Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Life-Long Do-It-Yourself Investing Plan

The financial products available today can make do-it-yourself (DIY) investing very easy, as long as you don’t get distracted by bad ideas.  Here I map out one possible lifetime plan from early adulthood to retirement for a DIY investor that is easy to follow as long as you don’t get tempted by shiny ideas that add risk and complexity.

I don’t claim that this plan is the best possible or that it will work for everyone.  I do claim that the vast majority of people who follow different plans will get worse outcomes.

Most of my readers will be more interested in the later stages of this plan.  Please indulge me for a while; the beginning lays the foundation for the rest.

Starting out

Our hypothetical investor – let’s call her Jill – is at least 18, currently earns less than $50,000 per year, and has a chequing account at some big bank.  She has a modest amount of savings in her account earning no interest.  It’s about time she opened a savings account to earn some interest on her savings, but big bank savings accounts barely pay any interest.

So, Jill opens an online non-registered savings/chequing account at EQ Bank.  She chooses it because it’s CDIC-protected, transactions are free, and it currently pays 1.5% interest even though it lets you do the things a chequing account can do.  If EQ Bank ever changes its policy on offering competitive interest rates or free transactions, Jill will just switch to somewhere else that offers better terms.  It’s not worth switching for a small interest rate increase or for a limited-time offer, but if she can ever get say 0.5% more elsewhere, she’ll go.  (I mention EQ Bank because it appears to be among the best available for savings/chequing accounts right now; I get no money or other consideration for mentioning them.)

For now, Jill probably needs to keep her chequing account at the big bank.  The EQ account has to be linked to some other bank account, and you can’t access a bank machine through the EQ account.  It’s also good to be able to talk to a big-bank teller the rare time you need a certified cheque, to make a wire transfer, or to pay some bill you can’t figure out how to pay online.

Jill also opens a TFSA at EQ Bank.  It pays even higher interest, and she might as well earn the interest tax-free.  Sometime much later, Jill may want all of her TFSA room devoted to non-cash investments, at which time she can close this TFSA.  But for now her TFSA will hold some cash.

At this point Jill is learning about how TFSA contribution room works.  She’ll find that it’s best not to deposit and withdraw too often because you don’t get TFSA room back until the start of the next calendar year.  She should use her regular non-registered EQ account for more frequent transactions.

This plan will work well for Jill as long as she has fairly short-term plans for her savings, such as going to school.  As long as she will likely need her savings within 5 years, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it in cash earning as much interest as she can get safely and conveniently.

Let’s look at some potential distractions Jill faces on her current plan.

The bank teller says Jill should open a savings account and get a credit card.

Jill needs a good savings account, such as what EQ Bank offers, not a big-bank savings account that pays next to no interest.  If Jill gets a credit card, she should look for one that suits her needs, not take the conflicted advice of a teller.

All the cool kids are buying Bitcoin.

Jill is level-headed enough to know that she knows next to nothing about investing, never mind wild speculation in Bitcoin, or whatever is currently holding people’s interest.

Savings Start to Grow


At some point, Jill’s savings will grow beyond what she thinks she will need within 5 years.  Perhaps she has graduated, is working full time, and has no immediate plans to use all her savings as a down payment on a house.  She doesn’t carry credit card debt, has paid off her student loans, and has no other debts.  We’ll assume for now that Jill has no group RRSP at work and is making less than $50,000 per year, so that she’s not in a high tax bracket and has no reason to open a self-directed RRSP.  

Jill will still hold some cash savings she might need in the next 5 years in her EQ accounts.  Now it’s time to start investing in stocks with her longer-term savings.  Jill knows that stocks offer the potential for great long-term returns, but she has no idea which ones to buy.  Fortunately, she’s heard that even the most talented stock-pickers often get it wrong, so she’s best off just owning all stocks.  This may sound impossible, but the exchange-traded fund (ETF) called VEQT holds just about every stock in the world.  She can own her slice of the world’s businesses just by buying VEQT.  There are a few other ETFs with similar holdings, and it doesn’t matter much which one Jill picks.  (Once again, I mention VEQT because it appears to be among the best available stock index ETFs right now; I get no money or other consideration for mentioning it.)

Jill opens a TFSA at a discount brokerage.  It’s okay for her to have both this TFSA and the one at EQ Bank, as long as her combined contributions don’t exceed the government’s limits.  Any savings she adds to this new TFSA she uses to buy VEQT.  That’s it.  Nothing fancier.

