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Vanguard Shock: Too Old to Manage Accounts?
Old 11-13-2017, 10:54 AM   #1
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Vanguard Shock: Too Old to Manage Accounts?

Although there was a time when I checked my Vanguard accounts almost daily, I now rarely even look at things such as performance, balances, etc.

Yesterday, I noticed the balance on our Vanguard accounts, and it was only two thirds of what I remembered. I puzzled over it—not yet panicking. I looked at a graph of our balance over time, and there were no sudden changes. There was the dip in 2008. Everything was consistent.

Finally, by looking at my annual rebalancing notes, I figured it out: For some reason, Vanguard had just stopped including DW's IRA balances on my page (without notifying me). I fixed that, and everything makes sense again.

But here's the thing: At one point while puzzling this out, I convinced myself that I'd just mis-remembered the higher balance. That is, I didn't trust my memory. If I hadn't had my local notes, would I have figured it out?

It made me think about a time when I might become too confused to manage my own accounts. IOW:

Not serious: Who was that actor who was in that movie?
Serious: What was that account that we have all that money in?
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:59 AM   #2
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I take screenshots and make notes of various accounts, and download the statements as I've finally figured out DW is right that we should save the statements.

I had sort of a similar thing, looked at my account and saw it was 1/2 of what I expected, and wondered a bit why, then looked at my notes and realized I had transferred a bunch to a different brokerage (Duh!!).

But it's hard to keep track of multiple things without notes.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:04 AM   #3
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I have the same concern though I don't feel the urgency of it - yet. And I don't have a solution.

We don't have kids or young relatives that we are close to (or whose competency we trust - yet). And most of our close friends are around our age.

Our best bet is some kind of trusted financial service that does what we need . Hopefully, we can find one before our time comes.

Today, I stay on top of our finances by looking at our accounts almost every week and doing a regular monthly expense report. This frequent looking keeps the details fresh. I'm fortunate in that it doesn't stress me or lead me to make unnecessary changes.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:18 AM   #4
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I have everyting that we own defined in Quicken and most accounts update automatically... so all bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, mortgage, car loan, etc.

Additionally, I reconcile each account at least quarterly and put a pdf of the quarterly statement in a folder on my laptop.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:28 AM   #5
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Additionally, I reconcile each account at least quarterly and put a pdf of the quarterly statement in a folder on my laptop.
Until you forget.

I'm hoping our CPA daughter who lives a few miles from us and we see at least weekly will recognize the signs she needs to get involved in our finances. This thread is a reminder that now is probably a good time to reinforce with her that is my expectation.

I hope at that time I will follow my dad's example and realize it's time to let go.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:44 AM   #6
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I usually download/print (pdf) our account balances monthly at Vanguard, along with monthly banking and quarterly investment statements. All of our finances are electronic format these days. Keep these on two different backups (not on our computers). We have simplified holdings since retiring so that DW (who cares little about investments), can live out her life w/o having to make any big changes to investments, should I exit 1st.

I also am concerned that there might come a time when I'll not be the best person to manage our finances (and not know it). DW and I have agreed that when one of us has passed, or between the two of us we come to realize that I'm no longer the best person to manage our finances - our two daughters will be asked to step in to assist. Both are good with finances and the best candidates to see that we hopefully don't fall prey to unscrupulous people. They understand our wishes and are glad to help if/when that time comes.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:47 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Yesterday, I noticed the balance on our Vanguard accounts, and it was only two thirds of what I remembered. I puzzled over it—not yet panicking. I looked at a graph of our balance over time, and there were no sudden changes. There was the dip in 2008. Everything was consistent.

Finally, by looking at my annual rebalancing notes, I figured it out: For some reason, Vanguard had just stopped including DW's IRA balances on my page (without notifying me). I fixed that, and everything makes sense again.
I had the opposite happen with Vanguard - my accounts were like 50% higher than the last time I looked

But I forgot DM gave me access to her accounts, and they showed up on my Balances and Holdings page until I re-customized it.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:50 AM   #8
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I have everyting that we own defined in Quicken and most accounts update automatically... so all bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, mortgage, car loan, etc.

Additionally, I reconcile each account at least quarterly and put a pdf of the quarterly statement in a folder on my laptop.
I use Quicken too which tracks everything. I also have all our statements.

But yeah, at some point I will not be able to track this, and DH is older.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:13 PM   #9
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Yes, there will come a time where I will further simplify our finances.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:35 PM   #10
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I am only 69+1/2, but I try to log in several times a week to reconcile what I *think* is in there, with what is really in there. Vanguard urges us to log in frequently for fraud prevention so that is partly why I do that. Whenever I log in, I record the balances of each fund in my Excel file so I don't have to rely upon my memory for that.

