could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. For example, some cards offer free flights and hotels while others can soften the blow of foreign transaction fees.

Listed below are the best travel rewards credit cards available today. If you’ve got a card you think deserves to be on this list, let us know and we’ll add it. These offers are subject to change so be sure to check the issuers application page and website for the most current information.

Editor’s Pick

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardThe Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the best travel rewards credit cards available today, as evidenced by the current offering:

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates

Plus, miles don’t expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card also has:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year; $59 after that

From our perspective, not being charged the typical 1% to 3% foreign transaction fee can be a great benefit all on its own if you spend money on purchases outside the U.S.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.

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List of the Best Travel Reward Credit Card Offers

In addition to the Editor’s Pick, here are some additional top choices.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest American ExpressThe Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express continues to be one of the best travel reward credit cards you can find. You can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. That’s enough for a few nights at a category two or three hotel (or one night at a category four hotel if you’re thrifty)

With this card you can earn up to five Starpoints for every dollar of eligible purchases charged directly at hotels and resorts participating in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program–that’s two Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the two or three Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member. Earn one Starpoint for all other purchases. When redeeming your points, you can select from over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates. As a new perk, they have added free in-room, premium Internet access. Booking requirements apply and some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, $95 thereafter.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

When this travel card hit the market years ago, it forced every issuer to do better. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card includes a 50,000 point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card ownership. Those 50,000 points are good for $500 in cash value (like a statement credit, or gift cards) OR $625 in travel value. When you use your points to book though the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, they’re worth 25% more. I own the big brother of this card (Sapphire Reserve) and those points are actually worth 50% more.

The process for redeeming and booking travel through Chase is just as easy as it is with sites like Travelocity or Expedia. All cardholders will earn 2x points on travel and dining purchases with 1x points earned on all other purchases. There are no foreign transactions fees to own the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card but there is a $95 annual fee. That fee is waived during the first year of membership.

You can also earn an additional 5,000 bonus points after adding an authorized user that makes a purchase inside of the first three months.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.


Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the highest level cards Chase has to offer. Yes, it comes with a $450 annual fee (and $75 annual fee for added cardholders) but the immediate benefits almost reduce that annual fee to nothing, making the card extremely attractive.

To open up, this card offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card ownership. Those points are good for $500 in cash or $750 in travel. Points are worth 50% more when you use them to book through Chase Ultimate Rewards and the process is a snap. 3x points are earned on all travel purchases, all restaurant purchases and 1x points are earned on everything else.

Consider if you spend $5,000 at Restaurants every year. You’ll earn 15,000 points with this card which can then be used for $225 in travel. Effectively, that would make this a 4.5% rewards rebate credit card. But there’s more.

Every year, you’ll receive a $300 travel credit against any travel purchases you make. So if you use this card to purchase airfare, book a hotel, or rent a car the first $300 annually will be refunded. In addition, you will receive a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre Check. Signing up for that program can help you avoid the long TSA lines if you’re always in a rush to make your flight.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does not charge foreign transaction fees and includes elite travel benefits like world class travel protection and access to over 1,000 airport lounges across the world. Keep in mind however, there is a hefty $450 annual fee.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit card here.


Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Another card with an excellent up front bonus, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® starts off with a 40,000 mile bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. The 40,000 point bonus is worth a $400 statement credit. All purchases earn double miles with no spending limits or tiers to worry about and when you redeem your miles with Barclaycard, you earn a 5% miles back bonus. For example, if you redeem 100,000 miles, you’ll earn a 5,000 miles bonus.

Unlike many other travel cards the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. A complimentary FICO score is included and there is no foreign transaction fee charged for purchases made abroad.

This card does have an $89 annual fee, which is waived for all first year cardholders.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.

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Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

For those who hate to pay an annual fee on a credit card, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card is a slightly watered down version of the Venture card above. The opening bonus is 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months and the everyday rewards program 1.25 miles per dollar spent on everything.

One of the big benefits is 12 months of interest free purchases. Included is a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and after that, the card transitions to a variable interest rate. There are no foreign transaction fees and no blackout dates for flights or hotels. Fly any airline, stay in any hotel. Miles never expire for the life of the account.

There is no annual fee to own the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

New cardmembers of the The Platinum Card® from American Express can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. This is where the fun just begins.

