When “free” is not free, when paying is worth it

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Nothing on the internet is truly

Many sites are lead generation sites, and most social media websites track our every move to get paid.  If you any doubts, please read this article:  “Mark Zuckerberg, Let Me Pay for Facebook – ‘Free’ social networking sites cost more than we think.”

If you search financial planning and other sites on the web for retirement calculators, you will find many options.  See our prior post explaining why one line calculators can differ so much.

On of these websites provides “free” use of a gamified retirement calculator.  However, when you delve deeper (I read the company form ADV as of May, 2015), you learn that the website may receive compensation from vendors for referring users to financial products and solutions in order to fulfill action steps, such as lenders for a user who needs to refinance her mortgage.  The website receives a referral fee from the mortgage lender. The same for a rollover of a 401(k), a fee from Schwab, Fidelity or TD Ameritrade, or for life insurance, a fee from the insurance.

Furthermore, management of the website own a registered investment adviser and many are insurance sales people. 

Hardly sounds free – it’s a leadgen portal!

Websites like this are lead generation portals.  Compare to those “free” seminars on estate planning put on by insurance salesmen to sell life insurance and other products.

In contrast, there are good tools, for which you pay.  One example is the investment firm Betterment, which introduced a tool some time back that was available to its paying customers called “RetireGuide.”

The firm describes it as “a new planning tool, available for free to all Betterment customers, that helps investors work through scenarios, like …. RetireGuide provides sophisticated  retirement guidance that is easy to understand, always up-to-date, and simple to change as your life changes.  RetireGuide uses information you provide and the balances from your Betterment accounts, as well as assets outside of Betterment, to answer these questions. It also provides a seamless way to start saving more in a globally diversified portfolio of ETFs based on your retirement plan’s recommendations  … This planning tool merges an advice engine with a way to automatically save and invest in a diversified portfolio.”

RetireGuide looks very good, as a tool to help you keep with your retirement plan. 

Where are we at WokeMoney in all this?  We had designed tools and how to steps to help you create your own plan for free.  However, that website was never launched. 

What do you think of this?  Your comments would interest me, thanks. 


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