Difference between revisions of "Asking portfolio questions"

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Revision as of 13:41, 4 August 2012

The forum thread Asking Portfolio Questions is in need of an update, discussed here: Suggestion for updating "Asking Portfolio Questions" thread. Use this page for the discussion. Wiki editors are encouraged to edit, but post in that thread for review.

(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 = 3-6 months of expenses (indicate if you have this, but it should probably not be 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
  • Age:
  • Desired Asset allocation: (xx% stocks/ xx% bonds)
  • Desired International allocation: xx% of stocks

If you want to give us the subcategory breakdowns within each asset class, go ahead. (Most people probably will not want to do this.) For example:

x% Large Caps

x% Mid Caps
X% Small Caps
X% International stocks
X% Sector
X% Bonds
X% Cash

Some people may also want to tell us the % of growth investments and % of value investments they want. Current portfolio (please provide a hint as to the size of the total portfolio like 4 figures, 5 figures, 7 figures, etc.). What might be appropriate for a very large portfolio might not be appropriate for a new investor.

Providing the split of your assets and contributions between taxable and tax-advantaged accounts is also helpful. Also include the available funds in your employer provided retirement plans. For example:

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

His Roth 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)

His 401k

  • xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
  • Company Match?


  • xx$ fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)


  • xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)

Her 403b

  • xx% fund name (ticker symbol) (expense ratio)
  • Company Match?

Total of All Accounts Together (not each account individually) equals 100%

New annual Contributions
  • $x his 401k (including matching contributions)
  • $x her 403b (including matching contributions
  • $x taxable

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 percentages add up to 100% across all of your accounts, not within each account.
  • 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.
  • Be sure to enter the expense ratios for the funds as they are in your own company 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[/list]


If asked to add additional information, please use the edit button Link to 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.