The biggest lesson Jill needs to learn while her stock holdings are small is to ignore VEQT’s changing price.  Many people hope that their stocks won’t crash.  This is the wrong mindset.  Stocks are certain to crash, but we don’t know when.  We need to invest in such a way that we can live with a crash whenever it happens.  

Jill should just add new money to her VEQT holdings on a regular basis through any kind of market, including a bear market.  Trying to predict when markets will crash is futile.  She needs to accept that she can’t avoid stock crashes and that prices will eventually rise again.  This lesson is so important that Jill needs a different plan if she will panic and sell the first time VEQT drops 20% or more.  Learning that stock crashes are inevitable and calmly doing nothing different through them is critical for Jill's investment future.  Fortunately, in the coming years, Jill will focus on the safe cash cushion in her savings accounts when VEQT’s price drops.

What distractions could throw Jill off her plan now?

The bank says they can help Jill open a TFSA and invest her money.

The bank is just going to steer Jill into expensive mutual funds that will likely cost her at least 2% per year, which builds up to a whopping 39% over 25 years.  As incredible as it sounds, 39% of her savings and returns would slowly become bank revenue during those years.  It’s no wonder that bank profits are so high.  In contrast, VEQT’s fees are just 0.25% per year, which builds up to just 6% over 25 years.

The smart, sophisticated twenty-somethings are getting rich day-trading on Robinhood.

No, they’re not.  We only hear the stories about rare big temporary successes, not the widespread mundane losses.  Very few traders will outperform VEQT.  Over the long term, Jill will be ahead of more than 90% of investors and an even higher percentage of day traders.

Investing has to be harder than just buying one ETF.

In most endeavours, working harder gives better results.  With investing, you need to learn enough to understand the power of diversified, buy-and-hold, low-cost investing.  Beyond that, taking courses in stock picking will just tempt you to lose money picking your own stocks.

VEQT’s price is dropping! What should I do?


Inevitably, stock markets crash.  It’s hard to know how you’ll react until you experience a crash.  If Jill decides she really can’t handle a sudden VEQT price drop, her best course of action is to gut out this market cycle until VEQT prices come back up, and then choose a different asset allocation ETF that includes some bonds to smooth out the ride.  She can then stick with this new ETF into the future.

Rising income

Jill’s income is now enough above $50,000 per year that it makes sense to open an RRSP account at her discount broker.  She also has a group RRSP at work, and she contributes the minimum amount required to get the maximum match from her employer.  She would have participated in this group RRSP even if her income was lower because the employer match is valuable.

Jill figures out how much she’d like to contribute each year to her RRSP at the discount brokerage.  This has to take into account her RRSP contribution limit, her group RRSP contribution as well as the employer match, and the fact that there is little to gain from reducing her taxable income below about $50,000.  If she wants to add even more to her long-term savings than these RRSP contributions, she can save some money in her discount brokerage TFSA.

Next comes the decision about what to own in her self-directed RRSP.  Once again, she buys only VEQT.  Nothing fancier is needed, and most people won’t do as well as just owning VEQT.

When Jill looked into the details of her group RRSP, she was disappointed that the fees were so high; VEQT isn’t one of the investment options.  But she can’t get the employer match without choosing among the expensive funds.  So, her plan is to learn the vesting rules of her group RRSP, and once she’s allowed to transfer assets to her self-directed RRSP without penalties or losing the company match, she’ll make this transfer every year or two.  She’ll be careful to make these direct transfers from one RRSP to another rather than withdrawals.  However, when asking questions about the group RRSP rules, she’ll be careful not to reveal her plans to avoid the expensive fund choices.  The company operating the group RRSP may become less than cooperative if they know Jill has no intention of paying their excessive fees on a large amount of savings.

So, Jill now has VEQT holdings building in her RRSP and TFSA at the discount brokerage.  Her investment plan remains wonderfully simple.  But there are distractions ready to push her off this plan for easy success.

All the savvy thirty-somethings are talking about dividend stocks.

Most dividend investors are poorly diversified, but it’s possible to own enough dividend stocks to be properly diversified.  Does Jill really want to spend her time poring over company financial statements to choose a large number of dividend stocks?  Some people like that sort of thing.  Jill doesn’t.  She’s better off with VEQT.

Now that Jill’s savings are growing, surely she’s ready for a more sophisticated investment strategy.

