Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

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sruliz
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Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by sruliz » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:22 pm

Hello everyone. This email is long overdue from me and I finally found the guts and time to write it. I appreciate this forum and all those who spend precious time helping others with investment advice. Here's my story:

I am a 40-year old physician relatively well to do with about 300k to invest a year. I've known investing since I'm a kid but I have learned that I am an emotional and reactive investor. I get impatient with my investments and after setting a financial plan tend to mess things up 6-12 months in. This has been a repetitive cycle for me for the past 20 years and I'm sick of it. I've had accounts with Fidelity, Vanguard, Betterment, Merrill Lynch, Bernstein (cash balance/defined benefit retirement account) and at Empower Retirement (401k.) My wife has her small 401k at MassMutual. I've played with stocks/triple leveraged ETF's (gambling), and options. I sell too fast and buy instinctively and I know that if I don't change my pattern soon I will end up with zero to show for all my investment efforts. I simply don't trust myself anymore to handle my finances. Ouch!

Just to explain my financial a bit better:
1) I currently have about $450k in Merrill Lynch invested with my brother who is a financial advisor. It is in a mix of stocks/bonds and alternative investments backed by ML. I see an active churn on the account and the fees come to about 1% a year. It is doing decently well.
2) Another 450k at TD Ameritrade with a different financial advisor who charges 0.8% a year. He has this money invested in a strategic basket of ETF's/mutual funds in an 80/20 basket with about 25 holdings. Well diversified aiming to earn about 5-6% year long-term. I didn't want all my money with my brother because as much as he is a financial advisor we are family and I didn't think it smart to have most of my money with him.
3) 150k in an AB Bernstein account which is a defined benefit plan from my business and managed by a friend there. It returned 0% in the past year and is in two Bernstein mutual funds (60% AWAYX/40% SNIDX). This is a company account so not sure I could do much here. The advisor has not looked at the account in a year and its been bothering me. We have an appointment next month to discuss options and he's likely to recommend a customized portfolio. I plan on adding about 100k per year to this account.
4) I tried Betterment to see if I would enjoy the robo-investing experience and currently have 35k in an account there set at 90S/10B. It is automatic and gives me some tax loss harvesting. I don't like this experience since it totally removes me from any decision making. I want to feel more involved.
5) 55k in Empower Retirement (company 401k) which is invested in different Bernstein target retirement mutual funds in a 90S/10B ratio.
6) Invested 125k in a nursing home with a friend last year - no return yet
7) Invested 15k in a food truck with a friend last year- 10% return so far
8) Invested 300k in my own medical app and have not seen a return yet

Because of my propensity to not be able to sit still with my investments I have tinkered with Robert Lichello's AIM method (a market timing system which tries to buy low and sell high) and Jason Kelly's 3Sig/6Sig (jasonkelly.com) which is similar but different in nature. I am tortured by my inability to pick one system and stick with it. The automatic systems (AIM/3Sig) appealed to me because it removes any form of emotion out of investing and gives you clear guidelines when to buy or sell. Yet, they are not proven and potentially dangerous and my gut tells me to stay away if I want long term stress free growth.

I want to build significant wealth for my family and be able to live a comfortable financial stress-free!!! life yet still feel actively involved in my investments and thats probably why the Betterment investment bothers me so much. I can't see myself investing in a 3 mutual fund portfolio either. I need help and I know its confusing but there must be a solution out there for a guy like me. It's hard for me to consolidate all my accounts in one place and I am sure this is adding to my angst.

I'd appreciate any thoughts you guys have for me.

cdu7
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by cdu7 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:40 pm

I’m not exactly sure what to tell you, if you had been saving 300k a year in a simple 3 fund over the past decade you would already have 6-7 million. Now you said you won’t do this, so maybe others would be able to offer better psychological support or advice.

ExitStageLeft
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by ExitStageLeft » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:45 pm

This may sound harsh, but here goes. The advice you will get on a forum targeted for buy-and-hold investing in total market indexed funds will be...

Buy and hold total market indexed funds!

It sounds like everything else you have attempted has under-performed. You have solid evidence that your investment choices lead to under-performance. You have solid evidence that a total-market portfolio built around low-cost indexed funds is a guaranteed way to capture all of the what the market delivers.

In your profession, when faced with clear and convincing evidence of a recommended treatment, what would you do? Would you go with the guy who gets paid to sell untested pharmaceutical remedies that might work quickly but likely have seriously detrimental side effects? Or would you go with the demonstrated treatment that works in nearly all cases, albeit more slowly and with less deleterious side effects?

KlangFool
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by KlangFool » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:48 pm

OP,

Put all your money into an all-in-one fund like Wellington fund or Vanguard LifeStrategy Moderate Growth Fund.