Every year, you’ll also receive a $200 airline fee credit. This includes checked baggage, meals, in flight Wi-fi or a variety of other fees. If you ride with Uber, you’ll be provided $15 in Uber credits every month and a $20 Uber credit in December, for a total of $200 in annual credits. Yet another fee refund comes in the form of $100 for admission into Global Entry or TSA Pre Check. This statement credit is provided every four years.

When making purchases through American Express Travel (either for airfare or hotels), five points per dollar spent are earned. Single points per dollar spent are earned on everything else. Please remember that this is a CHARGE card, not a credit card. So all purchases must be paid in full every month to keep the account in good standing. This is literally the last card in the world you wan’t to roll interest over with month to month.

Perhaps the most glamorous part of being a Platinum Card® from American Express member are the perks. Too many to name but some of the highlights:

  • Platinum Concierge service available 24/7/365
  • RSVP to invitation only events
  • iPhone purchase protection
  • Preferred seating at events
  • Advance dining reservations
  • Access to over 1,000 airport lounges
  • No foreign transaction fees

No credit card can compare with the benefits that the Platinum Card from American Express can provide. And it’s not close. But in order to earn these rewards and perks, you must be willing to pony up a $550 annual fee.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.

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Discover it® Miles–Unlimited 1.5x Rewards

Discover it MilesThe Discover it® Miles–Unlimited 1.5x Rewards Card is a true 1.5% rewards card. In addition, Discover will match all of your rewards at the end of the first year, making it a 3% rewards card the first year. On top of that, there is no annual fee. Additional benefits include the following:

  • Get free access to your FICO score
  • Redeem your rewards in any amount for cash or a travel credit.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.

Learn more about this card and other travel credit cards here.

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More Options: You can see more travel rewards credit cards here.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

Do you like to Hygge?

This blog has received a mixed reaction from the Move Revolution team… a few of them love the whole idea of Hygge and a few of them had no idea what I was talking about!

So for those of you who are unsure ‘to Hygge’ or ‘not to Hygge’ – this is what it means so I can let you decide!

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special. Hygge (or to be “hyggeligt”) doesn’t require learning “how to”, adopting it as a lifestyle or buying anything.

So.. are you any the wiser?! Hopefully this blog will give you a little more information and, perhaps, tempt you to hygge! You might be asking yourself… why would I be interested in finding out about the ‘art of Hygge’? The answer is simple:

If you are thinking of moving home* … a hygge home is super-homely, welcoming and enticing! If you are thinking of staying in your home … surely you would love to make your home even more wonderful!

Apparently there are some simple rules you can follow to enjoy the art of hygge… to achieve optimal hygge in your own home, firstly you need to grab a warm drink, put on your comfiest jumper, and check out the top tips below (as well as taking a look at our Pinterest board)

  1. Make your home feel lovely and warm! Flickering flames, the smell of burning wood – we all love an open fire, however many of us can’t have enjoy a fire in our own home.. the next best thing is to turn up the heating and light some gorgeous candles.
  2. Bring the outside in…Natural relaxing colours, add natural materials like leather, stone, and wood to your space…
  3. Turn down the lights…think about mood lighting.. relax, turn off the overhead lights, and turn on floor lamps and table lamps.. as well as your candles!
  4. Cozy doesn’t mean cluttered! It’s hard to relax in spaces that are overwhelmed with ‘stuff’. So before you add your hygge touches take a moment to ‘declutter’ !
  5. Something Cozy.. a big part of hygge is all about texture, surrounding yourself with soft items like knitted fleece throw blankets, fluffy pillows, shag rugs, and comfy furniture will make you and your home feel amazing!
  6. Keep the hot drinks coming… gorgeous mugs with fabulous hot drinks, if you love a hot chocolate we have just the recipe for you (see below!), or a steaming cup of tea, or milky creamy latte!
  7. It’s all about you! Decorate your home with furniture and accents that are meaningful to you – items that were given to you as gifts, perhaps you purchased them on your travels or a family antique packed with history!
  8. Hanging out with Friends and Family – especially sharing a delicious meal, is essential to the hygge philosophy. So you’ll need a dining room table – it doesn’t matter if it’s large of small – just make it look special, uncluttered and the perfect place for wonderful conversations over a meal with those special people in your life!

Sea Salt Hot Chocolate

This sounds amazing – sweet and salty and perfect for this cold weather!

