Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

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Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby paulg » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:14 am

I am 58 years old and still working. In order to reduce volatility, I have about 40% of my assets in fixed income. A sizable portion of my fixed income allocation in Vanguard Prime Money Market (VMMXX). I am considering transferring it to Vanguard Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) which has a duration of 4.9, Vanguard GNMA (VFIIX) which has a duration of 2.9 or Vanguard Short Term Bond Fund (VCSH) which has a duration of 2.8.

Given the prospects of inflation in the future, what should I do? I don’t currently need the income to live off of. What investment are most Boggleheads using for their bond allocation today, given interest rates are close to rock bottom?
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby Johm221122 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:17 am

I bonds, EE bonds, stable value funds, CD's and individual bonds are always an option for you
John
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby rickmerrill » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:43 am

In my 40/60 allocation I have 70% in total bond mkt, 20% in tips and 10% in stable value.

The interest rate and bond discussion is well represented here:
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=110724&p=1610563&hilit=Inflation#p1610563
If I am stupid I will pay.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby john94549 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:28 am

You might wish to consider building a CD ladder with some of your fixed-income allocation. PenFed offers competitive rates on one-, two- and three-year CDs (1.25%, 1.6% and 1.85%, respectively). Four- and five-year CDs (if a five-year ladder is to your taste), the pickings are slimmer these days. You won't get much premium for going out on the curve. Not sure why that is, but rates pretty much plateau around 2%. These CDs (called "money market certificates" at PF) are also available as IRA CDs. I've done two custodian-to-custodian IRA transfers with PF, and the paperwork is fairly easy.

Lots of threads/comments lately on bond funds versus CD ladders.

Here's a blog post on point from a Boglehead poster "tfb":

http://thefinancebuff.com/diversify-bon ... h-cds.html

For the best current deals on CDs, you might visit Ken Tumin's blog, www.depositaccounts.com. Click on the "blog" tab at the top, then scroll down for his weekly recap.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby midareff » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:18 am

BTW, Vanguard lists the duration of the GNMA fund VFIIX, as 3.6 years. You are citing M*'s number.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby ResNullius » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:26 am

I'm fully retired, with a fixed allocation of around 60%. My fixed is divided between short and intermediate investment grade, and also some GNMA. I think this is a good conservative bond fund allocation, but I doubt I'll every fully understand bonds like I think I understand equities.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby livesoft » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:42 am

Just own some of all of them. Indeed, we own FSITX (Fidelity VBMFX equivalent), VFIJX (VFIIX equivalent), and VCSH along with some TIAA traditional annuity and some Vanguard Intermediate Index Bond (BIV).

There seems to be a hint of folks tapping into the Vanguard short-term TIPS fund VTAPX, too.

The beauty of owning a little bit of everything is that one can pat themselves on the back because they bought the fund that lost the least amount of money while ignoring the fact that they also bought the fund that lost the most amount of money. :)
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby Toons » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:53 am

Keep it simple. Total Bond and or Short Term Bond index. No need to over do i with a plethora of funds.
You will find that as the years go by eventually into retirement years you will want "less" to manage than "more". Experience has been my teacher :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby Dandy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:39 pm

I think it is wise to move money out of mutual fund money markets. With interest rates so low I not a big fan in moving all your money market funds to bond funds. Why not put at least some $ in other "safe" assets such as I bonds, CDs or other FDIC type vehicles. If/when interest rates rise your bond funds will take a hit (maybe for the length of their duration) but this will be offset by reinvesting their dividends and having some fixed income assets in I Bonds or CDs. As CDs mature you can make the call whether to keep going the CD route or putting the money in your bond funds. F;or some the goal of fixed income is to provide portfolio stability - this approach should add to stability allowing you to take more of the risk on the equity side. If you go the CD route Ally Bank, Discover Bank and Pen Fed credit union have some of the best rates.

If you are going to use bond funds I would split between an intermediate duration and shorter duration and skip GNMA fund.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby SpringMan » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:06 pm

Dandy wrote:I think it is wise to move money out of mutual fund money markets. With interest rates so low I not a big fan in moving all your money market funds to bond funds. Why not put at least some $ in other "safe" assets such as I bonds, CDs or other FDIC type vehicles. If/when interest rates rise your bond funds will take a hit (maybe for the length of their duration) but this will be offset by reinvesting their dividends and having some fixed income assets in I Bonds or CDs. As CDs mature you can make the call whether to keep going the CD route or putting the money in your bond funds. F;or some the goal of fixed income is to provide portfolio stability - this approach should add to stability allowing you to take more of the risk on the equity side. If you go the CD route Ally Bank, Discover Bank and Pen Fed credit union have some of the best rates.

Assuming money is invested is in an IRA (or 401k, 403 etc) it is not so easy. Brokered CDs are different than bank CDs, they go up and down with interest rates just like bonds. I know banks and credit unions offer IRA accounts but they often have high fees just to maintain them. If one holds a high percentage of bond funds at Vanguard (we are 65% bonds), does it make sense to be switching custodians to a bank for FDIC CDs when we would lose our Vanguard Flagship client status? Switching IRA custodians, chasing the best CD interest rate sounds like too much hassle IMO. I can more see your point if the dollars are in taxable accounts. I do not know if you can even buy i-bonds in an IRA, maybe?
Best Wishes, SpringMan
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby john94549 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:22 pm

SpringMan wrote:Assuming money is invested is in an IRA (or 401k, 403 etc) it is not so easy. Brokered CDs are different than bank CDs, they go up and down with interest rates just like bonds. I know banks and credit unions offer IRA accounts but they often have high fees just to maintain them. Switching IRA custodians, chasing the best CD interest rate sounds like too much hassle IMO.


I have quite a few retail IRA CDs (laddered). Over the years, with many banks/CUs, I've never been charged a maintenance fee. There is usually a modest fee (generally $25 or thereabouts) to close and transfer the funds on maturity, but that's it. Maybe I've been lucky.

As to switching custodians (aka a custodian-to-custodian transfer) and searching for "best rates", I suspect it is a put-off for some. I admit to a certain trepidation back in 2006 when I constructed my first IRA CD ladder. It's easier after you've done a couple of transfers, and rolled a few rungs.

That said, I am not a fan of brokered CDs, either.
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Re: Bond allocation – VBMFX, VFIIX, VCSH, or ???

Postby Calm Man » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:26 pm

Why are we concluding that interest rates are at rock bottom.? Or if they are close to the bottom, how do we know they won't stay there for many, many years? Japan's 10 year bond is under 1%.
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