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Find the Best Retirement Plan for You

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Saving for retirement seems like a relatively straightforward goal: You know you’ll need money later — so you should save for it now, right? According to a recent Gallup poll, 46% of those not yet retired don’t believe they’ll be financially comfortable when they retire. That means almost half the population wish they were saving more! Part of saving money is knowing where to keep it — and that’s a crowded marketplace! Plus, you also have to consider that you can use more than one retirement account — either throughout your lifetime or at the same time. For instance, you might start out contributing to a Roth 401(k) and move to a 401(k) as your income grows. Or, if you’re a freelancer, you might have a SEP IRA and a Roth IRA at the same time. Anyone with a high deductible health plan can also save to an HSA.

If you’re not sure what retirement plan will get you to the finish line, read on for guidance.

Find the best retirement plans for you. (You’ll find a detailed description of each plan below.)

If you areConsider this
A young worker with modest incomeRoth 401(k)
Eligible for an employer-sponsored plan401(k), Roth 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)
Not covered by an employer-sponsored plan and not self-employedTraditional IRA
Making a modified adjusted gross income of under $137,000 if single or under $203,000 if married and filing jointly (2019)Roth IRA
A freelancer with no employeesSEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA or Solo 401(k)
Nearing retirement age401(k)*, Roth 401(k), HSA
Covered by a high deductible health planHSA
*or 403(b) or 457(b)

401(k) or 403(b)

  • Best for: Any worker whose employer offers a retirement savings account.
  • Contribution limits: $19,000 per year for 2019 if you’re under 50; $25,000 if you’re 50 or older.
  • How it’s taxed: The money goes in pre-tax and you’re taxed on distributions in retirement.

What else you need to know: With a 401(k) or 403(b), you elect to save a certain percentage of your income each year and the money comes out of your paycheck (pre-tax). Many employers offer to match contributions. For example, they might match the first 6% you save at 50%, meaning they’ll contribute 3%. A 401(k) or 403(b) is one of the best and easiest ways to save for retirement since the money gets saved automatically.

457(b)

  • Best for: Any government worker whose employer offers a retirement savings account.
  • Contribution limits: $19,000 per year in 2019 if you’re under 50; $25,000 if you’re 50 or older.
  • How it’s taxed: The money goes in pre-tax and you’re taxed on distributions in retirement.

What else you need to know:
This account works a lot like a 401(k) or 403(b), but it’s specific to state and local government workers. One major difference is that if employers match, their contributions count toward the limit on the plan. Another notable difference is that some plans allow employees to make extra contributions beginning three years before the “normal retirement age,” which is detailed in the plan. The formula used to compute the catch-up amount can be complicated, and some plan administrators simply don’t offer the option.

HSA

  • Best for: Anyone with a high-deductible health plan.
  • Contribution limits: Up to $3,500 per year in 2019 for an individual and $7,000 for a family if you’re under 55. Up to $4,500 for an individual and $8,000 for a family if you’re 55 and older.
  • How it’s taxed: Contributions go into the account pre-tax and if the money is used for eligible medical expenses, distributions are tax-free.

What else you need to know:
If your healthcare is covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), you’re eligible to use a Health Savings Account. The money you save to an HSA is tax-free on both sides (contribution and distribution) as long as it’s used for eligible medical expenses, such as co-pays, prescriptions and other medical bills. The money rolls over each year, so there’s no time limit on using the funds you’ve saved. You can contribute to an HSA at any point up to your tax filing deadline for that tax year.

“Most people aren’t going to itemize their deductions anymore, so they’re not going to get any kind of write-off for medical expenses until they get to a very high level,” said Linda Farinola, a financial planner in Princeton, N.J. “The change in the tax law makes HSAs more attractive.”

Roth 401(k)

  • Best for: Young workers making a more modest income and older workers with a sizable pre-tax retirement nest egg.
  • Contribution limits: $19,000 per year in 2019 if you’re under age 50; $25,000 if you’re 50 or older.
  • How it’s taxed: Your contributions are post-tax, but distributions in retirement are tax free as long as you’re 59 and a half and the funds have been in the account for five years or more.

