Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread

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hoppy08520
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Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread

Post by hoppy08520 »

Suggestion for updating the "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212

From time to time I find that people post their 401k plans but don't realize that the expense ratios for their funds in a 401k plan are different from the "retail" expense ratios that they find when doing internet searches. This leads people to post incorrect expense ratios and get the wrong advice. Therefore I would suggest adding something like this (suggested additions in blue):
Key Points
* Please make sure that percentages add up to 100% across all of your accounts, not within each account.
* Please make sure that you've provided all the information requested above. Omitting information often results in delays and/or longer exchanges.
* Please post fund names, not just ticker symbols.
* Be sure to enter the expense ratios for the funds as they are in your own company plan; often the fund expense ratios in 401k/403b/457 plans are different from the "retail" expense ratios you will find for a fund when doing an internet search.
* If you see several different expense ratios for a single fund, use the net expense ratio.
Feel free to wordsmith this.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Duckie »

I've been thinking about this, too. Enough newcomers don't understand certain parts of the post. Here are two ambiguities I see often:

change
Tax Rate: xx% Federal xx% State State of Residence
to
Marginal Tax Bracket: xx% Federal, xx% State (State of Residence)
or maybe Marginal Tax Bracket

change
Desired Asset allocation: (stocks/bonds)

Intl allocation: x% of stocks
to
Desired Asset allocation: (stocks/bonds)

International allocation: x% of stocks


By providing the links in the post it would make it easier for newcomers.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

Let's do this right. I moved the thread where it will get the best attention - in the "Investing - Help with Personal Investments" forum. Next, I copied the thread into the wiki where everyone can work on it.

Wiki article link: Asking portfolio questions

Wiki editors are encouraged to update directly, but post back here for review. Once we have a consensus, I'll do the update.

(We could also update the Investment Planning sticky, but we should start a new thread for that.)
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

Duckie wrote: change
Tax Rate: xx% Federal xx% State State of Residence
to
Marginal Tax Bracket: xx% Federal, xx% State (State of Residence)
or maybe Marginal Tax Bracket
I don't think new investors understand what a marginal tax bracket is. While technically correct, it might be too much up front to encounter right away. They'll learn it once they get comfortable with everything else.
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Authors approval needed.

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Lady Geek and others:

Laura's post has stood the test-of-time very well. Before changing her post, Laura should be consulted.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

Good advice, Taylor. I sent her a PM and requested a response here.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by dbr »

Understanding how to post in the requested format might be a most valuable start on learning how to invest.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

I agree with the changes suggested by hoppy.

I'm agree with adding "marginal". However, it would be helpful to tell people how to determine what their marginal tax bracket is. I use something like "compare your taxable income (line 43 on Form 1040) to this chart" and people do seem to understand what to do.

I suggest adding the word "desired" to international as well (Desired International allocation: x% of stocks). A lot of people try to tell us what their current international allocation is rather than what they want it to be.

I agree with getting Laura's blessing, but the changes are so minimal and would be so helpful, I can't imagine she would object.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

retiredjg wrote:I agree with getting Laura's blessing, but the changes are so minimal and would be so helpful, I can't imagine she would object.
I often have those same thoughts about many topics. Then, I get completely turned around when that person explains why... :?

Why don't we edit the wiki with the proposed changes, then let Laura provide her comments (approval or not)? Hoppy is a wiki editor.

Duckie - I don't think referencing the wiki is a good idea here. It has to be easy enough to be understood on its own. Otherwise, new investors will get totally lost clicking on lots of links they don't understand and give up. I'm willing to compromise on getting someone to start learning first, then teach them the "finer points" later.

To the new investors - Are there any parts of this format that you don't understand? Please post here.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

dbr wrote:Understanding how to post in the requested format might be a most valuable start on learning how to invest.
Are you suggesting an introduction, above and beyond what's posted?
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Barry Barnitz »

HI:

I have incorporated some of the suggested changes, as well as an added small bridge section. I have formatted the page (with bolding, list formatting, as well as setting off some sections within a table-- forum formatting could place this information in quote or code boxes.)

