Investing for retirement



  • Scott has mentioned retirement investing a few times around the forums. I'd love to hear his and others strategy for how they pick their investments.

    This was of particular interest.
    @scottalanmiller said:

    Often this "avoid total loss" strategy is applied to retirement finances where total loss would be devastating but losing the ability to spend your golden years on luxury cruises and world tours would be sad but you could still have shelter and food. While logical there, even with finances the adage often runs afoul of intended goals as financial diversification more often a cause of financial ruin rather than a mitigating factor as financial research has shown that the most reliable strategies involve small diversification and heavy focus and that heavy diversification would increase risk.

    Would you be more specific?



  • The retirement programs at my last two jobs allowed for me to pick how risky I wanted my investments to be... They had various stock picks and listed how risky the stocks were, along side of what the potential of the returns over a long term investment could be.

    The closer you are to retirement, the less risky you want to be with your investments.



  • Sure, my 401K offers the same types of things. But most if not all of the options provided in my 401K are mutual funds, which themselves are often fairly diversified even if only in on sector of the market, say tech for example.

    I'm curious at what level of diversification Scott has seen that your investments become detrimental?



  • The strategy my advisor has me using is start off in your 20's with medium to high risk but very diversified to build of a portfolio. Then as you age though your 30's and 40's slowly start moving that money over to Bonds when the market is at high points to lock down that investment so as you get closer to retirement your assets are primarily in low risk low return bonds. I pay her $50 a year though my bank. I wrote her an email with when I want to retire, what I want for my kids, and how I want to live and for how long. She forecasted my plan, made some adjustments and now we meet up every couple years to review the forecast and adjust as needed. Well worth the money.



  • Scott's Retirement Investment Strategy

    This isn't from me in any way, it is the same strategy put forth by many big names in finance as the only reasonable strategy for normal people and is also the one promoted by an economic adviser to the CIA (Scott Adams, author of "The Dilbert Principle.")

    The strategy is: put everything into a good Index Fund such as an S&P 500 Index until you have plenty to retire and only diversify after that.

    It's that simple. A non-generic fund example is the infamous Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund, generally considered to be reliably the world's best fund.



  • So why is this the recommendation? Couple simple reasons:

    • index funds have no humans messing with them to mess them up. Humans are very bad at picking investment strategies.
    • Index funds have the lowest overhead and every percentage of lower overhead is guaranteed performance improvement - it is very hard for other types of investments to compete because their overhead is higher and they need to earn more just to keep up.
    • Statistically over time no other automated strategy can keep up with the average equities market, none, unless you look at time frames under one decade and even then it is incredibly rare. So this strategy may not be for you if your needed retirement time is eight years or less away and you have good insight into the market. If you are under sixty years old, index funds are really the only choice and even past that, most likely. Likely more like seventy five is the realistic cut off.


  • While I'm not totally in a fund as Scott suggests, I'm mostly there. Glad to know that others agree with what I have been doing.



  • @Dashrender said:

    While I'm not totally in a fund as Scott suggests, I'm mostly there. Glad to know that others agree with what I have been doing.

    An Index Fund? It's very important that it is an Index Fund and not a Mutual Fund.



  • I'm lucky, got into one early and never took money out. Vanguard moved me early from their normal fund level to their Admiralty level which has even lower fees because my money never moves out so my retirement earnings happen even faster.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    I'm lucky, got into one early and never took money out. Vanguard moved me early from their normal fund level to their Admiralty level which has even lower fees because my money never moves out so my retirement earnings happen even faster.

    I'm assuming you have a personally directed account - considering how you've moved between companies so frequently. That said, did you participate in any retirement accounts at previous employers? (or where you not there long enough to take advantage?) If so, have you rolled all of those to that personally directed one?

    I have two accounts for this reason. One with my current employer (I'll take the free matching of 4%) and the consolidated ones from previous employers.



  • @Dashrender said:

    I'm assuming you have a personally directed account - considering how you've moved between companies so frequently.

    I just have a private investment account myself.



  • @Dashrender said:

    That said, did you participate in any retirement accounts at previous employers? (or where you not there long enough to take advantage?) If so, have you rolled all of those to that personally directed one?

    I don't roll them in because I don't leverage "retirement savings." My retirement money is all just direct investments, no IRAs or anything like that. I've already been taxed on all of it and have the legal, penalty-free right to tap it at any time, for any purpose. No need to stop working, hit a certain age or anything.



  • So you've never participated in a 401K, had your employer offer retirement matching, etc?



  • @Dashrender said:

    So you've never participated in a 401K, had your employer offer retirement matching, etc?

    I have but I think of it as "extra" money on the side, not my real retirement. They rarely offer good options like Index Funds, which sucks. I need to roll mine into something easier to manage over at Vanguard just so things are in one place, I suppose.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    So you've never participated in a 401K, had your employer offer retirement matching, etc?

    I have but I think of it as "extra" money on the side, not my real retirement. They rarely offer good options like Index Funds, which sucks. I need to roll mine into something easier to manage over at Vanguard just so things are in one place, I suppose.

    That's the rub. Most employers require that the 401K money run through whatever plan they have setup, you can't just have it deposited into an account you directly control. Control is the wrong word here, but can't think of the correct one.