KlangFool

momvesting
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by momvesting » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:51 pm

I don't know, I'm a "set it and forget it" type, more out of laziness than out of discipline. I also know myself and absolutely believe that a monkey picking stocks could easily outperform me if I were to attempt active trading. Maybe you just need to allow yourself a small amount that you actually do actively manage and put the rest on autopilot in something similar to the 3-fund portfolio. My other advice is that the more you automate, the easier it is to be hands-off. Try to set it up to draft from your checking/savings and in to your portfolio automatically. Don't even check on your portfolio more than a few times a year. Then you can steer your focus to the small percentage that you have decided to actively invest. I have a feeling that after a few years you will see your hands-off money performing better than your actively managed money and realize how much time and effort you wasted and fees you paid on the actively managed money and give up on actively managing investments.

msj16
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by msj16 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:54 pm

OP,

My father was a physician who lost huge amounts of money in the stock market. It is good that you are aware of your weakness in this area. Do you have any other hobbies? Do not use investing as a hobby to deal with work stress or bring excitement to your life. Cultivate other pleasures. In this case I would hire Vanguard to manage your money just so that you won’t try to manage it. They charge very low fees. What I am telling you may just save your entire fortune.

Best,
msj16

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:55 pm

You are able to save more money in one year than most people can put away in 10.

As long as you stay away from the crazy stuff (options, leveraged ETFs, crypto, marijuana stocks, etc.) you can pretty much put your money anywhere you want and come out perfectly fine.

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camillus
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by camillus » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:56 pm

Stated goal: Find a way to be more involved in investing.

Problem: You are a horrible investor. Sorry.

Solution: Change the goal so that you are involved as little as possible with your investing.

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galeno
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by galeno » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:56 pm

My Rx for your investing OCD

1. Consolidate your multiple accounts into TWO: 1 tax advantaged and 1 after tax. Look at them as ONE portfolio
2. Use a two ETFs: 60% VT + 40% BND
3. Fill your tax advantaged account with BND. Put the rest of BND and all the VT into your after tax account.
4. Look at your portfolios ONCE per YEAR. Rebalance if necessary.
5. Get a less destructive hobby.
AA = 40/55/5. Expected CAGR = 3.8%. GSD (5y) = 6.2%. USD inflation (10 y) = 1.8%. AWR = 4.0%. TER = 0.4%. Port Yield = 2.82%. Term = 33 yr. FI Duration = 6.0 yr. Portfolio survival probability = 95%.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:57 pm

No doubt about it, you need an intervention.

Not sure where you're going to get it. But. When I was a working faculty member I had no problem setting up my automatic deductions to go into index funds, which I largely ignored. That worked out well.

Really, as a physician don't you have better things to do? Taking care of patients, continuing education? Maybe spending time with the family (or acquiring one?)

Nissanzx1
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Nissanzx1 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:58 pm

You have a wonderful income. It looks like you are doing the "Doc" thing where finances have to be complicated (even messy) to be sophisticated. I don't know why some of you guys and gals do this (I'm guessing it's high income peers getting you into these "investments") but you are well on your way to some relatively high risk business ventures. I mean to say high risk for your current net worth.

Simplify, simplify, simplify into total stock index funds and load up your tax advantaged and then load up on your own with vanguard or fidelity, etc. If you have to have your spouse or a broker do it for you so you aren't tempted to trade or invest in any more risky things. Take up another hobby or work more to take your mind off these schemes and small business ideas. Spend time being the best in your field (you may already be the best) or make a co worker the best in the field.

Nothing wrong with the small biz ideas once your net worth is higher a few years down the track. Just make sure it's all in LLC's because you will have enough money there will be a target on you.

Dottie57
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:08 pm

It looks like you have a shotgun approach.

Use either the LifeStrategy moderate growth fund. It has stocks and bonds in good allocations. Nothing for you to manage. Keep sending money to it.

Don’t chase returns. Simply invest in one way which has a solid foundation and let it go.

I am not a fan of private investments (food truck). The people who took your money may never repay it. And this is not a liquid asset. Get rid of them or realize you may have made big gifts.

I haven’t met anyone who can effectively time the market. So stop it.

Lifestrategy moderate growth is your friend.

Do you know why you keep changing strategies? I think you are chasing high returns. Stop it. It is the road to low returns. If you keep having the urge to change things, go to your work site and work some more.
Last edited by Dottie57 on Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Balefire
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Balefire » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:10 pm

You are probably a prototypical OCD physician.
Find a new hobby to be OCD about.
Put all your funds in an all in one and don't look back

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goingup
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by goingup » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:11 pm

What do want the forum to do for you?

It seems you know you have a problem but don't want to change. If you can save $300K/year for 10-20 years it doesn't matter whether you buy stocks, T-bills or just put it in a shoe box. You'll be wealthy regardless. :wink:

yohac
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by yohac » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:12 pm

You could start by designating one Vanguard fund as absolutely untouchable. Money goes in but never comes out. Ideally give your wife total control of that account, so you can't even check the balance, let alone move it around. Then you can continue to play with your other investments, if you can't control the urge.
Last edited by yohac on Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:13 pm

You need a new hobby so you won't have time to screw up your investments. I would suggest buying a Spec Miata and going racing with SCCA. Start out in autocross to get things going, then get your track schools out of the way and get signed off for competition. Then it's off to the races (literally). Typically, auto racing is not a recommendation for saving money, but in your case, you're doing your best to flush your money down the toilet, so you might as well have some fun while you're doing it.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

student
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by student » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:14 pm

I think you are a good candidate for buying a target fund.