Changes:
1. Revised the Bogleheads/Diehards opening reference to the current appellation of the site.
2. Added "desired" to international allocation question.
3. Set the sub-asset class breakdown into a table(for easier viewing in the wiki).
4. Added the following text: " Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans. For example:"
5. Created a table (for easier wiki viewing) for current assets, and reorganized the breakdown so that his/her accounts were not mixed.
6. Created tables (for easier wiki viewing) for current contributions and available funds.
7. As bullet points under the section Key Points added suggested text: " Be sure to enter the expense ratios for the funds as they are in your own company plan; often the fund expense ratios in 401k/403b/457 plans are different from the "retail" expense ratios you will find for a fund when doing an internet search.

If you see several different expense ratios for a single fund, use the net expense ratio."

Given lack of current consensus, I did not emend to "marginal tax rate".

Asking portfolio questions - Bogleheads

regards,
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

There was also a broken link to the image of the "Edit" button here:
Etiquette

If asked to add additional information, please use the edit button Image (upper right hand side of your post) to add the information to your original post.
I removed the link in the wiki version. We can replace it with this: Image (the upper one) if we want to keep it.
Wiki wrote:Etiquette

If asked to add additional information, please use the edit button (upper right hand side of your post) to add the information to your original post.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Thanks Barry!

Suggestion: Change:
  • Total of All Accounts Together (not each account individually) equals 100%

    to

    Total of All Accounts Together (not each account individually) should equal 100%.
As currently written, it sounds like the 100% happens automatically. The "should" gives the poster that something needs to be done to make it happen.




I may or may not have a problem with the tables. For illustration purposes, it is very nice. In practice...I'm not sure yet. If the poster does a copy and paste, I'm not sure what will happen. If the tables transfer over that could make things more difficult for people who are posting suggestions.

An example. Some people like for their posts to be sort of formatted and pretty. But when someone like me is incorporating that information into a reply, it requires a lot more editing on my part. Frankly, it's just a pain in the neck! I fear the same thing will happen with those tables, but I'm willing to wait and see what happens.

Please understand that the following examples are by far easier to incorporate into an answer than something that comes already formatted with indents, spaces, bullets, etc.

Taxable
10% Blah blah
5% Blah blah

or

Taxable
10% Blah blah
5% Blah blah

The above are good. :D

Things that are formatted are not good :annoyed .

It appears the tables may not copy and paste into tables, so I may be commenting about a problem that is not going to happen. Like I said earlier, I'm willing to wait and see.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by ruralavalon »

I suggest adding before the illustration of accounts, for greater emphasis and more prominence --

Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Please include all investment and retirement accounts, its important to look at the portfolio as a unified whole rather than look at accounts in isolation. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans. For example:

Also, I endorse the idea of identifying the marginal tax rate as the rate requested.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

This is small, but if changes are happening, maybe this could happen too.

I usually go in this order:
  • taxable
    401k
    Roth IRA/tIRA
    other accounts (like old 401ks, etc.)
I do it that way because taxable and 401k are the log jams (have the most limitations) so I work on filling those first. IRAs and other accounts get the leftovers. It is just easier for me to work from the top down.

It seems others use this order as well, but I'm not really sure.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by hoppy08520 »

retiredjg wrote: Suggestion: Change:
  • Total of All Accounts Together (not each account individually) equals 100%

    to

    Total of All Accounts Together (not each account individually) should equal 100%.
Good idea, anything you can do to emphasize this will help.
retiredjg wrote:I may or may not have a problem with the tables. For illustration purposes, it is very nice. In practice...I'm not sure yet. If the poster does a copy and paste, I'm not sure what will happen. If the tables transfer over that could make things more difficult for people who are posting suggestions.
I was concerned about that too, but I found that if you copy and paste the rendered version on a web page (i.e. not the textual source with the formatting tags) and paste, then the tags are stripped out.

