How to Open a Roth IRA Online with Betterment and Celebrate Like a Boss

I've been a Betterment customer for a few months now.

I found Betterment to be a great way for a beginner to invest because they have low fees and they make the process of investing as simple as opening an account and depositing funds.

When you open a account, you will deposit or set up recurring deposits from a checking or savings account. Then the folks at Betterment will invest on your behalf into ETFs based on your portfolio allocation.

Portfolio allocation just means where you want your money to go.

There are two options, stocks and bonds. You don’t have to do any research or constant monitoring of your portfolio.

They manage your everything for you.

You simply have to decide whether you want a low risk portfolio or high return portfolio.

I learned that Betterment offers IRAs, both Roth and Traditional.

I was pretty excited to have a professionally managed retirement account so I opened my IRA with Betterment.

Here is my personal experience with opening my Betterment account.

 How to Open a Roth IRA with Betterment

The first thing that I noticed is that it's pretty easy to open an IRA. I have an existing account so I simply logged into my current account and started from there.

Here is a screen shot of my current account.

I started with a $250 deposit and I have contributed 25 dollars a month since opening my account in August.

It's important to make a habit of automatic contributions and I have an auto-deposit that comes out each month for Betterment and one auto-deposit that goes into an FDIC insured savings account.

Even if you can only start with a few hundred bucks, at least get started.

The automatic plan makes saving and investing easy.

Start with Betterment here

I've allocated 55% to stocks which is lower than my peers but my goal is to beat the returns of a typical bond fund.

An increase of 3% is fine for me.

Step 1) Choose a New Roth IRA Retirement Savings Goal

In order to open the IRA, you have to click to expand the 'total balance' section.

This will show your current goals and give you the option to start a new goal, retirement savings.

After you choose the option to create a new goal/IRA, you will have a chance to choose what type of IRA you would like to open.

If you are not sure if you want a Traditional or Roth IRA, click the 'Which type of IRA should I choose?' right above the IRA type selection.

As a registered investment advisor, Betterment can guide you through this choice.

Step 2) Choose Beneficiaries

After you select the type of IRA, you will be able to choose beneficiaries.

Not sure how to choose a beneficiary? Read this post on choosing a beneficiary.

Step 3) Fund Your New Roth IRA

Now you can choose how to fund your Roth IRA and celebrate!

That's it!

Pretty simple huh?

Time to celebrate!

[panel style="panel-primary" title="Click to Tweet This" footer=""]I just opened a Roth IRA so I can retire like a boss.[/panel]

Click here to open a Betterment account today.

Did you open your Betterment IRA yet? What are your retirement goals?

Originally posted 2014-08-08 05:00:27.


Choosing a Broker

Ready to put some real money in and start investing?

In that case you are going to need a broker. A stockbroker is an intermediary that buys and sells stocks and other securities. In the past, if you wanted to place a trade, you would have to call your broker and they would place the trade for you.

These days you can simply place trades online with an online stock broker. Now all you have to do is choose one.

Choosing a broker to trade online with can be easy if you know what you're looking for.

Do you trade often? Then you want a broker that allows you to trade for free or inexpensively.

Are you a hands-off investor? Then you may want to open an account with a broker that creates an optimized portfolio for you.

I choose to invest with more than one broker because I like some of the benefits of one broker and different benefits of another.

Here is a list of top brokerage firms:

Companies like Motif allow you to buy partial shares if you only have a little money to start with.

Make sure you pay attention to the ALL of the fees. Some brokers have fees to close an account and there may be account minimums so watch the fine print when opening your account. After you open your account be diligent about depositing your 10% savings consistently even if you are not ready to purchase a stock yet. It's all about getting in the habit.

Also your broker should be a registered member of FINRA and SIPC.

Curious to see how I invest? Click here for my portfolio.

One of my favorite movies is Wall Street and Charlie Sheen's character is a stockbroker that sells stock picks and aspires to be a financial success and a very wealthy stockbroker. The movie is brilliant and it can give you more of an idea of the stockbroker business.
Choosing a Broker | Young Finances
Happy trading!

Originally posted 2014-05-28 08:11:29.


