Asking Portfolio Questions

Have a question about your personal investments? No matter how simple or complex, you can ask it here.
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Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:40 pm

Asking Portfolio Questions

Post by Laura »

(This message is a continuation of the Investment Planning topic. If you are unable to answer the questions here, please go back and review that post first.)

Welcome to the Bogleheads Forum. There are many knowledgeable and helpful people who are part of this online community. Most of these posters are willing to share their time and expertise with new posters who are looking for help, but they can't or won't give advice in a vacuum. We need to know some important things about you, including all the investments you already have. Otherwise, we may be advising you to buy into a fund that overlaps your present holding(s), doesn't fit your asset allocation plan, or, worse, is too risky or too conservative for your investing temperament. To make sure you get the help you need, we would like to provide a few suggestions.


When you have researched your retirement plan options and have a list of your current investments, it is time to post. We do not need to know your name or the amount of money you have invested or anything else that will identify you. To help us help you please post in this format:

Emergency funds: Three to six months of expenses (indicate if you have this, but it is generally not part of your asset allocation)

Debt: Indicate if you have any debt (credit card, school loans, car loans, mortgage) and the interest rate you are paying on each loan.

Tax Filing Status: (Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, Qualifying Widow/Widower with Dependent Children)

Tax Rate: xx% Federal, xx% State

State of Residence:


Desired Asset allocation: xx% stocks / xx% bonds
Desired International allocation: xx% of stocks

Please provide an approximate size of your total portfolio (as in 50K, 700k, 1.4M, etc.) or as (high four-figures, mid five-figures, low six-figures, etc.).

Show us your current portfolio including all investment and retirement accounts (yourself and spouse or civil partner, if applicable) as it's important to look at the portfolio as a unified whole rather than look at accounts in isolation. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans.

Show each fund or holding as a percentage of the entire portfolio, not as a percentage of the account that holding is in. If this instruction is not clear, see the example under the Key Points section below. For example:

Current retirement assets
* The format below is shown using his/her pronouns. Use whatever pronouns or identifying names you prefer as long as it is clear which assets belong to which person.

xx% cash (for investing – do not include emergency funds)
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
xx% stock company name (ticker symbol)

His 401k
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Company match?

His Roth IRA at Vanguard
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

His Rollover IRA at Schwab
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

Her 403b
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Company match?

Her SIMPLE IRA at Fidelity
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

Her Traditional IRA at Vanguard
xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Note: Total percentage of all the above accounts together (not each account individually) should equal 100%.


New annual Contributions
$xx his 401k (also specify any employer matching contributions)
$xx her 403b (also specify any employer matching contributions)
$xx his IRA/Roth IRA
$xx her IRA/Roth IRA
$xx taxable (for retirement, not short term goals)

Available funds

Funds available in his 401(k)
Fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

Funds available in her 403(b)
Fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
Fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)



Key Points

* Please make sure that you've provided all the information requested above. Omitting information often results in delays and/or longer exchanges.
* Please post fund names, not just ticker symbols.
* If you have an account in a retirement plan with your employer, be sure to enter the expense ratios for the funds as they are in your company's specific plan; often the fund expense ratios in 401k/403b/457 plans are different from the "retail" expense ratios you will find for a fund when doing an internet search.
* If you see several different expense ratios for a single fund, use the net expense ratio.
* Please make sure that percentages add up to 100% across all of your accounts, not within each account. For example:

35% Fidelity Total Lunar Active Fund (FLUNX) (0.01%)
35% Schwab Black Hole Bonds Fund (SBLKX) (1.50%)

His 401(k):
05% Vanguard Total Jupiter Stock Market Index fund (VJUPX) (0.05%)
25% Vanguard Total Venus Stock Market Index fund (VENUX) (0.03%)

The percentage total of all funds (Taxable + His 401(k)) is 100%.


If asked to add additional information, please use the edit button (upper right hand side of your post) to add the information to your original post.

Please make all responses and additions to your original post in the same conversation rather than creating a new topic. It helps everyone if the history of the discussion is available in one place.

Many posters put a great deal of effort into their replies. We simply ask that if you receive replies, you go back and respond to them in some way. It's a hollow feeling for those of us who respond to questions to never hear back from the person who started the conversation. Remember, the purpose of this is to have a conversation! We are NOT expecting a thank-you necessarily, but feedback on what you found helpful, if anything. We appreciate hearing back from you.

USING CAPITALIZED LETTERS is considered rude (it's shouting). Caps are good for emphasis, but are hard to read. If you consistently post in CAPS, some people may not bother to read and respond to your questions.

Preparing to make a post can be a significant learning experience for you. We appreciate posts that show careful planning. This doesn't mean your questions must be complex or show extensive investment knowledge. We really enjoy simple ones and want beginning investors to feel very welcome. Our goal is to help. We hope that this post gives you some guidance, so that you can get the kinds of answers you deserve. And, if you'd like, give us a friendly first name at the close of your post.


- A template that can be used to create a forum post is in the wiki. See: Asking portfolio questions - Bogleheads

- Post revised by admin LadyGeek, Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread, June 24, 2019.
- Post revised by moderator Misenplace, Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread, October 20, 2020.
- Typo fixed by admin LadyGeek, Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread, October 21, 2020.
- Post revised by admin LadyGeek, Re: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread, July 8, 2021
Last edited by Misenplace on Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
The views presented are my own and not necessarily those of the Department of State or the U.S. Government.