I think Barry's formatting enhancements are good because they help the viewer visualize the different sections more clearly, and thankfully the formatting tags disappear when pasted into a new topic box.

Switching gears, I think it's ok to hyperlink a couple of terms to the wiki, but not overdoing it. I agree with the original intent of the post and suggested format to keep it simple and not have too many footnotes, asterisks and rambling explanations that will just overwhelm, intimidate or confuse the people who even bother to read them all. I agree with Taylor that the original post strikes a very good balance and has stood the test of time, and that any changes should be make carefully and avoid over complicating it.

I feel like we should add to the original only when we find that people are chronically making the same mistakes or omissions. To that point, I doubt people are chronically putting their expense ratios in incorrectly, but I thought it was still important to note because it wouldn't surprise me if people are entering them wrong and no one even realizes it. To me, that is such an important mistake that you want to go out of your way to help people avoid making that mistake.

Finally, I like this and would suggest adding the part in red as well:
ruralavalon wrote:I suggest adding before the illustration of accounts, for greater emphasis and more prominence --

Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Please include all investment and retirement accounts, including spouse/partner if applicable, as it's important to look at the portfolio as a unified whole rather than look at accounts in isolation. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

I was concerned about that too, but I found that if you copy and paste the rendered version on a web page (i.e. not the textual source with the formatting tags) and paste, then the tags are stripped out.
I have found this as well. But I'm still wondering if some people might put them back in!

Switching gears, I think it's ok to hyperlink a couple of terms to the wiki, but not overdoing it.
Agree. One or two links maybe. But no more.

I feel like we should add to the original only when we find that people are chronically making the same mistakes or omissions.
Agree! We could edit the heck out of this thing with no improvement at all. I'd like to see edits limited to problems that come up on a regular basis. So far, all the edits suggested represent regularly recurring issues in my opinion.

To that point, I doubt people are chronically putting their expense ratios in incorrectly...

I disagree. I find that this happens regularly and that is only the times I figure it out! I believe the suggested edit would be a very helpful addition.

...including spouse/partner if applicable...
Tough one. A legal partner, yes. A partner that has no legal right to sharing the assets at divorce or death....no. How you would word that could be tricky. "Legally recognized partner"?
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

hoppy08520 wrote:Finally, I like this and would suggest adding the part in red as well:
ruralavalon wrote:I suggest adding before the illustration of accounts, for greater emphasis and more prominence --

Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Please include all investment and retirement accounts, including spouse/partner if applicable, as it's important to look at the portfolio as a unified whole rather than look at accounts in isolation. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans.
How about avoiding the "partner/spouse" thing entirely:

Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Please include all investment and retirement accounts (yourself and additional contributors, if applicable) as it's important to look at the portfolio as a unified whole rather than look at accounts in isolation. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by hoppy08520 »

...including spouse/partner if applicable...
Tough one. A legal partner, yes. A partner that has no legal right to sharing the assets at divorce or death....no. How you would word that could be tricky. "Legally recognized partner"?
Good revision. I would just leave it at "spouse" but I guess I'm trying to be sensitive to those who have some other form of legal relationship (e.g. civil union). I'm not trying to open any cans of worms with this.

Maybe I'm over thinking this. It just seems that with a lot of threads, you discover after a few posts that the OP has a wife with a 401k that he didn't think to include.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Barry Barnitz »

Hi:

I have updated to incorporate suggested changes: Asking portfolio questions - Bogleheads

Note also that the formatting changes in the wiki page are made in order to render the page more easily readable in the wiki format (so that we can more easily see and conceptualize the changes). Copying forum formatting to the wiki does not fit very well (and vice versa). For a forum post, the tables and bullet lists, which are visual improvements for a wiki page, are not essential for forum markup.