What else you need to know:
Unlike a Roth IRA, there’s no income cap on who can contribute to a Roth 401(k). The advantage of a Roth 401(k) is that you can save more than three times the allowable amount for a Roth IRA. That being said, no employer matching funds can be contributed to a Roth 401(k), so you’ll want to ensure you’re contributing enough to a regular 401(k) to get any employer match before you elect to save anything else to a Roth.

“It’s really more about money than age when selecting the right 401(k),” said Rose Swanger, a financial planner in Knoxville, Tenn. “For young folks who work in Silicon Valley, a traditional 401(k) may be deemed a better option than a Roth because it helps them lower the tax. On the other hand, for the majority of the folks who just started their career, a Roth 401(k) should be a good starter.”

Roth IRA

  • Best for: Young workers making a modest income. “They’re not really paying that much in taxes now anyway, so they’re not going to get a lot of benefit from the tax deduction now,” said Farinola. It’s also a good idea for older workers with a sizable pre-tax retirement nest egg.
  • Contribution limits: $6,000 per year if you’re under age 50, $7,000 if you’re older than 50.
  • How it’s taxed: Your contributions are post-tax, but distributions in retirement are tax-free as long as you’re 59 and a half and the funds have been in the account for at least five years.

What else you need to know:
To contribute to a Roth IRA account, you must make less than $137,000 as a single person in 2019, or $203,000 if you’re married filing jointly. A Roth account is your best option if you think your taxes are lower than they’ll be in retirement. Younger workers have time on their side, which means their savings can grow tax-free before they withdraw them. A Roth IRA provides income flexibility for older employees who have a large amount of pre-tax savings and high income (and taxes) in retirement. You can also convert a traditional IRA to a Roth no matter your income level.

SEP IRA

  • Best for: Freelancers or small business owners with employees.
  • Contribution limits: You can save up to 25% of your gross annual salary or what equates to about 20% of your adjusted net earnings from self-employment, up to a maximum of $56,000 in 2019.
  • How it’s taxed: Like a traditional IRA, contributions are pre-tax, and distributions are taxed at your income rate at the time of distribution.

What else you need to know:
Because you’re limited to a percentage of your income, a Simplified Employee Pension IRA can be limiting if you’re trying to put more money away. Business owners with employees must save the same percentage of compensation to their SEP IRAs as they do to theirs—so it can be an expensive benefit to offer if you’re hoping to save aggressively for your retirement. If you’re a freelancer, it’s one of the simplest accounts to set up and maintain for yourself.

SIMPLE IRA

  • Best for: Freelancers or small business owners with employees.
  • Contribution limits: Employee contributions (you) cannot exceed $13,000 in 2019 if you’re under 50, or $16,000 if you’re older than 50. Employer contributions (also you) are generally required to match employee contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to 3% of the compensation.
  • How it’s taxed: Contributions are pre-tax while distributions are taxed at your income rate at the time of distribution.

What else you need to know:
If you’re a small business owner with employees, a SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match PLan for Employees) allows you and your employees to save for retirement, but your contribution to your account doesn’t have to match theirs (a more reasonable option). If you’re making a modest income, a SIMPLE IRA might let you put more away than you can with a SEP IRA. However, if you’re above a certain income threshold, both the SEP IRA and Solo 401(k) will allow you to save more. (Try this calculator if you’re unsure.)

Solo 401(k)

  • Best for: Freelancers or sole proprietors with no employees except a spouse.
  • Contribution limits: Employee contributions (you) are limited to $19,000 in 2019 if you’re under 50, or $25,000 if you’re older than 50. Employer contributions (also you) are limited to 25% of gross income for corporations or about 20% of net income for a sole proprietorship, not to exceed $56,000. Total contributions cannot exceed $56,000 if you’re under age 50; $62,000 if you’re 50 or older.
  • How it’s taxed: Contributions are pre-tax and distributions are taxed at your income rate at the time of distribution.

