Despite being a longtime Vanguard investor and Bogle admirer, I find myself going the opposite direction - from complexity to simplicity. I guess I was one of those people who thought they were keeping it simple in time wound up in more funds than they could practically keep up with. Mid-cap this, small-cap that. Meanwhile, my wife, who continues to work, happily, giving her sturdy tripod a fourth leg as it were, she was never invested in more than two funds. She was 100% in STAR Fund for years, and now is 50/50 TR and Wellesley.Often, the best way to start an IRA is with the appropriate Vanguard target retirement funds; you can always change to a more complicated portfolio later.
I always played by a different rulebook. Maybe it was the fact that my employer didn't offer a comprehensive, one-fund solution (until it adopted the TRs shortly before I quit). Maybe it was that, being younger than her, I associated simplicity with a more conservative approach. Whatever the reason, I was in no fewer than 11 funds most of my 15 years of employment.
Now, with no debt and modest needs for cashflow, I am in the process of radically reducing my portfolio to four funds ... the same four funds used by Target Retirement.
When my father died two years ago, I had a cash account, a traditional IRA and a 401(k), soon joined by an Inherited IRA and, because I'm indecisive, a Roth IRA. Since then I have quit my job and the house has sat on the market. Today, my sister informs me that the house proceeds are on their way.
As I sat down to allocate my newly enlarged portfolio over five accounts and 11 funds, I realized it was way more than my little brain could handle, even with an aptly-named spreadsheet at my disposal.
Reading through the Bogleheads wiki anew, I came to question my approach/saw the light (take your pick).
So, I set up a spreadsheet and did trial and error until I got my money into boxes that matched these ratios that I think are suitable for a 50yo in my situation.
VBTLX 22.7% + VTABX 5.7% = 28% bonds
VTSAX 50.2% + VTUAX 21.4% = 72% stocks (Update: I meant VTIAX! Thanks niceguy7376)
I printed these figures out and looked at them, spread over five accounts (soon to be four, once I get that 401 moved over). All but one will be in Admiral class funds, and as of Jan. 2, 2014, the Roth will be Admiral as well. Gone are the mid-cap this and the small-cap that. Two of my 11 funds say "Total" in the title currently; soon, all four will be Total index funds.
Looking them over, I just wonder why I didn't do this a lot sooner. Thanks Bogleheads. Comments welcome; this plan is not finalized.