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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

I propose replacing this section (note suggested abbreviation fix):
Intl International allocation: x% of stocks

If you want to give us the subcategory breakdowns within each asset class, go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this.) For example:

x% Large Caps
x% Mid Caps
X% Small Caps
X% REIT
X% International stocks
X% Sector
X% Bonds
X% Cash

Some people may also want to tell us the % of growth investments and % of value investments they want.
With:
If you want to give us a detailed breakdown within each asset class (x% international stocks, x% Large caps, x% Mid caps, x% bonds, x% Cash, etc.), go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this. If you are not sure what this means, please ignore.)
I suspect this is where the newbie will get intimidated. They barely know the difference between stocks and bonds, then we ask for details. The "Most people probably will not want to do this..." may not help much. Those who understand what this means will fill it in, those who don't will be reassured that it's not necessary.

We also had someone ask "What does taxable account mean?"
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

LadyGeek wrote:...(yourself and additional contributors, if applicable)...
I think this is even more open to mis-interpretations. People will add in all types of additional contributors. :D

I do think that adding spouse (and equivalent) is worthwhile. It is not at all unusual to have to ask for the spouse's info - a lot of people do leave it out. What do you folks think of ...yourself and spouse (or civil partner).... ?
If you want to give us a detailed breakdown within each asset class (x% international stocks, x% Large caps, x% Mid caps, x% bonds, x% Cash, etc.), go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this. If you are not sure what this means, please ignore.)
I like this!
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by hoppy08520 »

LadyGeek wrote:I propose replacing this section (note suggested abbreviation fix):
Intl International allocation: x% of stocks

If you want to give us the subcategory breakdowns within each asset class, go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this.) For example:

x% Large Caps
x% Mid Caps
X% Small Caps
X% REIT
X% International stocks
X% Sector
X% Bonds
X% Cash

Some people may also want to tell us the % of growth investments and % of value investments they want.
With:
If you want to give us a detailed breakdown within each asset class (x% international stocks, x% Large caps, x% Mid caps, x% bonds, x% Cash, etc.), go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this. If you are not sure what this means, please ignore.)
I suspect this is where the newbie will get intimidated. They barely know the difference between stocks and bonds, then we ask for details. The "Most people probably will not want to do this..." may not help much. Those who understand what this means will fill it in, those who don't will be reassured that it's not necessary.

We also had someone ask "What does taxable account mean?"
Very good suggestion! I doubt even 1 in 10 people even fill out that section. I wonder how many people might have abandoned their post when they saw that section and just gave up, sighing, "I'll never understand this!"
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

This is really down to picking nits....

Tax Rate: xx% Federal xx% State State of Residence <---current

This often gets us a state name or a state tax rate. It usually does not get us both pieces of information. What about:
  • Tax Rate: xx% Federal, xx% State

    State of Residence:
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by hoppy08520 »

retiredjg wrote:This is really down to picking nits....

Tax Rate: xx% Federal xx% State State of Residence <---current

This often gets us a state name or a state tax rate. It usually does not get us both pieces of information. What about:
  • Tax Rate: xx% Federal, xx% State

    State of Residence:
Good idea. I added this to the draft in the wiki.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by hoppy08520 »

retiredjg wrote:
LadyGeek wrote:...(yourself and additional contributors, if applicable)...
I think this is even more open to mis-interpretations. People will add in all types of additional contributors. :D

I do think that adding spouse (and equivalent) is worthwhile. It is not at all unusual to have to ask for the spouse's info - a lot of people do leave it out. What do you folks think of ...yourself and spouse (or civil partner).... ?
Actually, there was a thread this week where someone listed he is Married Filing Jointly, no kids, and two dogs. :D
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Duckie »

Under Contributions

New annual Contributions
  • $xx his 401k (including matching contributions)
  • $xx her 403b (including matching contributions
  • $xx taxable
I think it should say (plus $xx matching contributions). That way we'd know for sure if the 401k is being maxed or not.

Also, add IRA/Roth IRA to the options.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Duckie wrote:Also, add IRA/Roth IRA to the options.
Yes. And taxable (for retirement, not short term goals).
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Barry Barnitz »

Hi:

I have incorporated the latest suggestions, and revised a passage for better readability.

