If you are wondering whether to dive in, give a couple posts a quick read. You’ll capture the blog’s essence.
If after reading those The Stock Series is appealing, you will very likely enjoy it all.
If by the same token your reaction is, “This doesn’t feel right for me,” it very likely isn’t.
Part 1: There’s a major market crash coming!!!! and Dr. Lo can’t save you
Part II: The Market Always Goes Up
Part III: Most people lose money in the market
Part V: Keeping it simple, considerations and tools
Part VI: Portfolio ideas to build and keep your wealth
Part VII: Can everyone really retire a millionaire?
Part VIII: The 401(k), 403(b), TSP, IRA & Roth Buckets
Part VIII-b: Should you avoid your company’s 401k?
Part IX: Why I don’t like investment advisors
Part X: What if Vanguard gets Nuked?
Bond experiment: Return to VBTLX
Part XIII: The 4% Rule, withdrawal rates, and how much can I spend anyway?
Part XIV: Deflation, the ugly escort of Depressions
Part XV: Target Retirement Funds, the simplest path to wealth of all
Part XVI: Index Funds are really just for lazy people, right?
Part XVII: What if you can’t buy VTSAX? Or even Vanguard?
Part XVII-B: ETF vs. Mutual Fund — What’s the Difference?
Part XVIII: Investing in a raging bull
Part XIX: How to think about money
Part XX: Early Retirement Withdrawal Strategies and Roth Conversion Ladders from a Mad Fientist
Part XXI: Investing with Vanguard for Europeans
Part XXI-B: Investing with Vanguard for Europeans: 2020 Update
Part XXII: Stepping away from REITS
Part XXIII: Selecting your asset allocation
Part XXIV: RMDs, the ugly surprise at the end of the tax-deferred rainbow
Part XXV: HSAs, more than just a way to pay your medical bills
Part XXVII: Why I don’t like Dollar Cost Averaging
Part XXVIII: Debt –The Unacceptable Burden
Part XXIX: How to save for college. Or not
Part XXX: jlcollinsnh vs. Vanguard
Part XXXI: Too Hot. Too Cold. Not Pure Enough.
Part XXXII: Why you should not be in the stock market
Part XXXIV: How to unload your unwanted stocks and funds
Part XXXV: Investing for Seven Generations
Part XXXVI: Estate Planning 101 — The Simple Path to an Estate Plan
Things important, and unimportant
Mariah International: All that glitters…
Time Machine and the future returns for stocks
F-you Money: John Goodman v. jlcollinsnh
How I failed my daughter and a simple path to wealth
My path for my kid — the first ten years
What we own and why we own it: 2018
Putting the Simple Path to wealth into action
Why I can’t pick winning stocks, and you can’t either
Nightmare on Wall Street: will the blood bath continue?
Jack Bogle, the bashing of Index Funds and a Jedi dog trick
Social Security: How secure and when to take it
How to give like a Billionaire
Betterment: A simpler path to wealth
Why your house is a terrible investment
Rent v. Owning, opportunity costs and running the numbers
Death, taxes, estate plans, probate and Prob8
My guest post on MMM: It has never been about retirement
Mike & Lauren YouTube: Video Series based on the Stock Series
Mad Fientist says
The page I’ve been waiting for!
Everything you need to be a successful investor is right here so rather than take the time to write about any of these topics myself, I can now just link to this page instead 🙂
jlcollinsnh is now the official stock investing branch of the Mad Fientist! 😉
Hello, Jim! I’ve been hoping to pick your brain:
Hello, everyone. In need of some wisdom:
There is a (HUGE) chance that I’m leaving my job next year. By then, I will be fully vested, and therefore will qualify for my employer contributions (it took 5 years to reach this point). Employees and employers contribute 6% each.
I just received a pension newsletter – I am not impressed with the returns that they seem to be bragging about. Across 10 years, the most they’ve made is 6 – 8 percent. This year’s returns = 4%. I have done much better than this investing in index funds on my own. I also do not have access to their inception dates, so I don’t know how the funds have done from the start. The furthest I can go back is ten years.
My question is this: When I leave my job, I can either leave my pension sitting with the employer in full for the next 20+ years, or I can take my contributions and roll them into an IRA – which would disqualify me from employer contributions. With employer contributions, we’re talking about a total of 50k. If I cut and run, I’m only entitled to about 25k. It’s all or nothing – I must leave the money in there in full in order to qualify for employer contributions when it’s time to receive pension payouts.
Does it make sense to cut and run and invest my portion – the 25k – on my own, knowing in the end that I might do far better as an investor than my employer would? Or do I take the chance, leave all the money there, and worry for the next 20 – 30 years about state politics and mismanagement, both of which could gut the funds out from under employees. (There are not term limits in my state – our governor has threatened to gut pension in the past.) I have legitimate, real-world reasons for being concerned about the impact of our state’s politicians on employee pensions.
I ask about this also because pensions are notorious for mismanagement and under-performance. Your take would be greatly appreciated!
If I understand you correctly, you have 50K in your state pension fund and half of that was contributed by the state. If you leave your pension in place, you keep the whole 50K. If you roll it over, you can only pull the 25K you contributed.
Taking a 50% loss is not worth the move to better performing index funds. So I would grit my teeth and leave it.
However, you go on to say that you feel there is a real risk that the pension will be gutted and all your money will go up in smoke. If that is the case, clearly you want to get what you can out as soon as you can.
If you are vested, when you quit you can move 50 to your rollover IRA, not 25K
LOVE the blog…. LOVE it… even if I’m still afraid of throwing all my money into VTSAX…. hopefully I can get over it.
Here’s my question though, I just had a kid, I am very happy dumping a bunch of money into VTSAX for her as it will have lots of time to grow. Whats the best way to set up that account in Vanguard so that its hers but has no tax implications for me giving her that money. Do I set up an account in her name? Do I set up a separate account in my name with her as a beneficiary. If this question has already been addressed please point me to the right place as I’ve looked around and can’t find the specifics on the tax implications of claiming, giving etc…
Thank you SC!
Glad you like it!
Don’t worry about being afraid. VTSAX will be a wild ride over the decades and until you can be comfortable with that, and sure you’ll stay the course, it is better to wait. If when the market plunges you panic and sell you will be MUCH worse off than if you just sit in cash. Not that sitting in cash is a good idea: inflation nibbles away at it like rats in the granary.
For your kid, four options:
1. 529 fund. Money grows tax free in her name. Details here: https://investor.vanguard.com/what-we-offer/college/overview
2. UGMA. For a nice comparison between this and the 529 go to https://investor.vanguard.com/what-we-offer/college/overview
and find this on the opening page:
Other ways to save for education goals
Uniform Gifts/Transfers to Minors Act (UGMA/UTMA)
›Compare all college savings options
Click on: “Compare all college savings options”
3. Set up a regular taxable account for her in her name. Low taxes as she’ll be in a lower bracket than you.You’ll be the custodian and have control until she’s 18. Then it is hers. For better or worse. We did this for our daughter and it worked out fine.
4. Create an account in your name, earmarked for her. Max taxes, depending on your bracket, and max control.
Once she starts working, fund a Roth IRA for her in her name. We also do this for our daughter and it is the greatest gift you can offer as long as you train her to understand it is not to be touched. At the moment, you can fund it with $5500 0r the total amount of her annual earnings up to $5500, which ever is less.
We started a college fund for our first grandchild. Before it reached $2000 he developed leukemia at 7 months (our greatest sorrow). We had to remove the funds to prevent him from being ineligible for TEFRA funds to assist in the hugely expensive treatment. Above $2k would have made him in ineligible for help ( even a 529 college plan). We had $1600 in our2nd grandchild name when he was diagnosed with mild autism. So we had to take that money out also to keep him eligible for assistance. So no more money in children’s names! Use caution with putting money in children’s names.
I am very sorry to hear of your grandchildren’s illnesses. Thanks for sharing the cautionary tale.
May I ask a couple of questions?
1. How exactly did you remove the funds from the accounts?
2. Did you have to meet any time constraints in pulling it out?
2. Do the parents’ assets count toward assessing eligibility for assistance?
Would you recommend maxing out my 403b before I start allocating funds to Index Funds/Bonds? In reading your book I am curious as to where you recommend I put my money first?
Greenbacks Magnet says
I used to own the Vanguard 500 index VFINX but then switched to VTSAX b/c I wanted to have money invested in the whole market. One fund. Easy peasy. Thanks Mr. Collins.
Hello, I chose to invest in a condo before reading all about why it’s a bad idea. It’s currently taking 55% of my before tax salary. Some of that is putting money back for maintenance but we all know those are inevitable expenses. I have a 5 month emergency fund. Should I be investing more or making that fund larger since I do have a lot of liability. I also aknowledge that I should be saving more, currently about 15% but that mainly is a result of my housing expenses shooting up. I’m looking into being stricter and potentially finding a roommate. I live in Austin which has one of the fastest growing housing markets and mainly bought out of fear of being priced out of my home city. Should I sell my home in a few years? I’m pretty hesitant about that I admit despite all the evidence it’s a bad investment. Are there any exceptions for specific housing markets?
Part XVIII doesn’t link correctly
Try it now, should be good.
Mark A. says
Terrific compilation. We readers aiming for financial independence should run here and re-read the whole thing as soon as the markets tank next time. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom. – for free. It’s a real service!
I hope they do just that.
Even more I hope they remember that crashes, bears and corrections are all just part of the process. Regardless of the breathless media reporting.
mark priest says
Thanks Mr. Collins – I have forwarded the link to my whole family. You are a really great writer and make it easy to understand. Thank you for your efforts and serving us all. PS one of my goals when time permits is to see the East in the fall. Your comments about it over some of your posts have made it a priority.
My pleasure, Mark…
and thanks for passing it along.
If your travels out east bring you to NH let me know and we’ll have a coffee.
You rock! This was just what I was looking for and I was giddy as a schoolgirl to be immortalized on your blog. Seriously, ask my wife… I burst in on her with my laptop, grinning ear to ear, while she was getting the kids ready for bed. I think the new tab for the series is great… keep adding to the great content. 🙂
Well I hope she was suitably excited and the kids not so thrilled for you they couldn’t sleep. 😉
In your excitement, you probably left this comment in the wrong place. More folks will understand if they see it under the post I wrote announcing this and, in the process, immortalizing you as you so richly deserve. 🙂
Feel free to put it there too if you like.
Mrs EconoWiser says
Yay! I’ve sent the link to my dear husband. He sometimes thinks I’m a crazy woman when I’m responding to his questions about why we should throw more dough into index funds with: “Well, because jlcollinsnh SAYS SO! Read his articles and you’ll understand!”
I certainly hope he’s going to read all your great articles in the series.
You’d think “because jlcollinsnh SAYS SO!” would be enough. 🙂
Ah, well. I can always use more readers!
Mrs EconoWiser says
Haha! He’s halfway through the stock series now and he’s increased his monthly investment amount. 🙂
Awesome that you added this tab. Sounds like I’m not the only reader that comes back to the Stock Series again and again it’s such good stuff.
Actually, I’m also always referring back to these posts for one reason or another and it is amazing how much easier having this new page has made it for me too. 😉
Thanks Jim, looks great. It looks like your time traveling has spurred some great stuff so far, looking forward to even more.
Too bad I still can’t predict short-term market swings!
Judah Himango says
This series really helped me get a real perspective on investing. Thanks so much for this series of posts – I read them all in one sitting, then have revisited them over a few days!
Glad you found your way over here!
I came here from the Betterment blog (I see most people came from your guest post on MMM), your audience is growing larger. I have found your ideas of great help.
I just finished reading the stock series and I can only say THANK YOU.
Please keep up the good work.
As far as I know, you are the first to make his way here from Betterment.
Now that you’ve finished the Stock Series, you might be interested on my take on those guys: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/12/16/betterment-wants-to-give-you-25/
Glad you’ve found value here and I hope you’ll continue to comment.
Have a great 2014!
Mike P says
I recently found your site along with MMM and the Mad Fientist and I am loving everything I have read. I have implemented most of the stuff you teach here in my own finances. My question is about a traditional IRA vs a Roth IRA. I am 24 with a $50K salary. I noticed you are a big proponent of the Roth IRA however in Part XX, Mad Fientist contradicts this and suggests it’s better for someone in my position to use a traditional IRA. Just wanted to get your thoughts on this and if you actually recommend the traditional or Roth for someone in my position. Thanks for creating this amazing blog and I look forward to anything you might post in the future!
Thanks for the kind words. Glad you like it here.
Astute observation and great question.
Indeed MF’s analysis has altered my thinking. Go with the ideas in Part XX.
Mike P says
Thanks for the quick response! I was hoping you would say that since I already maxed out my Traditional IRA for 2014 haha
Can you share some thoughts on the optimal time to rebalance? Most things I read suggest once per year, but what if there is only, say a 5% change from one year to another? Another scenario might be a 20% change mid-year (or larger), do you rebalance at a predetermined market value threshold or wait until a certain rebalance date that might be year end for example. Thanks!
I’m not sure there is an optimal formula. Like changing the oil in your car. It’s less important (and everybody has a different opinion!) whether you do it at 3,5,7.5 or 10,000 miles as it is that you do it!
Personally, we do it once a year in April on my wife’s birthday. Makes it easy to remember and helps avoid the market distortions that sometimes happen at the very end/beginning of the year when everybody else is doing tax selling and new buying.
As you suggest, I’ll also rebalance when the market makes a big move up or down. 20% is a good benchmark.
Of course, I try to do all this in my IRAs to avoid any tax consequences.
Some contend that more frequent reallocations can improve performance over time and in fact Betterment, who I like and recommend, makes this case:
I’m not sure I fully buy the premise, but I do like the way they use your new contributions and any dividends to make it happen efficiently.
I have really enjoyed your blog and have found it immensely invaluable. I have shared it with my family and have begun making changes to my investments.
I have a (hopefully) simple question. You speak a lot about investing in both retirement accounts (401K, 403(b), Roth, etc. using VTSAX if possible) and a separate taxable index fund. What percentage of my non-living expenses cash should I be investing in my retirement account and in a separate taxable index fund? I currently do not have the income to max out my retirement account. Should that be my focus first?
Yes, I would max out your tax=advantaged accounts first, the goal being to keep as much of your money working and compounding for you (by paying less in taxes) over the years as possible.