Why Female Investors are Better Investors

This may surprise you if you did not already know, but studies have shown that female investors are typically better investors than males. Mostly, it has to do with the way we are wired and how we respond to events. Barclays Wealth and Ledbury Research are the authors of this study that explains why women are better investors. We are able to make more money in the market because we don’t take on as much risk.


Think about it, remember the kid in school that used to jump off the side of the playground wall? Or how about the little boy who always took any dare to eat random stuff? Does that sound smart to you? It’s pretty risky to eat the old bologna that’s been on the sidewalk for 2 summers but boys will do it because they like to take risks. Women are more likely to take calculated risks. Calculated is the key word. The study concludes that “Women were more likely than men to have a greater desire for self-control.” That makes sense to me.

So how can you use this to your advantage? Here are a few ways you can make money in the stock market by taking calculated risks.

Don’t Go All In

There’s a phrase called legging into a position. That just means that you don’t put everything on the table as soon as you’re ready to invest in a stock. The first thing you want to do is figure out what size position you plan to take. Is it going to be 20% of your portfolio, 10%? Then you break up your buying in chunks in order to take advantage of dollar cost averaging. That way you are getting an average cost as you move into the trade. Imagine how much better it would be if you leg into a trade if the market happens to dip the next day.

Stay Calm

Don’t worry about tiny market fluctuations or correction days. The market is going to ebb and flow just like the ocean. You realize this because you've lived with cycles since you were about 15. You know that down won’t be down for long and up won’t go on forever. So if you see a market dip take that opportunity to step back and reevaluate. Is the stock still a good solid stock? Then take this as an opportunity to buy in at a lower cost basis or just sit back and ride out the storm.

Use Your Emotions to Your Advantage

One of the strengths of women is that we use our heart and head to make decisions. It makes us better at seeing all sides of the argument. If you are panicky about your investments or you feel unsettled, think for a second. Is your intuition usually on point? Then take a second to really think about what has you unsettled. If it is just a fear in general that you can’t really put your finger on, try to take a rational approach and see what the issue is. If you’ve done that and you still have that gut feeling that something isn’t right, or that something is right, go with your gut. Especially if it has worked for you in the past.

What are your thoughts? Do you think women make better investors than men?

Photo via Flickr

Originally posted 2014-04-03 06:16:23.


One Simple Tip To Investing Smartly.

Don’t look back!

You’re doing it! You’re doing it! You’re riding a bike.

Look LaTisha! You’re riding a bike!

I still remember the first time my dad let go and allowed me to ride a bike all by myself for the first time. I had been riding with training wheels and so ready to have them taken off. I was so confident that I could do it!

I begged my mom. I talked to my dad. Eventually they agreed and I had a chance to practice riding a bike without my training wheels.

As I got on I remember how difficult it was to stay upright. I leaned to the left a bit, and then leaned to the right a bit. If I leaned too much I found myself falling.

Eventually I learned to make the tiniest shifts left and right to stay balanced.

And as I rebalanced a bit here, a bit there, my dad saw that I had the hang of it and let go.

Riding a Bike for the First Time and Investing Smartly

What the heck does this have to do with investing? You might be asking that very same question.

When you first invest as a college student or if you are investing for the first time as a young adult, you might be unsure how to start investing or even where to put your money. The number one question that I get is ‘where do I start?’

I always recommend starting with what you know and understand. If you are a baseball fan then you are going to understand stats. Each stock has its own set of stats. Learn the important ones and let that be the way you invest.

If you are more of a qualitative investor and you prefer to follow the story of a company then scour the news, investor update calls, and commentary of companies that you already know and love.

Maybe you think that choosing and purchasing individual stocks is a waste of time and you would rather invest alongside the index.

Not sure what type of investor you are? Take this quiz to determine your investing style.

If you decide to take a balanced approach like I did in the investing throwdown, then you will likely need to rebalance your portfolio to make sure it does not swing one or the other too much. For example, I invested 60% passively and 40% actively. If the index does really well, then my portfolio could end up being 65% passive and 35% active. This could throw off my entire plan and I might very well fall off my ‘bike’.

In order to keep my allocation and portfolio optimized I will need to invest smartly and do a bit of rebalancing.