Fallible
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Fallible » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:21 pm

You've described your problem well, know you need help, and surely that's half the battle. I can't tell if you mean professional help such as counseling, but it could help you to first understand what is happening and that could best lead to a solution that works for you. A book that helps with this understanding is Your Money & Your Brain by WSJ columnist Jason Zweig.

We are all emotional investors struggling to understand and properly control our feelings when it comes to money. You are far, far from alone.
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lostdog
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by lostdog » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:26 pm

Go with VT and BNDW at Vanguard using a taxable and retirement accounts at Vanguard. Set your allocation across all accounts and go live your life and get help with your addictions. I hope the best for you.

Place VT in your taxable account and BNDW in your retirement account to help with tax efficiency.

VT is Vanguard Total World Equity Index

BNDW is Total World Bond Index

This is a very simple two fund portfolio. If you decide to go with 100% stock just go with VT.

retiredjg
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by retiredjg » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:28 pm

sruliz, you are to be applauded for doing and then posting such a thorough self examination. Unfortunately, it has not yet led you to seeing good solutions. I hope some comments from people here can help.

What if a family member sat down with you and revealed the things you posted above and asked for advice. What would the advice be? Yes, that's a real question. You don't have to tell us what it would be, but you definitely need to consider what you would tell a loved one who told you what you have told us. That might help you see where your blind spot is.

On the one hand, you tell us what a terrible investor you are. On the other hand, you don't want to give up the reins to someone who can help. What does that sound like to you? Yeah, I'm pretty sure you know what it is. :happy How would you advise a patient or loved one who displayed that same characteristic?


Some other things that may be worthy of consideration....is the just part of some other problem? Could you actually be a compulsive gambler? Could you actually be suffering from adult ADHD? Are you on medications that cause people to have poor impulse control or lapses in judgement? Something else? If yes, what are the solutions you can think of for problems like that?


It is a rare case when many of us suggest that a person actually NEEDS professional financial help. In my opinion, you definitely need financial assistance and management. Otherwise, you may make a lot of money and have a pretty meager retirement. Or you could pretend you love your work so much that you are reluctant to leave before age 80. :happy

My suggestion is to use Vanguard's Personal Advisor Service and tell them exactly what your problem is just as you've told us. I like Vanguard because it is safe to recommend them because we know they will not sell you stuff you don't need, churn your accounts, hide fees, etc.

There are probably hundreds of other good financial advisors to be had for 1% or less. And you could get a less vanilla portfolio that way. The problem is finding one. Many will use you to make their own fortune by selling you stuff that is not beneficial to your own fortune. You never know what you are going to get - a planner that actually works for your benefit or a salesperson who cares a little to much about his/her own boat or big house or whatever. That is why I can't suggest that route.

vested1
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by vested1 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:29 pm

#1 Stop investing with friends and family.

#2-infinity See #1

DownToThis
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by DownToThis » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:29 pm

yohac wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:12 pm
You could start by designating one Vanguard fund as absolutely untouchable. Money goes in but never comes out. Ideally give your wife total control of that account, so you can't even check the balance, let alone move it around. Then you can continue to play with your other investments, if you can't control the urge.
seems like this is a good solution, OP already stated he didn't want to buy and hold and wants to be more involved. how about setting up a small-ish percentage to be "more involved" with and let the majority ride?

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prudent
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by prudent » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:30 pm

OP, I wonder if your drive to tinker stems from your comment "I want to build significant wealth for my family." Can you accept that you can reach that goal with something like a 3-fund portfolio, asset allocation and periodic rebalancing, or perhaps a target fund? Or will you continue to look for a "system" that promises to outdo that boring "get rich slowly" method?

If you know you will keep looking for something "better" then you might be someone who is better off paying an advisor to manage it for you. Because if you do keep looking for "better", you will no doubt find something someday that has outperformed buy-and-hold over the most recent X years. Then you'll want to switch gears again.

Your self-awareness of your tendencies is admirable and I give you credit for looking for guidance. But perhaps like the alcoholic who knows they can never stop at one drink, you might be someone who needs to be 100% hands-off with investments, or maybe a 90%-10% split where you get to manage 10% any way you want and an advisor handles the rest. I guess it comes down to whether you must scratch the itch to keep playing around with your money or whether you would be relieved if someone else took care of it all.

You have to reconcile your continued urge to jump around with your stated desire to have long-term, stress-free growth. They appear incompatible.

If you go with the advisor route, it's still important to focus on costs and it should not be your brother. Don't mix business and family. And be careful of being stuck with illiquid investments. Remember, you expect your brother to somehow walk a fine line between doing what his employer says and doing the right thing by you. That also can frequently be incompatible.

I think a target fund or a 3-fund portfolio would serve you very well in the long-term, but if you know you can't stop from fiddling, then that's not going to work for you.