If you have concerns about accessing this money before 59.5, this will help: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/12/05/stocks-part-xx-early-retirement-withdrawal-strategies-and-roth-conversion-ladders-from-a-mad-fientist/
Thanks for sharing the blog!
Chris A. says
Just wanted to say thanks for the great website! I opened my Vanguard account this morning and put $10K into VTSAX with a plan to make monthly deposits going forward. I love the stock series and the insightful writing, keep it up!
Thank you, Chris..
I very much appreciate the kind words and that you took the time to share them. 🙂
Seth McDevitt says
Good morning Jcollinsh,
I am a pastor, I’m 27, I currently participate in a 403b Its got about 8,000, I’m in the process of opening a Roth Ira (my wife already has one), do I also need to start a regular Ira or are the 403b and the Roth enough? I’ve also read you talking about maxing out tax advantaged accounts first so that more of your money can work for you longer. Does that mean I should start the Roth and leave it alone until my 403 b contributions are maxed out? Or should I be contributing to all of them simultaneously? We also have about 30,000 in an investment account through morgan stanley, It’s invested, but should we move it, should we leave it alone, should we add to it, would it be better in a tax advantaged or deferred account?
our savings rate is about 20 percent right now because we had a baby at the beginning of the year, and were still paying the hospital bills, but in 2 or three months we’ll be back to 50% I appreciate your blog, and it has been extremely helpful to me already.
Here is my basic hierarchy for deploying investment money:
–Fund your 403(b) to the full match, if any.
–Fully fund a deductible IRA, rather than the Roth. The reason is the money you don’t pay in taxes will compound for you over the decades.
–Finish funding the 403(b) to the max.
–Fund your taxable account with any money left.
If your $30,000 is in a taxable account you can’t just move it into a tax-advantaged account other than using this money to fund those. It is better to fund your tax-advantaged accounts with new money to keep your investment amounts growing.
I would, however, move it from MS to Vanguard for reasons I describe here: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/09/07/stocks-part-x-what-if-vanguard-gets-nuked/
Congratulations on your new baby!
Seth McDevitt says
Awesome. Thank you.
Age does not matter with this kind of strategy? I am currently 39 y.o. and my husband is 61 years old. We are planning to open a traditional ira for him and for me roth ira. then the remaining will go to taxable account. Any thought of this? we put 15% already to our 403b…’
Thanks in a million this blog helps a lot
Thank you for all the time you have dedicated to this blog and spreading this knowledge! I know it will save me quite a bit of time in my future…
I am a very appreciative potential success story from your formula. I am at the very beginning of my journey having only come across your blog in April. This is a lengthy self-serving comment as it is helping me reflect on the last couple of months!
I came here from GoCrackerCurry’s blog which I found out about in a Facebook post less than two months ago. In the first post I read on GCC they linked to your Stock Series and gave high praise. I came here and could not stop reading it!
It helped me make many concrete changes in my life that I had contemplated but just did not move forward with– I did not have a retirement savings account to my name (well I had a couple open but they were not actually funded!) nor did I have a concept of FI or “F” YOU money. I focused on retiring at 60+ in the manner mainstream financial media is always harping about and in the mean time I just imagined earning “forever” and accumulating a ton of rental properties (you could say I am pretty optimistic in a sense).
I am 28 now but I worked from 18-26 years old without a dime (or property) to show for it. Luckily I started to turn that around and saved about $20,000 since then. I am glad I came across your blog at this time. Those funds were collecting dust in a savings account (could be worse than earning 0.75% APR with no fees but that is not exactly having the money work for me). Since starting to read your blog in April, I have now contributed the maximum $5500 to a Vanguard Traditional IRA for this year into VTSMX (I’ll exchange that over to VTSAX next year when I contribute my next $5500), purchased $10,000 of VSIAX (somehow I strayed from ALL your advice and was enticed by the small cap fund, was this a mistake?) in a non-retirement Vanguard account, and have set up my biweekly paycheck contribution to my company’s 401k in an S&P index fund (JFIVX) at $692.30 to get me to the max $18,000 annually (this is very recent, only two deductions so far). Unfortunately my 401k does not match and the S&P index fund has a pretty high 1% expense ratio but it happened to be the lowest of all available funds in my company’s plan. In any case I am still looking forward to the reduction in my AGI!
I have a lot of growing to do in my life financially (my FI number is about $270,000), professionally (I never finished college but am back on pace to do so in 2017-18 and I recently received a promotion and raise but have a lot more to do), and personally (college, learning, relationships). I believe your blog is helping me tremendously and in more than one area and I really appreciate it. At this point I do not have the fortitude to leave the working world voluntarily as you did many times until I reach full financial independence but in any case your information has shown me the way. I project I should reach this by the time I hit 37 which is not bad considering just two months ago I was mapping my working life through 65 and arbitrarily setting a milestone of accumulating a seven figure nest egg.
The numbers I present here are superficial and just to illustrate my takeaways from your blog. However the knowledge and entertainment I find in your blog is priceless and was my first in depth exposure to the FI perspective of personal finance which is antithetical to everything I used to read (and I am glad).
Thanks for all your help so far,
Thanks so much for sharing your story. You made my day. 🙂
…and I’m pleased to hear I may have played a small role in laying the foundation for your future success. You’re off to a fine start.
As for VSIAX, it is not a “mistake” but it is a very focused fund. Still, small caps do well over time and now that you own it, while I might not add to it, I’d just hold it for the long term.
Enjoy your journey!
I am here to thank you yet again with just over a year having passed since my last comment. You really helped me set a foundation for these types of things. My net worth has a bit more than doubled to 51k and is growing with every paycheck since my savings and investments are automated. I am about 20% towards my FI number. It hits me once in a while that I truly have “F-you” money and could leave my job/city/state/country at least temporarily if I cared to! I finished my A.S. in Business and am transferring this fall to a state school (by the end of it I will have no student debt and have paid less than $25k for my four year degree). I have a wonderful fiance as of a week ago and she is a major force in our FI plan! Of course those are just some ways to measure a life’s worth and I recognize everyone has different values and targets and I feel I am fortunate to be where I am and fortunate again to feel happy about where I am!
I feel that with the information I gained from your site I could do well without reading another finance blog, book, or article but still I do for the entertainment and further insights. That being said, I have just ordered the Simple Path to Wealth on Amazon.
Thanks for everything!
Rich C says
I’m so excited I bumped into your website and all these other FI blogs. We have been saving like you do, but never really had anyone/thing to model it after and your blog allows me to make a lot of useful adjustments. I never really thought about the fees I was paying for my S&P500 index fund through USAA. Turns out i’m only paying .15 percent vs. the .05 I would pay with vanguard. I’m guessing, since I already bought my positions, it doesn’t make sense to sell them and move them over to Vanguard, I’ve already paid the fee. I could, however, put my future contributions into a vanguard s&p or total stock market and make a little more money with a slightly lower fee. Between my wife and I, we have about $250k in Roth IRA USAA S&P500 mutual funds. Does this sound right to you?
While .15% is modest as ERs go, there is no reason to pay it if you can get the same portfolio for .05%.
At the very least I would open a Vanguard account for any new monies.
As for transferring the current balance, it depends on your capital gain and tax consequences.
If you hold these funds in tax-advantaged accounts you can switch without concern.
If not, you’ll want to assess your potential capital gains tax liability. For more on this, check out my recent conversation with Erin:
Joseph Kent Craig says
Hey, love the blog and especially this list. Though could you possibly make the links open up in a new window? So that it is easier to go back and reference this page?
Good idea, Joseph.
I love your blog, I just wish you’d written it about Australia. I can’t seem to find any good Australian based literature, I don’t suppose you’ve stumbled across any worthy reading material re the Australian stock market in your time?
I’d love to write about Australian investing. Unfortunately, so far no one has offered to pay me to live there for 10 or 15 years to learn about it. 😉
Inspire of the title, you might find this post useful: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2014/01/27/stocks-part-xxi-investing-with-vanguard-for-europeans/
Read especially the comments as several Aussies have offered their perspective in them.
Dear Mr. Collins,
I have enjoyed your website, great job! I wanted to know what you think of gold , silver and commodities in general. Have you made or lost money on them? I have collected coins (both gold and silver) since I was five years old . I have made a good profit owning them , but I do understand them. I have to say that I am a fan of Jim Rogers. Thanks for your thoughts, have a great vacation.
I haven’t written a post about gold and other precious metals, but I did address the subject in this conversation:
A number of years ago I read and enjoyed Jim Rogers’ book, “Investment Biker” about his round the world motorcycle trip and commentary on the world markets of the day.
But, as for investing, he’s an active investor pursuing strategies that are far to complex and require far too much effort for my taste. Especially given the track record of index investing.
When I was a boy, I inherited a small coin collection. I tried to get into it, but I have an aversion to collecting things. After a few years I sold it. Didn’t get much and sometimes I kinda wish I’d just tucked it into a draw. It might be fun to check in out today. Of course afterwards, me being me, I just sell it. 🙂
Hi Jim ,
Thanks for you response, I use to see Jim Rogers with his custom made Mercedes Driving around all the time. He is a very smart guy. On the side note we just bought a house and I showed my wife your list of why homes are a terrible investments. We do agree with you and we just had to move for the school system. It normally takes us about three to five years to look for a house and we look at over a hundred homes before we make the final decision. I know it might sound crazy but this way we buy below the market price . We also negotiate more than others. We have not lost money on the past two purchases even one during the housing bubble. I counted all the repairs, fees , taxes,closing, buying, selling, and opportunity costs. We have learned that if the house is purchased at the right price from the beginning it’s hard to lose much.
Frankies Girl says
LOVE this series! All I can say is read this, and you’ll be doing this later:
Hope the gif works! 🙂
It works, but you have to click on it.
Worth doing. Too funny!
I even made it a Note at the beginning of the post.
Hi! Would like to pick your brain about Vanguard when you have a moment. (I was directed to your series by Budgets Are Sexy!) I am intrigued! My 401K has the following Vanguard options: Vanguard 500 Index FD Admiral (VFIAX), Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund Admiral (VIMAX), Vanguard Small Cap Index (NAESX), and Vanguard Tot Stock Mkt Index (VTSMX). I put 100% in the Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund Admiral but I am wondering if I should I split up between these after reading your article. I do have a choice of Vanguard Target Retirement too. Any insight you could provide to a novice would be wonderful. Embarrassed to ask but decided to go for it anyway!
My choice would be VTSMX. VFIAX would be fine, too.
TRFs can work, depending on your needs.
Keep reading thru the Stock Series and you’ll soon understand the reasons why.
Thank you for your feedback. I made the changes to my retirement plan. My husband and I have set our sights on his 401K as well. I will continue to read the Stock Series! Thankful to be creeping out of the dark when it comes to investing.
Have a question that I would like you advise on. I have sold a bunch of my American Century Funds (traditional/Roth IRA $) for VTI recently to decrease my expense ratios. My wife still has approximately $250,000 (traditional IRA) in 2 Columbia Acorn International funds (ACRNX and ACINX) She says that ACINX is a closed fund? Anyway the expense ratios are 0.97 and 0.80 and I want to possibly sell and buy more Vanguard funds. The Columbia funds have been held since the early 90’s and have done OK over the years, but “when” is a good time to pull the plug and reduce expenses? And do you do all or some? After selling my Amer Cent funds we now have a fair amount of VTI. Many thanks for any comments and keep up the great work!!
Since these are held in an IRA there will be no tax consequence to the sale. That being the case, once you decide what you want to do, do it then. And no reason not to do it all at once.
Saw this today and thought of you. Sounds like you and John Oliver would get along!
any chance someone could combine all of those stock series into a single pdf formatted for friendly printing?!
I’m not sure how I feel about that Jeffrey…
Jeff Diritto says
I retain a lot more info when I read on paper vs a screen. I also prefer my toddlers see me reading books/papers not screens.
Me, too, Jeff…
That’s one of the reasons I wrote The Simple Path to Wealth
FYI – You could probably take all of these articles, do some ‘house cleaning’ and sell an e-book pdf of them combined. I used to coach in the sports performance world and have previously purchased a few internet forum summary ebooks that were put together under a similar idea – spend 25$ to get a ton of info in an easier to digest format, somewhat categorized with the top viewer responses included.
Maybe I need to make that ad in the right-hand column even bigger… 😉
The Simple Path to Wealth takes the info in the Stock Series and other posts and presents it in a more concise and better organized fashion. The writing is more polished as well. At least I spent more time polishing it, which might not be the same thing. 🙂
Kindle version is $9.99
I’ve been quietly binging on this stock series and re-reading most. I also just read The Simple Path to Wealth book in 2 sittings. Thank you so much for putting investing in such a simple and easy to follow format. I’ve re-arranged all of my accounts 80/20, have switched to an S&P 500 index within my 401K, opened a taxable account for my extra money and will continue to fight the urge to stock pick 🙂
and thanks for checking in.
I’m pleased you enjoyed and found value in both my book and my blog.
Now all you need do is stay the course when the plunges come. 🙂
I am very new to investing and have some questions. I luckily stumbled upon your blog and it has really made me (more) interested in investing. I recently and most likely prematurely, our of irritation of paying other peoples mortgages, bought a condo in the very expensive (fast growing) area of Northern Virginia, DC Area with the intention of having an investment property in the near future. With my current job coupled with affording a mortgage by myself, finding extra pennies to invest is not an easy task. What are your thoughts on how to slowly get started and what are your thoughts about getting started with other low cost mutual funds. i.e some that Charles Schwab offer that require lower initial investments as well as low expense ratios? (SWPPX just as a quick example)
Also, my company recently decided to let go of the retirement pension (very small amount, but I figure this may be a way to slowly get started) and I am forced to decided between cashing it, rolling it into my 401K, Traditional or Roth IRA? I just turned 25 with barely anything to my name, what do you suggest between traditional or Roth– will I lose valuable opportunity to gain interest from being taxed if I choose Roth?
Thanks for your blog and words,
Personally, I’d stick with Vanguard.
You can get into the “investor shares” version of VTSAX, VTSMX, for an intitail $3000 investment: https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0085&FundIntExt=INT
If that is too steep, $1000 gets you into one of their TRFs: https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0085&FundIntExt=INT
If $1000 in too steep, you need to ramp up your savings rate. 🙂
For my take on IRAs and 401Ks: https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0085&FundIntExt=INT
Too bad about the condo, renting is usually a much less expensive option.
