Can my portfolio really be this simple?

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Topic Author
amoes928
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Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by amoes928 »

Hi, this is my first time posting but I’ve been reading some of the posts on here for the last couple of weeks.

I am 19 years old and joined an investing club at my university. I’ve learned a lot about the market and am learning more every day. I have begun reading lots of different books like the intelligent investor, little book of common sense investing, etc. the typical entry-level value investing/index books that lots start with.

My plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on using the ETFs to speculate).

I have about $375 invested through my club at school and that is mostly where I confine my individual stock picking activity to.

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college? Just looking for some guidance as to whether or not it would be best to invest this money in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

I love reading the posts on here! All very informative.
lazynovice
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by lazynovice »

Yes, it can.

If you have earned income this year of more than the 3,000, you could put the money into a Roth. That will allow it to grow tax free. It does lock the money up more than you might like. On the other hand, if you don’t think you will have significant earnings throughout college, you’ll likely be in a low tax rate with 0% capital gains any way.

My sons who are your age or a little older are invested in 100% stock. They do not mess with the bond fund yet.
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alpenglow
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by alpenglow »

Yes! Keep it simple. I wish I knew that at your age. :moneybag
retired@50
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by retired@50 »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pm
So my question is, is it really this simple?
It can be.

Many investors can't sit still, which is what leads to trouble. The mind can play some cruel tricks on investors. I'd suggest you do some additional reading on behavioral finance. See wiki link: https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Books:_ ... al_finance

If you recognize these issues before you succumb to them, you'll be better off.

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

Regards,
This is one person's opinion. Nothing more.
Topic Author
amoes928
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by amoes928 »

The “money mistakes and how to avoid them” book just arrived in the mail today. The passive and value investing style makes perfect sense to me. I know I can stomach market declines and I constantly read things that remind me why I’m doing what I am.

Thanks for the advice.
Topic Author
amoes928
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by amoes928 »

The “money mistakes and how to avoid them” book just arrived in the mail today. The passive and value investing style makes perfect sense to me. I know I can stomach market declines and I constantly read things that remind me why I’m doing what I am. I’ll be sure to keep reading books off of the list provided here and from other sources.

Thanks for the advice.
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amoes928
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by amoes928 »

lazynovice wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:13 pm Yes, it can.

If you have earned income this year of more than the 3,000, you could put the money into a Roth. That will allow it to grow tax free. It does lock the money up more than you might like. On the other hand, if you don’t think you will have significant earnings throughout college, you’ll likely be in a low tax rate with 0% capital gains any way.

My sons who are your age or a little older are invested in 100% stock. They do not mess with the bond fund yet.
Yeah. I’m working part time and usually end up making around $7k-$8k a year. I plan on investing a decent portion of future earnings since I have a savings of around $11k and am not too worried about piling up more cash. I knew that capital gains didn’t come into play until higher values but want to be in the habits of buying and holding anyway and wasn’t sure if I should start putting it into a retirement account or if a taxable account was ok until later on. Thanks for the reply.
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1789
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by 1789 »

As they say it is that simple but not easy. Because it is so boring :oops:
"My conscience wants vegetarianism to win over the world. And my subconscious is yearning for a piece of juicy meat. But what do i want?" (Andrei Tarkovsky)
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geerhardusvos
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by geerhardusvos »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pm Hi, this is my first time posting but I’ve been reading some of the posts on here for the last couple of weeks.

I am 19 years old and joined an investing club at my university. I’ve learned a lot about the market and am learning more every day. I have begun reading lots of different books like the intelligent investor, little book of common sense investing, etc. the typical entry-level value investing/index books that lots start with.

My plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on using the ETFs to speculate).

I have about $375 invested through my club at school and that is mostly where I confine my individual stock picking activity to.

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college? Just looking for some guidance as to whether or not it would be best to invest this money in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

I love reading the posts on here! All very informative.
I am extremely comfortable with my portfolio being in one fund, as long as that fund is representative of a total market. A total world fund is a great example of a diversified stock portfolio in one fund. I am even comfortable with the idea of having 100% of my assets in VTSAX (total US). VOO is fine too. My investment portfolio was 100% VTASX until recently when I turned 30 and added in 20% total international. There is zero reason in my opinion for you to own bonds until you are in your 40s or until you are 10 years or less away from retirement. Owning bonds can be good to learn about them, but I highly recommend you stay in mostly or 100% stocks during your accumulation years. Great job getting started so early, and just keep putting in as much as you can afford. I have more than 10X my living expenses in equities, and that’s pretty much all I own. Simple, efficient, and very difficult to stick with with all the distractions. Stay the course
VTSAX and chill
bampf
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by bampf »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pm Hi, this is my first time posting but I’ve been reading some of the posts on here for the last couple of weeks.

