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Old 10-21-2020, 01:20 AM   #21
gone traveling
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic23 View Post
A thought on the Canada funds.

A piece of stock advice I was once given, I held IBM. Would you buy IBM today, and hold it until you make a profit? If the answer is no, then sell it!
The only money I've ever made with stocks, in Canada, was some "sin" shares (Morris / tobacco) and a bit of utility stocks (Power Corp). Maybe also a bit of bank stocks (Royal Bank of Canada and TD). But with insurance companies in 2008 (SunLife), boy, I've got burned big time (-50%, and this even after they stock-split - which was super-odd / I still believe that my online discount broker - a shitty un-ethical company named Questrade, still miscalculated something).

With index funds (TSX60 and bonds) - never made a cent, always lost money. It was a time when the Canadian Minister of Finance curbed down those special funds that were returns-on-capital, I forget what their name was.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:32 AM   #22
gone traveling
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HI Bill View Post
1. Would you buy a house? No. Too much downside risk if you're forced to move.
I'd like to understand this risk better, if possible. Is it because of the high commissions that realtor seller + buyer agents (3% + 3%) which is extremely onerous comparing to Canada (1.5% + 1.5% in most of the case), or a potential radical, generalized market downturn due to the economy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
2. Would you continue to keep mid-six-figures capital in Canada in savings accounts earning 1.3%, and another mid-six-figures in American savings accounts earning 0.67% ? No. You're giving up the power of compounding earnings to basically losing purchasing power with regards to inflation. After 30 years of investing, my principal comprises less than 50% of my total account values (diversified all-equity investing in mutual funds and ETFs like VTI). The 'snowball' effect is real, and it will take hold later on. My 10-year rate of return is about 13%.
All valid points. But unfortunately, I don't have (for the moment) an expectation for 30-year investment horizon. So, having to sell in 5 years (i.e. to buy a house) would put me at the same level of risk as buying a house right now and having to sell it after 5 years. Sort of.

Re: power of compounding: Remember, it's money on paper, not yet crystallized. Is there any "guarantee" for an easy 6% increase year-over-year, for the next 20-30 years? At a minimum, I personally would like to preserve my capital's present purchasing power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
3. Or would you invest in stock market but with a fairly short horizon (3-5 years), which is kind of an oxymoron . Yes. Everything is a gamble (cash, CDs, savings, inflation, health, war, Black Swan events, your health). The only historic certainty is that the US markets have outperformed gold, silver, and most foreign markets; this does not guarantee future performance, and that's why diversification (including foreign investments) is important. All civilizations fail, but what are the odds that the US fails in the next 30 years?
So, for a 5-year horizon, why not opting in for a house then? What less degree of risk do the stock have, comparing to real estate? :-)

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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
4. Should I buy gold bars from Schiff Capital instead? (and possibly filled with Tungsten inside? :-) ) No. Historically, gold underperforms the markets by significant margins.
Thanks for the advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
5. Other investment advice? Choose an AA that's at least 50% equities, and includes 3-5 years worth of your annual expenses in Cash/Cash equivalents (MM, savings, checking, cash). Stick to it long-term.
AA = ? Also, would you go full-blown into investments even if you didn't own a house and you were a renter? And renting a quite small place (2-bedroom apt with kids sleeping in one room)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
6. You did not ask for this advice, but your economic and domestic future seems up in the air due to citizenship/visa issues. I'd suggest you pick a country that will accept you (Canada or Europe), and build your life there. Waiting for US immigration policy to catch up with your desires may or may not work out for you, and you may waste years without making any traction. If you choose a country where you can stay permanently, you can purchase a house with less risk, and start building equity in that, which helps diversify your AA.
My highly specialized engineering skills are keeping me alive and relevant here. Otherwise I wouldn't have had the courage to make this move. But looking in the rearview mirror, I don't regret this step: People are much WARM here, the country has a PRESIDENT (Canada feels like a British monarchy / colony with a PM), more diversity, excellent geography and climate, more product diversity and job opportunities.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:43 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
The vast majority of posters in this forum will tell you to get over your fear of the stock market.
Even with shorter investment time horizons? :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
It is unfortunate that Richard Ney's book has scared you away from stock market investing. I haven't read his books, but from what I have heard, they give an extremely jaded view of the stock market.
Yeah, maybe more pessimistic than the others. But in a way, felt like reflecting what's going on with the reality. What I've retained the most from it, is a good doze of skepticism (I hated Siegel's book - full of BS, but that's only my personal opinion).

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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
While there are professional investors that make money by short selling and other advanced techniques, ...
Of course I'm not pursuing that. Or naked options :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
many common people do in fact make money in the stock market.
Well, I did not. Go figure. And I stayed invested for about 5-6 years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
The average annual return since adopting 500 stocks into the index in 1957 through 2018 is roughly 8%."
Many people who post regularly on this forum, including myself, are "buy-and-hold" investors who invest in low-cost mutual funds / ETFs and do not try to time the market but hold onto the mutual funds for years (even through downturns like 2008-9), to achieve the 8% long-term return spoken of on this web page. My own equity holdings have more than doubled over the past several years and are worth more than a million dollars.
Could be that I overreacted to the 2008 event, but in a way it contributed to understanding my real risk tolerance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
About your statement, "Even after 30 years the wall street gangsters could potentially bring the market down on purpose..." - Per the above web page I referenced, average equity returns have been good for a lot more than 30 years - namely, since 1926.
Everything is statistics, nothing is "guaranteed", so it's like the "theory of relativity" (of the general kind, that is). But do you know what pisses me off the most? HOW come the following things are guaranteed:
- Having to come to work daily and in precise cadence, and always expecting from you to give your best
- Your salary
- Tax rates
- Legal / contractual commitments
- and so on and so forth,
.. but when it comes to investment outcomes, suddenly, everything is ... relative... Don't you find that intriguing? I'm looking for a unicorn - that can preserve my purchasing power / of the assets I am accumulating during my active working life, with the purpose of enjoying them later. That's too much to ask, I know :-) I feel cheated in this scheme of affairs, to be candid with you.