Update! I was saving about as much as a possibly could and couldn’t seem to accumulate any wealth. Enter (lucky break) roommate of a good friend from school that was moving to my exact area. I was able to rent out an extra room in my condo and am well on my way to actively investing in some Vanguard funds in my near future. Also I turned towards some credit cards that offered rewards (thanks to maintaining my great credit, through that stressful time of bill overload). These credit cards catered directly to what I spent most of my money on helped me use points to pay off my bills. I sent every bill possible, that didn’t require an extra fee for paying with a credit card, to my credit card and made sure I paid on time, resulting in great rewards. This really helped me get started on saving money. I am out of the woods and will be renting my condo out in the near future and moving in with another roommate to save even more money. The credit card was a great help for someone who was really struggling to save money and at times heavily stressed throughout monthly bill time.
Thanks for your posts and website, they have truly whipped me into shape and vamped up my savings. I have even passed on my learnings (and your website) to my friends and family.
Thanks to my EXTREME frugality, I was able to never experience true debt, i.e. was never behind in payments and getting hit by brutal APRs. Although I have been lucky enough to avoid such a downward spiral, my sister and brother-in-law have not. They do not make much money but have about $25K in credit card debt and make about $70K a year (she is currently a stay-at-home mom). What do you suggest in terms of consolidating debt? A personal loan? A credit card that offer 0% transfer fees and a low APR for 18 months? I would love to forward the message along, she may listen to a “pro” as opposed to her younger brother– ’cause who wants to listen to your little brother teach you how to get out of debt…
25k in debt against 70k in income is a hair-on-fire emergency.
First, they need to stop digging the hole. No more spending.
Next, your sister needs to go back to work at least part-time until this is paid off. Hours different than her husband so there is no childcare costs.
Things like consolidating debt, personal loan, a better credit card are all just lipstick on the pig.
I recently came across your website and have been reading your stock series like a mad man! This is awesome stuff! You spell things out to where a dummy like me can understand, and you even throw a lot of comedy in there as well! Love it!
I started investing when I got my first job out of college when I was 23. I remember being asked how I wanted my money invested in my 401k plan. I literally was more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles!! I’m honestly still scratching my head to this day as to how I made it through high school and college without being forced to take one investing class ????.
I recently turned 30 and have been educating myself on investing over the years. I’ve never understood why folks make it so complicated, when in reality it should be so simple! Thank you Jack Bogle!
I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful series and let you know that I’ll be forwarding it to all my friends and family.
…I appreciate the kind words!
Slow Dad says
Great work Mr Collins.
In 30 posts I think the only thing I disagreed with was the not needing to invest internationally. That is remarkable, normally I disagree with pretty much everybody!
Most of your lessons translate well for us Europeans, though the “4% rule” would need to be treated more like the “2.5% rule” to avoid running out of funds.
Keep up the good work!
Have you read this: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/opinion/putting-clients-second.html ?
Could we say that, in the case of Vanguard, their best interest is ours too?
Nope haven’t read it, but…
Yep, the cool thing about Vanguard is that its interests and those of its investors are precisely aligned and that is unique.
I ended up at your blog from the frugalwoods blog. Reading your blog has been very informative. I would really appreciate if you could give some input on my situation.
My wife and I are slightly disadvantaged in the sense that we moved to the US from Mexico when we were in our late 30’s. Our not-so-significant retirement savings in Mexico have depreciated a lot compared to the USD in the last few years (1 USD used to be around 10 MXN, but now it is close 20). So for all practical purposes we can ignore the Mexican savings for retirement calculations.
Lately I have been thinking about retirement and what can one do beyond 401k. I am worried since all the age vs retirement savings calculators assume you start saving right after college, which in our case is off by 10 years. I am looking for all the different ways to make up for the lost time. Here is a summary of our situation:
1. Annual income: ~250k
2. Employer 401k: We max it out each year. It was in target retirement funds, but I moved it to VINIX and VITPX funds recently. I came across the front-loading blog post and will start doing that soon.
2. TRA: Cannot make deductible contributions due to AGI limits but this year I maxed out 2016 TRA limits even though it is non-deductible and then converted it to Roth IRA using the backdoor method.
3. Roth IRA: We cannot contribute directly due to AGI limits but thanks to the backdoor Roth we have roughly 30k in VSTAX now.
4. NYS 529: We are in NY and get a state tax break, so I have been maxing that out every year for the last 3 years.
5. Company ESPP: I get a 15% discount, so I have been maxing out the 10% allowance for the last 3 years, and the company is pretty stable, the stock has been going up steadily.
6. Mortgage (2.7% APR): I have been paying extra each month due to which we will chop 4 years off of the 15 yr term.
7. Vanguard brokerage: I have started to contribute to this every month.
8. Individual stocks: I made some bad investment decisions with some stocks and will take 3k deduction each year for the next three years. I have since learnt my lesson and stopped investing in individual stocks.
Is there anything else that we can do to make up for the lost time? I am highly motivated to do whatever it takes and retire early.
Sounds like you’ve got things very well sorted, YSL…
Max out the tax advantaged accounts you have access to and then aggressively fund your taxable accounts. Your savings rate in the most critical factor. Check out the addendum in this post: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/05/16/stocks-part-vii-can-everyone-really-retire-a-millionaire/
Also, 2.7% is a sweet mortgage rate. Rather than pay it down, I’d invest those dollars. See my hierarchy at the end of this post: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2015/03/26/stocks-part-xxviii-debt-the-unacceptable-burden/
Enjoy the journey!
Is participating in an ESPP and selling to get the 15% worth it if I sell the stock as soon as they’re in the account? Then rolling the money into vtsax twice per year. I can continue up to 25k per year doing this but can’t figure out if I’m better off just doing putting the 10% straight into vtsax and skipping the ESPP.
Thanks in advance
I’m sorry I miscalculated the numbers in my recent post 🙁 Hoping you can ignore it and use the info below:
I found your blog via the Mad Fientist a couple of months ago and I have been following it since. I also just finished reading The Simple Path to Wealth, which I really enjoyed. I am 46 years old and single –I know am late to this, but I have been saving and I want to make sure I do the best that I can to make wise investments for retirement (for now, I am hoping to retire in about 15 years). For the longest time, I have been terrified of investing in the stock market, but after reading your book, I feel like I’ll be able to do it. Over the past couple of weeks I have been transferring my IRA’s over to Vanguard to get things ready.
I wanted to run the numbers by you and get your opinion:
Income: $170K year
Vanguard SEP IRA: $200k cash
Vanguard Traditional IRA: $37k cash
Fidelity Traditional IRA: $53k of FCNTX
401k: $137k allocated to a Growth Model Portfolio (currently maxing this out every year)
High Yield Savings Account (1.04% Interest Rate): $240k
TOTAL ASSETS: $667K
I would like to keep about $150k cash aside since I am starting to look into possibly investing in rental properties. Assuming I have $517k left to invest, I would do the following based on a 75/20/5 allocation:
(1) Vanguard SEP IRA: Buy $103,400 worth of VBTLX, and $96,600 of VTSAX)
(2) 401k: Move ALL assets ($137K) to VINIX (they do not offer VTSAX) & change all future contributions to VINIX
(3) Fidelity Traditional IRA: Sell FCNTX & transfer $53k to the Vanguard TRaditional IRA
(4) Vanguard Traditional IRA: Buy $37k plus $53k of VTSAX
(5) Buy $64,150 ($387,750 – $323,600) of VTSAX in a Vanguard Brokerage Account
What do you think? Thank you I really appreciate all your knowledge and advice!
I just finished parts 1-30 and although I am from Canada, I still read those parts that are US-focused. I would like to say THANK YOU to you because I really learned a lot. I’ve lost of a lot of money in the past (e.g. got into mutual funds and sold them on 2008, bought a house! *sad*, buying individual stocks, trying to time the market, etc. ) because of all the emotions and lack of knowledge I had with investing. With your stock series, I was able to understand why I lost our hard-earned money, why those actions were a mistake and what I should do moving forward in order to be successful in accumulating wealth. Wish me luck please. My husband and I are currently putting aside 35% of our salaries and within this year, we are hoping to get an additional 150k from selling our house overseas (we’ll sell it a lost *sigh*). Hoping that will give us a good head start for 2017. Thank you very much again.
You are very welcome, Tutut…
…and thanks for your kind words. It is always a pleasure to hear when this blog or my book has been of help.
Good luck and enjoy the journey!
Thank you very much for all of this useful information! As a beginner investor I have all my money on Vanguard VASGX. I thought diversification into international markets would provide buffer for volatile times. As I read your posts the questions arises that maybe more aggressive stock placement in VTSAX could be better given that I am only 29 years old. Additionally, VTSAX is cheaper and less taxes are involved. What is your take in the Life strategy vanguard funds?
Thank you very much.
Here you go, MJ:
I cannot thank you again how much I love this book and blog. I’ve ordered several copies of the book for friends and family members. My young adult daughters are so on board. My husband and I are pulling the trigger and are leaving full time employment in February next year. We have our F-you funds between our investments and pensions. We are in our mid fifties and are so excited to do this while we are relatively “young.”
Wife and I are looking to invest in the VTSAX. I currently have a bunch of company stock that I am going to sell to dump into it but was curious if we have a chance to pay off our last car and still be able to invest heavily into the VTSAX, should we do that? Or should we continue paying it off and put everything that we planned into the VTSAX?
Plan is to move car payment to a monthly deposit into the VTSAX. better to pay off at later date or pay off now if able too.
depends on the interest rate and your risk tolerance.
For more: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2015/03/26/stocks-part-xxviii-debt-the-unacceptable-burden/
Dear Mr. Collins,
I just wanted to say thank you thoroughly for putting such a well thought out and easily understandable collection of thoughts together on the subject of investing. After finally paying down a total debt balance of $90K last June, my attention shifted from becoming debt free to becoming Financially Independent. I started off by reading everything I could get my hands on and just when I thought I had it all figured out, I ran into the problem of how to break out our investments and keep to an asset allocation between multiple accounts. After reading and re-reading your stock series I finally made the decision to jump head first into VTSMX. A little over a year later, we now have a Net Worth just shy of $100K and growing. I’ve used your advice and kept things as simple as possible using this fund for every account we have (Luckily it’s offered as part of my company’s 401K plan). A month ago I even starting blogging as a fun way to force us to stay on track. (Very new to this and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing yet ha). Again I can’t thank you enough for the research you’ve done and always enjoy reading your posts! P.S., I am a big Audible fanatic as I drive a lot and have had your book “The Simple Path to Wealth” bookmarked in my wish list and just noticed it’s finally available in audio form! Cant wait to listen!
Thanks for the very kind words. Glad you’ve found my stuff helpful.
Congratulations on your progress and the new blog. I wish you continued success with both.
This is kind of embarrassing because everybody here seems to have big incomes, tons in retirement or be very young but already saving. I am 57, just went thru a divorce, husband has us in foreclosure, and I am living with a relative. My company started late and does Mass Mutual, my retirement so far is only about $17,000. I have some PNC stock I’ve had for years probably worth about $10,000 , a small Mutual fund worth about $3000, and a few thousand in savings. That is it! I am just about $3000 away from paying off my cards completely to be debt free and only make about $32,000 a year. I have to plan a future of a single getting older woman and I want to save big time and see my money grow. The day I can’t live here anymore I’m in big trouble because can’t afford an apartment here in the northeast on my salary. But what should I be focusing on besides paying off this last credit card? And should I see about a Vanguard fund and which one at this age. Obviously with my income I will be working for years to come… Thanks in advance
Nothing to be embarrassed about. We all start somewhere and most never even find a site like this to begin the journey.
First, you’ll want to continue paying off that debt.
Next you’ll want to get a firm handle on what you are spending. Personally, we keep a simple spread sheet that shows categories like rent, food, restaurants, cable, car, cell phone etc. Then, at a glance, you can see where your money is going.
You’ll want to bring that spending under control and sites like http://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/12/19/uber-frugal-month-the-ultimate-guide-to-saving-more-money-than-you-ever-thought-possible/
Once you begin that process, you can read thru this Stock Series and the related posts (or my book which is the same info in a more concise version) to begin to understand how to invest.
Then you are on your way.
You also want to keep a positive outlook and perspective on your situation. This post should help:
The important thing is to begin.
Thanks so much for the response! I will read those links and start from there. One more question: so many of my facebook friends are posting about bitcoin. Ya know, don’t miss the bus again kind of stuff. If you don’t get into cryptocurrency you’re a loser. What do you think of bitcoin?
And P.S. which Vanguard fund should I consider at my age (57) and if my Mass Mutual 403b at work will let me choose one.
Read this Stock Series
I don’t think about bitcoin much at all.
Seems a very risky investment just now and who knows how/if it will play a role as a major currency.
Certainly you should read and research far, far, far more before making a move into it.
Walk before you run and all that. 😉
Dear Mr. Collins,
Thanks for all this value information. I am new about investing and this blog has helped me a lot. I have a couple of questions for you that I hope you can help me with your knowledge.
I am 33 years old living in Canada and currently working. I have an RRSP (US 401k) with the company that I am working for but the only allow me to contribute 5% of my money. I am planning to use one of your ideas to open another RRSP where I can invest some extra money. My plan is to hold 80% stocks/20% bonds but I am not sure if I use VAB (FTSE Canada All Cap Index ETF) or VUN (U.S. Total Market Index ETF) for the stocks part. For the bonds parts I am planning to use VAB (Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF). The other idea was to use 40% VAB and 40% VUN. Any advice?.
This questions is about a TFSA (US Roth IRA) that my brother, sister and I are planning to open for my parents. Unfortunately, my parents do not have any money saved for their retirement and for any other emergency that can come in the future (they are in their 60’s now). We are planning to contribute about $130 monthly but not sure what type of investment to use since we are not sure when this money is going to be need it (5, 10 years). Do you think any of you strategies could work in this situation?.
Thanks for your help!!!
I’m afraid I don’t know anything about Canadian funds. But the Canadian market is very small, so be careful about overweighting it.
You might want to check out these guys: http://www.millennial-revolution.com/investworkshop/
As for your parents, if this money is going to be used in 5 years you should keep it in cash. Longer term, a blend of VTSAX and VBTLX adjusted depending on how long out you are going.
Or, just keep investing on your own and help your parents out with cash once they need it.
Nicolas Chenail says
Dear Mr. Collins,
I’m a big fan of your blog and really enjoyed reading your new book. Thank you for providing all this free great information for us, it’s literally life saving ! I’ve learned a lot and I’d like my family and friends to do the same, so I wanted to buy them a copy of your book. Unfortunately, they would only read it if it were in french (we’re living in Quebec, Canada).