Recipe: Sea salt hot chocolate from Hot Chocolate by Hannah Miles, photography Steve Painter (Ryland Peters & Small).

Sea salt hot chocolate

SERVES 2250 ml milk
250 ml double cream
100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1⁄2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 egg yolk

1 Place the milk, cream and chopped chocolate in a saucepan with the sugar and salt, and heat over low heat until the chocolate has melted, whisking all the time.

2 Taste to see whether you need to add a little more salt for an extra salty kick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolk to thicken the hot chocolate.

3 Pass it through a sieve, then pour into two cups and serve immediately.

If you would like to find out more I am reliably informed that The Little Book of Hygge and Hygge – The Danish Art of Happiness are worth a read…. in front of a open fire with a hot chocolate and faux fur throw!

If you are thinking of moving or letting your home this year, we would love you to meet one of our team for a valuation.  All you need to do is call 0330 223 1000, or fill in your details on our valuation contact form – We would love to hear from you!

source http://www.moverevolution.com/blog/do-you-like-to-hygge/

Half Term Fun 2018!

Have you planned your February Half Term activities? It is so often wet and cold we have packed this blog with fun things to do… lots of which are inside (and a few outside activities that are great fun!)

Do you have…

a budding scientist,

a chocolate lover,

a steam train enthusiast,

a horrible history fan,

a superstar stargazer..

a budding Bear Grylls?!

If the answer is yes we have found events and activities for all of these and many more! We hope you have a wonderful time planning and enjoying your February Half Term!

Brighton Science Week

We loved this last year and can highly recommend you try out a Brighton Science Week workshop – packed with everything from SLIME TIME –  making slime that glows in the dark, building a rocket to learning how to code! There is something to inspire everyone. Tickets sell out quickly!

If you can’t make it to the science week, one of the venues which looks amazing is ART POD, located in Rottingdean – they run brilliant activities for children throughout the year!

The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux

The Centre is an interactive hands-on science centre which has been operating in the former home of The Royal Greenwich Observatory since 1995.  There are lots of fantastic activities going on at The Observatory during February half term – packed with interest and intrigue we think this is as much for children as it is for adults. If you haven’t been before it is definitely worth a visit

Wilderness Wood

 

 

Packed with outdoor things to do – we can’t promise you will stay dry, but you will have an amazing time – we love the idea of a fire cooked Sticky Toffee Apple at Lucy’s Little Forest School – Family Castaway.  You get the chance to build a shelter ready to survive the wind and rain, light a campfire and enjoy cooking out lunch over the fire….(Adults to accompany child/dren and join the adventure!) Lighting a communal fire and have a go at the 60 seconds fire challenge….

Perhaps you love the idea of Lucy’s Little Forest School – Fairies and Elf Gardens day. Do you believe in fairies? Find the secret path and the fairy and Elf glade and listen to a story about Fairies and Elves. Make a secret garden for them to play in and make and decorate a willow wand to take home. If you have children under 3 years and you would like them to join in there is an additional charge of £2.50 for the wand and decorations. Where are all the fairies?

There is a wide range of activities throughout half term at Wilderness Wood, click here to find out more!

Doodledish Pottery Painting!

It’s wet and cold and all you want to do is be somewhere warm and keep your crafty children busy – Doddledish, Lingfield is the perfect place. Why not pop into Rosie’s Coffee Shop for a Sandwich and play (see below)  before going to Doodledish. We recommend you call Doodledish to let them know you are coming

Rosie’s Coffee Lounge, Lindfield

As we right this blog Rosie’s hasn’t released information about her half term events – she runs brilliant ‘themed’ events and activities which are every little boys and girls dream -from Animal Experience to Princess Breakfasts – keep your eye on their website to find out more!

Do you love Chocolate – Visit a Temper Temper Chocolate Workshop!

We couldn’t write a half term blog without including chocolate! We know how much little ones love making and creating – this way they will get to make something super yummy to take home! Temper Temper Chocolate are based in Southborough and run both Adult and Children’s workshop – you will have to be quick as they are already fully booked for one of their half term children’s workshops! It looks like great fun.

Kent and East Sussex Railway 

Kent and East Sussex Railway are putting on a half term special – you can catch a steam train from Tenterden to Bodiam during February half term!  You can steam along from Tenterden to Bodiam whilst keeping warm and dry through the beautiful Kent & East Sussex countryside, this day out also includes activities on the train children can decorate their own crowns, swords and princess mirrors on board during the journey.   There will also be a magician travelling through each train!

