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Just curious, is rebalancing an IRA technically considered selling and buying, replete with commissions per "sale"? And does one do this in a dollar-based way or percentagewise, if that makes sense?

Or let's say you have an institutial mutual fund IRA, say, TIAA-CREF, how might that differ when first allocating capital therein and when rebaalancing?

Everybody has a different way I imagine. If you're re-balancing in an account with no new money, then you pretty much have to buy and sell. When you have accounts you are putting money into, often you can do rebalancing with purchases only. For simplicity's sake, say you are putting $100/month in your Roth and you have 3 funds you want to stay roughly equal. You have the account at someplace like Vanguard or Fidelity and buy their no-load funds.

So say it's time to put in your $100 and the minimum purchase is $100. Your balances are

Fund A 3523
Fund B 3742
Fund C 3614

So you would buy $100 of Fund A. The next month Fund B takes a header and the balances are

Fund A 3677
Fund B 3426
Fund C 3704

So this month you would buy $100 of Fund B

and so forth. You can do the same sort of thing if you want a 60-20-20 split or if you want to put $500 in the account instead of $100. It just takes a little more arithmetic.

Now if you can stand a little more complexity, you could always balance something that happens in an account where you no longer put any money (like a 403b you can't roll over to an IRA until you're 60) by changes to another retirement account where you are still adding money. But that depends upon your temperament. Some people want all their retirement money in one account or if they can't do that to have each account balanced within itself. I maintain multiple accounts and tend to use new money to rebalance as I go.


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