From 28 Funds to 3: Simplifying to a Three Fund Portfolio

In real life, I don’t talk about money with many people, but there is one retired couple that I discuss dollars with rather freely. In recent years, as I’ve broached the subject of early retirement, they’ve taken a little more interest in what I’m doing, and have taken a closer look at what they’ve been doing. As you might know, I am a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) investor. The man in the couple I’m talking about is a DIY master in many ways. He repairs things. He designs things. He builds things. Then he remodels them. He built a complete 24′ by 30′ workshop for […]

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Vanguard Backdoor Roth: a Step by Step Guide

This year, I made my fifth pair of “Backdoor Roth” contributions with Vanguard. If you’ve heard of the Backdoor Roth, that’s great! You’ve been paying attention. If not, I’ll give you a brief overview, and a number of links to additional articles with more complete descriptions of the history and important caveats. I want this site to be a source of both good information and quality, relevant resources. I won’t re-invent the wheel of cheese, but I will cut you off a slice by walking you through the steps, complete with screen shots. I’ll also show you one goof that I made, and […]

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PoF Portfolio Returns: How Did We Fare in 2016?

A new year is upon us, and I can’t think of a better time to look back and take stock of what we’ve got in the portfolio and analyze its performance. 2016 saw its share of highs and lows. We dealt with the lingering threat of raising interest rates from historic lows. There was the Brexit vote, which rocked the markets for about a week, then completely blew over. We had a vote of our own in November that had profound effects on the markets. After it looked like the bottom was falling out in the overnight futures, the markets recovered […]

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My Money Is Worth More Than Your Money

Sam Adams picture

No, Kate and Andrew, I’m not talking about your loony Canadian dollar. Nor am I referring to the measly seventy cents or so that the New Zealand and Australian dollars are now worth. This article has nothing to do with exchange rates. Although, friends, it is true that my money is worth more than yours. Today’s post is focused on the value of the American dollar in various retirement accounts. While I have seen a few very detail-oriented people adjust their net worth based on where their money is held, most of us — myself included — just add up […]

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DAF Giving Tutorial from Fidelity and Vanguard Charitable

One of my goals when I started this site was to inspire. Inspiration is a lofty goal, and a loaded word, but charitable giving is one area where I love to see others follow my lead. A month ago, I shared the news of my gift of $100,000 with you, and I am happy to report that several of you were indeed inspired to contribute handsomely to newly founded donor advised funds (DAFs) of your own. Via the comments section and e-mail, I heard from at least five readers, two of whom also reported giving $100,000. One of those five readers, a young man […]

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What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

Ka'anapali beach

I’ve learned so much about life and money in the last couple years. When I look back to mid-November, 2014, I was entirely unaware of the world of personal finance blogs. If someone were to mention MMM, I’d assume they were either referring to the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing company (also known as 3M) or maybe the similarly named delicious chocolate with the thin candy shell. Late November that year, I would discover Mr. Money Mustache, and within a couple months, The White Coat Investor. I would read more books, put my investments under the microscope, and start making projections […]

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Which Costs More: A 10% Tithe or a 1% Account Fee?

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a reader to consider writing about the financial impact of charitable giving on wealth building. I was hesitant. While I believe in charity — I’ve pledged to donate half of this blog’s profits — the inescapable fact is that parting with money decreases wealth. Greed Trumps generosity when it comes to financial gain. I let the idea simmer on the back burner for a few weeks. How could I write this post without looking like a cold-hearted jerk who wants you to hoard your money? That’s not me! I absolutely believe you can […]

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Our Second Home is One of Our Best Investments

A few weeks ago, Mitch Wasterlain, CEO of CAPFUNDR, asked and answered a question many physicians will ask. Is a second home a good real estate investment? While there are many individual factors to consider, the math points to a second home being less than ideal as a pure investment. Today, I’d like to share the story of our second home, and why, for us, it has been a fantastic investment. I never imagined I would want, let alone have a second home. Maintaining one home is challenging. Doubling the property doubles the work. And you need to have lots more stuff. We have too much […]

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Is a Second Home a Good Real Estate Investment?

image credit: corcoran.com

[Today’s guest post is a great follow-up to Tuesday’s post where I revealed my annual spending, including nearly $5,000 in expenses for our second home which was used by us or friends pretty much the entire year. The author, Jean-Michel “Mitch” Wasterlain, is the founder & CEO of CAPFUNDR, the curated real estate fund marketplace. CAPFUNDR is a site sponsor, but this site received no compensation for this well-written article. Enjoy!]   Is a Second Home a Good Real Estate Investment? I just spent a few days at the beach in the Hamptons, New Yorkers’ favorite place to show off their tans and […]

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Bonds: What Are They Good For? Part II