Just about everyone who tries more complicated strategies won’t do as well as just owning VEQT.  Jill is best off just sticking with her simple plan.  She’s not keeping it simple because she’s not capable of handling something more complex.  It’s just that there’s no guarantee that a more complex strategy will perform better, and she’s not interested in doing the necessary work.  Jill used to be annoyed at people with more complex strategies because it made her feel dumb to have such a simple plan.  But now she just wishes these people well; she knows she has a smart strategy no matter what it sounds like to others.

Buying a home

Jill decides to buy a home in the next couple of years.  The cash she has in her EQ accounts isn’t enough for a down payment; she plans to use all of her investments in her discount brokerage TFSA as well as $35,000 of her RRSP investments through the home buyer’s plan.

Suddenly, money that she didn’t plan to use for at least 5 years has become money she wants to use sooner.  So, she sells the VEQT in her TFSA, and sells $35,000 of the VEQT in her RRSP.  This protects her home-buying plans in case VEQT’s price suddenly falls between now and when she buys her new home.

Jill still wants to earn good interest on her cash, so she checks out the options for cash interest at her discount brokerage.  Unfortunately, the interest rates are not nearly as good as what EQ Bank offers.  So, she opens an RRSP at EQ Bank, and arranges for TFSA-to-TFSA and RRSP-to-RRSP transfers from her discount brokerage to her EQ bank accounts.  She’s careful to make sure she isn’t making withdrawals, but direct transfers.

From now until she buys the home, she directs all new TFSA savings to cash in her EQ Bank TFSA to build her down payment. But she won’t use all her cash on hand as a down payment, because there will inevitably be expenses with a new home.

After buying the home, she plans to direct new savings to paying down the mortgage.  She’ll still participate in her group RRSP, but she won’t contribute to her TFSA or self-directed RRSP for a while.  She wants to get the mortgage down to a less scary level in case mortgage interest rates rise.  Once the mortgage is somewhat tamed, she’ll resume adding to her TFSA and self-directed RRSP, and she’ll invest in VEQT.

New distractions as well as the old ones are ready to push Jill away from her simple plan.

Isn’t it better to invest than pay off the mortgage while rates are so low?

This is good reasoning to a point.  It comes down to how stretched you are.  A quick test is to calculate what your mortgage payment would be if interest rates rise 5 percentage points.  If this payment would cause you serious problems, you’re probably best to pay extra on the mortgage for a while.  With her life ticking along so well, Jill sees no need to add risk.  Once the mortgage principal is down to a more comfortable level, she’ll resume adding to her investments.

Surely it’s finally time for a more sophisticated investment strategy.

Jill’s simple investment strategy is working well, and she’s busy with her new home, her job, and the rest of her life.  There’s no reason to believe a different strategy will work better for Jill.  As we’ll see later, there are ways for Jill to cut her investment costs, but her portfolio still isn’t large enough for the reduced costs to give significant savings, and she’s definitely not interested in doing the extra work necessary to get these savings.

Approaching retirement

Thoughts of retirement are entering Jill’s mind, but she’s not ready to stop working yet.  She’s amazed at how seemingly modest monthly savings have turned into large balances in her investment accounts.  She’s married now, and together with her husband they have 8 investment accounts including non-registered (taxable) accounts, TFSAs, RRSPs, a spousal RRSP, and a LIRA.  Across all these accounts, all they invest in is VEQT.  It couldn’t be simpler for DIY investors.

Jill still has a regular non-registered high-interest savings account (HISA); her only TFSA now (at the discount brokerage) holds only VEQT.  The HISA still holds cash she thinks she might need in less than 5 years.  This includes emergency savings and cash for anything expensive she anticipates buying.  Over the years she considered investing some of this cash in GICs, bonds, and other possibilities, but the interest rate on her account remained competitive with these other options, and having the cash ready at a moment’s notice is comforting.

Jill is starting to think about building her fixed-income investments anticipating retiring in less than 5 years.  This fixed-income allocation will include her HISA and some short-term bonds; she’s not interested in taking on the inflation risk and interest-rate risk of long-term bonds.  She chose the ETF called VSB for her bonds.  She plans to build her fixed income holdings slowly until it’s 5 times her annual spending by the time she retires.  All her stock holdings will remain in VEQT.

The family’s stock portfolio is now roughly a million dollars.  Even VEQT’s low 0.25% management expense ratio (MER) costs Jill $2500 per year.  She pays another cost as well: foreign withholding taxes (FWT) on the dividends of non-Canadian stocks.  This impact of this tax burden varies between registered and non-registered accounts and totals $2000 per year for Jill.