How and Why Rebalancing Works

When you rebalance a portfolio you consistently sell what’s working and buy more of what is not working. Essentially, you are taking your emotions out of the equation; buying low and selling high.

As someone who has lost money in the markets because of emotions, I understand the effects of emotional investing.

Rebalancing your portfolio helps to keep your pre-determined allocation in place. If you decide that you want 50% of your portfolio allocated to stocks and 50% to bonds, then an annual or cash flow based rebalanced will help keep that allocation in check.

Rebalancing often could eat into your returns if your account is subject to high fees. However, if you rebalance each time you add cash to your account then you can avoid unnecessary fees.

How to Rebalance an Active Portfolio

Rebalancing an active portfolio is pretty simple. You would sell from the winners and put those gains towards the losers. Deciding when to rebalance will be your biggest decision. Do you give your winners time to run? And why would you buy more of the losers?

Welcome to active investing.

Those decisions are difficult to make but as an active investor, that is what you have chosen to do.

On average, financial planners suggest that you rebalance about once a year.

How to Rebalance a Passive Portfolio

Rebalancing a passive portfolio is much easier. If you have chosen a low cost broker/dealer for your account, it is likely that they are handling the rebalancing for you behind the scenes.

For example, with my managed ETF account (like this one from our partners at Ally Invest), each time I am paid dividends or when I deposit cash, they are automatically rebalancing my account. They use the cash flow to rebalance my portfolio in a tax-efficient manner. Which minimizes taxes, and keeps me happy.

And with an evenly balanced portfolio I can ride without the training wheels.

Do you rebalance your portfolio? When did you first learn how to ride a bike? All investing related and childhood stories welcomed!

Originally posted 2014-03-19 11:51:42.


How Can a College Student Invest? Easy Tips

In my opinion college students are the best investors. They are constantly learning and not afraid to make mistakes. As you get a college education, you should be getting an education in building wealth. You don’t need tons of capital to start your investing journey: you just have to know how to do it.

This article will focus on the most popular option for college investors: online investing. If you are wondering how can a college student invest here are some tips to get you started.
If you want to get started investing the process is so much easier than you think. Great guide for beginners!

How Can a College Student Invest Starting with Stocks?

When you first start investing you will most likely want to start with stocks. The reason most first time investors start with stocks is that they are easy to relate to and they are widely discussed. You can start up a conversation about stocks with almost anyone and they should be able to voice at least an opinion. While some believe that there are certain best stocks for college students, I believe a general education on how to invest is important.

Establishing Your Online Investment Portfolio

According to financial experts, college investors have a significant advantage over other types of investors. They have time – lots of it. Considering the amazing powers of compound interest (i.e. a type of interest that earns additional interest), we can say that time IS money.

Experienced investors state that even a small amount of money, if invested properly, can reap huge profits in the future. That means you really have to think about building your personal investment portfolio while you are still in college.

Here are the things you have to do to jumpstart your career as an investor:

  1. If you are beginning with small capital (e.g. $25 to $50), find a broker that will accept the small account. Then, you can increase your overall capital by investing more money on a regular basis.
  1. You should calculate the total amount of money you are willing to risk. As a college investor, you have to keep in mind that investment always involves risk. Your personality and available funds are two of the most important factors that determine your "risk tolerance."
  1. If you like to take risks, the possibility of earning large profits probably outweighs your fears of losing money. If you are risk-averse, on the other hand, you have to perform serious calculations regarding the exact amount that you are willing to risk.
  1. There are savings vehicles that guarantee profits and offer minimal risks. Here are some examples: certificate of deposits, federal savings bonds, student savings accounts approved by the FDIC, etc. Yep, I'm talking about saving accounts, CDs and other bank saving products. In general, these financial instruments provide the best protection against risks. However, they also involve the lowest potential for getting large profits. If you will invest in these instruments, your earning potential will be severely limited.
  1. If you can shoulder more risk and invest your money for a longer time period, you may try investing your capital in mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs). These funds are composed of various securities such as bonds, stocks and commodities. Mutual fund corporations collect and manage the money of other people for investment purposes. Since these corporations employ financial experts, lots of college investors opt to put their money in mutual funds or ETFs.
  1. Prior to investing your hard-earned money in these mutual funds, you have to perform your own background research. Some mutual fund companies focus on particular industries (e.g. pharmaceutical, telecommunications, banking, etc.) while others use diversified portfolios (i.e. they make investments in different industries). You should research about the past performance of the company you will be investing on and the industries they work with. Remember: The past performance can in no way guarantee future results.