I am 19 years old and joined an investing club at my university. I’ve learned a lot about the market and am learning more every day. I have begun reading lots of different books like the intelligent investor, little book of common sense investing, etc. the typical entry-level value investing/index books that lots start with.

My plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on using the ETFs to speculate).

I have about $375 invested through my club at school and that is mostly where I confine my individual stock picking activity to.

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college? Just looking for some guidance as to whether or not it would be best to invest this money in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

I love reading the posts on here! All very informative.
At your age and your investment portfolio why would you hold any bonds at all? Buy as much voo as you can every month for 240 months. Don't touch it.

Wake up at 40 and figure out your investment plan for the next 40 years with the millions you have acquired.
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amoes928
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by amoes928 »

geerhardusvos wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:49 pm
amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pm Hi, this is my first time posting but I’ve been reading some of the posts on here for the last couple of weeks.

I am 19 years old and joined an investing club at my university. I’ve learned a lot about the market and am learning more every day. I have begun reading lots of different books like the intelligent investor, little book of common sense investing, etc. the typical entry-level value investing/index books that lots start with.

My plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on using the ETFs to speculate).

I have about $375 invested through my club at school and that is mostly where I confine my individual stock picking activity to.

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college? Just looking for some guidance as to whether or not it would be best to invest this money in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

I love reading the posts on here! All very informative.
I am extremely comfortable with my portfolio being in one fund, as long as that fund is representative of a total market. A total world fund is a great example of a diversified stock portfolio in one fund. I am even comfortable with the idea of having 100% of my assets in VTSAX (total US). VOO is fine too. My investment portfolio was 100% VTASX until recently when I turned 30 and added in 20% total international. There is zero reason in my opinion for you to own bonds until you are in your 40s or until you are 10 years or less away from retirement. Owning bonds can be good to learn about them, but I highly recommend you stay in mostly or 100% stocks during your accumulation years. Great job getting started so early, and just keep putting in as much as you can afford. I have more than 10X my living expenses in equities, and that’s pretty much all I own. Simple, efficient, and very difficult to stick with with all the distractions. Stay the course
Thank you for the advice everyone! I’m getting the picture that I might even disregard bonds for another 15 years or so. I am more than comfortable being all in on stocks so I might end up going that route and worrying about bond funds further down the road. I definitely plan on investing most everything into VOO.
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geerhardusvos
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by geerhardusvos »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:00 pm
geerhardusvos wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:49 pm
amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pm Hi, this is my first time posting but I’ve been reading some of the posts on here for the last couple of weeks.

I am 19 years old and joined an investing club at my university. I’ve learned a lot about the market and am learning more every day. I have begun reading lots of different books like the intelligent investor, little book of common sense investing, etc. the typical entry-level value investing/index books that lots start with.

My plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on using the ETFs to speculate).

I have about $375 invested through my club at school and that is mostly where I confine my individual stock picking activity to.

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college? Just looking for some guidance as to whether or not it would be best to invest this money in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

I love reading the posts on here! All very informative.
I am extremely comfortable with my portfolio being in one fund, as long as that fund is representative of a total market. A total world fund is a great example of a diversified stock portfolio in one fund. I am even comfortable with the idea of having 100% of my assets in VTSAX (total US). VOO is fine too. My investment portfolio was 100% VTASX until recently when I turned 30 and added in 20% total international. There is zero reason in my opinion for you to own bonds until you are in your 40s or until you are 10 years or less away from retirement. Owning bonds can be good to learn about them, but I highly recommend you stay in mostly or 100% stocks during your accumulation years. Great job getting started so early, and just keep putting in as much as you can afford. I have more than 10X my living expenses in equities, and that’s pretty much all I own. Simple, efficient, and very difficult to stick with with all the distractions. Stay the course
Thank you for the advice everyone! I’m getting the picture that I might even disregard bonds for another 15 years or so. I am more than comfortable being all in on stocks so I might end up going that route and worrying about bond funds further down the road. I definitely plan on investing most everything into VOO.
I have a friend with a multi million dollar portfolio that is mostly in VOO or it’s mutual fund equivalent. It worked very well for him
VTSAX and chill
HomeStretch
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by HomeStretch »

Welcome to the forum!

