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Laddering muni bonds
Old 01-27-2011, 06:51 PM   #1
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Laddering muni bonds

I am trying to figure some of this out. If stocks go up, bonds go down, but the income from the bond stays the same. If taxes go up, muni bonds will likely go up, but the appreciation may be tempered by the stock market increase. I get that.

If one has a bunch of municipal bonds that mature at 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc., is that a safe strategy? It seems to me that if I have a bond with an effective tax free yield of 5% or so, I don't care if the value of that bond goes down. If it matures in 5 years, can't I reinvest the principal at whatever the current rate is? If the stock market continues to climb, won't the effective interest rate on bonds also continue to climb? If I take that 5% bond that matures in 5 years and reinvest the principal, when it matures, in a bond that pays whatever the current rate is at that point, is that a relatively safe strategy? It seems to me that is, but I'm not sure.

Right now, we have about 10% in equities and the rest in bonds with various maturity dates. We aren't trading the bonds, but holding them. Right now, we are averaging a bit over 5% and it is enough. Even with some assumed inflation, it is enough to live fairly well on, with social security and some rental income we get. I think we're safe with this strategy, but I wonder what you retirement gurus think.


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Old 01-27-2011, 06:53 PM   #2
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The risk is that you get a bout of high inflation and find that your purchasing power has become significantly lower than it was because your bond payments are fixed. So is really not a safe solution over the long term.

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Old 01-27-2011, 07:14 PM   #3
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Try posting on too.
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Old 01-28-2011, 01:58 AM   #4
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Hello 67walkon - my CD strategy is quite similar to yours and I am happy with it.
Very conservative with investments. Not ER'd yet, 48 years old. Please do not take anything I write or imply as legal, financial or medical advice directed to you. Contact your own financial advisor, healthcare provider, or attorney for financial, medical and legal advice.
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Old 01-28-2011, 06:39 AM   #5
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I am not sure such relationship exists between stock prices and interest rates. Nonetheless, if your portfolio can support you without any real growth, a muni bond ladder might work. The inflation risk is quite high, especially beyond 10 years. Over the longer term, muni credit risk is also very difficult to assess. In this very small market the highest quality munis either don't get to the retail market or they do but at very high prices.

Another way to view this is to determine how much real growth is needed so the portfolio can sustain the same real withdrawal rate with >90% survivability. That will help you assess how much you need to have in equities. My recollection of firecalc is that 20%-30% range tends to be the minimum.
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