  • At my last two employers, I had full control over my 401k accounts as far as deciding which indexes my money went into. When I left their employ, I had the choice of cashing out or rolling the money over into my own IRA... Sadly, both times, I had to cash out. 😞



  • @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    So you've never participated in a 401K, had your employer offer retirement matching, etc?

    I have but I think of it as "extra" money on the side, not my real retirement. They rarely offer good options like Index Funds, which sucks. I need to roll mine into something easier to manage over at Vanguard just so things are in one place, I suppose.

    That's the rub. Most employers require that the 401K money run through whatever plan they have setup, you can't just have it deposited into an account you directly control. Control is the wrong word here, but can't think of the correct one.

    That's why it isn't a 401K that I use for retirement, it's just an investment. There are good reasons to use IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, etc., but there are good reasons to skip them too. I'm not eligible for IRAs or Roth IRAs so those are out. 401Ks I often can't get or don't make sense due to work situations. I just invest, plain and simple. I pay more taxes than everyone else, but I get SO much more power with my money.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    So you've never participated in a 401K, had your employer offer retirement matching, etc?

    I have but I think of it as "extra" money on the side, not my real retirement. They rarely offer good options like Index Funds, which sucks. I need to roll mine into something easier to manage over at Vanguard just so things are in one place, I suppose.

    That's the rub. Most employers require that the 401K money run through whatever plan they have setup, you can't just have it deposited into an account you directly control. Control is the wrong word here, but can't think of the correct one.

    That's why it isn't a 401K that I use for retirement, it's just an investment. There are good reasons to use IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, etc., but there are good reasons to skip them too. I'm not eligible for IRAs or Roth IRAs so those are out. 401Ks I often can't get or don't make sense due to work situations. I just invest, plain and simple. I pay more taxes than everyone else, but I get SO much more power with my money.

    yeah, your situation is probably unique on these boards. And probably rare even in Spiceworks.



  • What I have to do is unique, but what I do do is available to everyone. I don't recommend skipping a 401K, but I do recommend getting your own investment account, even if it is just $1,000 and getting an Index Fund going for your own purposes.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    What I have to do is unique, but what I do do is available to everyone. I don't recommend skipping a 401K, but I do recommend getting your own investment account, even if it is just $1,000 and getting an Index Fund going for your own purposes.

    Do you think for us mere mortals of income 😉 it's worth giving up the tax free growth from our 401K's to instead put post post tax dollars in a non tax sheltered Index investment account?
    More specific, I put away nearly 20% pretax into the company's 401K, they match the first 4%.

    I could put only the 4% in the 401K to get the matching, and put the rest into a self directed IRA (for tax purposes, mortal remember 😉 ) Index investment. worth doing?



  • Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?



  • @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    I suppose you can get a traditional IRA from some banks, but I would guess that most investment firms would be able to do both. At least the big names.



  • @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    Almost anywhere but I highly recommend Vanguard. Both famously the best Index Fund supplier on the market and just an awesome investment firm to work with.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    Almost anywhere but I highly recommend Vanguard. Both famously the best Index Fund supplier on the market and just an awesome investment firm to work with.

    wanna give a shout out to a broker there?



  • @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    Almost anywhere but I highly recommend Vanguard. Both famously the best Index Fund supplier on the market and just an awesome investment firm to work with.

    wanna give a shout out to a broker there?

    I don't use a broker, no need for one since I use Index Funds. Investing gets very difficult to make money if you need a broker as the broker fees are what cripple you. Index Funds are all computerized keeping the overhead way down allowing the investments to make money more easily.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    Almost anywhere but I highly recommend Vanguard. Both famously the best Index Fund supplier on the market and just an awesome investment firm to work with.

    wanna give a shout out to a broker there?

    I don't use a broker, no need for one since I use Index Funds. Investing gets very difficult to make money if you need a broker as the broker fees are what cripple you. Index Funds are all computerized keeping the overhead way down allowing the investments to make money more easily.

    So you just visit the website and open an account, never talking to a person? OK I guess that works.



  • @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    Almost anywhere but I highly recommend Vanguard. Both famously the best Index Fund supplier on the market and just an awesome investment firm to work with.

    wanna give a shout out to a broker there?

    I don't use a broker, no need for one since I use Index Funds. Investing gets very difficult to make money if you need a broker as the broker fees are what cripple you. Index Funds are all computerized keeping the overhead way down allowing the investments to make money more easily.

    So you just visit the website and open an account, never talking to a person? OK I guess that works.

    Yup, pretty easy 🙂



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @dafyre said:

    Also, where would be a good place to go to for doing your own Index funds... a traditional IRA account or something more along the lines of TDAmeritrade & ilk?

    Almost anywhere but I highly recommend Vanguard. Both famously the best Index Fund supplier on the market and just an awesome investment firm to work with.

    wanna give a shout out to a broker there?

    I don't use a broker, no need for one since I use Index Funds. Investing gets very difficult to make money if you need a broker as the broker fees are what cripple you. Index Funds are all computerized keeping the overhead way down allowing the investments to make money more easily.

    So you just visit the website and open an account, never talking to a person? OK I guess that works.

    Yup, pretty easy 🙂

    This could be a session at MangoCon!



  • How to retire as an IT pro. Actually that's not a bad idea. So many IT pros work as consultants for a lot of their careers and don't have a single company or just one or two to manage these things for them. Worth considering.


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