"Or would you invest in stock market but with a fairly short horizon (3-5 years), which is kind of an oxymoron."
I don't quite understand the part about the short horizon. I agree that investing in the stock market is riskier with a short (< 5 years) time frame. But why do you have a short horizon? Even if you move back to Canada, you don't have to sell your US stock market assets but you can keep them there for a much longer period of time. If your "short horizon" is for your house down payment money (which you are saving until you move back to Canada to buy a house), it's okay if you want to keep that out of the stock market, but that shouldn't represent all your money. You should have other savings, especially retirement funds, which can be invested in the stock market.

Finally, don't buy gold! It is not a good long-term investment.[/QUOTE]
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:49 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by kjpliny View Post
I'm risk averse, as you seem to be. There simply are very few adequate investing choices for the risk averse these days. Getting into the stock and bond markets at historical extremes could be dangerous. Or it could be lucrative. Nobody knows. Gold could go up or down. Cash can lose value to inflation, or it could come in handy during a market crash to buy assets cheaply. Real estate can produce income and go up in value, or it can do the opposite. Sometimes losing the least amount of money by taking what might appear to be less risk can be a good choice if it helps you to sleep.

There are simply no good answers. Risk takers have it easy...they pile into the markets and look forward to their huge returns while sleeping well at night. The only time they run into a problem is when the occasional crash happens. No one knows when that will be. People with hedging strategies may be able to cover their risk taking, but this is trading, not investing.
A very realistic, and prudent point of view, indeed.

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Originally Posted by kjpliny View Post
Maybe consider putting a little into Wellesley for a small amount of risk and a wee bit into gold bullion/silver just in case. If you wait for a crash, it may never come. If you go all in, you could lose most of it, or you could become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. There is no good answer...only you can decide what works for you.
Is Wellesley == VWINX (Vanguard Wellesley Income Fund Investor)?
I'll look into it, thank you.

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Originally Posted by kjpliny View Post
Maybe speak to a fee only financial advisor...one who aligns with your risk tolerance. Good luck to you.
The fee-only financial advisors - haven't tried that, but who knows. Can they stay disciplined and truly have your fiduciary interest at heart?

kjpliny, thank you so much for your suggestions.
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Old 10-21-2020, 02:00 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
OP - buying a house is too risky due to immigration.
Duly noted.

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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
Your wife can look for a job, go to interview, if accepted, tell them she will go back to Canada and get a TN visa only needing a letter from the employer. If she does this you can PM me for more details.
She kind of has non-continuous work experience, being caught up with the immigration and mostly being a stay-at-home mom for the kids. It's difficult, although not impossible. There are very few U.S. employers that are open enough and knowledgeable about visa regimes and work permits.

Thank you for the great perspective on the situation.

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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
You can buy in Canada index ETF's which are low cost (MER 0.20 % and not 2% MER mutual fund). And buy shares in Banks, all do go up over long time periods.
Yeah, I never went for 2% MER, even in the beginning of my financial life in North America (the worst I held was a TD Monthly Income MF that had about 0.8-1% if I recall, but then I switched to TD e-Funds and later on to self-administered taxable account with an online discount brokerage)

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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
Like others said do the 401K to get the match at least, it's free money. Worst case is you have to leave country as lose job, wait until the next year and then cash out your 401K , you will have zero US income except for the 401K so it will be a small tax hit and quite possibly a net savings when you consider the deduction you will currently take for the contributions you make.
The scenario you were depicting (years with low or zero income) was the ideal situation for the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP - 401k's equivalent) - because there was no surtax :-)
I'll think about. I actually had a 401k with my first U.S. employer, and it had gathered quite a good sum, but without me contributing to it - it was some kind of Annual Incentive Plan / profit sharing plan so the company was distributing surpluses to employees.

What I liked, and used with great success, was ESPP plans. Except for the one with the current employer - which is one of the rarest cases of ESPPs that enforce a minimum 2-year mandatory hold period. I'm kind of uncomfortable when "strings are attached", more specifically when they are in relation to taxable accounts.

Oh, I forgot to mention: I have no medical insurance, other than dental. It's still hard for me to accommodate to the current "healthcare" system here. Looks like "medicine for profit" and a lot of cost overhead mainly caused (I think) by a very litigious medical environment. To keep ourselves healthy, we go at least once a week for a harder hike in the Rockies. I am aware of the risk of not having health insurance, and currently re-evaluating. I did have insurance with a previous employer, because it was covering almost everything (and almost cost me nothing).