Asking portfolio questions - Bogleheads

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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by hoppy08520 »

Duckie wrote:Under Contributions

New annual Contributions
  • $xx his 401k (including matching contributions)
  • $xx her 403b (including matching contributions
  • $xx taxable
I think it should say (plus $xx matching contributions). That way we'd know for sure if the 401k is being maxed or not.

Also, add IRA/Roth IRA to the options.
Duckie, I understand what you're trying to get, but not sure if the wording is right. I am a bit confused. Are they supposed to put the matching part in parentheses?

If you want to split these out then maybe "matching contributions" be on its own line.

FWIW, I find that many posters (at least half) don't answer this section anyway. I suspect some don't really know and others are looking for guidance on where to prioritize their contributions, so they just leave it blank.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Cash »

LadyGeek wrote:If you want to give us a detailed breakdown within each asset class (x% international stocks, x% Large caps, x% Mid caps, x% bonds, x% Cash, etc.), go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this. If you are not sure what this means, please ignore.)
Fantastic! I was going to make an argument for replacing the desired international allocation prompt with something more helpful (how people are expected to make an informed international allocation when they're struggling with stock/bond splits is beyond me), but this is even better.

EDIT: Actually, I see the international allocation prompt remains in the wiki right before "If you want to give us a detailed breakdown..." I would suggest changing the two prompts above this language to a general "Desired asset allocation:" If the poster knows enough to have one, then s/he can provide it. On the other hand, if the poster hasn't done his/her homework (and despite our desires, many don't), wouldn't we be better off recommending the default age in bonds and 30-50% international rather than having the poster hazard a guess at something and then criticizing the guess?
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Duckie wrote:Under Contributions

New annual Contributions
  • $xx his 401k (including matching contributions)
  • $xx her 403b (including matching contributions
  • $xx taxable
I think it should say (plus $xx matching contributions). That way we'd know for sure if the 401k is being maxed or not.
I'm struggling with this one too.

I understand what you would like to accomplish Duckie, but I think this way would get just as many wrong entries as the current wording. Actually, I wonder if it would result in more wrong entries because people often don't know what their match is. With the current wording, they can muddle though or at least pretend (which I think a lot of people do).

I'm Ok with it if the group wants to change it though.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

I removed the international allocation. As to a "rule of thumb," I would totally avoid any suggestions at this point. Remember that asset allocation depends on the time horizon, willingness, need, and ability to take on risk.

Note that the first line says "(This message is a continuation of the Investment Planning topic. If you are unable to answer the questions here, please go back and review that post first.)"

The Investment Planning sticky addresses asset allocation, which is hopefully what the members are reading first. It was placed above "Asking Portfolio Questions" for that reason.

Investment planning (the big picture) comes before your portfolio details. This point is not emphasized in the wiki to the level it should be, so the wiki editors have started to think on how to address this better.

Wiki article link: Asking portfolio questions
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Please put the international allocation back in.
  • -This is a fundamental decision the investor needs to make. The other decisions (amount of large, mid, etc) is something only a few people will want to deal with. It is properly put in so that most can ignore it if they want. But international allocation is not something that can be skipped over.

    -Asking for their international allocation has never been a problem that needs to be fixed (other than some did not understand the question).

    -Even though many people don't know what they want, they have not had a problem saying "I don't know - suggest something". Again, this is not broken, so let's don't fix it.

    -If the international allocation is not asked for, we will have to ask for that in a whole lot of posts.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Mudpuppy »

Not to bring up anything too political (and I wouldn't have bothered if the wiki wasn't actively being edited), but using "his" and "her" for account designations with a couple might be a bit behind the times. I do not have a good suggestion for brief alternate wording, perhaps something like "my 401k" and "spouse's 401k" (or "partner's 401k").
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

OK, international is back. As to the "(plus matching contributions)" - does this mean I have to add them separately? Also, the definition of taxable is confusing. This is more clear to me:

From:
New annual Contributions

$xx his 401k (plus matching contributions)
$xx her 403b (plus matching contributions)
$xx his IRA/Roth IRA
$xx her IRA/Roth IRA
$xx taxable (for retirement, not short term goals)
To:
New annual Contributions