Shallowpockets
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Shallowpockets » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:36 pm

I hope your emotional investing problem gives you insight into the failure of your patients to adopt lifestyles that would make them healthier. Obesity, smoking, drugs, diet, all the things a physician would advise on. So when you advise and they do not carry through do not shake your head and see them as a failure when they keep doing the very things that impair them.
As to your own investments, take out the advisors. Then you would have to think more for yourself. Is this what you want? To feel like you are involved in your finance decisions?

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:33 pm

I don't anyone has mentioned it yet, but you're a prime candidate for the White Coat Investor:

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/News_an ... sionals.29

One quick thought, you have too much in the way of friends and family involved in your money.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Lafder
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Lafder » Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:47 pm

sruliz,
The first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem with investing :). The next step is to do something about it!

You list the management fees you are paying at Merrill Lynch and Ameritrade. However you do not list the Expense ratios of your holdings which can be substantial, unless you have individual stocks, in which case what are the transaction/trade fees?

I suggest that you take a deep dive into looking at your actual holdings and expenses. You say there is a lot of "churning" which I suspect has transaction fees and possible front load fees. But you should check so it is not just a guess.

List all of your investment holdings as % of total investments, with the ER (expense ratios) so we can further dissect your actual holdings and talk about it. Present all of your holdings like this viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6212

You can go back and edit your original post on this thread.

I agree with prior comments that you seem to be a perfect candidate for a Target Date Retirement fund so all you have to do is put money in, and it rebalances for you.

As far as your alternative investments...........they may pay off, and never invest more than you are willing to lose completely.

lafder

pkcrafter
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by pkcrafter » Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:50 pm

sruliz wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:22 pm
Hello everyone. This email is long overdue from me and I finally found the guts and time to write it. I appreciate this forum and all those who spend precious time helping others with investment advice. Here's my story

I am a 40-year old physician relatively well to do with about 300k to invest a year. I've known investing since I'm a kid.
Uh, no, you haven't.

but I have learned that I am an emotional and reactive investor. I get impatient with my investments and after setting a financial plan tend to mess things up 6-12 months in. This has been a repetitive cycle for me for the past 20 years and I'm sick of it. I've had accounts with Fidelity, Vanguard, Betterment, Merrill Lynch, Bernstein (cash balance/defined benefit retirement account) and at Empower Retirement (401k.) My wife has her small 401k at MassMutual. I've played with stocks/triple leveraged ETF's (gambling), and options.
This in NOT investing.
I sell too fast and buy instinctively and I know that if I don't change my pattern soon I will end up with zero to show for all my investment efforts. I simply don't trust myself anymore to handle my finances. Ouch!

Just to explain my financial a bit better:
1) I currently have about $450k in Merrill Lynch invested with my brother who is a financial advisor. It is in a mix of stocks/bonds and alternative investments backed by ML. I see an active churn on the account and the fees come to about 1% a year. It is doing decently well.

Exceedingly bad idea!
2) Another 450k at TD Ameritrade with a different financial advisor who charges 0.8% a year. He has this money invested in a strategic basket of ETF's/mutual funds in an 80/20 basket with about 25 holdings. Well diversified aiming to earn about 5-6% year long-term. I didn't want all my money with my brother because as much as he is a financial advisor we are family and I didn't think it smart to have most of my money with him.
Another bad idea/practice.
3) 150k in an AB Bernstein account which is a defined benefit plan from my business and managed by a friend there.


Terrible idea.
It returned 0% in the past year and is in two Bernstein mutual funds (60% AWAYX/40% SNIDX). This is a company account so not sure I could do much here. The advisor has not looked at the account in a year and its been bothering me. We have an appointment next month to discuss options and he's likely to recommend a customized portfolio. I plan on adding about 100k per year to this account.
NO, bad idea.
4) I tried Betterment to see if I would enjoy the robo-investing experience and currently have 35k in an account there set at 90S/10B. It is automatic and gives me some tax loss harvesting. I don't like this experience since it totally removes me from any decision making. I want to feel more involved.
You want to be more involved? That sounds like a major part of your problem.

5) 55k in Empower Retirement (company 401k) which is invested in different Bernstein target retirement mutual funds in a 90S/10B ratio.
6) Invested 125k in a nursing home with a friend last year - no return yet
7) Invested 15k in a food truck with a friend last year- 10% return so far
8) Invested 300k in my own medical app and have not seen a return yet

Because of my propensity to not be able to sit still with my investments I have tinkered with Robert Lichello's AIM method (a market timing system which tries to buy low and sell high) and Jason Kelly's 3Sig/6Sig (jasonkelly.com) which is similar but different in nature. I am tortured by my inability to pick one system and stick with it. The automatic systems (AIM/3Sig) appealed to me because it removes any form of emotion out of investing and gives you clear guidelines when to buy or sell. Yet, they are not proven and potentially dangerous and my gut tells me to stay away if I want long term stress free growth.