Thank you.
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:24 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
I've generally come to the mindset that I should never speculate, live within my means, and seek ways to PRESERVE the fruits of my hard work. Nothing more, nothing less. You know, something like those grandma's jars from the pantry...
Quote:
Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
Everything is statistics, nothing is "guaranteed", so it's like the "theory of relativity" (of the general kind, that is). But do you know what pisses me off the most? HOW come the following things are guaranteed:
- Having to come to work daily and in precise cadence, and always expecting from you to give your best
- Your salary
- Tax rates
- Legal / contractual commitments
- and so on and so forth,
.. but when it comes to investment outcomes, suddenly, everything is ... relative... Don't you find that intriguing? I'm looking for a unicorn - that can preserve my purchasing power / of the assets I am accumulating during my active working life, with the purpose of enjoying them later. That's too much to ask, I know :-) I feel cheated in this scheme of affairs, to be candid with you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
Oh, I forgot to mention: I have no medical insurance, other than dental. It's still hard for me to accommodate to the current "healthcare" system here. Looks like "medicine for profit" and a lot of cost overhead mainly caused (I think) by a very litigious medical environment. To keep ourselves healthy, we go at least once a week for a harder hike in the Rockies. I am aware of the risk of not having health insurance, and currently re-evaluating. I did have insurance with a previous employer, because it was covering almost everything (and almost cost me nothing).
You started out by asking, "What would you do if you were me..."? You have gotten a lot of advice, but some of it you don't like. You ended up saying it "pisses me off" not to have guaranteed investment outcomes, you feel cheated, and in another post that "it's still hard for me to accommodate to the current 'healthcare' system here." People on this forum can give you advice about what we would do if we were you, but we cannot change the way systems in the US work.

It seems like you want guaranteed/universal salary, guaranteed universal health plan, guaranteed investment outcomes, etc. To mention a few things in response:

Much in life is not guaranteed. Your continued life and health are not guaranteed - no matter where you live. We all have an uncertain future, and we have to learn to deal with that.

I'm surprised you said your salary is guaranteed. Unless you have certain civil service jobs where the government pretty much guarantees your continued employment, you can be laid off at any time from almost any job. You may think your continued employment/salary is likely, but it's probably not guaranteed (at least mine wasn't). But if you have managed to get in one of those guaranteed civil service jobs, good for you!

If you want to vent about how you don't like things about the US economic system, that's okay up to a certain point, but ultimately you have to live and work within that system (or go live in some other country, if you can find one that you consider better!). I would love to have an FDIC-insured savings account that paid a guaranteed 8-10% return forever. But that doesn't exist. So I have learned to work within the economic system I do have, and so far I have managed to be very successful (despite some mistakes along the way). You will likewise be more successful with investing if you can adjust to what we have instead of lamenting what we don't have and getting paralysis of analysis. The "grandma's pantry jars" approach is just not a good investment methodology.
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Old 10-22-2020, 10:40 PM   #27
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Hi ILikeStarTrek,

First of all, I'd like to thank to both you and all the other forumists for the disinterested and great advice!

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Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
You started out by asking, "What would you do if you were me..."? You have gotten a lot of advice, but some of it you don't like.
It's not that there is "some of it" that I don't like. It's rather the fact that I am trying to put some of the suggestions into more context (my context), passing them thru my personal "filter", value system, comparing against past experience, and weighing and counter-weighing in various factors.

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Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
You ended up saying it "pisses me off" not to have guaranteed investment outcomes, you feel cheated, ...
I mentioned that aspect only to point out some form of asymmetry in terms of day-to-day facts of life. And I'm not sure if what I wished to convey, was understood properly: It's not about whining, or hoping for unrealistic "ivory towers".

The asymmetry (in expectations and risk factors) stems from this point of view: Certain aspects in life, such as taxes, legal-enforceable contracts (yes, even a job offer is a contract: one party commits to provide work and service and the other party will compensate financially for that work, or various policies in terms job expectations, traffic rules etc). But in the same time, a stock market or other inherently-risk forms of investment, can't offer the same level of "legal binding" and commitment between the 2 parties engaged in the transaction. In other words: one party puts in work effort, sweat, firm money, but there is no expectation from the other party to also commit so the same level of "seriousness". So, "stuff in life is relativistic" - but only for for the lower or the middle class, if you catch my drift. I wasn't suggesting that there is anything I could do to restore this balance of "fairness", I was only trying to point out the situation. The idea would be that "since investment outcomes are so relativistic, why shouldn't we also be relativistic by not paying taxes always in the right amount, or missing day of work, not doing the job at the same level of exigence all the time, etc" :-)


Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
... and in another post that "it's still hard for me to accommodate to the current 'healthcare' system here." People on this forum can give you advice about what we would do if we were you, but we cannot change the way systems in the US work.
I wasn't saying that US healthcare is completely orthogonal, and that I won't be able to eventually come to understand it and accommodate. I was saying only that it takes a tad longer to get to that point, especially for folks who got to experience other systems as well, from other countries and cultures. For someone who never experienced living and working in other countries and continents, and who got to grow up only with one system, it may be easier to cross that bridge.

And I thought that seeing other points of view, might interest you. I could come up with more comparisons, but I'll stop, no problem - wasn't in my intention to offend or God forbid, bash anything. It's just some points of view resulting from past experience and putting new experience thru a filter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
It seems like you want guaranteed/universal salary, ...
No, sorry, I didn't say that, hopefully the additional explanation above clarifies a bit. A salary is "guaranteed" in the sense that is written in an offer, and both parties come to a firm agreement, and sometimes quite legally binding. I never alluded to "a minimum universal income guarantee" or other extremely socialist or even communist ideas (which I despise).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
guaranteed universal health plan, ...
It depends on what you mean by "guaranteed" in that statement ^.
IF that's about fair pricing (instead of medicine for profits and a lot of intermediaries / "paper pushers"), fair contributions into the system, no "pre-existing conditions" crap, and easy access, then yes, it can be construed as "guaranteed" in a way

