College 529 Analysis

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abuss368
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College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:38 pm

Bogleheads -

In relation to another thread I started, this one is specifically related to the College 529s. I am curious how many of us keep track of the college plans from any analysis standpoint. Do you use spreadsheets, Quicken, etc?

Do you not do any form of tracking but simply review your investment portfolio online and the statements?

Any information and perspective is appreciated.
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livesoft
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by livesoft » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:47 pm

What do you mean by analysis? I know what I own and have owned in my 529 plans. I used MS Money to track them. I actually never look at the statements and online is too difficult to login and see what's going on. That's because I use the Ohio 529 plan which makes it hard to do that.
Last edited by livesoft on Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:51 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:47 pm
What do you mean by analysis? I know what I own and have owned in my 529 plans. I used MS Money to track them.
Say one builds a summary spreadsheet to provide a historical snapshot over many years. Mirror the annual investment statements.

I am starting to question if this is a waste of time as Vanguard statements provide all historical principle invested and the investment earnings.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by livesoft » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:53 pm

Historical perspective? Hmmm. I don't bother, but maybe that's because I am in year 4 of withdrawals and my attitude is that "It is what it is."

Now I admit I don't have the same attitude about my portfolio, but it has to last the next 40 years instead of the next 6 months.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:56 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:53 pm
Historical perspective? Hmmm. I don't bother, but maybe that's because I am in year 4 of withdrawals and my attitude is that "It is what it is."

Now I admit I don't have the same attitude about my portfolio, but it has to last the next 40 years instead of the next 6 months.
Ok, so your College 529 plans are basically short term focused. Our investment portfolios are for the long term. So essentially it is not really necessary to review the trending and performance. Like you said "It is what it is".

In the next few years, we will begin withdrawals from the College 529 plans. So really, at this point, the Vanguard statements show the total principal and investments results since inception.
John C. Bogle: "You simply do not need to put your money into 8 different mutual funds!" | | Disclosure: Three Fund Portfolio + U.S. & International REITs

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:58 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:53 pm
Historical perspective? Hmmm. I don't bother, but maybe that's because I am in year 4 of withdrawals and my attitude is that "It is what it is."

Now I admit I don't have the same attitude about my portfolio, but it has to last the next 40 years instead of the next 6 months.
Did you ever bother tracking assuming you were not in the distribution stage?
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by livesoft » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:00 pm

I always tracked by putting transactions in MS Money.

I wrote about it 5 years ago: viewtopic.php?t=107916

I needed to track things since I tax-loss harvested some 529 plans.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by NYCguy » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:21 pm

Quicken for me.
If your out-go is greater than your income, your upkeep will be your DOWNFALL.

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:45 am

At this point I do not see the need to analyze the college portfolio as they are simple all in one funds.
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HopeToGolf
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by HopeToGolf » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:10 am

I do not do any tracking other than checking the balance and transactions a few times a year.

Given my investing approach (choose a fund(s) and set it and forget it) and the fact that the investment horizon is relatively short-term in nature, I do not see upside in any sort of analysis or tracking. What would I do with the information? Save more...nope. Change funds (to chase performance)....nope. My contributions and expected returns should cover our state flagship public university and ~2-4 years of private university/college depending on where and tuition. The number will be what it is and if it is not enough I will cash flow the rest or the offspring will have to take out loans.

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:01 pm

HopeToGolf wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:10 am

Given my investing approach (choose a fund(s) and set it and forget it) and the fact that the investment horizon is relatively short-term in nature, I do not see upside in any sort of analysis or tracking. What would I do with the information? Save more...nope. Change funds (to chase performance)....nope.
Hi HopeToGolf -

This is well said and really puts everything in perspective.

Thanks!
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by TinkerPDX » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:06 pm

Ours is with the state plan, and none of the online trackers interface well with it. Portfolio Visualizer kind of does, but not well. We only have three funds (US index, Int index, Bond index), so I just update it manually in a spreadsheet once a year and rebalance based on what the SS tells me to do. Contributions all go automatically to the three funds based on our AA.