Oh, my. You are going to have to throw down the gauntlet and either decide you are going to invest seriously or waste away a substantial amount of money.
I want to build significant wealth for my family and be able to live a comfortable financial stress-free!!! life yet still feel actively involved in my investments and thats probably why the Betterment investment bothers me so much.
Sorry, but the correct way to do this is to NOT be involved in your investments. Buy/HOLD, go away. Being actively involved, which means doing something, is guaranteed to hurt returns. You will simply have to decide if you really want to get serious about creating future wealth, or you just want to continue to play foolish games.

Have you read White Coat Investor?

https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/
I can't see myself investing in a 3 mutual fund portfolio either. I need help and I know its confusing but there must be a solution out there for a guy like me. It's hard for me to consolidate all my accounts in one place and I am sure this is adding to my angst.


Well, you can either choose to do it right, or not. If you want to continue to play around, you won't find much support here.
I'd appreciate any thoughts you guys have for me.
It seems a bit curious that you posted here asking for help, but at the same time you adamantly refuse to be open to it. Well, I've tried to give it to you straight and that's about all we can do.

Paul
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

retiredjg
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by retiredjg » Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:55 pm

Lafder wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:47 pm
List all of your investment holdings as % of total investments, with the ER (expense ratios) so we can further dissect your actual holdings and talk about it. Present all of your holdings like this viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6212
sruliz, no matter what you end up doing, this could be a really really good exercise for you to do. People learn a great deal about their investments when they break things up and look at the portfolio in this manner. It can be a real "ah ha" moment.

blueman457
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by blueman457 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:01 pm

As a fellow physician, I see a lot of my physician friends who "dabble" in investing.

I echo a lot of the advice others have given, and some that I've given to others.

1. Find another hobby to occupy your time. Rock climbing, marathons.... anything other than investing.
2. Being average is ok. All physicians think they're better than average doctor. If all of us were better than average, who's below average? (I think the average physician in the US is good (no comment about the healthcare system)). Being an average investor means that you're better than 80% of "financial advisors" who can't beat the market. It's OK to be average..... it's OK to be average.
3. Buy a target date fund.
4. If you want to be involved in your investments: what happened to your 300k in your own medical app? Starting another side business is great - can you spend more time making that 300k investment give you a return?
5. You have way too much business that involves family and friends. It's fine to pursue a venture that with someone you trust but can you separate business/personal lives?

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nedsaid
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by nedsaid » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:07 pm

First of all, you are not alone. We all grapple with emotions. I know with me, the twin bear markets of 2000-2002 and 2008-2009 were not fun. It was tough to see my accounts down by what amounted to two years of take home pay. I joked that I was working for free! At least until the markets recovered. It helps to see down markets as buying opportunities. It also helps to know that bear markets are where you really make your money though it doesn't seem so at the time.

Another thing you have to learn is patience. It is time IN the market and not timing OF the market that makes you your money. Markets tend to have violent and sudden upward spurts and you need to be in the market to benefit, you never know when these upward spurts will happen. You need to be on the train when it leaves the station.

You can overthink things too. No matter how smart you are, you are not going to outsmart the markets. Factor tilting may or may not work for you. The thing is, you are up against highly educated people with the very best software and hardware at their disposal. These people have easy access to vast amounts of information, for example at our Regional Bank where I worked in the back office of their brokerage operation, we had access to a Bloomberg machine. Also most securities are held by the big institutions and not individuals, fewer naïve investors to take advantage of. Pretty much, you are up against the smart money almost all of the time.

The other thing I have said many times here is buy good stuff and keep it. Keep your trading to as little as possible. The more you tinker, the less your returns.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by livesoft » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:47 pm

To the OP: What is longest time you have gone without initiating any transaction at all (except for an automatic contribution)?
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:56 pm

retiredjg wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:55 pm
Lafder wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:47 pm
List all of your investment holdings as % of total investments, with the ER (expense ratios) so we can further dissect your actual holdings and talk about it. Present all of your holdings like this viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6212
sruliz, no matter what you end up doing, this could be a really really good exercise for you to do. People learn a great deal about their investments when they break things up and look at the portfolio in this manner. It can be a real "ah ha" moment.
Also want to know the front or back end loads and 12b-1 fees.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by 2pedals » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:18 pm


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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by NRoy » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:23 pm

Thank you for posting.

i'm also a physician in my early 30's with approx 100k that I can invest yearly.

Based on all the responses, i'm going to go with a 3 fund portfolio and just focus on putting aside anything beyond that 100k (after my 401), into fun gambles that may be losses, or may be wins.

I think you've got a ton of time to put the rest of your cash into clear safe investments and despite me not knowing anywhere near as much as you - put as much of it as possible into safe accounts.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by livesoft » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:28 pm

Here's something else the OP can do: They can get into the details of portfolio performance and comparison to benchmarks. I'll wager that the OP has really no idea what the performance of his portfolio has been.

About the only legitimate way to calculate the performance is to use Excel XIRR() in a valid way. A lot of folks use it in an invalid way. I know the the free MS Money does use the XIRR() algorithm when calculating performance, so I use MS Money to do all my tracking. That requires me to enter all my transactions by hand into the software. One would have to enter all past transactions, too, if one wanted to know about past performance.