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
... guaranteed investment outcomes, etc.
Again, that was in the context of the "asymmetry of things in life".
It's about an "expectation" of getting something of value, in return for you putting in hard work, sweat, patience, energy, tenacity. Maybe that can be achieved by directly investing into local businesses, and becoming yourself intertwined with such business. In that way maybe cutting the middlemen (brokers, publicly-traded share markets etc). Not sure, just a thought.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
To mention a few things in response:

Much in life is not guaranteed. Your continued life and health are not guaranteed - no matter where you live. We all have an uncertain future, and we have to learn to deal with that.
True, the future is always uncertain. But not ALL the things in life lack guarantee. SOME DO have a guarantee, sometime a strong one. Example: if you don't pay this X amount of owed taxes, you go to prison, right? OR, if the employer does not reward a perfectly valid work (and which you've given all the best you could do proffessionaly and ethically), then the contract between the 2 parties is null and void, right? Or you can't have these X goods / services sold, unless you pay for them. Or, you take a mortgage with the banksters, and you have a legal obligation to pay it back etc.

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Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
I'm surprised you said your salary is guaranteed. Unless you have certain civil service jobs where the government pretty much guarantees your continued employment, you can be laid off at any time from almost any job. You may think your continued employment/salary is likely, but it's probably not guaranteed (at least mine wasn't). But if you have managed to get in one of those guaranteed civil service jobs, good for you!
It was never in my intention to ever suggest that - sorry if it was misunderstood (kindly see my explanation above - "guaranteed" in the sense of a contract existing between 2 parties - the employer and the employee which obviously will never state that you have that job for life, but certain conditions are specified). Remember those unionized jobs from Canada? :-) (I dislike the concept / see the Teachers union there - they live like Kings, and compare that to the underpaid teachers here in the US / or at least in Colorado).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
If you want to vent about how you don't like things about the US economic system, that's okay up to a certain point, but ultimately you have to live and work within that system (or go live in some other country, if you can find one that you consider better!).
Of course! It's not venting (it may sounded like that because too many things and idea or views collect in my head and need to externalize them fast). It's rather about making connections between things, comparing between past experience and new experience, seeing the good in multiple socio-economical systems, the less good and trying to live with it and understanding it etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
I would love to have an FDIC-insured savings account that paid a guaranteed 8-10% return forever. But that doesn't exist. So I have learned to work within the economic system I do have, and so far I have managed to be very successful (despite some mistakes along the way).
No, not 8-10% forever. But something that can counteract the hidden form of continuous thievery that the Governments (everywhere, not only in U.S.) are practicing, through inflation, and "fresh new money" that is given only to their club and circle of acolytes...Nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, it's a unicorn...Oh wait, if you are amongst the privileged few (private owners of "Federal" "Reserve"), and you lower your expectation but just by a tiny bit, you get 6% profit in perpetuity...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
You will likewise be more successful with investing if you can adjust to what we have instead of lamenting
Not lamenting, but rather trying to share with you my own view on the current status quo, thru my own prism / optics. And which is of course subject to change, and hopefully influenced positively by advices like yours and others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
what we don't have and getting paralysis of analysis.
This is indeed the key problem. Too many aspects to analyze, and my rather complex / atypical situation (immigration, not owning a home etc, SHORT investment horizon etc). May seem simple, but try putting yourself also into my shoes for a bit :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
The "grandma's pantry jars" approach is just not a good investment methodology.
And why is it necessarily a bad mindset? What is wrong with being strongly ethical, being conservative, prudent, wanting to preserve capital and value and not necessarily "get rich over night" (without work - that's the "speculation" I was thinking about).

Many of these problems in the real world ... may be caused by things as simple as ... debt, smoke-and-mirrors-fractional-reserve-systems, inflating assets with the airpump and lacking fundamental values, etc... Who knows, maybe it's worth returning to a more "classic", and simple economical systems, ones who value the invididual, mutual trust etc. Eh, dreaming.... :-)

Thanks again!
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:18 AM   #28
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Smihaila, thanks for the clarifications in your last post.

I do want to clarify one thing I said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek
The "grandma's pantry jars" approach is just not a good investment methodology.
And why is it necessarily a bad mindset? What is wrong with being strongly ethical, being conservative, prudent, wanting to preserve capital and value and not necessarily "get rich over night" (without work - that's the "speculation" I was thinking about).
I didn't mean to imply it's a "bad mindset" but rather I said it is "not a good investment methodology." I meant "not good" => "not effective". Over time, the pantry jar loses money relative to inflation. Which is pretty much the main problem you are expressing now which inspired your post, as I understand it.

I have a question for you, because in your follow-up posts, you keep referring to a "SHORT investment horizon" and I don't understand that. In your original post, you did mention the possibility of buying a house in the next 3-5 years, and if you have money earmarked for the house down payment, I tend to agree with not putting those funds in the stock market. But you also said that you have saved "mid six-figures cash capital in Canada, and another mid six-figures capital in the U.S.", and you have an ongoing job where you are continuing to save money at a 70% rate. Surely the majority of all that money is *not* for the house (unless you plan to pay cash for a $1 Million or more house). You have after all posted on an "early-retirement" forum, and if much of this money is to be used for retirement, and since you said you are age 45, you could potentially live another 40+ years and gradually use those funds over the rest of your lifetime. So it seems to me that most of your money will have a long investment horizon, not a short horizon. Those are the funds I would consider investing in the stock market, instead of the 1.3% / 0.67% savings accounts you are currently using. If you keep all your money in the current savings accounts, you will have lost a great deal of money relative to inflation by the time you are in your 60s, 70s, 80s. But if I am misunderstanding the purpose / time frame for the money you were asking about in your original post, then please clarify.