Even now, I have noticed that I don't always log in every single day as I once did. But honestly, I can't imagine not logging in when my monthly dividends are due, just to see how much they were! . And also I log in often "just because". (EDITED to add: because of this thread, I just logged in and yes, the amounts were the same as I had figured, to the dollar, for every account).

When I am old enough to be bedridden and fighting the Grim Reaper, I probably won't log in much at all any more. Then again, at that age I will only be expecting to need to fund a very few years if that.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:39 PM   #11
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I've stuck my head in the sand about this because, except for a trusted family member, the solutions involve things we here generally dislike, such as FAs and annuities.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:45 PM   #12
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Vanguard will do it for you for .3%. I'm not sure if that includes reminding you of your balances.😁
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Old 11-13-2017, 01:00 PM   #13
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I've stuck my head in the sand about this because, except for a trusted family member, the solutions involve things we here generally dislike, such as FAs and annuities.
I would not have anything against an annuity after say, age 75 or so, to simplify things. Or whenever I reach that point where I feel myself slowing down.

Other techniques to simplify could be: Everything in ONE big fund. Not much to keep track of. One of those "asset allocation funds" or whatever your fund family calls them. 40% stocks, 40% bonds, 20% cash etc etc

As mentioned in another thread, 20% in the market and the rest in money markets or short / intermediate term bond funds. Two funds to watch and the totals will barely change anyway in good times or bad so there's not much to keep track of.

The events mentioned in the OP don't happen all at once. You sort of "get the message" over a period of some time and realize you need to tend to things.

As it says in Desiderata: Surrender gracefully the things of youth.

I'm just not sure if the emphasis should be on "surrender" or "gracefully"?
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Old 11-13-2017, 01:13 PM   #14
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I have everyting that we own defined in Quicken and most accounts update automatically... so all bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, mortgage, car loan, etc.
Did the same with USAA as well as linking DS and GS1 just in case or whenever I cannot due to age, medical incapacity, location
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Old 11-13-2017, 02:31 PM   #15
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Everything in ONE big fund.
I'd like to do that, but the closest I can come is six accounts!

My IRA account
My Roth IRA account
Our taxable account
Lena's IRA account
Lena's Roth IRA account
My HSA account

I've considered changing them all to the same asset allocation account, but that wouldn't simplify things a lot.
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Old 11-13-2017, 02:39 PM   #16
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Here's a related story:

An old school friend and I got together to watch the total eclipse.



We were talking about our memories, and I explained that I use my older sister and mother as benchmarks.

That is, I have a feeling for how my sister's memory is (ten years older—74) and how my mother's memory was before she died (age 92. She'd read a book and you could give her the same book, and she'd happily read it again, not remembering that she already read it).

IOW, I felt that as long as I was above that glide path, I wouldn't worry.

Then I stopped, and asked my friend, "Did I tell you that before?"

He said, "Yeah. Twice!"
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Old 11-13-2017, 02:46 PM   #17
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Then I stopped, and asked my friend, "Did I tell you that before?"

He said, "Yeah. Twice!"
Yep - this is the third time you've posted it here...
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Old 11-13-2017, 03:03 PM   #18
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Yep - this is the third time you've posted it here...
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Old 11-13-2017, 03:21 PM   #19
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I'd like to do that, but the closest I can come is six accounts!

My IRA account
My Roth IRA account
Our taxable account
Lena's IRA account
Lena's Roth IRA account
My HSA account

I've considered changing them all to the same asset allocation account, but that wouldn't simplify things a lot.
it's just me but still cannot simplify enough (in descending order):

IRA
Legacy investment account (grandkids inheriting)
Roth
Brokerage
Schwab checking
USAA checking
USAA savings

I'm thinking of merging the Legacy & Brokerage accounts. Legacy has a very convoluted beneficiary tree whereas Brokerage is just my 2 kids. I also was trading up to 300 trades a year + LEAPS but I stopped that when I retired earlier this year. However I've personal promise to me that I will never touch the Legacy account. It just keeps compounding. I do spend the Brokerage one so if I combine the two then I guess I won't
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Old 11-13-2017, 03:25 PM   #20
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Nothing I have is online, it's all on paper. I keep the statements in a 3 ring binder. Every month I...

And even if I forget a month, a new statement arrives next month -
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