Whooowee. I made two changes to our plan this year.
Posted on December 19, 2017

I reviewed our extensive Retirement Financial Plan (Written out, it fits on a 3 by 5 card.) and made the following changes:


1. On my 3 by 5 card, I erased the $46,100 that I had written in pencil last year for our Safe Spending Amount and wrote in $54,000.  (I get to our total by using our multiplier.)


2. On my 3 by 5 card, I added a mutual fund to our extensive list (NOT!) of funds and ETFs that we own. I did this to simplify my task of rebalancing our portfolio. It was simple to do that before, and now it’s even simpler.


Our investment accounts are at Fidelity, and I added FTIPX (Fidelity Total International Stock, a mutual fund). That means I now own two Total International Stocks securities: VXUS (an Exchange Traded Fund basically identical to the Vanguard mutual fund VTIAX) and now FTIPX. (FTIPX did not exist when I started our plan in December 2014; it’s essentially identical to VXUS/VTIAX in holdings and cost. [It’s actually a shade lower in cost.])


Adding FTIPX allows me to easily “exchange dollars” between two Fidelity mutual funds to rebalance US Total Stocks and International Total Stock holdings. I can now do this task with one transaction. With only VXUS, it was two transactions: for example, I would have had to “sell dollars” in FSTVX (the dollar amount I wanted to buy of VXUS to be in perfect balance) and then wait to the next day to calculate the number of shares I should buy of  VXUS and place the order.


Conclusion: Fidelity or Vanguard both have stock index mutual funds that are essentially identical in composition and cost (rock bottom low) for US Total Stocks and for International Total Stocks. If your accounts are at either one, it’s easiest to rebalance between mutual funds in the same family (within Fidelity or Vanguard) by “exchanging dollars” between the two mutual funds.


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