It’s possible to reduce Jill’s MER and FWT costs.  For example, there are U.S.-based ETFs that have lower MERs, and when they’re held in RRSPs/RRIFs, the U.S. doesn’t withhold dividend taxes.  Justin Bender has a portfolio he calls Plaid that cuts costs compared to VEQT.  My personal portfolio cuts MER and FWT costs by 0.29% per year compared to VEQT.  Benjamin Felix takes a different path to higher promised returns with his Five Factor Model Portfolio that seeks to give investors higher returns through exposure to known investment factors.  What all three portfolios have in common is their increased complexity compared to Jill’s plan.

So why shouldn’t Jill try to cut costs or get higher returns?  $4500 per year isn’t cheap.  Robb Engen made a compelling case for sticking with a simpler portfolio based on a single asset-allocation ETF, such as VEQT.  I’ll save further comment for the first distraction Jill faces below.

C’mon, don’t be a chump.  It can’t be that hard to run a portfolio that saves costs or boosts returns.

Running a portfolio with multiple ETFs and many accounts is a lot more work than it appears to be.  The complexity apparent in theory grows tenfold in practice.  Every decision we have to make is another opportunity for the recency bias baked into our brains to cause us to buy high or sell low.  Unless Jill would enjoy building a spreadsheet to automate a complex portfolio, it just isn’t worth her time and effort to try to save some of the $4500 she pays per year.  Many people who try to run a more complex portfolio will end up making costly mistakes that outstrip the savings they’re trying to achieve.  I run a somewhat complex portfolio with my big spreadsheet and scripts to send email alerts, but I tell my sons to just buy VEQT.

Why not pick your own stocks and do away with MER costs altogether?

For all but the best stock-picking professionals in the world, people are essentially picking stocks randomly.  Devoting countless hours to researching stocks ends up being no better than throwing darts.  To be adequately diversified, you must own many stocks.  The risks of owning too few stocks can be more costly than the small MER on VEQT.  Jill isn’t interested in devoting her life to researching stocks for what could turn out to be worse results than owning VEQT.

What about gold as an inflation hedge, or real estate for more diversification?

Unlike businesses, gold produces no earnings.  In fact, it costs money to guard gold.  Over the long term, gold returns have been dismal compared to stocks.  The array of businesses held by VEQT have vast real estate holdings.  Jill doesn’t need to buy more real estate.  There will always be investments that come with some sort of story, but Jill doesn’t need them.  She doesn’t need hedge funds, commodities, or IPOs either.

Retired

Jill’s thoughts have turned to how best to spend from her retirement savings.  She is maintaining her fixed income allocation in a HISA and the ETF VSB for a total of 5 years’ worth of her family’s spending.  The rest of her portfolio in all discount brokerage accounts is still in VEQT.  She spends from her HISA, and each year she sells some VEQT to replenish her fixed income allocation.

She has decided what percentage of her portfolio she can safely spend each year.  This percentage rises with her age, similar to mandatory RRIF withdrawal percentages.  In the years before she starts collecting CPP and OAS, she actually spends more so that she can live as well now as she’ll live after getting these government pensions.

Jill considered buying an annuity for more income certainty, but the lack of inflation protection in available annuities put her off.  She might consider buying an annuity later in her retirement when inflation will have fewer years to erode fixed payments.

Jill has been following her plan successfully for some time now, but she still faces distractions.

Stocks are sure to crash soon.  Jill has to protect her portfolio now that she’s no longer earning an income.

People are always making scary predictions.  The truth is that nobody knows when stocks will crash or when they’ll shoot up.  Jill has her fixed income allocation to buffer stock volatility.  If a stock market crash would devastate her finances, she probably should have begun retirement with a fixed-income allocation of more than 5 years of spending.  Selling stocks when she’s nervous and buying stocks when she’s comfortable is unlikely to work out well.

An insurance guy has this great variable annuity with guaranteed minimum lifetime withdrawals.  Your money gets invested inside the annuity and if it performs well you get higher payments.  But you always have your guaranteed minimum payments.

Insurance companies invent lots of products that make it seem like you can have your cake and eat it too.  Somehow, rising markets will make you rich, and with falling markets you get your guaranteed income.  To complete the magic, the insurance guy gets a fat commission for selling the variable annuity, and the insurance company makes money too.  All the children in Lake Wobegon are above average.  