Also along those lines:
Quote:
Originally Posted by smihaila
"There is a 401k match with my employer, but considering my rather unstable future / residence status, I am reluctant in investing in 401k. As opposed to its Canadian equivalent (RRSP), one cannot withdraw from 401k at any time, without an additional surtax penalty (in Canada they can be a great investment strategy - for example withdrawing in years with no or low income)."
I don't understand your reluctance to use/get the 401k match. Again, you are speaking as if you will need to use absolutely all of your savings in the next few years. Why? Surely you will want to keep some funds invested to use when you are a bit older and retired. If you are currently saving about 70% of your income, and you probably only need to set aside 5% or so to get the 401k match, surely you will hardly miss that extra money in the current time frame. Even if you go back to Canada, you can keep the money in the 401k plan (or transfer to a US IRA if you prefer), and since you are age 45 then in 14 years (which is not really that long of a time) you can access the funds without penalty. At that point, however much money you have put in here, it will be doubled just based on the matching funds. And since you know this money will have a long investment horizon (14+ years), you can be more confident about investing these funds in the stock market. So again, I don't get why you are so reluctant, but this seems like more paralysis of analysis.
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Old 10-24-2020, 10:26 AM   #29
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Hi ILikeStarTrek,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
Smihaila, thanks for the clarifications in your last post.
You're most welcome. And truly appreciate your insights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
I didn't mean to imply it's a "bad mindset" but rather I said it is "not a good investment methodology." I meant "not good" => "not effective". Over time, the pantry jar loses money relative to inflation. Which is pretty much the main problem you are expressing now which inspired your post, as I understand it.
Let me clarify more. While the inflation is the main problem that inspired my post (along with looking for investment strategies with a lower-risk than stocks), the "grandma's jars" metaphor which I was trying to use, is not about "jar of coins", but jars of jam, confiture, pickles, or whatever. The idea is to preserve the present value of your hard-earned assets, for future consumption / use. The jam (assuming it is asepticised via the traditional cooking preservation methods and not expiring) will preserve its value, hence invariant to inflation. I've borrowed this idea from some book I've read, it may have been "Your Money or Your Life", "The Wealthy Barber", or another, not sure.
So the mindset was to "find ways for capital value preservation, nothing more, nothing less". Something that is on par with inflation (the real one, not the CPI BS from both U.S. and Canada :-) ), nothing more than that.

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Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
I have a question for you, because in your follow-up posts, you keep referring to a "SHORT investment horizon" and I don't understand that. In your original post, you did mention the possibility of buying a house in the next 3-5 years, and if you have money earmarked for the house down payment, I tend to agree with not putting those funds in the stock market. But you also said that you have saved "mid six-figures cash capital in Canada, and another mid six-figures capital in the U.S.", and you have an ongoing job where you are continuing to save money at a 70% rate. Surely the majority of all that money is *not* for the house (unless you plan to pay cash for a $1 Million or more house).
An absolutely correct observation! My current situation does not allow for an investment horizon longer than 5 year, since an anticipated house purchase is a must. And I'd like to buy such house full in cash, or with only a very little borrowing (10k-30k) because that may happen to be beneficial in terms of "credit management diversification" and even helping my 800+ credit score going up a little. A 3-bedroom, 2,500sqft+ (measured above grade) good house (and with good location) in the Denver / Boulder area is in within $450k - $550k range. I've got close to that lower bound of the range.

Considering the Canadian funds, you may say that I would be well covered. You see, my problem is that those funds are not readily accessible in U.S. denomination. When I moved to Colorado, at the end of 2013, the CAD$ was at exact parity with US$. But then within a couple of months, starting with 2014, the CAD$ has begun losing value. To the extent that now, $US 1 = 1.3x $CAD. During the first months of me being here in Colorado (the rest of the family was still in Canada), closely monitoring the forex markets and dollar parities were the least of my concern - obviously having to settle here, understanding the culture and way of life etc. Also back in Canada the family was kept busy with trying to sell the house. Having waited so long to see this current disadvantageous parity, was a big mistake of mine, I have to admit. Considering that 1:1 parity was rather atypical, not the norm by historical standards. But hey, we can't have a crystal ball.

So, I'm kind of sitting on the fence with that CAD cash, hoping for the conversion to become more favorable... I'm almost prepared to set things in motion to do a Norbert's Gambit.

Another idea for managing the CAD funds, would be to look for U.S. bank that can offer accounts in foreign denomination, and set some CDs or some other short-term fixed-income investments. They might return less than my 1.3% from Canadian banks, but somewhat I would feel my money closer to me (it's a strange feeling to be with the legs and the mind in 2 "worlds" and I know it's a bit irrational, but seeing the money outside the country gives me a sense of insecurity, can't explain it).

For the moment, I consider the CAD funds some form of "currency diversification" (including geographical market diversification) :-) But obviously that's not a good strategy, as it is continuously eroded by inflation.