What else you need to know:
You can only open this account if you have no employees other than a spouse, but the Solo 401(k) gives you the most flexibility in terms of self-employed retirement savings.

“If you’re self-employed and you have no employees, typically the Solo 401(k) makes sense from a financial perspective,” said Howard Hook, a financial planner and CPA in Princeton, N.J. “Because you can save, dollar for dollar, whereas with a SEP it’s a percentage of your salary.” In other words, if you make $18,500 in net earnings, you can save $18,500. A Solo 401(k) does involve more paperwork, but it’s not drastic.

Traditional IRA

  • Best for: Non-self-employed workers without employer-sponsored retirement accounts.
  • Contribution limits: $6,000 per year in 2019 if you’re younger than 50; $7,000 if you’re older than 50.
  • How it’s taxed: If you and your spouse aren’t covered by a retirement plan at work, contributions to a traditional IRA are fully deductible, and you’ll be taxed on distributions. If you or your spouse are covered by a work retirement plan, deductibility depends on your income, and in some cases, it won’t be deductible at all.

What else you need to know:
A traditional IRA can be a good savings option if you don’t have a retirement plan at work—but experts don’t recommend saving to one if it won’t be deductible. If you do, you must keep track of how much of your IRA is made up of post-tax funds so you won’t be taxed on them again in retirement.

“I see too many people who forget they have after-tax money in there,” said Farinola. “There’s a way to keep track of it as years go by in your tax return each year, but not everybody does, especially people who do their own taxes.”

Some financial planners will make exceptions (by allowing people to contribute to a non-deductible IRA) for high-income earners looking to contribute to a Roth. They can save to a traditional IRA (whether it’s deductible or not) and then convert to a Roth as needed, even if they make too much income to contribute to a Roth IRA. “We call that a backdoor Roth,” added Farinola.

Bottom line

There are multiple ways to save for retirement. Choosing the best account for you will depend on whether you have access to an employer-sponsored plan and how much you want to put away.

A financial planner can help ensure you’re maximizing your retirement savings, but in the end, it’s important to save no matter the amount. “Overall, people are not saving enough,” said Darin Shebesta, a financial planner in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Putting the money away in any account is better than spending it.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

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Profile of Annex Wealth Management

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Annex Wealth Management is a full-service financial planning and wealth management firm. The firm has 36 investment advisors on staff and more than $2.4 billion in assets under management (AUM). Headquartered in Elm Grove, Wis., Annex Wealth Management primarily serves individuals, high net worth individuals, pension plans and profit-sharing plans.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of December 3, 2019. For more information, please consult Annex Wealth Management’s website.

Assets under management: $2,444,755,818
Minimum investment: No minimum requirement
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, ranging up to 1.50% for investment management; asset-based, hourly or fixed fees for consulting services
Headquarters:12700 W Bluemound Road
Suite 200
Elm Grove, WI 53122
https://annexwealth.com/
262-786-6363

Overview of Annex Wealth Management

Annex Wealth Management was founded in 2001 and is registered as an LLC in Wisconsin. The firm is headquartered in Elm Grove, Wis., and it has five additional locations across Wisconsin and an office in Naples, Fla.

Annex Wealth is owned completely by David J. Spano, the firm’s president and CEO. Annex Wealth is also the sole member of three other related companies, Annex Insurance Services, Annex Advisory Services and Annex Investment Services. The firm has 66 employees, 36 of whom perform investment advisory functions. It has more than $2.4 billion in assets under management.

What types of clients does Annex Wealth Management serve?

Annex Wealth Management serves a variety of clients, including individuals and high net worth individuals. In addition, Annex offers services to corporations and other business entities, estates, trusts, charities, pension plans and profit-sharing plans.

