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Bond funds are more convenient because you do not have to plan ahead for when you need the money. If you fail to plan with a ladder, then you run the risk of having to sell before maturity.

Every time you allocate money, whether in a bond fund or laddering or anything else, you are planning ahead.

A bond fund does provide greater liquidity than a CD or a bond. But laddering provides essentially the same liquidity as a bond fund (depending on intervals between rungs in the ladder).

Every time I have money to allocate to fixed income, I need to decide what to do with the money. Being close enough to retirement to care about liquidity after retirement, that is part of the consideration. But let's not confuse liquidity with convenience.
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