Build a Bond Ladder with ETFs

Exchange-traded funds give a new twist to an old technique to navigate a tricky market and manage cash flow.

Red ladders staggered from shortest to tallest with man climbing tallest ladder
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The bond world can seem set in its ways, but once in a while an innovative product comes along to upend the notion. In this case, we’re talking about target-maturity bond exchange-traded funds, currently offered by Invesco and iShares. The ETFs invest in bonds in a particular sector—corporate debt or municipals, say—with all of the bonds maturing in a specific year. How the ETFs work takes some explaining, and they’re not right for everyone. But they offer investors some unique benefits.

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Nellie S. Huang
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Nellie joined Kiplinger in August 2011 after a seven-year stint in Hong Kong. There, she worked for the Wall Street Journal Asia, where as lifestyle editor, she launched and edited Scene Asia, an online guide to food, wine, entertainment and the arts in Asia. Prior to that, she was an editor at Weekend Journal, the Friday lifestyle section of the Wall Street Journal Asia. Kiplinger isn't Nellie's first foray into personal finance: She has also worked at SmartMoney (rising from fact-checker to senior writer), and she was a senior editor at Money.