So I suggest that if you have Windows computer to use, that you download and install MS Money, then put in the transactions for 2018 first. Then put in the transactions for 2017. Then for 2016. You may find that some of the places that you are using (Merrill, TDAmeritrade) may have exaggerated performance claims because they use algorithms favorable to them and not legitimate ones.

Once you are measuring what you got and what has happened, then it will be time to go on to the next step.
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by sruliz » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:18 pm

Thank you everyone. Your advice is truly priceless. From reading your posts I think I'm probably overthinking things too much. I know this is related to my personality of aiming for perfection and trying to find that strategy that will give me the best end result but the truth is as one of you said - it's ok to be average. I must come to the realization that there really is no way to know which strategy will come out on top - and it won't matter either as long as I stick to a safe and time tested investing method and stick to it. I am not OCD, ADHD, or crazy - I'm just aiming for the top when its probably hurting more than helping.

Summary of advice:
Simple 3-fund strategy
Buy one life strategy fund
Hire a Vanguard Professional Advisor
Target Retirement fund

I will heed your advice and select one and stick to it. One last question and I know this has been rehashed on other boglehead threads. Any thoughts on Betterment with their tax-loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing? Would that be different than just feeding money into a life strategy fund or using a Vanguard Advisor? They seem to invest almost exclusively in Vanguard ETF's and reinvest dividends in the sectors that are lagging. I hate the robos but if at the end of the day there might be a significant difference in account value wouldn't Betterment make more sense?

Thank you.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by camillus » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:28 pm

I haven't looked recently into the fees in Betterment, but I think they are on par with Vanguard services. Betterment just seems really slick. I don't use them, but I am a fan. The claim is that the automatic tax loss harvesting pays for the fees. Again, the interface is just really slick. If I had a lot of taxable money, which you do, OP, I might try them out.

ON THE OTHER HAND, Vanguard services would be my bet to stand the test of time, so perhaps that is the way to go for you OP.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by livesoft » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:29 pm

You should NOT use in taxable account a LifeStrategy nor a Target Retirement fund. You want the most in tax-efficiency possible and these kinds of funds are not tax efficient.

I find that I am capable of doing my own tax-loss harvesting with almost no effort and no thought. You should be able to do so as well and thus you don't need Betterment or anybody else to do it for you.
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by mortfree » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:32 pm

Too smart for your own good leads to over confidence in all aspects of life.

Too much money at your disposal and trying to find the next big thing. Not good either.

With your savings rate (300k per year) imagine what the average boglehead could do if they stuck to their investment plan. 3 million in 10 years, right?

Also,your one investment earned 0% during this stock market environment? Did any red flags go off?

Get on track with the advice above.
Keep it simple.
You don’t need the high returns with that kind of savings (of course I am in a different world financially than you so maybe I can’t comprehend saving “only” 300k). That is not a dig at you.
Minimize debt.
Betterment is pushing a “fad”
Visit the white coat investor.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by mouses » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:39 pm

cdu7 wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:40 pm
I’m not exactly sure what to tell you, if you had been saving 300k a year in a simple 3 fund over the past decade you would already have 6-7 million. Now you said you won’t do this, so maybe others would be able to offer better psychological support or advice.
I also am not sure what is going on. As noted, you should have big bucks saved, and you don't, I assume because of the Gordian knot you have put your finances in.

Why are you doing all this stuff? If you saved conservatively, you would have more money that most people ever dream of, and you and your family would be financially secure.

Perhaps you need a psychiatrist to help straighten this out, and then you can work on simplifying things and actually saving money instead of apparently throwing it away.

sruliz
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by sruliz » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:41 pm

I am only now at the threshold of saving 300k/year. I previously put away about 120k per year and that’s the money that is in my Merrill and TD accounts.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by ThePrince » Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:17 pm

camillus wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:56 pm
Stated goal: Find a way to be more involved in investing.

Problem: You are a horrible investor. Sorry.

Solution: Change the goal so that you are involved as little as possible with your investing.
+1

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by SoAnyway » Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:32 pm

OP, I give you all props for your candor and guts in posting here, and returning despite all the posts confirming the second part of your thread title. I'm sure it wasn't easy in either case. Just as you feel when you're giving advice to your non-compliant patients re. their long-term physical health: We DO want to help you (and your family) as far as your long-term financial health/wealth. My thoughts on your latest update in blue below.
sruliz wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:18 pm
Thank you everyone. Your advice is truly priceless. From reading your posts I think I'm probably overthinking things too much. Yes, you are.

I know this is related to my personality of aiming for perfection (work on that, Dude - "Perfection" is a great goal, but WILDLY overrated in my estimation - Know when to stop....) and trying to find that strategy that will give me the best end result but the truth is as one of you said - it's ok to be average. No, it's ok to be an average investor if your chosen pursuit is to be the best physician you can be. No one can be an expert at everything. If you try, you will fail. You will end up as average or below at everything. You've chosen to become a physician, OP. Focus your time and attention on being the best darn doctor you can be for your patients. If you do that, it's ok to be an average investor. Indeed, if you follow the BH advice and philosophy, you will likely finish as an "above-average" investor, due to the number of salespeople "advisors" who see you (and the rest of us hardworking folks) as a great opportunity to build financial health and wealth for their OWN families. Don't be their sucker.