I was wondering if you plan on translating it in french? If not, would you consider me doing it? I speak french and English fluidly since my childhood. Please get back to me if it’s something you would be interested in!
always a pleasure reading your blog, keep it up!
your Canadian friend,
…glad you like it.
Thanks, too, for the offer to translate the book. Unfortunately I can’t accept for various legal reasons with my publishers.
That said, if you want to translate parts for your personal use and family and friends, please feel free. Glad to see the message spread. 🙂
Nicolas Chenail says
I figured so! Are you or your publishers considering writing a french version somewhere along the way then? It would help spread your good content!
I think you should think about it
Thanks for writing this series! It’s great and confirmed a lot of my thinking.
I have one question though. One of your rules is to focus on a single best performing asset class in history, which is stock market, and that’s fine. But how about focusing on best performing sub-classes of stock market?
I think that value companies tend to outperform total market. Also, mid-cap-value significantly outperform total market and small-cap-value significantly outperform mid-cap-value. I checked all possible 30-year periods using https://www.portfoliovisualizer.com/backtest-asset-class-allocation and found it true for all periods (1972-2001 to 1987-2016). Mid-cap-value and small-cap-value sub-classes is what performs the best during these periods.
Should we really stick to total stocks fund then?
I know that my research has a short timeframe. I only have small data sample, starting at 1972. This means only 16 periods of 30 years since then. I’d love to test this using longer timeframes, but I’m not sure where to get the data from. But my timeframe includes 1987 Black Monday crash, 1990 recession, 2000 dot-com bubble and 2007-09 bear market. I know that past performance is not indicative of future results, but you also consider past performance when proving that stock market always goes up, so I guess this shouldn’t be an issue.
Also, the logic dictates that on average smaller companies should perform better than larger ones. Of course such companies have bigger risk of going out of business, but since MSCI US Small Cap 1750 Index includes 1750 companies, it’s diversified enough to don’t worry about it and take it as a whole.
I still wouldn’t want to risk going all-in with small cap companies. The diversification in terms of quantity is fine, but not in terms of quality. Things could go wrong with US economy or with globalisation which could make small companies uncompetitive. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a possibility.
But I entertained the following idea and would love your thoughts about it.
The casual investment wisdom tells to diversify between safe and aggressive assets, considering bonds as safe and stocks as aggressive. Why not to put this casual wisdom to work, but redefining what’s considered safe and aggressive? Since you, me, and probably most of your readers consider total stock market funds as safe assets (assuming long enough investment horizon), the natural candidate for aggressive assets are better performing sub-classes of the stock market.
Why not to split investments between total US stock market fund (VTI ETF), US mid-cap value fund (VOE ETF) and US small-cap value fund (VBR ETF)?
Playing with backtest portfolio calculator (based on asset classes, not ETFs, as these ETFs aren’t old enough) confirmed that this would bring 30-80% better final results for 30-year periods or would allow to retire with the same amount of money after 25 years instead of 30.
Diversifying between total-stock, mid-cap-value and small-cap-value funds seems to me like a viable strategy to significantly increase investment results, and it should be only little riskier. This is basically still investing in total US stocks market, but with overrepresentation of smaller companies.
What do you think?
Wonderful that you included this tab. Sounds like I’m by all account not the only peruser that returns to the Stock Series over and over it’s such well done.
jimmi B says
I got your book couple of days ago and have been reading it non-stop( I am a slow reader). It is simply ah-mazing! I didn’t know first thing about investing. Didn’t know what index funds are. AND I have been paying a LOT of money to “financial advisors”! I am a physician and have been working for almost 10 years with nothing to show for it!!!! You are a life saver. I wish I had this book years ago! I still have many questions but you have given me a start!!! Is there any way I could pick your brain for little silly things that I don’t understand?!
huge THANK YOU for writing this book! Now if I could get my husband to read it…
Thanks jimmi B…
Glad you found it.
Other than the 1-on-1 sessions at our Chautauquas, I’m afraid I don’t do personal consulting.
However, if you read the book and then dive into this blog, and especially the comments after the posts, you’ll find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. 🙂
I have the same problem. I have purchased the audio book version and listening to it for a month over and over so many times. I Cant stop listening this amazing book.
Nice joy says
What is your opinion about VWINX/VWIAX.
When you look at morning star chart and portfolio vsualizer, This fund was doing great. Even better than VTSAX [steady gain with minimal volatility] ER is also resonable for the admiral version. I am currently trying get one of the older women out of a stupid annuity plan. I want to recoment this fund to her. Wondering if i can get your opinion before I do that. Please advise.
This is an actively managed fund and the ER is only .15 for the Admiral version which for an actively managed fund is excellent.
It is very well regarded and, as you point out, has a great track record.
But, as you know, I don’t recommend actively managed funds and even at .15, the ER is over 3x that of VTSAX.
All that said, it is a far better option than an annuity. But be careful getting your friend out of hers. Sometimes the exit costs make it better just to bite the bullet and keep it once the mistake of buying it has been made.
Nice Joy says
Thank you so much for the reply .
It is going to cost he 18000 to get her 181000 out. She is not planning to use it for next 8 years or so . So she has enough time to get that back. After 8 years she can use the 4 % rule if needed which is more than what she would get from annuity,in adition to that she will be able to pass a large some to her daughters after her time. [ She will also get pension and ss as income]
It us unfortunate that a lot older people move money out of TSP into annuities.
I am spreading your words to my friends.
She wanted to do the vanguard TRF funds with similer ER.
When I back tested TRFs to VWIAX on http://www.portfoliovisualizer.com. VWIAX came way ahed when ever you invested while the market was up [ 2001 onwards]. VWIAX did not came ahed when invested in 2009. Since the market is all time high, vwiax may have a better starting point now.
sounds like you are thinking this thru thoroughly.
She is lucky to have you for a friend.
I wish I had more words to share, but all I can think of is thank you. I just finished your book, and for the first time in my life, I have a financial direction. I come from a family that has been right at the poverty level for generations. Investments and retirement funds were simply not in the family vernacular. I was the first in our extended family to attempt college and obtained a master’s degree. I was prepared for work but still had no grasp on making a financial plan.
My wife and I were able to adopt our son. He will be 5 this year. As with most parents, I want to be able to share knowledge with him to help him survive and thrive as best as possible. To that end I knew I needed to attempt to understand how to make investments. At 38 years old, I have a plan for the first time. For the first time, I see the potential for saving for retirement. For the first time I feel I might be able to retire some day without living in fear of running out of money. For the first time I believe I will be able to help my son start a smart financial path. I’m behind for sure, but I have a starting point now. It is going to take work a dedication, but this is doable.
This may not seem like much, but thank you. Your book should simply be part of a life preparedness course. I have purchased two additional books to give college grads at church. I have been talking with teachers at school (I work at a public school) about your book. I am sharing with many people because this book is about more than just money, it is about having the knowledge and peace of mind that retirement age does not have to be feared.
Thank you, Brad…
…your words touch my heart and I am honored.
If you are so inclined, a 5-star review on Amazon would be great.
All the best to you and your family!
G’day from Brisbane, Australia!
Fantastic blog – I was referred over here by MMM and have enjoyed the stock series especially. Thankyou!
I’d love some advice – currently my husband and I are aggressively paying down our 400k mortgage by about 50k off the principal per year and the house is valued at 750-800k at the moment. Huge expense, I know. We also have two rental properties that are neutrally geared worth about 600k and 350k respectively. I’m 30 and husbo is 38.
I’m anxious that we don’t have any exposure to stocks and would love to buy some index funds of the S&P500 and build up a big nest egg of compounding awesomeness to serve us in the future. Have lodged an enquiry with Vanguard Australia to find out how we can go about it here. MMM says that if the P/E ratio of the index is over 16.5 it’s expensive…it’s currently 26 ish right? So my question is – do I keep paying off the mortgage at this rate or do I pour the excess cash into index funds? Half and half? I feel within 3-5 years our income will drop by 40% for a few years as we are likely to have a child. We have two little blessings from my husband’s first marriage already. 🙂
I don’t want to try to ‘time’ the market before buying index funds because I know it always goes up eventually, but I’d love to have less debt on the house, too. Hard to know whether to accumulate as many assets as possible or be more conservative and pay off the house.
Your sage wisdom would be appreciated!! Thankyou. 🙂
There is a lot built into your question of pay off mortgage vs. invest in index funds. The answer to that depends on:
—Your tolerance for volatility (stocks) vs. the guaranteed return of paying down a mortgage.
—Your interest rate. The higher it is the more attractive paying the mortgage down becomes.
—Your need/desire for liquidity. It is hard to pull cash from a house.
As for the market levels, you might want to read this post:
I really appreciate you taking the time to consider our circumstances and offer your thoughts.
Our interest rate is 3.99% and is as low as I can get it at the moment. Historically, that’s very low for Australia! But, still high enough that seeing the interest charge every month pisses me off! We stand to save between 100 and 200k in interest by paying the house off as fast as we can. Just means we have to deal with the opportunity cost of not buying assets in the meantime.
The liquidity we can deal with because we have the cash in redraw – so it sits against the house and the further we get ‘in front’, the more cash we can access immediately if we need to. So even if someone wrote me a check for 400k, I’d only pay of 395k so we had access to cash at cheap interest if we wanted it. For investing in index funds, for example.
Thanks so much for linking that article. I’d actually already read it and gone ‘wow I wish I was as lucky as Wendy to get in at 1670!’ haha!! It’s always different when it’s your money and hindsight is 20/20!
My husband and I have had a chat and decided for now to continue our path of paying off the house as hard as we can, and reassess every 12 months. At some point in the future we’ll revert to minimum payments and chuck the excess of our cashflow into index funds. I’ve only been reading about them for a few months and am very excited about the idea- but I’m a sucker for a bandwagon so I’d like to see if I’m still as keen by Christmas. I’ll probably be kicking myself because the S&P 500 will have probably gone to 3300 by then or something mad!!!
Thanks again Jim!!
No telling what the market will do. Could be you are kicking yourself in 12 months or celebrating your new, lower, entry point.
Since we can’t know, it shouldn’t influence our investment decisions.
You make a good case for continuing to pay down the mortgage. So keep on doing that and, should the market drop, you can always shift gears.
I intend on getting your book soon since it was highly recommended . I am 50. I need some direction here. I have a Voya Secure Index Fixed Annuity that has expired and is not a 403b. The initial premium was $75k/2009 and gain $39K. Moving forward, I want to get out of this annuity and invest in VTSAX, but was told I have to pay 1o% IRS penalty and taxes on $39K. Does it make sense to roll into Vanguard variable annuity or just pay penalty & taxes and invest in VTSAX?
This is one of the many reasons I hate annuities…
…it is expensive to get rid of them.
If you can do it tax and penalty free, I would certainly roll it to Vanguard.
Getting rid of it and going into VTSAX is tougher and you’ll just have to run the numbers, looking closely at your tax bracket.
Sometimes, once you have one, it is better just to hold it and get on with the rest of your financial life.
Nice joy says
If it is a tax deferred annuity then you can do an “in kind” transfer to van guard IRA. This way you don’t have to pay tax NOW.
Jim, Thanks for your quick reply.
Lovely Moon says
Hello Mr Collins: I have heard good reviews about your book. I am buying it ASAP.
My husband and I are both 53 yrs old. We plan in retire at 65, so we only have 12 years to invest for retirement. We just opened a Roth IRA for each one, at vanguard, with $1,000.00 each account. We are new to invest and we don’t know nothing about investing. I have been reading a lot this past week and I want to decide now the investing. Is it good for us a VTSAX? Or do you think we don’t have too many years to invest since we only have 12 years to retirement? What about SP 500 index funds? I read also in vanguard website about a retirement target fund VTHRX., which is suitable for people who have about 10-13 to retire..like us, please help us decide.
Big fan of your stock series. I ended up writing a blog post that goes pretty deep into how my life may have been different had I taken your advice when I entered the work force as a lawyer right as the market was making its turn to the last few years of “up” after the 2008 crash. It also analyzes how things may have been different if I had followed that advice over different 9 year periods throughout the VTSAX era (since the end of 2000). And, it analyzes that over different savings rates and lifestyle inflation rates. All of this in hopes that some new lawyers coming into the world might be convinced of a nice strategy to have a nice nest egg. On the more general front it shows how just maxing out one’s 401K would have turned out, which is independent of one’s job.
Anyway, you can check it out at my website if you’d like. But just wanted to say thank you for your series that helped inspire the post (wasn’t sure how to contact you other than commenting).
Comment here is a fine way to reach me.
Thanks for the kind words. I gather following my advice would have worked well?
Yes indeed. I think a 50% spending rate and the rest in VTSAX would have put someone in my situation at 1.6million at the end of nine years (2009-2017). Even a 82% spending rate made you a millionaire.
If those nine years were instead 2001-2009 though, it’s about 60% of those numbers
to clarify those spending rates are of take-home salary after tax and 401K deductions (the analysis assumes that 401K is being maxed and invested into vtsax and that the after-tax amount of any bonuses are invested in vtsax 100% regardless of spending rate)
Hi Mr. Collins,
I work for the federal government. I am 56 and my MRA is this year. My pension plan is FERS. I am way behind in saving/investing for retirement and need to catch up as much as possible over the next 10 years. (Too bad your book and the internet weren’t available when I entered the workforce 30 years ago!) My income is now above the limits for contributing to a Roth IRA. I contribute 5% to (Roth) TSP to get the full match. Above that amount, would you recommend contributing additional to Traditional TSP or to a Traditional (Vanguard) IRA? I understand from your book that you would not recommend Roth TSP for my situation. I am concerned about paying the taxes on the distributions though when the time comes. Also, would you recommend L2020 or L2030? And, since you recommend leaving the funds in TSP (rather than transferring to a Vanguard account), do you recommend L Income in retirement?
I would have liked to have had my book and blog myself 30 years ago. Would have saved me sorting it all out. 🙂
Here’s my take on Lifecycle-type funds:
and here is where you’ll find my take on TSPs:
Hi Mr. Collins,
Thank you for your response. I had read that information in your book before posting my question. My confusion regards the hierarchy for deploying investment money. Given that you do not recommend rolling TSP into an IRA in retirement, after step 1 (funding the TSP to the full employer match), it’s not clear to me what is the advantage of step 3 (fully fund a deductible IRA) over step 5 (finish funding TSP to the max)?