The firm’s primary focus is on individual investors, with individuals outnumbering high net worth individuals at a 4:1 ratio. This is likely the result of the fact that the firm does not have a minimum investment requirement, which makes it accessible to anyone interested in getting help from a full-service financial planning and wealth management firm. The firm does charge a maximum annual fee of 1.50% of assets under management, though Annex notes that this fee is negotiable.

Services offered by Annex Wealth Management

Annex Wealth Management offers a range of investment management and wealth planning services. For its comprehensive wealth management and financial planning services, the firm charges a “bundled” fee, which covers the ongoing financial planning and wealth management services that the firm selects for each client based on their needs. In general, the firm begins by offering financial planning services, which often lead to investment management and advisory services that are designed to help clients reach their goals. The firm’s financial planning services include retirement planning, risk management, estate and legacy planning and tax planning.

Annex also offers ongoing consulting services designed to provide insight and analysis to clients on their investments and financial situations. The firm then uses these insights to develop a plan to help clients achieve their objectives.

Additionally, Annex offers Ignite, an online investment management platform. While this service includes online investment analysis and account opening and transfer capabilities, it does not include Annex’s financial planning services. With Ignite, a client creates a personal profile, which is then matched to an actively managed model portfolio based on their risk tolerance. Clients who use this service have their assets held at TD Ameritrade.

Finally, Annex Wealth Management also provides pension consulting services to retirement plans that are covered under ERISA.

Here is a full list of services offered by Annex Wealth:

  • Investment management
  • Financial planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Objective risk management and insurance assessment
  • Estate and legacy planning
  • Tax preparation and planning
  • Financial education and discovery
  • 401(k) plans for businesses

How Annex Wealth Management invests your money

In general, Annex employs what it calls a “Core and Tactical Investment Strategy” designed to include short-term and long-term strategies that focus on risk management while at the same time promoting growth when it looks like there’s a new opportunity.

The idea behind a core approach is to focus on long-term strategies like more traditional asset allocation with stocks and bonds. On the other hand, a tactical approach is about short-term trades that are intended to capture current growth opportunities. As a result, you might end up with some of your portfolio being used to buy investments that might be traded again as quickly as a month. However, a good portion of your portfolio will likely be kept in assets designed to be held for several years.

Annex also focuses on selecting assets that are low-cost, even while using actively managed accounts. The firm attempts to balance risk with clients’ cash flow needs. While Annex mainly uses exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in its client accounts, it also makes use of individual equities, fixed-income securities, variable annuities, mutual funds and cash.

Fees Annex Wealth Management charges for its services

When calculating fees for its comprehensive wealth management and limited discretionary asset management services, Annex Wealth Management considers the types of assets used to accomplish client goals as well as the complexity and scope of the services and investments involved.

Annex charge a maximum fee of 1.50% of assets under management for its wealth management services, though the average fee that clients pay is typically around 1.00%. Clients are billed quarterly, and fees are generally deducted directly from clients’ investment accounts.

It’s important to note that clients might also incur other fees outside of the asset-based fee that the firm charges. For example, a custodial fee might be charged if you hold money with a third party, and there are mutual fund and ETF expense ratios to consider. There might also be markups and transaction fees when trading takes place outside Annex Wealth Management.

For its consulting services, the firm charges either an asset-based fee, an hourly rate or a flat fee. The flat fee for these services starts at $1,000 but can be higher, depending on the types of services provided. Clients who want the firm’s continued monitoring or management beyond the scope of the initial consulting services will need to pay an additional fee.

Annex Wealth Management’s highlights

  • No account minimum: Because there is no account minimum required to access Annex Wealth Management services, this makes the firm more accessible to all levels of investors. Some investors with fewer assets might struggle with a fee of 1.50%, but that fee is negotiable, so it could be possible to get a lower rate.
  • Variety of services for different needs: Annex Wealth Management offers a number of ways for clients to work with the firm, depending on their unique needs. In addition to comprehensive wealth management and financial planning services, Annex also offers the option of limited discretionary asset management services as well as consulting services. A range of financial planning services are available for both individuals and businesses.
  • Online portfolio management available through Ignite: The firm offers an online platform that clients can sign up for to get matched with a proprietary portfolio management services through Annex Wealth’s Ignite service. Fees might be lower, and clients can access generalized investment management services from their homes.