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Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
You have after all posted on an "early-retirement" forum, and if much of this money is to be used for retirement, and since you said you are age 45, you could potentially live another 40+ years and gradually use those funds over the rest of your lifetime. So it seems to me that most of your money will have a long investment horizon, not a short horizon. Those are the funds I would consider investing in the stock market, instead of the 1.3% / 0.67% savings accounts you are currently using. If you keep all your money in the current savings accounts, you will have lost a great deal of money relative to inflation by the time you are in your 60s, 70s, 80s. But if I am misunderstanding the purpose / time frame for the money you were asking about in your original post, then please clarify.
Exactly. You are beginning to feel my financial torment. Because this rather uncertain short-term situation (mostly relating to immigration status) is impacting my long-term plans, and preventing me from safeguarding a faster pace of growth for funds that are to be earmarked for retirement. Once I stabilize on the permanent residence front (with God's help), then I can immediately secure a house and then I would have more peace of mind: All the remaining cash liquidity would go directly into the long-term / stock portfolio, plus those future 70% of the new savings that I will make.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
Also along those lines:

I don't understand your reluctance to use/get the 401k match. Again, you are speaking as if you will need to use absolutely all of your savings in the next few years. Why? Surely you will want to keep some funds invested to use when you are a bit older and retired. If you are currently saving about 70% of your income, and you probably only need to set aside 5% or so to get the 401k match, surely you will hardly miss that extra money in the current time frame.
Good question. My reluctance stems mainly from that 10% tax penalty (which is additional to the normal income tax on 401k withdrawals), which I would have to pay if things go south within the next 4-5 years, and forcing me to take the money out. This 10% surtax is a curious thing, that doesn't exist in Canada. I guess in its wisdom, the Government (also in some tacit agreement with private / commercial banks) wanted the 401k to be designated as a long-term investment vehicle, and thus discourage persons from withdrawing (well plus some hidden mercantile interests from the banks to have an additional form of "guarantee" that funds can stay in for long - you see, that's another hidden form of money non-relativism asymmetry - the one-sided "guarantee" ;-) ).

So, my (possibly irrational) reasoning is that I don't want to part with 10% of my money (and employer's matched money) :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
Even if you go back to Canada, you can keep the money in the 401k plan (or transfer to a US IRA if you prefer)
I may not want to go back to Canada (no ties there, too cold, and too socialist - btw they are now beginning to build covid-1984 detainment camps and Gulags), but one can never be sure of what the future holds.

The option of keeping the 401k (or a transformed version of it via IRA) is tempting, but as my present situation with about half of my cash sitting in another country / Canada, gives me a sense of insecurity (it is irrational, I know, it's like I "compartimentalize" and feel more at peace if the money is in the same region as where I currently am). Also, if one goes back to Canada, US 401k, IRA and Roth create all sorts of tax implications with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Out of those US-specific registered investment vehicles, it is the Roth that I seem to like the most: no strings attached, and it's similar to Canada's TFSA plans (Tax-Free Savings Accounts)...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeStarTrek View Post
and since you are age 45 then in 14 years (which is not really that long of a time) you can access the funds without penalty. At that point, however much money you have put in here, it will be doubled just based on the matching funds. And since you know this money will have a long investment horizon (14+ years), you can be more confident about investing these funds in the stock market. So again, I don't get why you are so reluctant, but this seems like more paralysis of analysis.
No, in this case it's not an "analysis paralysis" because after all, a 401k is not an actual investment, but rather an investment vehicle.

But your point about 14 years remaining until the age of 59 1/2 (age when 401k withdrawals will not be subject to the 10% surtax), has actually .... made my day! I simply forgot how old I am and that the time is relatively short until the 59.5 timeline! You have truly convinced me! I'll do it. And I thank you for this!

All in all, the overall current situation of mine, which I have tried to convey, is this: I feel like a nomad, with a tent and not catching roots somewhere. Becoming adverse to making any form of longer plan (financially and life-related in general), sitting always on alert and too vigilant. This state of affairs has added to my saver mindset, in a way that - I don't know how to explain it - makes me indifferent to material world, because even if I do not owe a cent to anyone, I feel like I don't own anything (of value) on this Earth and everything is illusion and dust in the wind. It's becoming a bit mystical / transcendental, because it made me feel more disconnected from the material world :-)

Overall, it feels like "living for working" not the other way around - just be focused on the slave job, serve you bankster masters (or the feudal lords in Canada), and nothing else. Nothing to enjoy as personal (non-professional) satisfaction, other than seeing your kids evolve, and the great, heart-warming and smiling people in U.S. and especially in Colorado.
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Old 10-24-2020, 10:18 PM   #30
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Wait a minute...Could it be that the answer to my immediate problems is as simple as... to keep about 100K Canadian dollars still liquid (for emergency purposes), and re-enter the Canadian stock market with the rest??

You see, during my initial "capital accumulation" phase here in the U.S., the CAD funds were prevailing in sum over the US ones. So until a few years ago, my mind was perceiving the US portion of the capital only as "some small chunk to top-off the CAD part, so CAD conversion to USD is a high priority". But more recently, the US portion has equaled, if not overcome, the CAD part!

I was blind-sided by the initial situation and forgot to update and internalize it. I think I should re-align my objectives now, and consider the US$ assets as the most liquid and readily accessible source of capital for the short-term goal (house purchase), and allocate the CAD assets exclusively for the longer-term objectives / retirement.

Some important nuances about such strategy though:
- Canadian stock market is less diverse (mostly banks, energy, minerals, REITs and some utilities - the main index is made of 60 stocks - S&P / TSX 60)
- Investment costs a tad higher,
- Oh boy, it is always a hassle with keeping banking or online brokerage accounts open and active in Canada: all sorts of two-way authentication policies, aggressive inactivity periods (for example one of the saving accounts I hold in Canada, I just found today that it doesn't allow me to log in anymore, because of an idiotic policy that was put in place about a year ago, and which requires you to online sign-in at least once during each 30 or 45 day period, even if you have large amounts invested with them, and triggering end-of-month transactions via the posted interest).