There is lots of information on their website .   The trains leave at 10:40, 13:15 and 15:35 they have on-train catering and access for wheelchair users.  In addition to hot and cold drinks, you can pre-book a ‘Kids Munch Box’, Cream Tea or Ploughmans to enjoy onboard these trains.

Bodium Castle

If you travel to Bodium Castle by Stream train, or decide to drive, the castle is always a fantastic place to visit.  During February half term, a children’s activity trail looks at the powerful and influential women of Bodiam Castle.  Without them, it wouldn’t have been built in the first place! You can discover the roles of Lady Elizabeth Dallingridge and other local wealthy women played their part in the establishment of Bodiam Castle.

East Grinstead Museum

The East Grinstead Museum is a hidden gem… is situated in a purpose built building in the centre of the town, only a few minutes from the historic High Street, the Museum tells the story of East Grinstead and the surrounding area from its early beginnings to the present day. It’s collection contains over 20,000 items consisting of archives, books, photographs and 3D objects. The collection interprets the heritage of our town and the surrounding villages, it people, trades, buildings, institutions and other aspects of life.  You could visit the museum and also catch a show at Chequer Mead Theatre

Chequer Mead Theatre, East Grinstead

The team at Move Revolution love Chequer Mead, this purpose built theatre is small, friendly and you always get an amazing seat! With a fantastic diary of events you are sure to find something you will love at an affordable ticket price! During February Half Term travel to the World of Oz and follow the Yellow Brick Road!

The Living Planet Centre, Woking

Have you visited the fabulous Living Planet Centre run by the WWF? They always run brilliant events for children through school holidays and at weekends and this February Half term is no exception!

Are you thinking of moving or letting your home in 2018?

If the answer is yes… we would love to chat with you.  We pride ourselves on our expert market knowledge, our dedication and passion to move all our clients, as quickly as possible, into their new home.  Don’t just take our word for it, have a read of our 618 (at the time of publishing) incredible independently verified reviews.  We cover Surrey, Sussex and Kent and would love to help you move into your dream home or let your property.  Give us a call on 0330 223 1000 or fill in your contact details to book a valuation today!

source http://www.moverevolution.com/blog/half-term-fun-2018/

Best Robo Advisors

check into transfs.com webpage for far more info on financial resources 

A robo advisor can make it easy to invest in an IRA or taxable account. But how do you choose? Here’s our 2018 list of the best robo advisors for your money.

best robo advisors

This is something of a controversial topic. There are any number of “best robo-advisors” lists, and they all look a little bit different. That’s because all reviews are subjective. Which robo-advisors get top grades largely depends on the investment preferences of the reviewer.

This list review will be based primarily on four criteria:

  • Investment management fees
  • Investment mix
  • Additional services, where available
  • Platforms likely to appeal to largest number of investors (as opposed to niche robos)

With that in mind, here is our list of the five best robo-advisors. By the way, the list isn’t in any specific order. Any of the five are worth considering.

Betterment

Betterment is the largest independent robo-advisor, and for all the right reasons. This platform has it all, and is often the first to add new services.

Betterment makes use of goals based investing. You can set up specific goals, like retirement, an emergency fund, or saving for a college education–and attach an account to that goal.

Betterment is tailor-made for new and small investors. There is no minimum initial investment required, you can fund your account with monthly deposits. They charge a single low annual management fee of 0.25%. This means that you can have a $10,000 account managed for just $25, or a $100,000 account managed for just $250.

They offer their Tax-Coordinated Portfolio that favors income generating assets, like bonds, into retirement accounts, and capital gains generating assets into taxable accounts. The also offer tax-loss harvesting (TLH), which is an investment strategy that sells losing positions to generate capital losses (to offset capital gains elsewhere), repurchasing similar assets later to retain the desired portfolio allocation.

On the asset allocation side, they offer socially responsible ETF’s, as well as those that invest in stocks and bonds.

Betterment offers a Premium portfolio for investors with a minimum of $100,000. It adds certain services, but increases the management fee to 0.40%.

SoFi Wealth Management

SoFi Wealth Management is a relative newcomer to the robo-advisor space, having begun operations in the spring of 2017. But like everything else connected with SoFi, it’s one of the most innovative robo-advisor platforms available.