Since TSPs have advantages over most 401Ks, namely great choices with ultra low costs, I would both not roll one into an IRA and I would fully fund it first.
Perhaps I could have come up with a hierarchy for this situation, but these tax advantaged plans can get so complex I just had to draw the line somewhere before this post became a book. 😉
Gibraltar Campion says
Hi Mr. Collins,
Thank you for the clarification!
Over the last few months I have had the pleasure to read your book, read everything on your blog and have a look at a few podcasts that you have been a guest on. All very impressive Jim, well done.
I have been investing for many years with, overall, a good degree of success, better than I probably deserved. Of course, had my ‘dogs’ and ‘learning experiences’ along the way but got here in nearly one piece. The ride could have been smoother if I had come across your content earlier, who knows?
I have obtained much knowledge from you with main gems being how I look at my investing overall and what the ‘game’ actually is. A great insight for me.
Finally, if I had to state one takeaway from what you offer, it would be:
“Making a few sound choices and letting them run is the essence of success and the soul of the simple path to wealth” I would add for me, to also tune out from the noise and get on with life.
Again, well done.
Thanks for the very kind words, DU…
…sounds like you are doing very well and it is gratifying to hear my writings have helped!
I would really like you to comment on http://millionin10.com/the-myth-of-401k-tax-breaks/ take on 401k. Close to the end of my retirement funding but with enough to retire now it seems if I do any more in the 401k it should just be up to the match and do everything else in taxable. This is something I really think needs to be looked into
..for my policy on these type of requests.
As to your 401K, my pal GCC has begun a series that might interest you:
Hey Jim: Love these articles, stumbled upon them from the Google talk you did recently. Thanks for taking the time to write them up & share.
I’m a huge fan of *both* Vanguard & Fidelity. I found an interesting article comparing index funds between Vanguard & Fidelity, here:
I mention this b/c the article lists equivalent Fidelity NTF index funds to VTSAX (FSTVX) & VBTLX (FSITX) w/ identical returns & slightly lower expense ratios. Vanguard investor shares (VTSMX, VBMFH) & Vanguard ETFs (VTI, BND) can be purchased @ Fidelity, but not NTF. Vanguard admiral shares can only be purchased @ Fidelity thru an advisor account.
I have no dog in this hunt, nothing to gain personally. I just thought you might be interested in this as an option for investors that have their money at Fidelity.
While Fidelity has perfectly fine index funds these days, it bears remembering that they were dragged kicking and screaming to indexing only by the competitive pressures from Vanguard. Indeed, in the early years, they did their best to strangle indexing in its crib.
The relevance today is that indexing serves as a “loss leader” to draw investors into the fold, rather than as a core value.
kc chung says
Hi Collin, what a great post. I consider myself financial illiterate. And reading this make such simple sense. My problem, I’m in Singapore. How do I invest in Vangaurd
from Asia? You have a post title: Investing in Vanguard for Europeans. What will be your advice for followers in Asia?
Hope to hear from you.
Check out the comments in that post. They have become a forum for my international readers from all over the world to exchange ideas. Not just for Europeans anymore! 🙂
Hi Collin, I learned a lot from your book. Thank you!
A quick question: Why not investing in consumer staples index?
Compare to total market index, it has a lower volatility and a higher return: From 1967-2009, its standard deviation is 15.76% and a 13.57% of return.
Too narrowly focused for my tastes. I prefer backing the entire US publicly traded market. That way I don’t have to worry about what sector is in fashion at any given time.
Just finished reading your entire series as well as a few more posts…great info/advice. Investing isn’t as complicated/mysterious as the financial planning industry would have you think.
Question..is your book basically this stock series? What additional info can one gain from reading your book? I’d love to read it but wondering if it’s the same stuff as your stock series? Thank you!
The book is more than the Stock Series, but there is nothing in it that is not also on the blog.
The book is better organized, more concise and the writing is more polished. At least I spent more time polishing it. 🙂
Tony Stewart says
Just wanted to say thank you for your wisdom in share investing. I do have some fun investing in individual stocks in New Zealand but now understand indexing is the way forward for me. really enjoyed reading your articles.
Vanguard Australia looks like it now has VTSAX (VTS), if not VTSAX, something that looks identical, it also has the 0.04% management cost. Local vanguard ETF shares are 0.14-0.3%. Better than others who start at 1.5-2.5% for similar.
If not for this series I might not have seen it. The only problem is it is in US$, not AU$, so currency variation needs to added to the possible AAAGGGHHhhh things.
The other is AU share dvidends are mostly subjected to tax imputation, so no tax cost for share holders,
VTS is still worth 10-15k as a trial.
Time to think, thanks for the time you put into this.
I was largely sorted then found you, MMM, and some others and realised even though I was ahead of FA’s some changes could have me even furthur ahead.
Glad you’ve found this site helpful.
You might check out the comments in this post:
They have become a forum for international investors, including from Australia.
Guy Smith says
I read your book, The Simple Path to Wealth, in 24 hours and keep coming back to the Stock Series as needed. Very helpful! Thanks for putting this together. Investing this way helps me sleep at night. As long as America doesn’t implode I’ll be fine. And if America implodes I’ve got bigger problems. That’s why I’m sure to not live for this world alone.
Povilas Panavas says
I read this great series a long time ago and keep recommending for people asking questions about investing. Thank you for a place to send them! 😉
However, I would like to translate it into Lithuanian. Of course, there would be links to the originals. Could I get permission for that?
Thanks for your kind words and interest.
I have passed your note on to my agent for consideration.
Just got the all clear from my agent, so go for it!
Please just be sure to credit jlcollinsnh.com as the source.
Let me know how it goes.
Keith Battle says
JL I came across a YouTube interview you did with Google this year, and I have watched the whole video at least 6 times. I’ve already invested in both VTSAX and VBTLX. Thank you! My question is, I currently have about $500k in my 401k (which doesn’t have Vanguard as an option. I max it out annually and receive a company match. I think it’s mostly TD Rowe Price Retirement and Fidelity Index. I also have a little over $200k in a managed investment account with Ameriprise Financial and they have me in all kinds of stuff. I invest about $700 weekly into that account and I’ve paid over $7,000 in fees total since 2015. The rest of my cash is in the bank. Should I move any or all of these “buckets” into VTSAX or VBTLX?
Only you can decide where to invest your money.
For my part, I use only VTSAX and VBTLX for the reasons I describe in detail in this Stock Series and in my book.
One of those posts, https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/05/02/stocks-part-xvii-what-if-you-cant-buy-vtsax-or-even-vanguard/
covers what to do when your 401K doesn’t offer these options.
Another talks about https://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/06/06/why-i-dont-like-investment-advisors/
High fees, like those you are paying in your managed investment account, are a big reason. I certainly wouldn’t add any more to that pot.
Hope this helps!
Keith Battle says
Thanks a million for responding. I’ll check out those posts now!
Hi Mr. Collins,
I recently discovered this financial independence world and now I am set to making this happen for me. I read your book, The Simple Path to Wealth, and loved it. I learned so much, I never thought I would understand unless I paid someone to teach me. I would like to reach a level of being financially independent in the next 10-15 years. However I think maybe I’m setting my goal to high. I am 27 years old and I just got a job I absolutely love, repairing violins in NYC (if I could own one of these instruments I’d be set for my financial goals… if I sold it). However taking this dream job also meant giving up a lot of benefits. My company doesn’t have a retirement plan available (although I hope to change that), healthcare is still a big chunk despite my employer covering 50%, and the cost of living here is ridiculous. I make 45k before taxes, and my take home each month is only about 2500 with health care deductions. Unfortunately I do have some health issues and having this health care plan would save me more than some of my cheaper options with higher deductibles. I am not in debt and am only just building up a savings, managing to save a little over 25%. I am looking for a second job to try and increase my income so I can save more. It was after I moved here searching for ways to save or make more, did I stumble upon this whole new financial world. I have recently started looking at investing, and have started a Roth IRA through Vanguard. I am not quite able to max it out in the year, while also contributing to a adequate emergency fund which is only a couple thousand right now. Just so I know I’m not being crazy, or maybe I am, Is it possible for me to reach financial independence in my timeframe of 10-15 years? If not, what would be a more realistic goal? I want to aim high, but I’d like to know where I could land if I miss.
and Thank you for all your resources!
I love your comment/question as it touches on some really key issues. Let’s start with the most important:
You’ve already won. You have arranged your life in such a fashion as to be able to do what you love. That is pretty much the point of being FI.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to pursue FI. What you love today might not be what you want to do tomorrow. FI gives you the power to shift when/if you chose.
Reaching FI is largely a numbers game. The chart at the end of this post provides some useful guidelines:
As you’ll see, a 25% saving rate gets you to FI in ~25 years. Kind of a long time.
Does that mean you shouldn’t bother? Not at all. Every step you take makes you stronger.
Let me leave you with my all-time favorite quote:
“If you reach for a star, you might not get one. But you won’t come up with a hand full of mud either”
— Leo Burnett
If, though my 401k, I have the option of investing in a fund that has a higher return but the expense ratio is 1.00% or the option of one with a lower return where the expense ratio is .03%, is there ever an instance where I should choose the one with the higher expense ratio?
“performance comes and goes, but costs go on forever.”
In the U.S. we have been riding a wave of big stock market increases for the last few years. I understand we have had the longest bull market in DJIA history. So the question is would it be wise at such a time to rebalance (or shift) VTSAX into a Vanguard Bond Fund with less volitility so that if we should see another 2008 crash that the hit might not be 30% again? I am 57, not 30.
See the post in this series, Investing in a Raging Bull
Susan S says
I have been following you, Jeremy, MadFientist, trying to reach my FI and keep coming back to the Stock series for more knowledge. Now I feel I’m close to $1M, planning to leave work maybe next year. Would you mind taking a look at my current financial status and give your advice on whether I am ready, or anything I do to improve it?
Personal info: I am 44 years old, single, no kids. Have one house rented out in Maryland. A paid off car sitting in San Diego now, since I’m on expat assignment —planning to sell it to my ex BF to avoid paying CA insurance and title fee.
1. Investment: $756,830 today: (Allocation is about 93% stocks, 6.6% Bond, 1% cash).
a. Vanguard: $567,321
1.) Brokerage: $279,716 (VTSAX 90%, VBTLX 10%)
2.)Roth IRA: $18,990 (VTI 82%, BND 18%)
3.) 401K: $268,614 (Inst 500 Index 73.3%, Inst
Bond7.7%, Mid Cap 19%)
b. Fidelity: one single stock JEC:- $188,875 value today. This is my employer stock — discounted purchase over the years. I no longer buy it. But can’t unload it while I’m still working, to avoid paying high capital gain tax.
2. Cash in banks: $20,223
3. Rental property market value: $248,885
4. Rental property mortgage: $73,000
Total net worth by Personal Capital: $951,265 today.
My questions are:
1. My dividends is not that much every year from my investments (2017 Vanguard dividends: $3675, of which $287 non taxable). Is this something I should be seeking to achieve? I think it’s mainly because half my investment is in retirement accounts? I also am trying to read how to increase non taxable dividends….
2. Without dividends being the main resource for spending after leaving work, I am still trying to figure out how do I withdraw to fund my expenses ($30-40K a year). It just feels unsafe if I am tapping into the investment initial amount (selling some VTSAX)…
3. When evaluating the initial value for the day leaving work, to see if I truly reached the $1M — the market value could really vary within 6 months. How did you look at to say “today it’s good”. Do you judge the “average” over a period time or purely look at the market value of that day?
4. I do have an apartment in China, fully paid, with my parents living in it. Networth is about $100k. My original plan is to be minimalist normad after leaving work, travelling for a couple of years, then based backed between US and China. But renting only. Now, being single, I feel the need to have a home base in US. Planning to buy a house or apartment in Orlando/Tampa area, ideally a duplex or quadplex, so I can rent the other units out while having mine airbnb when I am travelling for longer term. — what’s your thoughts on this?
5. I also have an investment of $50k in a Chinese company, Hoverstar that are dedicated to produce flying car (Hover car). Right now they are designing and manufacturing Water entertainment machines, like AquaJet …. Hopefully I can make a fortune when they go IPO, but I am not betting my FI on it.
Sorry for the long message. Would really appreciate your input!
Thank you for your comment, but it appears you missed this post:
If you are asking a question, please re-post after November 1st and I will try to respond.
Meanwhile, try using the search button or take a look at the posts listed here:
Most questions I am asked these days have been asked and answered many times before. Perhaps yours has as well.
Susan S says
Thank you Jim. I didn’t see the chaautauqua note. Hope you have a good time!
I have read through the stock series twice, I guess there are still some points I didn’t grasp. Will use the search to look up. And post questions I still have after November.
Hey Mr. Collins,
Thank you for your blog. Your guidance has been extremely insightful and encouraging in an often confusing area of life.
I am ready to invest in VTSMX after saving enough money. My question, and this may sound really basic, is how do I go about that? On the Vanguard website I see where to “open an account”, but then do I simply open a Roth, Traditional IRA, etc to THEN invest in VTSMX (and later VTSAX)? Do I open a “general savings” account to then invest? Is there anything out there that can offer a step-by-step for a newbie like myself?
I bought your book a while back and after reading it I have misplaced it so I apologize if the answers to those questions are in there.
Thank you tremendously in advance!
Thank you for your comment, but it appears you missed this post:
If you are asking a question, please re-post after November 1st and I will try to respond.
Meanwhile, try using the search button or take a look at the posts listed here:
Most questions I am asked these days have been asked and answered many times before. Perhaps yours has as well.