Long time ago, I had an account with a rather unprofessional discount brokerage (questrade.ca) which was always a hassle to work with. But just before leaving Canada, I made sure to open up a WebBroker trading account with TD (of cash + un-registered variety). And I know that WebBroker (formerly TD Waterhouse) is very professional, and providing fast executions. So I might be using that, since it's linked to my primary banking at TD Canada Trust (TD's Canadian arm). So I could use TD as my main hub for money transfers, instead of doing all sorts of EFTs (Canadian's equivalent for ACH), which in Canada, more often than not, require mailing out a physical voided cheque (Canada is so nineteen century with financial account creations).

But psychologically, I would still feel more at peace with all the funds in one country, and not feeling like I'm doing something odd, when coordinating financial actions / managing money from outside a country.

Thanks again for making me understanding myself better.
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Old 10-27-2020, 07:00 PM   #31
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Since you don’t know if you will be in the Country in the next 3-5 years, doesn’t make sense to buy a house. It’s an illiquid asset if you needed to leave the Country on short notice.

Maybe look for another apartment or rental homes, moving further out to cut your living costs.
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Old 10-28-2020, 03:27 AM   #32
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Just a quick back of the envelope list of thoughts.

1. I don't know the ins and outs of Canadian retirement plans so that leaves a huge hole in the value of my advice.

2. You MUST MUST MUST contribute at least the "match" to your 401K. This is the only free lunch in the universe. You put in 5% of your pay, they match you. YES, you probably have to put in x years before you're "vested" (you don't get to "keep" the match unitl you've been there 4-5 years usually). But I believe it's unthinkable to not just contribute every bit of what they will match. I'ts an immediate 100% return on your money.

3. Put 85% of your money into a 60/40 or 50/50 stock/bond index fund portfolio (or reasonable actively managed). Vanguard Balanced, or Vanguard total stock market (or world stock market) and Vanguard Total Bond market, OR (active) Vanguard Wellington. If you want to go super conservative, pick Wellesley Income over Wellington (like 40/60 vs. 60/40).
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Old 10-28-2020, 05:58 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Badger View Post
If you were me (since you asked) I would look carefully at your 401k selections and find a stock index fund with low fees like Vanguard or Fidelity and avoid buying individual stocks since you admit you are not savvy enough for that.
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index
VTSAX
Expense ratio: 0.04%

Charles Schwab Total Stock Market Index
SWTSX
Expense ratio: 0.03%

Fidelity Zero Total Stock Market Index
FZROX
Expense ratio: 0.00%

All of the above are possible options for you that I took from YouTube vlogger @OurRichJourney. The numbers should be accurate but they have not been double-checked. Please note, I am not a financial advisor and please make your own final decision after consulting a CPA.
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Value of the Canadian dollar
Old 10-28-2020, 07:04 AM   #34
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Value of the Canadian dollar

Don't get confused by the US and Canadian currencies having the same name. There is no reason why the Canadian dollar should ever = US$1. They are different currencies. In the same way, there is no reason that the US dollar should ever equal one euro or one pound. Sometimes the currencies happen to be equivalent by coincidence, but there is no economic reason for them to be so.

The Canadian dollar was created in 1858 to be equivalent to the US dollar because there was a lot more trade going across the border. Since then, the values of the currencies have fluctuated. In 1864, the Canadian dollar was worth US$2.78 when the US abandoned the gold standard. Since World War II, the Canadian dollar has fluctuated between US$1.06 and US$0.63.

Will the Canadian dollar go up if you wait? Yes. It will also go down. It will also stay around US$0.76 for a while. If you have inside information and are sure that the Canadian dollar will go up, then invest all of your money in Canadian dollar futures and retire rich.

But you probably don't have a currency value crystal ball, so I wouldn't let a false expectation of "returning to parity" influence your investment decisions.
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Old 10-28-2020, 09:41 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by hotwired View Post
2. You MUST MUST MUST contribute at least the "match" to your 401K. This is the only free lunch in the universe. You put in 5% of your pay, they match you. YES, you probably have to put in x years before you're "vested" (you don't get to "keep" the match unitl you've been there 4-5 years usually). But I believe it's unthinkable to not just contribute every bit of what they will match. I'ts an immediate 100% return on your money.

3. Put 85% of your money into a 60/40 or 50/50 stock/bond index fund portfolio (or reasonable actively managed). Vanguard Balanced, or Vanguard total stock market (or world stock market) and Vanguard Total Bond market, OR (active) Vanguard Wellington. If you want to go super conservative, pick Wellesley Income over Wellington (like 40/60 vs. 60/40).
Thank you hotwired!
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Old 10-28-2020, 09:45 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIREarly View Post
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index
VTSAX
Expense ratio: 0.04%

Charles Schwab Total Stock Market Index
SWTSX
Expense ratio: 0.03%

Fidelity Zero Total Stock Market Index
FZROX
Expense ratio: 0.00%

All of the above are possible options for you that I took from YouTube vlogger @OurRichJourney. The numbers should be accurate but they have not been double-checked. Please note, I am not a financial advisor and please make your own final decision after consulting a CPA.
Thanks a lot for the Index Mutual Fund recommendations. Those have super-low MERs - that's great. One of the many advantages of being able to tap into the U.S. markets.
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Old 10-28-2020, 09:56 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Davis65 View Post
Don't get confused by the US and Canadian currencies having the same name. There is no reason why the Canadian dollar should ever = US$1. They are different currencies. In the same way, there is no reason that the US dollar should ever equal one euro or one pound. Sometimes the currencies happen to be equivalent by coincidence, but there is no economic reason for them to be so.