I must come to the realization that there really is no way to know which strategy will come out on top - and it won't matter either as long as I stick to a safe and time tested investing method and stick to it. I am not OCD, ADHD, or crazy - I'm just aiming for the top when its probably hurting more than helping. Exactly, and your need to prove that you're smart enough to be an investing expert is getting in your way of both securing wealth for your family, AND becoming the top doctor you can be for your patients. Warren Buffett is an expert at investing. You're no Warren Buffett, and neither am I. No one is an expert at everything. Fortunately, we have other talents that generate a good income stream. Jack Bogle recognized that good hardworking folks like us were getting fleeced, and found a way to get us better returns - and structured Vanguard in a VERY unique way to make sure investors' interests were at the very top (no outside shareholders) - for which I will be eternally grateful.

Summary of advice:
Simple 3-fund strategy
Buy one life strategy fund
Hire a Vanguard Professional Advisor
Target Retirement fund

Although you didn't say it, I assume you understand that each of the above is a single strategy - You don't do all of them at once.
Although I generally would advise the first option, given what you've shared about your personality (and the fact that I'd prefer you focus your energies on your patients), I'd recommend either the second or fourth option. The first and third are likely to play into your self-destructive propensity to tinker/meddle/"optimize'/"perfect"/prove you're smarter than either Jack Bogle or the poor PAS advisor who would get stuck having you as a client...

I will heed your advice and select one and stick to it. One last question and I know this has been rehashed on other boglehead threads. Any thoughts on Betterment with their tax-loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing? Would that be different than just feeding money into a life strategy fund or using a Vanguard Advisor? They seem to invest almost exclusively in Vanguard ETF's and reinvest dividends in the sectors that are lagging. I hate the robos but if at the end of the day there might be a significant difference in account value wouldn't Betterment make more sense? I've no experience with Bettermint..

Thank you.
Last edited by SoAnyway on Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Fallible » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:00 pm

sruliz wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:18 pm
Thank you everyone. Your advice is truly priceless. From reading your posts I think I'm probably overthinking things too much. I know this is related to my personality of aiming for perfection and trying to find that strategy that will give me the best end result but the truth is as one of you said - it's ok to be average. I must come to the realization that there really is no way to know which strategy will come out on top - and it won't matter either as long as I stick to a safe and time tested investing method and stick to it. I am not OCD, ADHD, or crazy - I'm just aiming for the top when its probably hurting more than helping.

Summary of advice:
Simple 3-fund strategy
Buy one life strategy fund
Hire a Vanguard Professional Advisor
Target Retirement fund

I will heed your advice and select one and stick to it. ...
It's great that the advice of many here is helping, but here are some words of caution as you start down a very new investing path: it may not be as easy as saying you will "heed the advice ... and stick to it."

You have been investing a certain way for many years and any change to a simpler, more disciplined style such as those listed in your "Summary of advice," will take effort and time, with possibly missteps and setbacks along the way. That's because they will not just be changes on paper, but changes to a long-running and highly emotional mindset. You can make the changes intellectually, but sticking with them for the long run will mean learning to understand emotions, the good and bad ones and how they relate. That is the best way for all investors to properly control them when the market itself gets all emotional (fearful and greedy) and crashes into the next financial crisis.

Reading the many good books on the psychology and history of investing can help and they are listed in the wiki:
https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Books:_ ... nd_reviews

Good luck.
Bogleheads® wiki | Investing Advice Inspired by Jack Bogle

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:02 pm

Robo advisors can change their fees. Stick to a on Fund strategy where the fund managers do the rebalancing. In taxable either total stock market fund and municipal equity stock fund.

SoAnyway
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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by SoAnyway » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:22 pm

Fallible wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:00 pm
sruliz wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:18 pm
Thank you everyone. Your advice is truly priceless. From reading your posts I think I'm probably overthinking things too much. I know this is related to my personality of aiming for perfection and trying to find that strategy that will give me the best end result but the truth is as one of you said - it's ok to be average. I must come to the realization that there really is no way to know which strategy will come out on top - and it won't matter either as long as I stick to a safe and time tested investing method and stick to it. I am not OCD, ADHD, or crazy - I'm just aiming for the top when its probably hurting more than helping.

Summary of advice:
Simple 3-fund strategy
Buy one life strategy fund
Hire a Vanguard Professional Advisor
Target Retirement fund

I will heed your advice and select one and stick to it. ...
It's great that the advice of many here is helping, but here are some words of caution as you start down a very new investing path: it may not be as easy as saying you will "heed the advice ... and stick to it."

