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A general question, are there distinct advantages or disadvantages to owning a 'balanced' fund (60% stocks/40% bonds) over two funds like total stock index (60%) and total bond (40%)
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The balanced fund is simpler, and so better in that way. But when making withdrawals, you would take money on a pro-rata basis from both stocks and bonds. If you owned seperate stock and bond funds you could make withdrawals from only one (presumably the one that's above its allocation percentage).
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A balanced fund hides volatility from you, so that can be an advantage for folks who do not like to see big drops (nobody complains about big gains) in their fund.
But when you withdraw from a balanced fund, you are selling equities AND fixed income, when it may have been better to sell one or the other.
Balanced fund in taxable is less tax efficient. This was discussed recently at length on the forum.
If you have a tax-advantaged account and cannot force yourself to rebalance (buy low, sell high), then let a balanced fund do it for you.
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