Battle of the ‘Bots: Which Robo-Advisor Is Best?

The housing market may finally be cooling
Retire with Money
Elizabeth O'Brien is a senior writer at Money
“Battle of the ‘Bots” sounds like a summer blockbuster playing at a newly reopened multiplex, but it’s actually the name of a challenge some investors dreamed up to pit robo-advisors against each other. Robos are services that offer automated portfolio construction and management for a low fee. Lately, some investors have been splitting their investments among them to see which performs best. The verdict? They’re very similar. And you can do even better if you invest wisely on your own. So really, there’s no reason to spread your money around and every reason to consolidate your accounts — especially as you approach retirement. You don’t want to lose track of your money, including the various 401(k)s you’ve accumulated over the years. Learn more about the robo battles, and consolidating your 401(k)s, in today’s edition.

Best wishes,

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Please help me welcome our Reader of the Week! Vicki W., 58, lives in Seattle (for now). She worked as a director of underwriting and production in the insurance industry.
Vicki W

What are you up to these days?

I retired from corporate America at 55, just over three years ago. It came down to a choice between full time work or my mother, who had dementia. I have had a part-time remote employee gig for the last three years, which is extremely flexible. Some weeks I work less than 20 hours; other weeks I work more than 20 hours.  

So, what was I going to do once my family obligations were met? I unfortunately got the opportunity [to find out] in October of last year when my mom passed. I’ve always loved to travel and have been exploring a different country at least once a year. Now, I will give up my apartment, travel to different countries, and live for the duration of a tourist visa before moving on. I’m in the process of downsizing to allow me to become a vagabond and travel the world.

What an adventure! Any advice you'd like to share for others about preparing for/living in retirement?

When I was about 50 years old, I took a look around and saw most of my friends and colleagues were being laid off or moved out of the positions in which they hoped to retire. A recent Money article showed 56% of people over 50 find this happening to them. Usually, it was due to their high wages, which comes with years of experience, of course. I made a goal at about 50 to retire in the next 10 years. Then I set smaller goals that would help me reach that goal. I worked with a life coach from 2005 until I retired. It made all the difference. When I needed to pull the trigger, I was able to do so on my own terms. 

Glad to hear! Anything you want to say that I didn't ask?

Always ask yourself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I continue to do this even today. I don’t feel any older inside than I did in my 20’s or 30’s. I always thought I would live to be 100 and my retirement plan takes this into consideration. So I still have 42 years to go! Just keep looking for and trying new things.
No-Benefit Jobs Are Better Than Retiring Early 
Even jobs without benefits can greatly improve pre-retirees’ finances, a study of 60-somethings found. SQUARED AWAY BLOG
'It's Not a Burden' — the New Film on Caregiving for Your Parents
An Emmy-nominated filmmaker shines the spotlight on her own life. NEXT AVENUE
Spouses in Divorce Proceedings Are Using Cryptocurrency to Hide Money
Here’s how some experts are tracking it down nonetheless. CNBC
Menopause Is Having a Moment
As the first millennials hit age 40, companies are focusing more attention on this once-taboo life stage. VOX
Elizabeth O'Brien is deputy editor at Money. She has covered retirement and health care for nearly a decade. A Brooklyn resident and mom of two boys, she navigates the alphabet soup of Medicare and the New York City subway system with equal ease. You can email her at and follow her on Twitter at @elizobrien.

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