Hello Mr. Collins,
I read your book ,of course, and after reading several others I really appreciated your personal , clearly informative and real world style of writing. I loved it and it, along with a couple of videos and podcasts you were featured in, have added to my understanding of how to better , and more confidently ,move forward with my own investing. So some background, My wife and I together have all our funds in accounts at Vanguard. Roughly 50,000 + in Roth VTSAX, $270,000.00 in Brokerage VTSAX, $680,000.00 in IRA VTSAX, Another 30,000.00 in VBIAX and finally $200,000.00 in VPMAX, also in IRA. We own a small home, mortgage paid off ,that is probably worth $400,000.00. No debt save a couple of car leases. They amount to $600.00 / month but we both commute quite a bit for work and we have small commuter style cars. I am 60 , the wife is 56. No children. We live in a pretty HCOLA on Long Island. We currently are investing $40,000.00/year into the aforementioned accounts. This represents approx. 30% of our income. I contribute to a Simple IRA and my wife had a 401 k rolled over from a former job into an IRA. She has a new 401K at her new job but unfortunately the 401K has no Vanguard funds. We did find buried in there an S&P 500 ( Dryden) index fund that she is contributing to but so far just to the employer match of 6%. We plan to max out the Roths. No pensions for either of us but we will have SS. No ideas yet on when to take it but vaguely I would myself wait until I am 65 or more. So, I have 2 questions. 1) What do you think about the asset allocation? Too aggressive? We both have good abilities to remain unperturbed due to market fluctuations. We would like to , hopefully, get to the 2 million mark in 5-6 years assuming we continue to save as we currently are and the market cooperates. Previously we had a bit more in VBIAX but a good amount of it was in the brokerage accounts where I have read that is not the best position for bonds, tax wise. Additionally your advice on heavy VTSAX swayed my thinking as I had been thinking that myself for a while. 2) I would also be very interested if you have any opinions on the VPMAX as well? Given we want to make the goal of the 2 million and we have put a bit of a time limit to do it when would you think we should add the Total Bond Fund? ( I misled you, sorry, actually a third ? ) I understand you are 75/25 yourself now. I Thank you for any consideration and thoughts you might have.
I tried to read your comment twice and failed.
The text is so dense it makes my eyes bleed. 😉
HA HA. So sorry ! I guess I got carried away ! Please let me try once more. The abridged version.
1) I have 15-20 % in VPMAX all the rest in VTSAX. What is your opinion on keeping VPMAX or going strictly with VTSAX?
2) As my wife recently got a new job starting the end of August she is going to be in a lower tax bracket. We were thinking this would be a good time for a ROTH conversion of some of the traditional IRA. She is only 56 though. What thoughts do you have on that?
3) I hope your eyes are not still bleeding. I thoroughly enjoyed your book !
Much better. 🙂
1. VPMAX is an actively managed fund and as such it does better than most in that it appears to pace VTSAX pretty well. But it also sports an ER of .23% which, while low by actively managed fund standards, is far higher than the .04% of VTSAX. Personally, I wouldn’t bother holding it.
2. Anytime you can shift money from a IRA to a Roth IRA without taking the capital gains tax hit, it is a very good thing to do.
3. Glad you enjoyed the book. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to leave a 5-star review on Amazon. Thanks!
Lee Staebler says
Hi Jim !
I took your advice and finally exchanged the VPMAX for a greater stake in the VTSAX. I had been agonizing over this for far too long. It helped that your views that I respect greatly pushed me off the fence. Big relief. I have more simplicity, less expense , less volatility, greater diversification and so more confidence than ever. Thank you. BTW I was happy to give you a 5 star review on Amazon. Though I think they should have a 6 star option for you!
Hope you mentioned this in your review:
“Though I think they should have a 6 star option for you!”
Lee Staebler says
Darn ! I think that was something I came up with while writing to you to further thank you but only after writing the review. But It was a deservedly glowing review just the same ! I don’t think I saw it posted yet though.
Thanks for creating the awesome simple path to wealth 🙂
Just noticed link “Time Machine and the future returns for stocks” is not working.
Do you mean the link for that post under “Related Posts”?
I just tested that one and it works fine for me.
Hello, I’m just kinda stuck on every thing. I want to invest I just bought your book .simple path to wealth. I have 300.00 in my savings and likely getting a few thousand on tax return. looking to invest in something can you help me?
If you have read my book you already have my advice. Either it resonates with you and you should follow it, or it doesn’t and you shouldn’t.
You could read more here on the blog, but if it is not resonating after the book it likely won’t after a few more posts.
Rich here from England.
I never even considered investing until 4-5 years ago when cash in the bank was doing nothing at all and then i started to explore.
Within a couple of days i opens a stock and shares ISA and started buying stocks and funds. The last 4 years i have had interrupted sleep, changed strategy and holdings more times than i can remember and have waisted time and money, the time being most valuable with the money 2nd ! I was never happy of comfortable with my strategy. I stumbled on Mr Money Moustache around a year ago and new index funds were the way to go. Still i have changed index funds way to often. I then Found your Stock Series, read through and watched various interviews with your good self.
Everything i heard and read just made perfect logical sense to me. I bought The Simple path to Wealth book and read it front to back in 2 nights and slept like a baby afterwards !
I have a Vanguard UK Stocks and Shares ISA and i’m invested 100% in the U.S. Equity Index Fund (3000 + Stocks) with a cost of 0.10% and account fee of 0.15%. I’m adding money once a week and will continue to do so for the long haul through the ups and downs. I’m 37 years old and earn an average UK salary.
I plan when the time comes to start withdrawing an income to keep my holding this simple with this 1 fund and no bonds but a withdrawal rate of 3% adjusted once a year to the portfolio value. Do you think with a low withdrawal rate of 3% i would be justified to stick with 100% stocks forever ? It just sits well with me.
Thanks for everything Jim, you are an inspiration !
The book is wonderful.
Glad to hear my blog and book have resonated with you, and that you are sleeping better. 🙂
Even if you’ve read my posts on the 4% “rule”, go back and look at the charts from the Trinity Study.
You’ll see that 100% stocks and a 3% withdrawal rate is a strong position.
That said, 100% stocks will be a wild ride.
Before you decide, wait until we have the next major bear market and your holdings drop say 20-50%.
If your response is to yawn, roll over and go back to sleep you are good to go. 😉
I am usually not one to comment online but thought I owe it to you for your blog and for what happened today.
I am from Ireland but fortunate enough to be able to have a US brokerage retirement account. I have a company 401k (schwab) but without matching but occasional safe harbor contributions. I probably invested in it prior to being ready although thankfully my allocations are pretty ok so far: (50% total stock index, 25% Int index, 15% small cap index and 10% US aggregate bond index – all with very low expense ratios).
I gave myself the goal of reading your entire blog before I allocated any more funds toward investments in my 401k. I did this and really enjoyed it and have since been researching more and consequently feel so much more confident and reassured in what I am doing, although I still have more to learn.
Today I opened an individual checking account (with schwab so I can withdraw funds internationally from an atm for free) with a financial consultant who offered to run through my current investments. I told him I am going to progress with “90% total stock market index fund, and 10% US aggregate bond index.” To that he said “especially considering what happened today (Dow fell 800 points) you may be being quite aggressive with your stock allocation in case the market fell significantly”. I told him “well, for the first time in my life I consider myself to be in the wealth building phase and able to save (im 29 and have had to pay extortionate visa fees before now) and if the market were to crash it would probably only help my long-term strategy going forward”. He then asked what the abbreviation was at the end of my account nickname I laughingly told him “SISNAO stands for; during an market crash Selling Is Simply Not An Option” to which he smiled and told me “you made me feel a bit better about what happened to my clients stocks today”. I told him he should read your blog.
Great story, Ross…
…thanks for checking in!
You’re the man! I just finished your book in 2 days. I ordered 2 books via Amazon. I just gave one to my sister last night for Xmas. The one I just read (heavily highlighted) is going to my father tonight. I’ve sent pics of your book and links of your website to all my good friends and extended family members.
Ive read many personal finance books and this has been the most beneficial to me. Thank you for that sir!
I began allocating 100% of my investment funds into index funds that track the S&P 500 in 2014. I originally learned the strategy from Jack Bogle and Warren Buffet. Prior to 2014, I made my fair share of mistakes!
I recently found your website googling something and from there I found your YouTube and podcast appearances.
I was already sold on index funds but you have convinced me to open a Vanguard account and start investing solely in VTSAX. In fact, I made my first purchase today while the market took another nice hit. However, I’m extremely grateful to have found your book. You have thoroughly explained topics I have struggle to explain to family and friends in the past. A lot of people have come to me for financial advice because they know I’m passionate about the topic. I now have a book I can hand them to change their lives. They no longer have to take my word and do the extra work of researching things themselves (which we both know most people simply will not do).
Your super simple advice is easy to implement. I plan on taking it one step further and putting together a PowerPoint presentation explaining exactly how to open a Vanguard account, fund it, and set up the monthly purchases of VTSAX.
The chapters I found most beneficial were the following:
7 – The market always goes up
10 – Keeping it simple
23 – Why I don’t like investment advisors
32 – How to give like a billionaire
Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us! It’s greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Ty…
…your comment is a wonderful Christmas present for me. 🙂
It would also make a wonderful 5-star review on Amazon, if you are still feeling generous. 😉
I was also planning to sell some VBTLX and buy some VTSAX today, but forgot the market was closing early. D’oh!
We’ll see what it does on the 26th.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Amazon review is done! This is the first time I’ve ever left a review on a website or on Amazon, so job well done Uncle Jim!
By the way, prior to purchasing the books I read the articles on this website and knew the book covered the same material, however I still purchased the books for a few reasons. The first being that I like books. The second being that you can gift it and third being that I wanted to pay Uncle Jim for his time and effort. I suggest you all think about that last reason. $15 is a drop in the bucket for life changing information IMHO.
Good luck to you all!
Awesome review, Ty…
…and a wonderful Christmas present. Thanks!
Nice counter to the (thankfully few) 1-star reviews like this one…
“Great content, but one star for being a mostly verbatim repeat of his blog posts. Do yourself a favor and read his blog posts instead of forking over money for this book–let his Adsense advertisers pay him instead of you.”
When I was working on the book, the advice I got was to put things in it not on the blog. The idea being to force people to buy it to get that exclusive info. This always struck me as a crappy way to treat my most loyal readers.
By design, there is nothing in the book not also on the blog.
That said, the book is more concise, better organized and the writing is more polished. Or, at least I spent more time polishing it. 😉
Thanks for finding value in it and for gifting it forward 🙂
People who take, take, take and never give are miserable in the game of life and no one wants to be around them. The person who wrote that review is likely one of those folks.
Continue doing what you’re doing, as I’m sure you will. Your honesty about the content in your book also being on your website is awesome and gives you credibility. I saw your Google talk via YouTube and your podcast with Paula Pant via Stitcher where you told everyone the material could be found on your website and was essentially the same. That tells me you want to get the information you’re sharing into the hands of those who need it and you’re not simple trying to make a buck like everyone else.
You’re a good man in my book sir!
I bought a third book yesterday for my sister-in-law. If Amazon will allow me to, I’ll write a second review!
This has been really eye-opening. I’ve been increasingly frustrated with my financial advisor who takes ~1% and has gotten more and more into buy/sell of stocks rather than holding value (this was a change that seemed to be caused by the 2008 financial crisis). It’s really a validation of the direction I’ve been heading for a while now. I did a pretty cool efficient frontier fund with my extra investment money that did pretty well, until I had to liquidate it in the midst of the 2008 crash for emergency home repairs.
Which brings me to the question. How do you invest for medium-term expenses? We pay cash for cars, save up for large home improvements and have an emergency fund. I hate putting it in to a 0.01% interest rate “savings” account, but it seems that we’re always being forced to pull money out at inopportune times. For example, our “Steve” (named Cadie), bit the dust last month and we are looking at $20k+ for a well-used full-size SUV, at the same time the market just tanked and we really really didn’t want to sell. Do I just change the stock/bond allocation and know that I can’t necessarily control when that money has to come out?
Basically, investing in stocks is only for the long-term. Think decades. My holding period for VTSAX is forever, excepting only the small amounts I might withdraw when living on the portfolio.
Saving money up to buy things is saving money. That is, if you really want to be sure it is ready and waiting it belongs in a cash account of some sort: Money Market fund, CD, savings account, etc. As you point out, the downside these days is interest rates a very low.
If you are willing to take some risk, and able to put off the purchase if the market winds turn against you, you could try a hybrid of cash/bonds/stocks. How you allocate between these depends on how much flexibility you have with the purchase against how important a better return might be.
Sorry to hear about Cadie!
Thank you so much for all of this valuable information. I’m somewhere up the learning curve on investing. I have a lot to learn but am vastly more knowledgeable and passionate about it than I was a few months ago, thanks to people like yourself.
I have a question about expense ratios versus fund performance. My 401K offers several funds, all of which are under 1% ER, and the ones I’ve chosen are all under .5%. I haven’t solely chosen the very lowest ERs because there are several that show much better performance (maybe 3%-5% better) over 10-20 years or since inception, so I thought that would outweigh a fraction of a percent lower ER. Am I thinking about it wrong? Or is it just a past performance/future performance issue that encourages people to always just go for the lowest ER? My 401K doesn’t offer VTSAX, but it does offer a few Vanguard, American Funds, State Street S&P500, and a few high performers that I was tempted by.
Victor Cuevas says
Thank you so much for you sound financial advice. I am a 44-year old just beginning to invest in the markets. I’m learning as much as I can to invest intelligently. I understand you like VTSAX. I have also been looking at VTI an ETF that is similar to VTSAX. I have now opened a Vanguard account to take advantage of the low fees which both of these funds now offer an ER of .o4%. I’m still trying to figure out which is the best buy as they are very similar. The VTI fund is priced much higher than the VTSAX which i’m hoping you can explain why that is. And can you provided the pros and cons between both to those who are looking to invest in either one?
Here you go, Victor:
Stephanie Lavoie says
Hi Jim, Just hoping maybe this was missed but I am still wondering the following:
I have a question about expense ratios versus fund performance. My 401K offers several funds, all of which are under 1% ER, and the ones I’ve chosen are all under .5%. I haven’t solely chosen the very lowest ERs because there are several that show much better performance (maybe 3%-5% better) over 10-20 years or since inception, so I thought that would outweigh a fraction of a percent lower ER. Am I thinking about it wrong? Or is it just a past performance/future performance issue that encourages people to always just go for the lowest ER? My 401K doesn’t offer VTSAX, but it does offer a few Vanguard, American Funds, State Street S&P500, and a few high performers that I was tempted by.
Thank you so much for your wisdom.
Jack Bogle was fond of saying “performance comes and goes, but expenses are forever.”
There will always be funds that outperform a broad based stock fund like VTSAX looking back. And there will be looking back 20 years from now. Problem is, they very likely will not be the same funds as those looking back 20 years from today.
Stephanie Lavoie says
I’m also open to other people’s opinion on this, there are a lot of smart people here!
question on asset reallocation.
when your equity portfolio shows a 20% return and the markets (per opinion) look over extended on the up side, do you consider re-allocation to fixed income?