Annex Wealth Management’s downsides

  • Fees may be above average: Because there is no clear tiered fee structure, it’s possible that clients may end up paying above average compared with national average fees. Annex caps its fee for comprehensive management services at 1.50%, which is well above the 1.17% national average for RIAs.
  • No fee estimates provided: In general, you need to consult with an advisor before you can figure out which fees you’ll be charged and what your rate will be. Many other firms publish clear fee schedules based on the amount of assets a client has under management, making it easier to compare costs.
  • Potential conflict of interest related to fee structure: In its Form ADV (SEC-filed paperwork), Annex notes the potential for a conflict of interest to arise due to the fact that its financial planning clients often end up also receiving investment management services. Because the firm charges clients based on the amount of assets under management, it may be incentivized to make financial planning recommendations that will increase a client’s assets, whereas actions like gifting money or paying off a mortgage may lower invested assets. The firm does take steps to mitigate this potential conflict though.

Annex Wealth Management disciplinary disclosures

Annex Wealth Management has no disciplinary disclosures to report. The firm has a clean record with no prior legal or regulatory issues on its record.

Annex Wealth Management’s onboarding process

To get started, clients can fill out a form on the firm’s website. Information requested on the form includes:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Amount of investable assets
  • Where you’d like to have your visit
  • Whether you want an annuity review
  • How you found the page
  • Your age
  • Whether you have any particular concerns

Once you submit the form, someone from the firm will contact you about setting up an appointment to more fully discuss your needs. Annex also offers an online chat function that you can use to get more information about the firm.

The bottom line: Is Annex Wealth Management right for you?

For those looking for a more personalized approach to long-term financial planning and wealth management, Annex Wealth Management may be a solid choice. The firm prides itself on offering individualized solutions, rather than menu-based options, and there is no minimum investment required, which makes the firm accessible to all levels of investors. Even if you don’t decide to pay for investment management, it’s still possible to get fee-based consultation services from the firm.

However, it’s worth noting that the firm’s fees may be higher than average. Annex does not provide a fee schedule like many firms do, and while you know your fee will be capped at 1.50% for wealth management services, you won’t actually know your rate until you sit down with an advisor. Make sure you look around before you get started, as it’s a good idea to compare your options before making a decision about whether Annex Wealth Management is right for you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here

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Profile of BBR Partners

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

With 115 employees across offices in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, BBR Partners works with extremely wealthy families and individuals — the minimum investment with the firm is generally $20 million. BBR partners currently manages nearly $16 billion for around 1,200 clients, working with them to create and execute a portfolio strategy with an emphasis on tax efficiency using third-party managers. BBR Partners also consolidates record keeping for its clients, allowing them to see the performance of their entire portfolio at a glance.

All information included in this profile is accurate as of November 26th, 2019. For more information, please consult BBR Partners website.

Assets under management: $15,886,200,000
Minimum investment: $20 million
Fee structure: Percentage of assets under management, performance-based fees
Headquarters:140 East 45th Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
212-313-9870
https://www.bbrpartners.com/

Overview of BBR Partners

Founded in 1999, BBR Partners is a privately held multifamily office principally owned by Brett Barth and Evan Roth. The firm also has 17 equity partners. Co-founders Mike Anson and Todd Whitenack serve as BBR Partners’ chief compliance officer, and head of investment research, respectively.

BBR Partners has 115 employees across offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, 75 of whom perform investment advisory functions. The firm’s 17 partners have diverse backgrounds, including several lawyers, accountants and MBAs. Rather than directly managing client money, BBR works with third-party investment managers throughout the industry.

What types of clients does BBR Partners serve?

With a minimum account balance generally set at $20 million, BBR Partners focuses primarily on serving ultra-high net worth families and individuals, but it also works with their associated family partnerships, foundations and charitable organizations. The firm serves entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 and finance executives, and those with inherited wealth.