How Can a College Student Invest in Stocks?

As a college investor, once you become familiar with how the financial market works, you can start to invest in individual bonds or stocks. You can do this through the help of online brokerage firms. Individual investments, as the name implies, require the investor to personally manage all of the securities that he/she owns.

This might sound a bit scary.

However, there are lots of tools that you can use to simplify your investment decisions.

Almost all online brokerage firms provide their clients with reliable tools to monitor their investments. These days, lots of investment companies offer free accounts and minimal balance requirements. That means you can start your personal investment portfolio today.

You may think that investing is difficult or that it is hard to get started. That is not the case. Beginning your investing journey is as easy as opening an investing account. I used to have a few accounts with different brokers because I liked them for different reasons. Now I just have a few ETFs and stocks.

For example, I can buy stocks with an Ally Invest account. But I also like them because I can invest automatically without choosing stocks; you can open an account here with no minimum.

Lesson 1: What is a Stock?

A stock or a share, is an ownership interest in a business. A publicly traded business will use stocks, also called equity, to raise capital. As a stockholder, you own a piece of a business. You have the right to vote on certain changes, and you should be involved in the process. Figuring out what stocks to choose is the tough part. I remember when I made my first investments. I bought stocks based on what reporters were discussing on tv. And I lost horribly. After a few years, I learned how to research stocks and invest with the markets, not against them. I was a college student investing with extra cash and I enjoyed the process.

Lesson 2: How to REALLY Trade Stocks

Once you’ve placed a few trades and are confident in your abilities, it’s time to put some muscle behind your trades. You can beat the stock market if you make the choice to research your trades and take the time to follow the markets carefully.

Lesson 2b: Technical Analysis vs. Fundamental Analysis

This is where you have to do your homework and it’s really not that hard. Fundamental analysis is looking at the story behind the price changes whereas technical analysis is looking at the previous price changes to determine a future.

4 Tips for College Students Who Want to Invest

The following tips are recommended by financial experts. You should consider these before or while investing your money in the markets.

  1. Learn as much as you can – You can acquire investing knowledge and techniques just by reading reliable investing books and articles. The pieces of information you can gain from these resources can help you become a successful investor.
  2. Eliminate high interest debts – Debts (especially those with high interest rates) should be paid off first before making any investment. Risking your money in investments while having high interest loans can greatly worsen your financial condition.
  3. Select a brokerage firm - If you really want to make investments, you have to create a brokerage account. You have two options here: online firms and traditional firms. Online brokerage firms offer easy and computerized investment systems. However, traditional firms may provide personal advice and services.
  4. Diversify your portfolio – Investing all of your funds in a single company can result in financial disaster. Consider putting your money in various industries and investment vehicles. This strategy is called “portfolio diversification.” Even if you think an investment is a "sure thing" never put all of your eggs in one basket. A diversified portfolio is recommended.

6 Fears That Prevent You From Investing

It’s hopefully no secret that investing is the way to build wealth. Stock piling your money in a savings account won’t help you become a millionaire, or even help you achieve your financial goals. Unfortunately, there are a lot of concerns and excuses that young professionals like to throw around that keep them from investing. I hope to dispel a couple of them in this post and to help motivate you to look at investing!

1) Investing is for rich people.

How do you think most of those people got rich? Not by sitting around and working their 9-5 job! It only takes a little bit of money to get into investing, and anyone can start trading stocks online!

2) I just don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile.

It’s the principle of the matter; if you can learn to make a little bit of money, you can learn to make a lot of money!

3) I just don’t have time.

Let’s face it; what young professional does? The fact is, if you don’t purposefully make time for your finances, they’ll easily slip out of control for you. It actually doesn't take all that much time to research and invest your money, plus there are now more and more affordable services online (Ally Invest, Learnvest) for you to pay a nominal fee to have your money invested.