Or is there a fixed date on which you’d look at re-allocation of portfolio to bring it back to your desired %age?
Here you go, Lokesh:
Stephanie Lavoie says
Thanks for your reply, I just checked back and was happy to see it. I understand what you’re saying. I’ve learned a lot from you and like-minded thinkers. I appreciate the clarity you provide!
Thank you, Mr. Collins! Stumbled on your blog from PoF links. I am reading the topics I deemed important on my first few months of financial educations.
…glad you found your way here.
Congrats on the new blog. Love the title 🙂
Just purchased your book and it’s a fantastic read, my problem is I live and work in the UK, so VTSAX isn’t something I can choose? I’ve been looking into similar low cost funds ie.
Would you be kind enough to point me in the right direction?
Here you go, John: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2014/01/27/stocks-part-xxi-investing-with-vanguard-for-europeans/
Be sure to read thorough the comments.
Glad you like the book! If you haven’t already and are so inclined, please leave a 5-star review on Amazon. Thanks!
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us, I read your book, but still have some questions. I am pretty new to the whole investing/stock market thing, and like your daughter really don’t have too much of an interest in it — I like the buy and hold idea. About two years ago I opened a Roth IRA account with EJ and quickly learned through ChooseFi and other blogs that probably wasn’t the best idea.
About a month ago, I decided to roll the EJ account into a Vanguard account. I thought the money would be transferring into a VTSAX account because that’s what I looked up when I started this whole process (and I honestly have no idea what I’m doing haha), but I now have a VMFXX account. So my questions are 1) Do I keep the money I have in this account and/or open/transfer the money into a VTSAX account? and 2) are VTSAX/VMFXX accounts something I need to contribute to manually each month (my EJ advisor did auto withdrawals from my bank account into my Roth IRA)
All advice is welcome and appreciated!
I just had to say thanks for this series! I’ve been following the financial independence crowd for a while now, but just recently found my way to your blog. My wife and I now follow your recommendations here. I’ve even started helping my parents with their investments using your ideas too.
I’ve been wondering about something in particular, though. *When* exactly is a good time to go from the wealth-building phase to the wealth-preserving phase? Five years until we plan to retire? 10 years? The day we actually retire? I feel like this would depend somewhat on the market. For example, if VTSAX dropped 25% the week I planned on retiring, that wouldn’t be an ideal time to sell any of it to buy bonds, right?
Anyways thanks again for all your insight. I look forward to reading more of your posts!
Well, it seems I already read the answer to this question in Part XXIII. I’ll have to think more on it, but any changes to bonds will be a future decision point, and will probably depend some on the markets at that time!
I hope I hear back from you this time. I sent you a message on September 13th, 2019 but have not heard from you, maybe I didn’t set up my account properly. I am ready f your book and I love it. I am new to investing. My husband and I are both 53 yrs old and we opened each one a Roth IRA at vanguard with $3,000’each. He chose VTSAX and I chose S&P 500 index. We plan to retire in about 12 years at age 65. My question is: should we go more conservative like 75% VTSAX and 25% VBTLX? We have also cash in a cd at navy Federal Credit Union. Hope to hear from you. Ileana
Thanks for your comment!
Mr. Collins is currently traveling and unable to respond just now.
We find for most questions, he has already covered the topic. Using the Search button might very well provide your answer.
I wish Mr Collins could answer my questions, I really love his book
Hello Mr Collins
I read your book and I think it’s terrific
I need help with allocations
We are 53 yes old and plan to retire at 65, in 12 years.
What should be our allocation?
Maybe 75/25, or perhaps 60/40
If VTSAX pays 2% and interactive brokers pays 1.9% on idle cash, I’m a little confused as to why I wouldnt WAIT for a stock correction. Any wisdom? I’m 35 with 200K on the sidelines.
what are you thoughts on the “index bubble” discussion going on.
Andres Hawthorne says
Jim, the whole World is reading this series now as it has spreaded imensily with the FIRE movement. I believe you should add or adapt it somehow to make it less USA-centric. Outside US you don’t have 401k, IRA, 529 (most don’t even know what that is)
Just is just my 2 cents to avoid international readers of making mistakes.
Jim J. says
The whole lump sum investing thing strategy is seriously testing my nerves. I see the math, it makes sense, I want to do it. I just can’t quite pull the trigger.
I see all these people on this website commenting how they felt the same back in 2013/2014. That would seem so easy then. How about now with the longest bull market in history and valuations flirting with dotcom levels… neither of which existed 6 years ago. I know the stats say 77% of the time lump sum investing is the correct decision. But, how about we look at the 23% of the time its not, and when those times occur, and what the probability is we are within that 23% given current circumstances. A cursory glance at the last few recessions shows that the recession wiped out the last 3 years of the bull market, never mind the years it takes to return those gains. So can we realistically expect to dodge a recession for another 3 years.
I guess I really dont know, and no one does. But by sheer probability being in a bull market this long, it would seem likely that a major correction is soon inevitable. And what to do then? My plan (if i were to wait for a recession), would be to DCA my lump sum over the course of 1 year after a -20% is reached. That way I can hit the average of the recession discount from -20% to its bottom.
Also, I dont think I have the opposite form of fear, which is the desire to sell in fear of a market recession. I simply am afraid of buying at an overvalued price. I have no intention of selling my amazon and apple shares, that I have owned through the good and the bad, since 2012. I will never sell them, nor do I care to despite how I feel about market overvaluation (I also plan to never buy an individual stock again, I think I can see luck when it happens).
And maybe I just suck, especially since I completely understand the points made for lump sum investing, and I would never tell anyone not to. Its just… damn, this long into the bull market, the longest its ever been, surely a better value is coming soon (even if its a few years out). Maybe the best thing I can do is continue learning about investing for another year (I started January 2019). And then maybe I will feel adequately knowledgeable to make a decision. Im still pro-lump summing, and will probably hold that conviction, but maybe its ok for me to learn and read for another year before deploying that strategy, even if I miss time in the market.
I appreciate any and all thoughts and advice.
Ben Belnap says
Hey Mr. Collins,
I had a question about index funds. So I realize that Vanguard has other options for index funds than just VTSAX. I’ve read your book, The Simple Path to Wealth, and I know that you highly recommend just this fund for stock investing. So I was wondering if you’d also recommend other index funds from Vanguard, such as their tech fund. It seems to me that historically the tech fund has grown more than the total market fund, so wouldn’t it make sense to invest in the one that performs better in the long term?
What are your thoughts on Fidelity’s FSKAX being comparable to VTSAX?
I’m trying to determine if that’s a good Fidelity mutual fund option since i have my current IRA there.
Ralph Joseph Gambale says
thanks so much for your book first of all I read it over again and I just listened to you on the BiggerPockets money podcast. I just wanted your input on this scenario I’m currently rebalancing my girlfriends Vanguard 401k plan from her company. Luckily I had most of her money into Vanguard cash account. So now I get to buy low. Within her Vanguard options she doesn’t have access to VTSAX I was told by a Vanguard representative that ViNiX is their closest option; I started purchasing this over the past couple of weeks at a lower price. However I’m thinking about saving 40,000 that she has left over in her cash account and putting it in a Vanguard Target fund something like a 2040 that has more risks being that it is at a lower cost per unit. What are your thoughts on ViNiX and what Target account as you move into again on your article about the bear? Greatly appreciate your help in advance thank. If there’s a way I could send you the 8 index funds she does have available to her I can send that to you let me know. Thanks again.
VINIX is an S&P500 fund with very low costs. It is a fine choice in a 401K.
This Stock Series has a post on Target Funds and my book has a chapter on them.
“…more risks being that it is at a lower cost per unit.”
Cost per unit has nothing to do with risk in any fund.
Thank you much for your reply… getting back to me as I understand the ER now and can figure out the best ones etc. I decided to keep her portfolio simple and stick with ViNiX and being that it is like VTSAX aside from small and large cap I will purchase a lil small and Large 8% and 6% of the portfolio (something like that to make it look and feel like VTSAX). I just caught up with most of your interviews on various podcasts and they are AWESOME! I even went back to the older BiggerPockets Money one episode EP. #20 a year ago along with the most recent; along with another recent great one on His and Her Money https://youtu.be/2ZtrO3oMOIQ SO GREAT.. Although some overlap they are such great reminders of ‘The Simple Path To Wealth’ Just keep it simple. It’s a great meditation exercise (I don’t really meditate however this is what it must feel like)… to an easy way to go in life when it comes to finance stuff and you make it less prosaic. I better get over to Amazon and give you a review with 10 stars; perhaps add them with an emoji star 🙂 Thanks again for all that you do and share!!!
…I appreciate the very kind works and look forward to the 10 star Amazon review. 🙂
Ryan C. says
Sorry for the long post! But, if you can answer this question through a reply or a blog post, you will literally be my financial hero for life (and others as well, I’m sure). Sincerely.
Just a little background: I’ve read all of MMM blog posts, I’ve read your stock series twice, and I’ve read related topics by Canadian Couch potato. I truly thank you all for all your time and effort. You’re all life changers for the better. Truly inspirational.
Ok so here we go, I understand most if not all of the things you’ve taught me. However, after reading through everything I still have one last question that hasn’t really been answered yet. And I really want to get this right the first time. Further, I trust your judgement more so than my own rookie perspective. So, What is the best one stop shop investing option for Canadians?
If I were American (US citizen), I’d just put everything into VTSAX and follow the MMM (and Jcollins) way. I long for this simple path.
Nonetheless, I’m a Canadian citizen. So, VTSAX is not an option for me… Damn. It’s alright though since I’ve found three alternative options… but I’m having an extremely difficult time deciding on one of them.
Option #1 (Questrade: VTI in RRSP and VUN in TFSA)
So, I managed to find the Canadian equivalent of VTSAX called VTI, which is just the ETF form. Great. I also managed to find a way to buy this ETF commission free through questrade. Nice. And buy it through an RRSP account to avoid withholding taxes. Ok so wheres the problem here? Well I’m a little hesitant to buy this ETF because of the currency exchange rates. Any thoughts on this matter?
As for VUN, I’m not worried at all about the currency conversion rates because they’re already worked into the price. However, the MER is higher and the dividend payout seems to be lower than VTI (I think it’s like 1.5% compared to the nearly 2% of VTI – dont quote me on these numbers). So, again I’m a little hesitant to buy VUN because of the aforementioned higher MER and lower dividend.
Conclusion: although my gut is telling me to buy these two ETFS because they’re closest to yours and MMM philosophy, I’m still hesitant because of the currency conversion rates for VTI and the higher MER and lower dividend for VUN. Am I wrong about this stuff? Please help clarify things for my little mind.
Option #2 (Again, through questrade but this time RRSP VEQT and TFSA VEQT)
This VEQT fund seems to be the ultimate Canadian one stop shop. But it doesnt seem to completely align with the MMM and Jlcollins way like VTI (or VTSAX). I’m also not too sure what the MER would be compared to owning VTI and VUN in option 1. What are your thoughts on this fund?
Option #3 (TD e-series)
This seems to be the option with the least amount of questions around it. It would allow for easy systematic investing. I just feel like it’s the basic go-to option. But on the other hand, I feel like the other options are better in some way, and I’d be selling myself short picking this one as my investment vehicle.
What are your thoughts on this option?
If you were my brother and you were in my shoes, what would you do? What option would you choose for the long-term and why? (As a Canadian)
Please help! I know once one of these funds are validated by you, I’ll be locked on and set to it for life. I trust the simple path to wealth process. I just need to know where to start in order to build on solid foundation.
Hopefully this helps others as well. Thank you.
As much as I’d love to be your investment hero, I know nothing about investing in Canada.
Ryan c. says
Ah, well it was worth a shot. Thank you very much anyway.
First, can I just say, if you ever have the need to take a job again you should consider book narration. You have the best voice for doing so although I must admit to re- listening to your book when I can’t sleep as it is so soothing.
Secondly, would it be possible to somehow fix this page so that the newest comments appear at the top :-).
Seriously, I love the book and have learnt so much even though it does not relate directly to Australia, the investing principles make so much sense.
…I appreciated the kind words. Glad you like my narration, even in my American accent. 🙂
But here is something better to put you to sleep:
Megan Headley says
I am a federal employee by day, and own a small business on the side that I inherited from my father. I contribute to my federal TSP, but I also started a 401k for my employees (and partners) at my small business. I do contribute to it (only about $3500/year to max out my 401k contributions), and I also provide a match. I began the 401k prior to reading your book and of course now I want to the investment fund options. I have a LONG list to choose from and aside from VTSAX…what other funds should I pick that will provide proper options for my employees. Most of them are not into investing (and the one who is I told to read your book), but I want to make sure that I offer proper options. The list is so long and overwhelming. I’m hoping that you get this comment and provide some insight from a different perspective – the small business owner that started a 4o1k for their employees (and partners). Thank you so much – love your book, your blog, and your thoughts.
HIDEAKI SAKAKIBARA says
I’m 33 years old and I wish I had found your book when I was younger.
I friend of mine told me about it and I listened on audible.
Your voice is really good and I think you should consider being a book narrator.
I want to know where I can continue my path to wealth after the book.
Do you keep posting in your blog still?
I have to confess that is really hard to follow your book in this pandemic situation as a lot of companies are on sale at the moment. I want to go back investing on VTSAX when the situation starts to normalize again.
Thank you! Stay safe!
Mr. g says
Like most readers here I know the folly of trying to time the market. But instead of dancing in and out, day after day, what if I just reacted quickly right after the biggest drops? If a huge market drop looks like a crash why not move immediately and wait it out? I’ll take an initial loss but not the rest of what’s to come. Then, even if I can’t time the bottom, the market always recovers slower than it falls so, when I get back in I’ll still have avoided most of the decline.
The 1929 crash continued for years. The 1987 crash was a huge, one-day hit but the months of decline after it could have been avoided. The decline after 9/11 lasted too, and the housing market crash saw continued decline all the way from 2007 until 2009. Even a sudden event like the Coronavirus Crash saw additional steady losses over a full month.
Now, I’m not talking about selling everything, taking the capital gains tax hit, and then buying everything back. My taxable accounts, IRA, and 401(k) all allow me to move from stocks to bonds and back without fees, although some require a 30-day wait between moves. And what’s 30 days? If anything this allows me to slow down and not be too reactionary to every little market shift. And in the unlikely event that a huge, single-day drop occurs and the market turns bullish right away? In that case all I lose out on is 30 days of gains, tops.
