Anyone confused about student loans or retirement—aka, everyone—has these great financial services in their corner.

By Kate Rockwood
August 06, 2020
Giacomo Bagnara

A fortunate few have an excellent grasp of the aspects of their financial situation (even the details). It can feel like the rest of us are left to muddle through the finer points, struggling to remember when the best age to retire is or how to qualify for forbearance. Fortunately, that’s not necessarily the case: Smart financial services (or a financial planner) can help provide the guidance and personalized plan many of us crave.

As part of the Real Simple Smart Money Awards, we’re highlighting the best financial services of 2020. For student loan refinancers and retirement question–askers (aka, all of us), these services can help lead the way to a more certain financial future. Read on for the best financial services of 2020, or click here to see the other 2020 Real Simple Smart Money Award winners.

Courtesy of Earnest


Best for: refinancing student loans

What it is: Earnest pairs low interest rates with big-time flexibility—for example, you can adjust monthly payments even after you’re locked into a loan.

Why we love it: Beyond low rates, Earnest offers loan forbearance if you lose your job, your income drops dramatically, or you get sick (basically 2020 in a nutshell). Plus, after six months, qualified customers can skip one payment every 12 months if need be. “Refinancing your loan to a lower interest rate could save some serious money over time,” Smart Money Awards judge Cathy Derus, CPA at Brightwater Accounting, says.


Best for: planning an impending retirement

What it is: Charles Schwab’s Intelligent Income portfolio program answers the retirement question you’ve been asking forever: “OK... how soon can I take my money out?” It formulates your best withdrawal strategy (with the lowest tax hit).

Why we love it: For people approaching retirement who need straightforward guidance, this is super simple to use. “If you’re not working with a financial planner, this is helpful for estimating how long your retirement money will last,” says Smart Money Awards judge Luis F. Rosa, CFP, host of the podcast On My Way to Wealth.