It has a fee structure comparable to both Betterment and Wealthfront, with an annual advisory fee of 0.25%. And like Wealthfront, the first $10,000 in your account is managed for free. But SoFi adds a twist. If you have a SoFi loan, the advisory fee is waived. That gives you a professionally managed investment account for free.

Like other robo-advisors, SoFi constructs your portfolio with index-based ETF’s. But SoFi adds real estate and high-yield bonds to the usual robo mix of stocks and bonds. In addition, SoFi Wealth Management requires just $500 to start an account. And if you don’t have $500, you can open an account with zero, and begin funding it with contributions of at least $100 per month.

The only negative with this platform is that they don’t offer tax-loss harvesting. That isn’t an issue with tax-sheltered retirement accounts, or with smaller balance accounts. But it will be an issue for larger taxable accounts.

Of course, one of the big advantages with SoFi Wealth Management is that it gives you the ability to take advantage of SoFi’s other award-winning services. SoFi has moved beyond providing student loan refinances. They now offer mortgages, personal loans, and even life insurance. It’s fast becoming a one-stop shop for financial services of all kinds.

M1 Finance

M1 Finance is something of a hybrid between robo-advisors and traditional investment brokers. Their program offering is unique, but one that can be easily understood by most investors.

M1 Finance provides investment portfolio templates, known as “Pies”. Each is based on Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), which is common to robo-advisors. But no questionnaire is used to determine your risk tolerance.

You can invest in a Pie as is, or you can customize it anyway you want. This is extremely unusual among robo-advisors, who typically maintain tight control over a very limited number of ETF’s.

Within an individual Pie, you can add both individual stocks and ETF’s. As to the ETFs used by the platform, they select from more than 2,000 ETFs. Most other platforms have a group of about a dozen ETF’s that are included in virtually all portfolios.

The inclusion of your own investment selections gives you an opportunity to outperform the market, rather than to simply match it the way most robo-advisor do.

Pies are available for general investing, retirement, income, responsible investing, hedge fund strategies, specific industries and sectors, or other strategies.

M1 Finance does not have a minimum investment requirement, and there are no fees to manage your account. On the downside, the platform does not offer tax-loss harvesting.

Wealthfront

Wealthfront is Betterment’s biggest competitor among independent robo-advisors. And they’re an innovative force unto themselves.

Wealthfront has rolled out a number of specialized robo-advisor accounts, including their Direct Indexing series. These plans are designed for larger investors, offering specialized plans for portfolios of at least $100,000, $500,000, or $1 million. Portfolios include not only ETFs, but also between 100 and 1,000 individual stocks. That makes this unusual among robo-advisor platforms, who usually hold only ETFs.

Like Betterment, Wealthfront also provides tax-loss harvesting, as well as allocation of specific asset classes into taxable and tax-sheltered plans. But Wealthfront outshines Betterment in investment diversification. Wealthfront adds both real estate and natural resources to your asset mix.

Wealthfront’s fee structure is hard to beat. The first $10,000 is managed for free, and after that the balance is managed for just 0.25% per year. They have a $500 minimum initial investment requirement, but that’s low enough to accommodate most investors.

Hedgeable

Just as the name implies, Hedgeable follows the basic investment strategy of hedge funds. On the one hand, Hedgeable is a robo-advisor for more sophisticated investors. But on the other, the platform makes sophisticated investment management available to small investors.

Hedgeable uses an investment strategy that protects your portfolio from catastrophic losses. This is referred to as “Downside Risk Protection”, and it is typically available only to very large investors. As such, Hedgeable has recently been outperforming other robo-advisors. It also uses unique investment assets. Those can include private equity, real estate, commodities, and even Bitcoin.

Unlike other robo-advisors, Hedgeable isn’t a passive, buy-and-hold platform. The asset mix will be adjusted based on market conditions.

The good news is that you need only $1 to open an account. You can even “test drive” the platform before investing any money. But Hedgeable is high on the fee side–mainly because it is an actively managed portfolio. The fee is 0.75% on balances up to $49,000. There is a sliding scale that drops to 0.30% on portfolios of $1 million or more.

This is an excellent robo-advisor if you would like non-traditional investing, with not alot of money.

So there are our choices for the five best robo-advisors. Have you used any of these platforms? Would you recommend them to others?