Consider 100% VTI (US Total Stock Market) which is more diversified than VOO (S&P 500) held in a Roth IRA. The maximum contribution is $6,000 assuming you have sufficient compensation. You have until July 15 to contribute for tax year 2019 and you will have until 4/15/21 for tax year 2020. Opening your first Roth IRA will also start the 5-year clock.
sd323232
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by sd323232 »

It can and it should be simple. Most young people think there a hidden trick, something out there that only few people know. There are no tricks.
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nisiprius
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by nisiprius »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pmMy plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum....

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college?
Yes, it absolutely can. This is a good, sane, sensible plan and I suggest you stick to your guns. There is no need to make it complex. And there is definitely no need to make it more complex now.

Start simple, keep it simple, drag your heels, hard on attempts to add complexity later.

Stop reading right here.

With regard to "tax sheltered versus taxable," that's completely separate from the question of what investments to make. Maybe you should be opening a Roth IRA account and maybe these purchases should be made in the Roth IRA. It is my personal opinion that it is not important to do this right away. The thing to keep in mind is that tax-sheltered accounts--Roth IRA, traditional IRA, 401(k), Roth 401(k)--are intended for retirement savings and therefore have rules, restrictions, and record keeping that apply to taking money out of them, particularly before retirement. So you want to be sure you understand them. Do some homework on this and come back with more questions.

I would avoid the "traditional IRA" just because it's harder and more complicated to get money out. Do not waste time on worksheets or calculators trying to decide whether Roth or traditional is better, you'll go crazy, and they all depend on predictions nobody can possibly make (what tax bracket you will be in when you retire, how the stock market will do over the next 35 years, etc.) One important rule about Roth IRAs is that you are always allowed to take out your "contributions," the exact total number of dollars you put in. So, if you put in $5,000 a year for three years, you make $15,000 in "contributions." If account has grown to (say) $17,000, you can take out the $15,000 with no hassle, but the other $2,000 are "earnings" and are subject to complicated rules.

I applaud you for including some bonds and for recognizing that 83/17 is "relatively aggressive."

Some "things that don't make any difference" that you should just be aware of in case they come up in discussions. Do not let anyone, including me, draw you into fussing about them.

You seem to be mentioning one ETF and one mutual fund. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it's a slightly unusual choice because most people either have a tiny preference for ETFs or a tiny preference for mutual funds. Maybe you should have one of each, just so you can experience the differences in the purchase process! Arguing about mutual funds versus ETFs is like arguing about Coke in bottles versus Coke in cans.

You also are specifying an S&P 500 index ETF. The S&P 500 is, for most purposes, "the" stock market, but it isn't quite complete. Vanguard also offers a "total stock market index ETF" and fund which includes virtually all the stocks in the stock market, including nearly 3,200 stocks of smaller companies. Because 80% of the dollars in the stock market are in the S&P 500, and because smaller stocks go up and down with about 87% correlation with the S&P 500, including those other stocks makes very little difference. You could stick with VOO because it's the one you picked. One of the things investors need to do is just make a reasonable decision, act on it, and not look back. The differences are small and nobody knows for sure which is better. Arguing about S&P 500 versus total market is like arguing about brown eggs versus white eggs.

So:
Note that Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF, VOO, is basically the same as the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund, VFIAX.
Note that there is also a pair, the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF, VTI, which is basically the same as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, VTSAX.
Note that there is Vanguard Total Bond Market Index ETF, BND, which is basically the same as the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund, VBTLX.
Last edited by nisiprius on Wed Jun 17, 2020 7:09 am, edited 4 times in total.
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whereskyle
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by whereskyle »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:37 pm Hi, this is my first time posting but I’ve been reading some of the posts on here for the last couple of weeks.

I am 19 years old and joined an investing club at my university. I’ve learned a lot about the market and am learning more every day. I have begun reading lots of different books like the intelligent investor, little book of common sense investing, etc. the typical entry-level value investing/index books that lots start with.

My plan is to start with a $2500 investment in the VOO ETF and a $500 investment in the total bond market index fund. I plan on keeping this relatively aggressive balance into my 30s and will continue to invest wages over time after the initial humble lump sum. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on using the ETFs to speculate).

I have about $375 invested through my club at school and that is mostly where I confine my individual stock picking activity to.