Reality isn’t so wonderful.  Commonly, the fees applied to your investments within the variable annuity are very high, which significantly reduces the odds that they’ll perform well enough to give you higher payments.  Further, the guaranteed income typically isn’t indexed to inflation.  Decades of inflation crush the buying power of fixed payments.  It isn’t impossible for a variable annuity to be a good deal; I’ve just never seen one.

This pre-construction condo project pays 12% interest on a second mortgage.  That’s way better than the pitiful 1.5% interest on a HISA.

This is another example of an investment few people really understand.  If the borrower was likely to make the payments, someone who understands this business well would already have invested.  Whoever is selling this to Jill is hoping for a fat commission.  It’s dangerous to chase higher yield on money that’s supposed to be safe.

Conclusion

Jill’s plan was simple and she followed it successfully.  Her most difficult challenges were avoiding distractions and sticking with her plan.  There are many other plans that can work out well too, but constantly switching to shiny new plans won’t work out well.  More complex plans can seem sophisticated, but most people who follow such paths will get worse results than Jill got.

25 comments:

  1. Wow. Being a CPA and having been an avid reader of CCC, CPM Blog, JLCollins and yourself, quite a few friends have asked for advice regarding their investments, which they mostly have with the big banks. I can't say I'm the best teacher and after a few explanations, I have mostly referred them to these sites for them to gain personal knowledge. I think most were overwhelmed by all the information on these sites. I then moved to referring them to JLCollins stock series, which was the most concise information I could find (but not particularly tailored to Canadians), but then again I believe very few actually finished it or implemented a DIY investment plan. This post will be my new reference, just great!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Ferd,

      I'm glad you like it. Hopefully it will help some people.

      Delete
  2. This is probably the best article I've seen on investing and life. Great job! Thank you for this.

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    1. Hi Jim,

      You're welcome. It's amazing how much I needed to learn to be able to appreciate a simple plan.

      Delete
  3. Michael, one of the best all around investing article I have read. I was thinking of writing something similar (my skills are not even close to yours) for my teenage daughter but now I don't have to as you cover most of the important info. Thank you

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  4. Wow. Top quality.

    As others said, a great page that we can to point others to.

    .

    .

    Although, now that I've had a taste, I want more... If you're ever looking for inspiration for a v2 to make this even better, Michael — to serve as a reference for newbies — it would be this: add in links, in each section, to blogs posts you've written on that particular topic. That way this could be a one-page starting point, linking to all the more detailed info but as a narrative instead of a page of links. Can you picture what a resource that would be to those who are learning about the secret of simple personal finance? Perfection.

    But backing up from that product pitch, to present reality: great job condensing so much financial wisdom into such a quality post.

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    1. Hi Daryn,

      My wife observed that this post feels like the outline for a book. I like your idea better -- less work for me.

      Delete
  5. Wow, the more times your read this the more one appreciates it. Do you think if i show this to my advisor with the new BMW and Armani suit he could help me to implement this successfully?

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    1. Hi Paul,

      I'm sure your advisor could explain to you how you could do even better as his client.

      Delete
  6. Great Article. Definitely going to share this with my 17 year old daughter!

    What is your thought of using something like VBAL or VGRO vs VEQT and an HISA? Of course you would still need some money in an HISA for yearly spending, but maybe a single year vs 5 years? Has the current bond markets, worry about inflation impacted your suggestions?

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    1. Hi Joel,

      I haven't liked long-term bonds for some time. If ETF prodivers ever have an asset allocation ETF that uses only short-term bonds, I'd consider it. If interest rates go up, and the risk/reward for long-term bonds changes, I may change my mind.

      Delete
  7. Michael,

    If $1 million Jill were to implement your strategy of investing in US etfs, she would save 29% of the $4500 yearly in fees and withholding taxes? Is that correct?

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    1. Hi Larry,

      That's not quite it. She'd save about 0.29% of the million, or $2900. That is, if she executed it perfectly. She'd be trying to keep her overall portfolio of 8 accounts balanced while making periodic deposits (pre-retirement) or withdrawals (post-retirement). She'd also be trying to maintain near optimal asset location choices (along the lines of Justin Bender's Plaid portfolio). All this creates the need for lots of choices about how to rebalance and what to buy and sell in each account. But like everyone else, Jill is wired with a recency bias that makes it hard to sell things that have been rising or buy things that have been dropping. The very trades that give the most long-term benefit are the ones our brains insist on delaying or not making at all. This mistake along others make it doubtful that anyone could really save the $2900 unless portfolio decisions are fully automated. In the end, Jill would be doing a pile of work and not getting much, if any, reward. It may seem unreasonable to give up $2900/year, but it isn't.