[Note: The following is Part II of a guest post that I requested from one of my Gold Sponsors, Johanna Fox, CPA of Fox & Company Wealth Management. In case you missed it, please visit Part I of Bonds: What Are They Good For, then come back for the rest of the story.] Let’s open this second part of our bond series with a couple of statistics: On average, the stock market experiences an intra-year drop of 14.1%. On average, we have experienced a bear market (defined as a sustained drop of 20% or more) every 5.5 years since the […]

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Bonds: What Are They Good For? Part I

[Note: The following is a guest post that I requested from one of my Gold Sponsors, Johanna Fox, CPA, CFP® of Fox & Company Wealth Management. She was one of the first people to see my Sponsorship proposal. I sent it to her not because I expected she might be interested in sponsoring the site, but because I know she is not afraid to speak her mind. If I was asking too much, she would tell it to me straight. On the WCI forum, she has expressed her opinion on bonds, and I thought it would be great to allow her […]

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How I Brofited from the Brexit

The sky wasn’t falling. The end wasn’t near. But you wouldn’t know it if you had access to a computer, television, or radio recently. The overreaction wasn’t limited to major new outlets, although they were all over it. Even a couple of my favorite financial companies got in on the act. When I logged in a full week after the vote to Brexit, both Personal Capital and Vanguard had Brexit pop-ups (Brop-ups?). We in the blogosphere gave our perspectives, which tended to be more sensible. Recommendations to ignore the news, stay the course, and don’t believe the hype were standard issue. […]

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He Has Read Over 250 Investing Books. He Recommends These Three Funds.

Marquette Sailboats

I was browsing the Bogleheads forum recently, when an “old” post from 2014 was brought to the top of the page by a new comment. The thread was started by Taylor Larimore, revered Boglehead Emeritus. In the post, Mr. Larimore states, “Nearly everything I know about investing I learned from experience (the hard way) and reading books.” He goes on to list the investing books he has read. Mr. Larimore has read more investing books than I have read Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, and Little Golden Books combined. Color me impressed. What’s even more impressive than the number of pages he has […]

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I Just Made a Bad $10,000 Investment. On Purpose.

Our post-recital ice cream social was in full swing. The kids were running rampant, the leftover ice cream was slowly melting in the tubs, and the adults were enjoying some adult beverages and some non-violin music. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from children’s music recitals, it’s that the violin must be a really difficult instrument to learn to play well. Fortunately, our boys play piano. I was chatting with another proud father, learning a little more about his line of work. He works for the local small business development corporation, funded by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). He […]

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PoF Portfolio Performance Update

A couple months ago, I shared my portfolio with you. In the previous post, I showed you which funds I hold in which accounts, including the percentage of each fund within the account, and as a percentage of the overall portfolio. I didn’t share performance. Today, I’ll fill that gap. I like a highly customizable spreadsheet to track the ratios, and I like Personal Capital to track the balances and performance day-to-day and over time. The current spreadsheet for the PoF Portfolio, as of 5/18/2016:     Not a whole lot has changed in the interim. The taxable account now […]

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Don’t just do something. Stand there!

I stepped In from the covered patio to my basement office overlooking the river. It would be at least a few minutes before the maple sap that had been boiling all day on the patio would become syrup at the critical temperature of 219 degrees Fahrenheit, so I thought I’d finish reading some article I had started earlier. “It’ll be fine,” I said. “I’ll just be a minute” I said. “PoF!!!” my wife hollered at the top of her lungs. [she actually yelled my given name] I got up from the distracting computer. The syrup had clearly met and exceeded […]

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20 Steps to Effective DIY Investing

You’ve got a great job. You’re making your monthly debt payments to pay down student loans and the mortgage, perhaps making additional payments on the interest. You’re living a life of relative frugality and you’re keen on achieving financial independence. Now you’re ready to start investing.   But you’re not sure where to start. You’ve heard that fees can devour your gains, and that the perfect financial advisor is hard to find. You decide to do it yourself (DIY). You were smart enough to get into medical school, and diligent enough to complete a rigorous residency. You can do this. Here’s how to […]

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Investment Fees Will Cost You Millions

New Orleans FIRE

Yes, Millions. You don’t have to be a big shot for this to be true. In fact, someone investing $833 a month into his 401(k) can see an 8-figure sum (that’s $10 million, people) disappear over the course of a long life span. Today, we will pry into the finances of four people you may encounter at the hospital and discover the net worth they might expect to have over the course of their working and retirement years. What sort of annual investment fees are we talking about? Expense ratios of mutual funds (0.04% or less to 1.5% or more) Front-End Load or Back-End Load […]

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My Mega Roth Conversion: a $162,000 mistake?

Prior to 2010, Roth conversions were off limits to most physicians or anyone else with six-figure income. In 2010, the rules changed and the $100,000 AGI limit was eliminated. The prevailing thought was that there would be a one-year window in which high earners could legally do a Roth conversion. From one of the many articles on the subject from back then:   “2010 is the only year that this exception is allowed. Starting in 2011 (unless congress changes it), it reverts back to the original way where all the tax is owed in that year.”   Guess what? Our federal government liked […]

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