I‘ve written a lot recently about digital advisors (including the piece I wrote for AARP, “Do-it-yourself made easy“). Wealthfront, one of the leaders in this space, now has $1.7 billion under management.
That seemed pretty impressive, until I saw a recent piece in InvestmentNews about Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services. Although still basically a pilot program, the “human-augmented online advice platform,” as IN termed it, now has $4.2 billion under management.
For all that’s been written about the start-ups who use powerful algorithms to manage your portfolio while you sleep, it’s the the Vanguard offering that may be the game changer. Vanguard can offer everything the start-ups do–asset allocation, automatic rebalancing, ultra-low-cost investment choices–in the mantle of a trusted firm known for its integrity and thrift. The cost? Three-tenths of one percentage point, or $300 a year for a $100,000 portfolio. That’s only slightly more than the .25 percent the newcomers typically charge.
Advisors charging more certainly will argue they’re adding value. But if you’re paying much more for financial management, you might want to at least take a look at what you can get for less.
Today’s top story: 50 ways to improve your financial life in 2015. Also in the news: Why deferred interest rates on purchases isn’t always a good idea, how to decide which debts to pay off now or later, and the lazy guide to dealing with debt collectors.
50 ways to improve your finances in 2015
You’ll want to get comfy for this.
Why you should think twice about ‘buy now, pay interest later’ deals
Deferred interest can do a number on your wallet.
5 Debts You Should Pay Off Now – or Later
Not all debt is created equal.
The Slacker’s Guide to Dealing With a Debt Collector
Dealing with debt collectors while exerting the least amount of effort.
Will You Remain a Debt Slave Until Death?
Or will you see the light?
Today’s top story: Planning for you child’s college costs. Also in the news: How to destroy your debt in 2015, the crucial steps in setting up your first 401(k), and what you should do with your year-end bonus.
How to Plan for Your Child’s College Costs
The sooner you get started, the better.
5 Sure-Fire Ways to Start Killing Your Debt Next Year
Your debt won’t know what hit it.
3 Crucial Steps to Setting Up Your First 401(k)
Starting off on the right foot.
What to do with your year-end bonus
Don’t spend it all in one place.
Make Sure Your Retirement Savings Last With the “Bucket” Method
Filling the buckets for peace of mind.
Today’s top story: How to budget when living paycheck to paycheck. Also in the news: Finding the best prepaid debit card, quick fixes that can hurt your finances, and ten good financial rules of thumb.
How to Budget When You Don’t Have a Steady Income
A budget is critical when living paycheck to paycheck.
How to Find the Best Prepaid Debit Cards
Pay close attention to hidden fees.
5 ‘Band-Aid’ Fixes That Hurt Your Finances
Beware the short-term fixes that could cause lasting damage.
10 Good Financial Rules of Thumb
Solid starting points.
Today’s top story: Ways to protect your credit during the holidays. Also in the news: Tips on minimizing your taxes, how to prepare for retirement, and how to make your charitable donations really count.
4 Ways to Keep the Grinch From Stealing Your Good Credit
Safe shopping will keep the Grinch at bay.
7 Ways To Minimize Your 2014 Taxes By December 31
April 15th is right around the corner.
Today’s top story: Five changes lawmakers have made to your taxes for 2015. Also in the news: Keeping your low-down-payment mortgage affordable, why using a Roth IRA to pay for college could work against you, and three reasons why you can’t stick to a budget.
5 Major Changes Lawmakers Made to Your Taxes
Getting ready for 2015.
How to Keep a Low-Down-Payment Mortgage Affordable
How to handle PMI.
Using a Roth IRA to Pay for College May Work Against You
Your child’s financial aid package could take a hit.
3 reasons why you just can’t stick to a budget
Besides being human.
Retailers’ data breaches could get ‘ugly’
More like ‘uglier’.
Dear Liz: You recently answered a question about whether one spouse can be held responsible for the other’s credit card debt. My husband and I are separated and he recently was diagnosed with cancer. He is unemployed with no health insurance and high hospital bills and back child support payments. In the event of his death, will I be liable for his debts?
Answer: You need to talk to an attorney to determine your liability for his medical bills, since it depends on state law. Some states don’t hold spouses liable for these bills if they’re legally separated, while others do. In any case, his estate will still owe the unpaid child support, and child support typically has a higher priority for payment than most other creditor’s claims when an estate is settled. In general, creditors have to be paid before the rest of the assets can be distributed to heirs.
Dear Liz: Your answer to the reader asking about Social Security survivor benefits for same-sex couples was incomplete. If the person was a registered domestic partner in a state that did not allow them to marry, they still qualify for spousal death benefits. Please tell those affected so they know they should apply ASAP.
Answer: Thanks for pointing that out. Social Security survivor benefits are available to legally married same-sex couples whose marriage is recognized by the state where the couple was living at the time of the spouse’s death (assuming the deceased spouse meets all other qualifications for benefits). If the state where the couple lived doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, a surviving partner may still qualify as a widow or widower for Social Security benefits if the intestacy laws of that state allow the surviving partner of a non-marital legal relationship (such as a civil union or domestic partnership) to inherit as a spouse.
Today’s top story: How to decide which debts you should pay off first. Also in the news: Financial topics you should never discuss at work, a key tax move you need to check before the end of the year, and how to offer financial advice to your adult kids.
Which Debts Should You Pay Off First?
How to develop a strategic pay off plan.
3 Financial Topics You Should Never Discuss at Work
Keep these conversations off-limits.
Don’t Let December End Without Looking at This Key Tax Move
Preparing for 2015 taxes.
How to Offer Financial Advice to Your Adult Child
Approaching a difficult conversation.
Plan Out a Year of Life as a Retiree To Jump-Start Your Saving
Giving your savings a boost in the right direction.
4 In 5 Millennials Optimistic For Future, But Half Live Paycheck To Paycheck
A look at the financial lives of millennials.