Invest Retirement

Retirement Tools for Everyone: Freelancers, Employees and Business Owners

Rachel Cautero  |  December 18, 2019

Saving for retirement is not a one-size-fits all approach. Here’s a rundown of the best retirement tools and resources for each scenario.

Saving for retirement is not a one-size-fits all approach. It’s a very different process if you’re a freelancer, if you’re an employee at a company with retirement benefits or if you’re a small-business owner who’s tasked with providing retirement options to your employees.

Here’s a rundown of the best retirement tools and resources for each scenario. After all, everyone needs to play an active role in their retirement. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

If You’re a Freelancer

If you’re part of the estimated 35 percent of the workforce who are full-time freelancers, then saving for retirement probably hasn’t been top of mind for you thus far in your career. You’re likely more concerned with putting away 25 percent of your income to cover taxes. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Below are some great tools for freelancers to get a handle on their retirement savings.

Honest Dollar

You can sign up for a Roth IRA, a traditional IRA, or a SEP IRA with Honest Dollar. Basically, anyone who files a 1099, whether a freelancer or a contractor, can open an account with this tool.

With Honest Dollar, setup is super easy. It takes around 90 seconds, and you can either scan your driver’s license or manually input the necessary info: bank account, weekly contribution, you get the idea.

Once your account is open and funded, it’s invested in a portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs.) Simplifying things even further? Honest Dollar offers various portfolios, based on things like how much risk you’re willing to take or your anticipated retirement age.

Another great feature for freelancers? You can schedule a contribution (of any size) based on your timeline. While we definitely advocate for getting on a regular savings schedule to fund your retirement, you can also add a bit more to your contribution if, say, you have a great month. Honest Dollar charges an advisory fee of 0.25% a daily basis, based on your IRA balance at the end of each day.

If You’re an Employee at a Company With a 401(k)

Did you know that 92 percent of employers with 401(k) plans match employee contributions, usually up to 6 percent of the employee’s annual salary? And we all know that employer matching is something you should take advantage of, since it’s essentially free money.

All the more reason to get a handle on your 401(k) sooner rather than later.


If you already have a 401(k), Blooom could be just the answer to your retirement-savings woes. The tool analyzes your 401(k) using a proprietary algorithm, adjusting your stock allocations. (For those of you who prefer real, human interaction, don’t worry. It’s also looked over by one of their licensed advisers.)

Blooom will then automatically analyze the investments in your 401(k) and alert you to any potential issues. Think: hidden fees or investing too conservatively — or too aggressively. Then, it helps you alleviate those issues by showing you investments that may work better for you — and may lower how much you’re paying in fees.

The tool adjusts your 401(k) within 30 days of signup and then every 90 days after. But our favorite part? You don’t have to actually move anything in your 401(k). Just link it to Blooom.

Blooom’s fees are $10 per month.

TRY IT: 401ks are complicated. Blooom isnt. Link blooom to your retirement account for smart, simple optimization.

If You’re a Small or Medium-Sized Business Owner


Is trying to set up a retirement plan painful? Yeah, Vestwell wants to help with that.

Vestwell is a fully digital, white-labeled 401(k) retirement savings plan platform, ideal for small- or medium-sized business owners who haven’t quite been able to swing offering employer-matching 401(k) plans yet. The tool hopes to make it easier — and cheaper! — for employers to offer 401(k) plans. How? Basically, Vestwell facilitates the process of having registered investment advisers administer 401(k) or 403(b) plans for your business.

Here’s how it works: Your RIA sets up and administers your company’s retirement plan, taking care of things like compliance, investments and even creating a custom 401(k) or 403(b) plan for your employees. Worth noting: You can pick one of the tool’s standard plans or create your own.

This means your employees will have access to retirement savings plans, and you’ll have less of a headache. Vestwell also has an easy-to-use dashboard and automated compliance notices and documents. Another bonus? Vestwell’s fees are less than half of the industry average.

And for employees of small- or medium-sized businesses, Vestwell could be a good option for your company to finally get that 401(k) you’ve been hoping for. Maybe pitch it to your boss at your next all-hands meeting?

For Everyone


Plynty helps you form a realistic retirement savings plan based on your current lifestyle. Setup is relatively painless: The app prompts you to enter information such as annual income and if you are planning retirement for one or two people. Then, it takes into account expected retirement income and calculates your expected retirement expenses based on those numbers.

What we like most about this app-only tool? It assumes that how you spend your money now will be roughly the same as how you will in retirement, what Plynty calls “lifelong cashflow.”

That way, you not only have a realistic picture of how much it will cost for you to retire, you also don’t have to make drastic cuts to your lifestyle, which can be difficult.

The interactive pie chart that illustrates your expected retirement expenses in relation to your expected retirement income is also super helpful when trying to assess where you really stand when it comes to saving for retirement.

Plynty charges an annual subscription fee.

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