4) There are too many options out there to invest in.

Well, you've gotta start somewhere. Try picking one good mutual fund or an index fund. This is a quick way to diversify your money and lessens the risk of just picking one stock.

5) I’m afraid I’ll lose my money.

That’s a fair point. Firstly, never put more money in than you could see decline. You should always keep an emergency fund as well as a nice pile of cash in the bank before you start investing. Secondly; no risk, no reward. You have to be willing to take a risk with your money in order to get the reward of actually making money. Thirdly; start small and safe with your investing. Don’t go investing in high tech companies that you don’t even understand their business model. Although you won’t ever eliminate the risk, you can certainly learn to mitigate it.

6) I already have a retirement fund, why should I invest more money?

Firstly, good for you for having a retirement fund! Take a look at your savings account right now, how much interest is it paying? I’d be surprised if you said more than 1%. Inflation in 2013 here in the US was 1.5% last year. That means that your money essentially lost some of its value just sitting in the bank.

Although you shouldn't go out and invest all of your money in the market, investing more than $0 would be a good start.

By investing early, you’ll hopefully be able to enjoy years of compounding interest and will see you total net worth grow!

How did you start investing?

Originally posted 2019-04-20 08:00:27.


The 60/40 Passive Active Investing Portfolio

It's time to get invested!

Read this post for details on the Grow Your Dough Throwdown. In short summary, I am competing with several other bloggers in a challenge to invest and grow one thousand dollars in an investing portfolio.

In this post I will explain my specific investing decisions.

The 60/40 Investing Plan

I plan to invest 60% passively and 40% actively. Passive investing simply uses index funds to mimic the return of an index. Active investing is the process of choosing individual investments, stocks in this case, in order to beat the return of an index.

I plan to invest $600 dollars with Betterment. I've mentioned before that Betterment is my preferred ETF broker. With one easy step, I deposit funds with them and they invest in a diversified index portfolio on my behalf.

I think it is the easiest way for young adults to start investing.

How to Add a New Goal in Betterment

I already have an account with Betterment and I detailed the account opening process here. For this challenge, I will be adding a new goal in my current account.

In a few short steps, I added the Investing Portfolio Throwdown goal.

Betterment Goal Setup1

Betterment Goal Setup2

Betterment Goal Setup3

You'll notice that they recommended a pretty conservative portfolio allocation for me. Because I mentioned that I would need the funds in 1 year, the allocation is skewed more towards bonds; which are typically used to minimize volatility and therefore risk of lost funds. (Although bonds are thought to be less risky, there is still a chance of losing funds.)

However, I would personally prefer to experience the returns, highs and lows of a more stock based portfolio, so I changed the allocation manually.

Betterment Allocation Change

On Tuesday, December 31st, I deposited $600 dollars into this account. The deposit process takes 1-2 business days so the funds were in my account and invested by January 2nd on the first trading day of the year.

Betterment Portfolio Allocation

For this challenge, I chose a 80/20 split of stocks and bonds. I will have the following Exchange Traded Funds in my account.

Stock ETFs

  • VTI: US Total Stock Market 14.6%
  • IVE: US Large-Cap Value 14.6%
  • IWS: US Mid-Cap Value 4.7%
  • IWN: US Small-Cap Value 4.1%
  • VEA: Developed Markets 33.9%
  • VWO: Emerging Markets 8.3%

Bond ETFs

  • SHV: Short-Term Treasuries 0%
  • VTIP: Inflation-Protected Bonds 0%
  • AGG: US High Quality Bonds 6.6%
  • LQD: US Corporate Bonds 3.4%
  • BNDX: International Bonds 7%
  • VWOB: Emerging Markets Bonds 3%

These percentages should stay relatively constant. Betterment handles the rebalancing to maintain your allocation decision. This means that they will sell and buy so that the account continues to be 80% stocks and 20% bonds.

They also reinvest dividends as they come into the account. This account should do as well as the broad market. No one really knows what the markets will do and a passive investing strategy, like this one, is expected to perform in line with the market.