The Canadian dollar was created in 1858 to be equivalent to the US dollar because there was a lot more trade going across the border. Since then, the values of the currencies have fluctuated. In 1864, the Canadian dollar was worth US$2.78 when the US abandoned the gold standard. Since World War II, the Canadian dollar has fluctuated between US$1.06 and US$0.63.

Will the Canadian dollar go up if you wait? Yes. It will also go down. It will also stay around US$0.76 for a while. If you have inside information and are sure that the Canadian dollar will go up, then invest all of your money in Canadian dollar futures and retire rich.

But you probably don't have a currency value crystal ball, so I wouldn't let a false expectation of "returning to parity" influence your investment decisions.
Good points. I am well aware that complete CAD:USD parity was the exception rather than the norm. It's just that seeing that manifesting for quite a while (between 2011 and end of 2013), was giving me some expectations :-)

Going forward, considering Mr. Trudeau's level of competence in driving the Canadian economy out of the higher inflation and increasing unemployment rates, there is almost zero chance to see the CAD rising again. Hopefully it won't get as low as 1USD = 1.5CAD, like the US books were priced, in a not too distant past.

I might just bite the bullet and cross that bridge - via either a Norbert's Gambit or TransferWise.

Thank you.
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:04 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by 2cheap2eat View Post
Since you don’t know if you will be in the Country in the next 3-5 years, doesn’t make sense to buy a house. It’s an illiquid asset if you needed to leave the Country on short notice.
In the worst case scenario (knock on wood), I could POA / delegate a friend to sell the house, or the relative from West Coast / Portland.

My thinking was that, since I cannot aim for long-term, riskier investments (at least not with the US$ part of the funds), buying a house would allow me to protect the cash against inflation, by counting more or less, on some appreciating house prices in the area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2cheap2eat View Post
Maybe look for another apartment or rental homes, moving further out to cut your living costs.
I'm sick of moving. I did that 4 times already during the last 7 years.
On the positive side, the place I'm currently renting has a very competitive price, a very understanding landlord, and no rent increase so far. I was even able to secure a 2-year lease, so I'm very happy with this landlord and place (price is significantly below market).

Thanks.
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Old 11-08-2020, 12:29 PM   #39
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Hi,

Quick status update on the 401k front: I've activated my 6% pre-tax contribution to the employer's plan, which is administered through Fidelity.

The investment choices are fairly limited (18 in total), divided into 3 main categories:

1. 4 x Objective-Based Funds (MER listed):
- Growth Fund: 0.33%
- Capital Preservation: 0.30%
- Income Fund: 0.35%
- Inflation Protection: 0.0256%

2. 3 x Passive (Index) Funds:
- International Equity: 0.06%
- US Equity Index Fund: 0.02%
- Bond Index Fund: 0.03%

3. 11 x Target Date Funds:
- MERs in 0.27-0.30% range

I went for a 100% allocation towards US Equity Index Fund, with a MER of 0.02%.

All those funds prospectuses don't seem to be publicly available ("brand customizations" which I always dislike, like department store mattresses), due to some bilateral agreements between Fidelity and the 401k plan sponsor.

The US Equity Index seems to have code = TFCZ, and I can see its info here (not sure if you will be able to see it):
https://workplaceservices.fidelity.c...nd-prices/TFCZ

Please see its prospectus PDF attached here, just in case.

There is also an interesting option - via BrokerageLink, which I've also opened an account for. I am able to see a option where bidirectional one-time transfers between the main 401k account and BrokerageLink account, can be initiated, with max transfer limit = 95% of the 401k's total cash value. But I do not see an option for putting future paycheck contributions on auto-pilot, with destination = BrokerageLink.

Is anyone familiar with how Fidelity's BrokerageLink works? The 95% limitation stems, I guess, from the fact that they need a buffer/reserve for potential sell / fund exchange fees, which seem to apply to those Fidelity ZERO and NTF (NoTransactionFees) fund series.

Perhaps the availability of BL as an option for future contribution does not show up until a minimum first investment is made into BL (I've seen $200 being mentioned)?

Also, the BL route is pretty much locked-down by the employer. Namely, no investment vehicles other than Mutual Funds are allowed (no individual shares, no ETFs, no individual bonds, not even money market or CDs).

BUT, I still find a lot Mutual Fund diversity thru BL, like no-transaction-fee 3,600 mutual funds available.

Here's 3 of them that have caught my eye:

- FZROX - Fidelity ZERO Total Market Index Fund
https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mu...ices/31635T708
MER = 0.00%

- FXAIX - Fidelity 500 Index Fund
https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mu...ices/315911750
MER = 0.015%

- FZIPX - Fidelity Zero Extended Market Index Fund
MER = 0.00%

The FZIPX seems to be a fair addition, and doesn't show any reasonable performance at all (-0.06% YTD, and -1.41% since inception).

In general, I'd be inclined to go for a domestic total equity market index fund. Like the FZROX, which also "happens" to have no MER.

What do you think? Is it worth going with the BrokerageLink route, which seems to be more involved and not sure about its availability for auto-pilot mode?

Thank you.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Fidelity US Equity Index Fund (code = TFCZ).pdf (117.3 KB, 1 views)
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Old 11-08-2020, 06:40 PM   #40
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To save 2 basis points? I wouldn't. They are both total-market funds. If you had $100k in the account, the 2 bips would cost you $20/year. If you have to manually upload your funds each month you could easily lose (or gain!) much, much more than $20/year on random inadvertent market-timing moves.

What is your time worth to you?
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