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  8. Well written post Michael. I wish I was as level-headed as Jill in my younger years. I didn't accumulate vast amounts of debt, but I didn't really save anything worth noting until I was about 30 -- at 31 I bought my first house, used $20k from my RRSP along with $20k from my wife's. That left me with $20k left and my wife with nothing. We had no other savings. I've turned it around somewhat, and I'm glad I found the right books to teach me the value of low-cost index investing, preventing even more setbacks.

    I'm fairly comfortable with the path I'm on now fortunately.

    Looking back, I'm not sure how I could convince my younger self to behave differently. I'd done the math that showed how small investments young in life could drastically improve outcomes due to compounding. So it wasn't as if I didn't understand that saving and cutting back on spending was a good idea. I was too caught up on "living the good life" after completing my degree and getting a good paying job.

    I guess as I got into my late 20's, that voice in the back of my head told me I needed to change things. It's also probably not a coincidence that this happened around the same time I got married and, shortly after that, bought a house and had kids.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Returns Reaper,

      Thanks. I tried to make Jill's age and amount saved at the early stages vague enough to apply to other people's situations. My intent was to focus on her investing approach, but the article does have a heavy dose of sensible saving patterns as well.

      Delete
  9. Excellent work. Why would Jill not transition to VBAL and VRIF over the years as her risk tolerance diminishes? Within the registered accounts that transition would not trigger any tax events.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thanks. Unfortunately, VBAL and VRIF hold long-term bonds, which are currently priced to lock in extremely low interest rates for decades. If conditions change, she could do what you suggest, but the important thing is that her plan as it stands would work just fine. Tinkering around the edges is for people who like thinking about this stuff. She is one of the majority of people who'd much rather focus on anything else. She knows how to execute her existing plan and has no interest in trying to optimize.

      Delete
    2. I thought that might be it. Unfortunately, I don't think there would be 1 in a 100 investors who have the nerve to watch an all-equity portfolio drop (like it did a year ago) without doing something permanently damaging. For the 99%, a bonds portion will hlpe ensure against shooting yourself in the foot.....

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    3. I don't think the recommendation is for a 100% equity portfolio. Jill has 5 years of spending in her HISA and VSB (short term bonds). I asked the same question about why not VAL or VGRO.

      I do think there is a need for Jill to consider rebalancing over time especially if there is a market correction. Bonds/HISA play a role to both protect your losses in equities but also need to be used to rebalance manually if not going with an all in one ETF. Comments Michael?

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    4. Hi Stroller and Joel,

      I have my sons in 100% equity right now. They've been getting used to the gyrations starting from a very small portfolio. Hopefully, they are learning to not worry. Part of what helps is the cash they have in the bank.

      That said, I did say in the article that someone who would sell in the face of losses should add some bonds in addition to the stocks. Ideally, this wouldn't include long-term bonds.

      Joel -- When I say after retirement to have 5 years of spending in cash/bonds, I intend for this to be 5 years of the safe spending level, which would go up and down with portfolio size. This means rebalancing is necessary. However, for this article, rebalancing is a detail. Someone like Jill would naturally choose to spend less in retirement if her stocks crash. So, she would be implicitly rebalancing.

      Delete
  10. MJ, I am very impressed with your article and have sent it already to a couple of twenty-somethings who have curiosity about investing. You paint the picture very well that simplicity and avoiding distractions/noise is so effective to becoming wealthy.

    I have added your article to my personal finance library. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi David,

      Thanks. If this article gets widespread enough readership, maybe the mutual fund sales machine led by the big banks and others will develop some talking points for disparaging it.

      Delete
  11. When you write have 5 years of spending requirements in VSB and/or HISA, is this after CPP, OAS, and other safe pension payments are deducted from the yearly spending requirement or before?

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    1. Hi Larry,

      The way I do it for my own portfolio is to initially base the fixed income amount on 5X the full spending amount. But once I collecting CPP and OAS, I'll deduct those amounts from the spending before multiplying by 5. However, I don't think there's any magic to this approach. One could choose some other rule that would likely work comparably well.

      Delete