You have been investing a certain way for many years and any change to a simpler, more disciplined style such as those listed in your "Summary of advice," will take effort and time, with possibly missteps and setbacks along the way. That's because they will not just be changes on paper, but changes to a long-running and highly emotional mindset. You can make the changes intellectually, but sticking with them for the long run will mean learning to understand emotions, the good and bad ones and how they relate. That is the best way for all investors to properly control them when the market itself gets all emotional (fearful and greedy) and crashes into the next financial crisis.

Reading the many good books on the psychology and history of investing can help and they are listed in the wiki:
https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Books:_ ... nd_reviews

Good luck.
Great post and great advice, Fallible. I love your forum name (so aren't we all?), but I digress. SoAnyway....

OP, out of curiosity, have you shared this thread with your wife? :confused
It occurred to me to mention that, to use your words she has a "small 401k at MassMutual"? How is it invested? If she's been in control of the AA for it, and it's invested in a diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds, then you left off an important option in your list of 4 options above. Option #5: Let DW handle the investments, since, to use your words, you're an "Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!" Just sayin'.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by cdu7 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:23 pm

sruliz wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:41 pm
I am only now at the threshold of saving 300k/year. I previously put away about 120k per year and that’s the money that is in my Merrill and TD accounts.
Ok, I redid the calculations for 120k a year over the past 10 years in a simple 3 fund (assuming 20% or less bonds). You would have roughly 2.5 million.

The power of compound returns and low fees is truly amazing. Especially at your income / savings level (now with 300k) you can truly be richer than most all of us in just 10 years.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by pkcrafter » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:26 pm

Thank you everyone. Your advice is truly priceless. From reading your posts I think I'm probably overthinking things too much. I know this is related to my personality of aiming for perfection and trying to find that strategy that will give me the best end result but the truth is as one of you said - it's ok to be average.
Average? No-no sruliz.

Take a look at this:

SPIVA Report, end of 2017 --

Look at page 6, percentage of funds outperformed by benchmarks
Look at page 9, percent of funds that survived for 15 years.

Hint: index funds track the benchmarks.

https://us.spindices.com/documents/spiv ... d-2017.pdf

The results are due to consistency and low cost.

Arithmetic of Active Management.

https://web.stanford.edu/~wfsharpe/art/ ... active.htm

Or, as John Bogle has said:
Expenses: "The grim irony of investing is that we investors as a group not only don't get what we pay for, we get precisely what we don't pay for."

In other words, every dollar you save by refusing to pay for an active manager is a dollar of return that belongs to you, not the manager. Reality turns out to be just the opposite of the marketer's beloved slogan: You get what you pay for.
Maybe it's becoming clear that costs are a major drag on investing, and investing with family or friends is never a good idea. You also may think the it's all about costs, but that is the second reason investors don't maximize returns. The first reason is behavior.

Dalbar Study

http://2wmko64dug4x3dv4oh97ijl9-wpengin ... _FINAL.pdf

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Behavioral_pitfalls

In the final analysis, good index investors net returns much better than average.


Paul
Last edited by pkcrafter on Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by rbslos36 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:30 pm

I know exactly what you are going through. I was there 15 years ago. I was and had a mess. Additionally, because of my visible profession, I had no shortage of people who wanted to help me. They were coming at me from every angle and every local brokerage firm.

I decided I had created a nightmare down the road for my heirs and made myself stop. I did the following. I rolled over all of my accounts, except for my work retirement account, over to Vanguard. I had so many accounts it took months (Yes, I had a MESS and STRESS)! And yes, I stopped investing a long time ago with a sibling. There is no better way to mess up a relationship.

I use a VG adviser who holds my hand when needed and has been told to make sure I "stay the course." Reading this website has helped immensely. I do not tinker with my allocation which my adviser and I have agreed upon. I sleep great. AND the returns have been really good using four index funds. I replicate the same approach with my retirement work assets. Use your busy brain and talents elsewhere!

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Re: Emotional Investor - I'm a mess and need help!

Post by Lafder » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:31 pm

sruliz,

I STILL think you should list all of your current fees with ERs, 121b fees, Loads. The 1% you think you are paying are just the fees they list on your statements. There are other fees you have to search to find and you NEVER see them come out of your account or get listed on a statement so many people do not even know they exist........perhaps you are one of those people ? :shock:

Listing all of your holdings will give you a chance to see your current actual asset allocation. And it gives you time to think about what your desired asset allocation going forward will be.

Change is scary..........you may be surprised to find how many psychological commonalities you have with humans about money in this book. Not wanting to change what you have is one of them. Why Smart People make Mistakes With Their Money and How to Correct Them.

https://www.amazon.com/Smart-People-Mon ... 523MQHZB8V

Here is a long, but very well written post that will probably answer every question you can think of by the time you get to the end of it, about the beauty and simplicity of a 3 fund portfolio. (The life strategy funds or target retirement funds are often a 3 fund plus international bonds, depending on where they are. Sometimes they are more complicated. Unlike a 3 fund portfolio, the all in one funds rebalance for you and are the most hands off). Betterment is no better than Vanguard in my opinion, and more complicated than an all in one or 3 fund portfolio. That makes it less interesting to me.

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=88005

Peace,
lafder

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