Anyway, this was some of the thinking I had. Then I watched a documentary about the 1929 crash and decided to run an experiment. I wanted to see how this approach would serve me if the timing of all the same events of 1929 played out today. The result seems like it was specifically designed to ruin this strategy. It could not have gone worse.
Here’s how it plays out:
For a decade I would have watched the relentless rise of a bull market built on margin and speculation. I would have known a crash was coming, waiting with cash on the sidelines.
Toward the end of the decade I finally would have given in and bought when the market was high.
From March 25-26 the sell-off panic begins, confirming my fears of a crash. I’d act quickly, moving everything into bonds.
But it’s short-lived. The market soars from March until September. It hits an all-time high on August 31. Watching from the sidelines I watch it climb higher and faster than ever, furthering my fears of a massive crash, and worrying that as soon as I move back into stocks the crash will happen and I’ll be stuck in it for 30 days.
At some point during this time, maybe in June or July, I would have finally stopped waiting and moved everything back into stocks.
On September 12 the market falls precipitously. More hesitant after the last time, I might wait to see how things play out. When the market has another huge drop on September 20 I would have no doubts left, and I’d move everything back to bonds.
September 25 the market rallies and continues to climb through October 23.
By October 20 the 30 day-waiting period would have passed. Seeing that the market has relentlessly climbed during that month I’d move back into stocks.
A few days later, on October 24, the real crash begins. The Dow soon drops 48%. By November 20 the 30-day waiting period would have passed. Desperate to get out I’d rush to move what’s left into bonds.
From November 29 until March 31 the market slowly recovers, signaling the end of the bear market. By the end of this four month period I would have gone back into stocks with what little I had left. Then, stating in April, the market would fall for years. Fatigued from all my bad calls I’d toughen up and see it through, finally losing everything.
Esquire on F.I.R.E. says
Jim – first and foremost, THANK YOU for the Stock Series. My wife and I have been following your blog for quite some time, and we have found it to be an invaluable resource as we journey down the Simple Path to Wealth!
I recently encountered an article written by Research Affiliate’s Rob Arnott, Vitali Kalesnik and Lillian Wu titled “Buy High and Sell Low with Index Funds!” that raised a number of arguments advancing the notion that investing in non-cap weighted indeces (e.g. RAFI fundamental index) will generate higher returns than cap-weighted indeces such as VTSAX. The article’s key points have been pasted below:
1. Traditional cap-weighted indices routinely add stocks priced at a high market valuation and sell stocks priced at a deep discount to market valuation—they buy high and sell low!
a. The additions WIN BIG before they’re added; deletions LOSE BIG before they’re dropped. The pattern reverses the year after an index change.
b. As a result, index fund managers can add value either by anticipating changes or by making their trades 3 to 12 months after their peers.
2. Index funds weight their holdings proportional to price, so their largest holdings usually trade at big premium multiples. As a result, trimming these “top dogs” adds value, too.
3. Stocks are usually added to the index when they’re “hot” and are dropped when they’re deeply out of favor. This sometimes leads to the addition of temporary high-fliers, just before they bomb.
4. We find that two changes in index construction can boost index fund performance:
a. selecting additions based on five-year (or longer) average market capitalization, and
b. using banding to limit flip-flop trades (additions that are quickly deleted), which increase turnover and the related transaction costs that reduce alpha.
Article Link: https://www.researchaffiliates.com/en_us/publications/articles/674-buy-high-and-sell-low-with-index-funds.html
As someone who is also interested in finance and investing, I wanted to pick your brain on what your thoughts/counter-arguments would be favoring cap-weighted indeces over non-cap-weighted indeces.
Thank you for your time, and I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this pandemic.
Tom M says
Hi Jim, I am 58 years old and 5 years away for retirement. My funds current;ly are 50% VTSAX and 50% VTBLX. Do you think I should have a higher percentage of VTSAX? thanks
Brandon W says
Thank you, jlcollinsnh.
I am late to the party, but this series has provided much value to me. It has lit the fire to my FIRE, if you will.
The message is concise and powerful and its core principles will last forever!
Jake Ruele says
How much of this is applicable to a South African Context?
Ms Sanika says
Dear Mr Collins,
I hope you are well and safe.
I am writing to you on behalf of Manjul Publishing House – a Bhopal, India, based publishing house. We are front-runners in the translations segment of the Indian publishing industry. We publish Hindi and other major Indian language translations, and also English language reprints of international bestsellers (only for India/Indian sub-continent). We have translated and published works of international authors like JK Rowling, Rhonda Byrne, Robert Kiyosaki, Brian Tracy, James Clear, Prof Yuval Noah Harari in several Indian languages.
We would like to review your title – The Simple Path to Wealth – for possible English reprint (for Indian subcontinent) and multiple Indian languages translations. Therefore, please let me know how we should proceed?
With best regards,
Thank you for your interest, Ms Sanika…
…I have asked my agent to reach out to you.
Hi Jim. You’re probably sick of these comments by now so ill keep it short.
Until I stumbled across your book by chance a couple of months ago I was simply cruising through life. I was about to buy the most house my salary could afford and probably end up with a lot of other debt along the way.
Thank you – your content has changed my mindset towards finances but also towards life in general, who needs fancy cars and big homes we can only just afford. There is much more to life than that.
I don’t expect a reply to this comment Jim, but I do hope you read it and take some satisfaction in knowing that you are making a difference.
All the best, Ste.
Thanks for the kind words,
Glad to hear it has helped!
I have been listening to several podcasts and trying to do my research about investing. I’m 29 years old and have saved 30,000 in cash.I’m hoping to keep 20,000 of this in the bank for a down payment on a house. Instead of letting my money sit in a credit union, I really want to start investing. I am planning of using 10,000 of my savings for an initial investment and keep adding monthly to an account. I’m confused/ scared about where to start? Index funds? Roth IRA or I keep hearing about Vanguard’s VTSAX ? I don’t plan on touching any of this money until retirement, however, I would still like access to be able to add to my account weekly or monthly and have low fees. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
George V says
Can u please write a new article on deflation stag flation and hyperinflation? Today many articles talked about these possibilities- long time follower 😉
I have read your stock series several times over that last years and I learned a lot. Thank you Jim, for sharing your knowledge. Your blog is a great inspiration!
Any tips for those starting to invest later at 42? I have 20-25 years to let the money work for us. Thanks, this information is wonderful
Kevin Hamilton says
Live as frugally as you can and save as much as you can. It’s not too late! You still have a good 30 years to work and invest. That’s plenty of time for the magic of compounding to work for you.
Hello Mr. Collins.
My names are Matanda Chikuku, all the way from the great continent of Africa, from a country centrally positioned known as Zambia.
I’m a recent graduate, aged 26, and I’m currently working as a stores assistant to earn a living due to a high rate of unemployment within my country.
I’m so interested in financial freedom and as such was led to your book The Simple Path To Wealth some weeks ago. I have just completed it and I loved every bit of information and counsel from it.
I would, without a doubt, want to emerge on this journey of stock trading via a suitable index fund with regard to my current location; Africa (Zambia).
I’ve been doing some research to set this in motion.
My question to you Mr Collin is how can I find a suitable index fund, as an outsider of the U.S.A, without transactional costs and commission fees that will avail to me the chance of commencing this journey??
I really need your help and advice. Kindly get back to me as soon as you can, as I am very much eager to diligently start my journey to financial freedom with every little accumulation of money I can acquire.
..glad you found your way here. Unfortunately I know nothing of investing in Zambia.
You might try posting your question here:
In spite of the post titles, the comments sections have become a forum for international investors asking and answering questions like yours.
Your stock series is fantastic!
Looking forward to your next book.
Alejandro Falsiroli says
Hello Mr. Collins!
One of my managers recommended your book and I am so glad she did. I absolutely love the detailed and hard work you put into it, definitely my favorite book so far.
I have a quick question for you. As a 25-year-old with no kids, what percentage of your income do you recommend keeping in your savings account? I started investing in VTSAX as soon as I completed your book and so far, I have seen great results. I want to invest as much as possible so I can start compounding faster.
Also, do you recommend any bonds or should I only invest in VTSAX?
Love the blog and the book and all that you are doing to promote FI.
I have finally come around to opening a taxable account at Vanguard – it is not as straightforward and easy as it seems after reading the blog/book.
There are big questions to answer like individual vs joint account (when married), different types of joint accounts (tenants in common vs entirety), whether or not to set dividends to reinvest or not (and considering tax loss harvesting), and then how the money first goes into a settlement fund before you can actually buy VTSAX.
Anyway, just saying that you might want to add some discussion at some point so that people understand that it is not as simple as “open an account at Vanguard and put your money in VTSAX.”
Happy holidays and keep up the good work!
Dear Mr. Collins,
The stock series is a simple and at the same time clear and intuitive guide to investment. For the UK based investors, would you perhaps have any thoughts for those starting with investing and pick something similar to the ‘stock series’ recommendations / ideas of investment? Sure there is Vanguard’s website that has all the info, however it would be great if you could give some pointers.
Matt Scassero says
Just got introduced to this. I am going to keep checking it out. The F-You Money is a classic…
Greetings Mr. Collins – I just found out about you on YouTube. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience with people such as myself. I need some basic advice & I will take it from there. I just did a refi on my home with cash out and I have 40K to invest in some manner. My principal balance is 149K on a 15 year fixed interest loan. One investment I have made with my cash out funds is a Series I Savings Bond for 10K. It seemed like a no-brainer given the rate of inflation at the moment.
I am 64 years old and plan on working likely until I’m 70 to get my full Social Security benefits. Given the current economic situation in our country what basic advice would you give me to do with this cash (40k)?
Thank you in advance.
thanks for your book, and as I studied I found all about the vanguard and 2916 situation. time by time the company has changed and improved.
I have a question about mutual fund index for ling term or retirement, if we buy Charles Schwab ETF instead of vanguard ETF what will be your idea?
total stock market and S&P500 mutual fund index. Does the Charles Schwab have the same return as Vanguard?
Christian Silva says
Hey Jim, or Mr. Collins if you prefer!
My wife and I read your book, The Simple Path to Wealth, and were ecstatic to start our wealth building journey but wanted to gauge some more situational awareness advice based on some of our background situation. I, 28-year-old, am currently making the $82,500 with a job 401k that total matches the first 3% and half matches up to 6%. I currently have 6% (maxing the match but still only about 10.5%) going to retirement with 100% in the VINIX that my work offers. I am setting a financial FU money saving goal of a minimum of 15k within the next 6 months (expenses Est around 30k/yr. since house and other bills pan out to such). I would like to max my contributions, but I just wanted to make sure I would be in a good place to do so based on the FU money accumulation amount and other information described. I am basing this on my income but my wife, also 28-year-old, is also making around the 36-37k/yr. She also has school loan debt but other than one loan (which is planned on being finished within the next month or so, that is higher than 5%. I wasn’t sure knowing this information what a good focus point would be moving forward when I accumulate the FU money be it investing max into my 401k (I presume being 20,500), saving up to 30k of FU money (to be extra sure we will be well with expenses), paying off all her student loans (she has a total of 32k), or other options moving forward. I am glad you were able to guide both of us to start our financial independence journey and am thankful for your advice so far!
Christian & Bernie
Art Vandalay says
Hi Mr. Collins,
I saw your review of Betterment and was curious to hear your thoughts on another robo advisor: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. With no advisory fee and no commissions (unlike Betterment), it seems like quite an attractive option to me (as long as you can afford the 5k account minimum). Just like Betterment, it builds monitors, and rebalances your portfolio based on your goals. It even looks like some of the ETFs included in a typical portfolio are from Vanguard. I’m considering transferring my Roth IRA from Betterment to the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios due to those lack of fees, but wanted to make sure the performance would be acceptable. What do you think?
I was also considering SWTSX for the non tax advantaged investing I plan to do. I know you advocate heavily for VTSAX and Vanguard in general, but considering SWTSX has a slightly lower fee and I may also soon have my Roth IRA with Schwab, I wondered if it would be easier to go with Schwab to have everything in essentially one place?
While we’re on the topic, do you think that if a robo advisor like Schwab Intelligent Portfolios doesn’t charge fees it could even be worth it to keep all, or the majority of your non tax advantaged investments in the Intelligent portfolio or is it still going to be more advantageous to go all in on SWTSX/VTSAX if you’re young and trying to be very aggressive? Thanks for your help.
Hi Mister Collins.
Heard you on ChooseFI recently and loved your conversation. I’ve decided to move all my stocks to either a Total Market fund or an S&P 500 fund when I don’t have the option.
My question for you: If I want to do this in my personal account or 401k account, is there a best way to do it or a best time for it?
Thank you so much for you advice.
Many thanks for your book – The Simple Path to Wealth, was quite inspiring and enjoyed reading every minute!
Can I ask for some advise regarding Index Fund. Can you recommend an Index Fund in Euro currency available outside US (preferably that invests in US stocks)?
I enjoyed reading your back. Had a question ar0und one of the concepts. Instead of investing in a index that tracks the whole market, would it not be advisable to invest in say the top100 stocks. Won’t the same logic of constant churning based on performance apply? Given that these are the top100 stocks, won’t it provide better returns?
Richard Cassidy says
Great book. Thank you!
I thought I was already a low-cost investor. Having listened to your book. I am not so sure.
Some years ago, I consolidated nearly everything my wife and I have into a Charles Schwab Account. The vast bulk of our investments are in Schwab Target Date Index Funds. I have to say that I am disappointed that I can’t readily find their expense ratios!
I am paying a lot more than with Vanguard Funds? If I am, can take care of it just by buying Vanguard in my Schwab account or am I paying twice if I do it that way?
Patrick O says
Did you go Ad-free?!?!?!?
For now. We’re trying to figure out how to replace the revenue.
I think you’ve removed the ads on the blog? It seems to more responsive and cleaner looking.
Thanks for the great content JL. The Simple Path is a fantastic book; I love your writing style.
Keep going, all the best,
Yep, that’s it!
Glad it works better for you Matt…
…and thanks for the very kind words!
I learned a lot from your book, and thank you for it. In addition to my retirement savings and taxable investment account, I’ve got a six-month expenses emergency fund. I am trying to decide whether to keep that in a savings account (earning 4% interest right now) or invest it? If I keep it in cash, then do I need any bonds in my allocation for now? The emergency fund is about 10% of my total savings and I am in my early 40’s with two young children.