Investing in Stocks with Loyal3


I plan to invest $400 dollars with Loyal3. Investing with Loyal3 is a new experience for me. This broker allows you to invest as little as ten dollars in companies that you know and love. There are a limited selection of companies so I plan to choose from the options available to me.

Loyal3 Browse Stocks2

Loyal3 Browse Stocks

Loyal3 Stock Choices

Creating a Portfolio With

To narrow down this list, I went to and created a portfolio with the full list of options. I have to be honest, it took me a few hours to decide how I wanted to invest.

Was I looking for good long term names or did I want names that would allow me to win the challenge over the next year?

In the end, I decided to create a dividend portfolio that pays monthly, with names in 4 of the biggest sectors in the S&P 500; Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Information Technology and Financials. I used this site to find constituents, or members, of the S&P 500.

SP500 Sector Allocation

It would be nice if these names helped me win the challenge over the next year, but if not, they are still names that I would be willing to own long term.

Here are the companies I chose.

Consumer Discretionary
LB: Limited Brands, pays dividends in Feb, June, Aug, Nov
YUM: YUM Brands, pays dividends in  Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct
BUD: Anheuser Busch

Consumer Staples
MDLZ: Mondelez International Inc., pays dividends in Mar, June, Sep, Dec

Information Technology
AAPL: Apple Inc., pays dividends in  Feb, May, Aug, Nov
FB: Facebook, Inc.

BRK.B: Berkshire Hathaway

I'm going to split the $400 dollars evenly across the 8 names. On December 24th and 31st, I deposited $200 in the account. The funds typically take 1-3 business days to show up in your account. On Thursday January 2nd, I placed my purchase orders for all 8 stocks but at $25 dollars each. The $200 that I deposited on the 31st was available for use on January 3rd but I didn't invest the remainder until the 9th.

Loyal3 places orders in batches once per day. My purchases were executed on January 3rd and January 10th.

buy apple stock with Loyal3

This is the process to buy stock with Loyal3.

How to Invest in Facebook Stock

Step 1: Select an investment amount

select amount to invest in Facebook

Step 2: Click to confirm

click to invest in FB stock

Step 3: That's it!purchase Facebook IPO

Using the free Instant X-Ray tool available via Morningstar, this is how my individual stock portfolio looks.

Instant X-Ray Morningstar Portfolio

Morningstar X-Ray Portfolio Stats

Based on the stocks that I chose, my portfolio is weighted towards domestic stocks and the style skews towards growth.

Morningstar X-Ray Portfolio Allocation

On a final note, my portfolio is positioned to be more sensitive to the economy's changes. A portfolio with cyclical names, tend to be more volatile. This is because when the economy is not doing so well, in general, people tend to cut back on unnecessary or discretionary spending. Then when things are good again, people tend to spend more.

This affects sectors like Consumer Discretionary and Information Technology especially. You may be less likely to buy expensive beers or go out to eat as much when you have less certainty over whether or not you will be paid.

Sectors such as Consumer Staples are less sensitive to economic changes.

side eye emoji

You will always need toilet paper, right?


Morningstar X-Ray Portfolio Sensitivity

Now that I have my investing portfolio, I don't plan on making many changes. In the challenge we are allowed to buy and sell as much as we like. I prefer to see investing as a long term strategy where you buy stock in companies that you like and that are expected to grow over the long term.

What do you think of my portfolio? Are you interested in joining the challenge? Do you have questions about investing? I'm all ears!

See the investing portfolio challenge results here.

Use this link to open a Betterment account and get $25 dollars added to your account.


Just because I chose these stocks, doesn't mean that I am recommending them for purchase.

All investing involves risk, past performance is not indicative of future results. There is no guarantee that I will make money. I could lose everything. When mentioning how I plan to invest, it should not be taken as a recommendation or investing advice. You should consult your personal financial advisor to determine what type of investing suits your personal situation and risk tolerance level. There can be substantial risk of loss in trading stocks. You should, therefore, carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial condition. All transactions in the financial markets are risky. No information I present is intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor.

S&P and S&P 500 are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”), a part of McGraw Hill Financial. Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”). Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results.

It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Exposure to an asset class represented by an index is available through investable instruments based on that index.

Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise.

Originally posted 2014-01-10 06:00:38.