$xx his 401k, (xx matching contribution, if known)
$xx her 403b, (xx matching contribution, if known)
$xx his IRA/Roth IRA
$xx her IRA/Roth IRA
$xx taxable (e.g. long-term CDs or other investments for retirement, not a bank savings account)
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Barry Barnitz »

Mudpuppy wrote:Not to bring up anything too political (and I wouldn't have bothered if the wiki wasn't actively being edited), but using "his" and "her" for account designations with a couple might be a bit behind the times. I do not have a good suggestion for brief alternate wording, perhaps something like "my 401k" and "spouse's 401k" (or "partner's 401k").

Emended for greater gender neutrality: Asking portfolio questions - Bogleheads.

regards,
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Mudpuppy wrote:Not to bring up anything too political (and I wouldn't have bothered if the wiki wasn't actively being edited), but using "his" and "her" for account designations with a couple might be a bit behind the times. I do not have a good suggestion for brief alternate wording, perhaps something like "my 401k" and "spouse's 401k" (or "partner's 401k").
Sorry Mudpuppy, but I hope there is not a lot of interest in this change. :?

In my opinion, this has not really been a problem that needs to be fixed. And I don't think there is anything politically incorrect about using His and Her - those people in same sex unions have not had a problem finding appropriate words to use. Some actually use His and Her. Some use Her #1 and Her #2 or whatever. A few just use names (Tracey and Sam) and nobody has any idea who is which or even what gender the couple is.

The trouble with using "my" is in the reply. The reply would be "your ___" or "your partner's ___". These are cumbersome and awkward and there is always the problem that "your" can refer to either only one person or the couple. It's imprecise and will lead to confusion. I already have found I need to be careful using "your" for just this reason. I know if I mean an individual or the couple, but the reader might not. His and Her (or His-1 and His-2) eliminates this confusion.

His and Her works, it is precise, it is not offensive to my knowledge, and it makes it easy to remember who is who when writing a reply. My vote is to leave this one as it currently is.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Added: this does not happen often, but sometimes, both people in a couple will be writing in the thread. This can be very confusing. Usually they start out keeping the right stuff with the right person, but by the end of the post, the writer has forgotten and will say "my" when that person really means the other person. This is avoided when they say His or Her, which many of them do.

Barry, I see you have made the suggested changes. If that is an executive decision, you certainly have the right to do it. However, I really object to this change. As a person who responds to a large number of our portfolio questions, I believe this will make my interactions much more difficult and I don't think that is what we are trying to accomplish here.

Please reconsider. :D
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

LadyGeek wrote:OK, international is back.
Thank you! :D :D :D
As to the "(plus matching contributions)" - does this mean I have to add them separately? Also, the definition of taxable is confusing. This is more clear to me:

From:
New annual Contributions

$xx his 401k (plus matching contributions)
$xx her 403b (plus matching contributions)
$xx his IRA/Roth IRA
$xx her IRA/Roth IRA
$xx taxable (for retirement, not short term goals)
To:
New annual Contributions

$xx his 401k, (xx matching contribution, if known)
$xx her 403b, (xx matching contribution, if known)
$xx his IRA/Roth IRA
$xx her IRA/Roth IRA
$xx taxable (e.g. long-term CDs or other investments for retirement, not a bank savings account)
It is confusing either way. The first way, some people will leave out the amount of matching. The second way, we'll never know if the matching is included in the other number or needs to be added to the other number.

I don't have a suggestion for improving this issue. I think that the current form (Laura's) leads to the least confusion, but if someone figures out another way that isn't worse, I'm Ok with it.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Barry Barnitz »

Hi:

Restored his/hers reflecting feedback from retiredjg,

How about this phrasing:

xx$ Her 401-k (also specify any employer matching contributions)

regards
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Barry Barnitz wrote:Restored his/hers reflecting feedback from retiredjg
Thank you so much!
How about this phrasing:

xx$ Her 401-k (also specify any employer matching contributions)

regards
That might work. I vote to try it!
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Barry Barnitz »

Hi:

Current update: Asking portfolio questions - Bogleheads.

regards,
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

Proof-reading.....