Services offered by BBR Partners

BBR Partners works with wealthy individuals and families to develop an asset allocation strategy based their investment objectives, selecting and hiring managers to put the tailored strategy to work. While asset allocation remains the firm’s primary focus, it may also offer guidance on other issues, including estate and tax planning, charitable planning and insurance planning.

The firm also offers comprehensive reporting services, allowing clients to see their entire financial picture, including assets under management by other firms.

  • Investment advisory services
  • Financial planning
    • retirement planning
    • trust and estate planning
    • charitable planning
    • education planning
    • tax planning and management
    • IRA and 401(k) rollovers
  • Insurance/risk management
  • Comprehensive reporting services
  • Collaboration with clients’ lawyers, accountants, etc.
  • Miscellaneous services, such as helping wealthy families vet their employees or connect with labor lawyers

How BBR Partners invests your money

BBR Partners crafts individual portfolios for each of its family clients with a variety of asset classes and strategies. Based on that family’s objectives, the portfolio will include a mix of individual equity and fixed-income investments, third-party managers, exchange-traded funds, exchange-traded notes and private investment funds. The same applies to individuals.

The firm uses a mix of passive and active strategies, as well as illiquid investments, with a focus on the after-tax returns of the total portfolio. It also offers socially responsible and values-based investing options to interested families.

Fees BBR Partners charges for its services

BBR Partners charges investment advisory fees that are based on a percentage of assets under management, with a minimum annual fee of $150,000:

Investment value of portfolioFee (% of assets)
First $30 million0.75%
More than $30 million — $150 million0.50%
More than $150 millionnegotiable

Clients who invest in BBR-administered private investment vehicles pay an additional fee, ranging from 0.35% to 1.00%, on the balance of their investment in that fund. They also pay additional fees to any third-party managers, broker-dealers or custodians who manage their money.

BBR Partners highlights

  • One of the largest RIA firms (by asset size) in the Northeast, BBR Partners, consistently ranks among the top 10 firms on Barron’s list of top RIA firms.
  • BBR Partners acts as a “manager of managers,” which means it selects other firms to make investments for its clients. This BBR can offer a greater diversity of investment options while reducing the potential for conflicts of interest.
  • Turnover at BBR Partners is low — none at the partner level in its 20-year history.
  • BBR Partners does not have any disciplinary disclosures (see below).

BBR Partners downsides

  • BBR Partners has a minimum account balance of $20 million, which is beyond the reach of many if not most would-be investors.
  • The firm’s fees, as a percentage of assets under management, are lower than the industry average, but with a required minimum balance of $20 million, they amount to $150,000 per year or more.
  • The firm has a tiered fee schedule, so clients with fewer assets pay higher fees than they might at a firm with a different fee structure.

BBR Partners disciplinary disclosures

BBR Partners currently lists zero disciplinary disclosures. The SEC requires RIAs to report disciplinary disclosures on Form ADV. These include any regulatory actions, criminal charges, or legal developments like liens or civil judgments that have been taken against them.

BBR Partners onboarding process

BBR Partners meets with the family members of each of its clients to learn more about their goals for their portfolio. Based on these meetings, the firm creates and executes a customized, tax-efficient investment plan, working with multiple managers on behalf of its clients. In addition, depending on the needs of the family, the firm offers advice around tax and insurance planning, family education and charitable giving.

In addition to monthly statements, clients have access to a secure website, updated daily, where they can view their entire portfolio — including assets that aren’t managed by BBR Partners — at a glance.

The bottom line: Is BBR Partners right for you?

This firm focuses exclusively on high net worth families and individuals, including those managing the transition of wealth from one generation to the next. It provides personalized investment advice to those families and oversees the investment of their assets with third-party firms. Individuals whose family net worth is less than the $20 million minimum requirement need to look elsewhere.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Beth Braverman
Beth Braverman |

Beth Braverman is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Beth here