So my question is, is it really this simple? I know Mr. Bogle and Warren Buffet would always encourage simplicity but I know there just have to be some other things to take into consideration. Should I be looking into tax sheltered vs taxable account issues or since I plan on a buy and hold strategy and this initial sum is not comparatively large should I not worry about that until I gain full time employment after college? Just looking for some guidance as to whether or not it would be best to invest this money in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

I love reading the posts on here! All very informative.
It really is this simple. The trick is not messing with your investments once you make them. That means not trying to time the market (sell before a crash), not jumping from one investment to another, and not changing your allocation between stocks and bonds (or US and ex-us stocks). Leaving investments alone is much harder than it seems. If you can mentally commit to the "don't touch under any circumstances, even if it means I'm eating rice and beans this week and even if it means my portfolio shrinks by half in a stock market crash" mindset, then investing is quite simple. The market goes up more than it goes down. My job is just to buy more of my index funds as often as possible. I prefer VTI/VTSAX to VOO, but as Nisiprius mentioned, all that matters is that you stick to the one you choose.

You should contribute the maximum amount to a Roth as soon as you can (i.e., as soon as you earn income). I started with taxable investments, but I recently liquidated all of them to buy a house. What I learned is that the real magic of investing happens in tax-advantaged accounts, where time can do its thing. Investing in taxable accounts for a few years when you will soon use that money for big purchases is just not worth the risks.
"I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." - Socrates. "Nobody knows nothing." - Jack Bogle
-ryan-
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by -ryan- »

Yes! Keep it simple! A lot of us learned that by trying to overcomplicate our investments and eventually coming back around to simplify them, so just start out simple and keep it that way.

In fact, for my retirement accounts I started in my early 20's with vanguard's target retirement 2055 fund. I gradually got more interested in investing and personal finance and started messing with slice and dice, then individual stocks, and if you can believe it I went so far as getting my series 7 and series 66 and working for a while as an investment advisor representative for a personal finance firm (now that's commitment to overcomplication!) I'll save you from doing the same with this information: I never had any consistent edge over a passive investor even when I was literally spending 8 hours a day working on investments. Once you learn the basics of personal finance and passive investing, come up with a reasonable plan and just stick to it. Now a few years later I've come full circle and am back to super simple investing. Life is easier and returns are whatever the markets provide.
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midareff
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by midareff »

Yes, it is that simple....... and is a Buffet recommendation basically
DesertDiva
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by DesertDiva »

Please read “if You Can” by William Bernstein.
snailderby
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by snailderby »

1. Congrats on starting so early!

2. If you are investing for retirement, and you have enough earned income to contribute to a Roth IRA (which it sounds like you do), I would max out the Roth IRA before investing in a taxable account. It could save you thousands of dollars in taxes when you sell your investments. See https://www.bankrate.com/retirement/cal ... alculator/.

3. And yes, it can be that simple. :)
Last edited by snailderby on Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
RTF
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by RTF »

Obviously past performance doesn’t mean much, but has anyone else noticed VOO outperforming VTI as of late? I was playing with the portfolio visualizer, and VOO returned about $1,000 more than VTI on a $10,000 investment over the last 10 years.
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by whereskyle »

RTF wrote: Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:26 am Obviously past performance doesn’t mean much, but has anyone else noticed VOO outperforming VTI as of late? I was playing with the portfolio visualizer, and VOO returned about $1,000 more than VTI on a $10,000 investment over the last 10 years.
Big companies have done well these past 10 years. Small companies have not done as well.
"I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." - Socrates. "Nobody knows nothing." - Jack Bogle
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galeno
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by galeno »

KISS. 80-100% VOO, VTI, or VT is where you should be.

[OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]
KISS & STC.
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TechGuy365
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by TechGuy365 »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:00 pm Thank you for the advice everyone! I’m getting the picture that I might even disregard bonds for another 15 years or so. I am more than comfortable being all in on stocks so I might end up going that route and worrying about bond funds further down the road. I definitely plan on investing most everything into VOO.
This is a good strategy, but promise yourself you won't panic and sell if you see a short-term dip. Since you'll be contributing on a regular basis (especially after you graduate), when the market dips think of it as you're buying at a discount (same money, more shares). In 15 years you're going to look at the balance and be wow-ed.
retired@50
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Re: Can my portfolio really be this simple?

Post by retired@50 »

amoes928 wrote: Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:28 pm The “money mistakes and how to avoid them” book just arrived in the mail today. The passive and value investing style makes perfect sense to me. I know I can stomach market declines and I constantly read things that remind me why I’m doing what I am.

Thanks for the advice.
You're welcome.

If you have a library near by, get yourself a library card and use it. Free reading is the best kind.

Regards,
This is one person's opinion. Nothing more.
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