1) If you want to give us a detailed breakdown within each asset class (x% international stocks, x% Large caps, x% Mid caps, x% bonds, x% Cash, etc.), go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this. If you are not sure what this means, please ignore.)

Since desired international allocation went back in above this entry, it would make sense to take it out here.

2) Current assets
HerIRA <--needs a space
xx$ fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)



I would like to see more discussion on "marginal tax bracket" since that is really the information we want. But "tax rate" has been sort of working as well as anything probably could, so I'm not sure any changes would actually help much. I think this is something that is going to require questions no matter what is posted in this format.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by LadyGeek »

I fixed the typos. As for "marginal" tax bracket, my vote is to leave things as-is. It gets really confusing because my state (PA) has a Flat Rate Tax. (The "marginal" part is a constant.)
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

I think we're pretty much there, but it might be good to leave this open for discussion for a day or two. Does anyone know if Laura is available to comment?
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Contact with Laura.

Post by Taylor Larimore »

I sent Laura an e-mail several days ago with a link to this thread. She has not replied to me.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by Duckie »

I found one error (in red) and several inconsistencies (in orange), and have some possible improvements (in purple).

Emergency funds=: 3-6 Three to six months of expenses (indicate if you have this, but it should probably not be part of your is generally not part of your retirement asset allocation).
Debt: Indicate if you have any debt (credit card, school loans, car loans, mortgage) and the interest rate you are paying on each loan.
Tax Filing Status: (Single, Married filing Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, Qualifying widow/widower Widow/Widower with Dependent Children).
Tax Rate: xx% Federal, xx% State
State of Residence:
Age:
Desired Asset allocation: (xx% stocks / xx% bonds) delete parentheses
Desired International allocation: xx% of stocks

If you want to give us a detailed breakdown within each asset class (x% Large caps, x% Mid caps, x% bonds Bonds, x% Cash, etc.), go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this. If you are not sure what this means, please ignore disregard.)

Please provide a hint as to the size of your current total portfolio (like 4 as in high four-figures, 5 mid five-figures, 7 low six-figures, etc.). What might be appropriate for a very large portfolio might may not be appropriate for a new investor.

Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Please include all investment and retirement accounts (yourself and spouse or civil partner, if applicable) as it's important to look at the portfolio as a unified whole rather than look at accounts in isolation. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans. For example:

Current Retirement Assets

Taxable
xx% cash (for investing - do not include emergency funds)
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
xx% stock company name (ticker symbol)

His 401k
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Company Match match?

His Roth IRA at Vanguard
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

His rollover Rollover IRA at Schwab
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
delete extra line
Her 403b
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Company Match match?

Her SIMPLE IRA at Fidelity
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

Her Traditional IRA at Vanguard
xx$ % fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

Total of All Accounts Together (not each account individually) should equal 100%.

**Also, you might want to add a comment that this portfolio is for retirement purposes and that assets for short-term needs (new car, house down-payment, vacation, wedding, etc.) have a different time-frame and should not be included.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by ruralavalon »

Following up on Duckie's idea about separating out non-retirement issues, perhaps rather say something like --

"If any part of your portfolio or any specific account(s) is/are intended for shorter term non-retirement goals (such as new car, house down-payment, vacation, wedding, etc.), then you need to indicate the amount and account so intended, the intended purpose, and the time frame. The best allocation and fund selection depends a lot on the time-frame involved."

Often posters want ideas on both retirement and short term goals. Other posters sometimes do not initially mention that some part of their investments is for a short-term goal.
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Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thr

Post by retiredjg »

I think Duckie's editorial comments are on course except for one - I suspect Large caps, Mid, caps, etc. should actually NOT be capitalized since they are not the proper names of anything. So rather than capitalizing "bonds" I think you should un-capitalize everything else.
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