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:19 pm

Part of the motivation for my question is the investment fund in the Vanguard 529 plan is a simple all in one fund. Essentially the same as a Target fund. That is, the fund includes U.S. and International Stock as well as U.S. and International Bonds. Over time, the fund allocates more to the bond portion of the investment portfolio as the child gets closer to the college years.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by itstoomuch » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:24 pm

I used Funding Ratio= COL/Fundings =>
Fundings x FR=COL =>
COL/FR = Fundings.
9/11 happen to our college funding :(
:mrgreen:
YMMV :wink:
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by MikeG62 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:45 pm

HopeToGolf wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:10 am
I do not do any tracking other than checking the balance and transactions a few times a year.

Given my investing approach (choose a fund(s) and set it and forget it) and the fact that the investment horizon is relatively short-term in nature, I do not see upside in any sort of analysis or tracking. What would I do with the information? Save more...nope. Change funds (to chase performance)....nope.
+1

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:49 am

Thank you for the feedback and thoughts. I deleted and removed the College portfolio analysis from my simple Excel workbook. I have not missed it thus far. There were a couple of posts above that made me look at it differently. Specifically, I am contributing x dollars. If it declines or some else else, what am I going to do? Answer nothing different and the same.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by fourwheelcycle » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:04 pm

My wife and I superfunded a 529 for our first grandchild last year. We chose Nevada Vanguard because it is highly rated, has a low expense ratio, and shows up right in my Vanguard account along with our other holdings and balances.

I don't do any analysis at this point because it is 100% in Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index and I expect to leave it that way until our grandchild is four years out from college. At that point I will build a simple spreadsheet to guide me in rebalancing the funds for each year of college to Vanguard's Intermediate Term Bond Index at a rate of 25% per year so that each year's funds are 100% in bonds 12 months before the year begins.

Realistically, since I am approaching seventy it may be my successor rather than me who does the rebalancing!

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by Chris001122 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:27 pm

I track both of my 529s monthly to see the balance and graph it. I compare this to a figure that represents the amount I expect to need based on the child's current age. It makes me feel better if the balance is at or above where it should be for that month. I also post these graphs monthly on the family bulletin board to remind myself and DW one of the many reasons we go to work.

You may not need it, but I find tracking it helpful to me. I have an automatic monthly withdrawal for each but I want to know if I need to increase it. I also check college expenses once a year and that moves the goal line so to speak.
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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by abuss368 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:11 pm

fourwheelcycle wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:04 pm
My wife and I superfunded a 529 for our first grandchild last year. We chose Nevada Vanguard because it is highly rated, has a low expense ratio, and shows up right in my Vanguard account along with our other holdings and balances.

I don't do any analysis at this point because it is 100% in Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index and I expect to leave it that way until our grandchild is four years out from college. At that point I will build a simple spreadsheet to guide me in rebalancing the funds for each year of college to Vanguard's Intermediate Term Bond Index at a rate of 25% per year so that each year's funds are 100% in bonds 12 months before the year begins.

Realistically, since I am approaching seventy it may be my successor rather than me who does the rebalancing!
Hi fourwheelcycle -

Great and informative post. One easier way may be to not invest in the individual funds but rather Vanguard's all in one age based fund options. I have done this from the start (i.e. Total Stock, Total International Stock, Total Bond, & Total International Bond) and it has worked very well. I believe with the option selected, our fund will be 25% (made less) of stock and almost all bonds at college time.

This also makes it easy for successors.
John C. Bogle: "You simply do not need to put your money into 8 different mutual funds!" | | Disclosure: Three Fund Portfolio + U.S. & International REITs

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Re: College 529 Analysis

Post by GreatOdinsRaven » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:42 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:38 pm
Bogleheads -

In relation to another thread I started, this one is specifically related to the College 529s. I am curious how many of us keep track of the college plans from any analysis standpoint. Do you use spreadsheets, Quicken, etc?

Do you not do any form of tracking but simply review your investment portfolio online and the statements?

Any information and perspective is appreciated.
Abuss368,
We use the Bogleheads Returns Spreadsheet:

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Calcula ... al_returns

Specifically, I use the Google sheets version just to track our monthly contributions and calculate the IRR.

The initial setup was tedious and then requires monthly manual entry. Once the upfront work is done, though, it’s not hard to make monthly entries going forward.

GOR
"The greatest enemies of the equity investor are expenses and emotions." -John C. Bogle, Little Book of Common Sense Investing. | | "Winter is coming." Lord Eddard Stark.

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