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Author: iamdb Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 76392  
Subject: Re: retirement planning questions Date: 1/17/2005 12:36 PM
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Mudster,

Usually I agree with Paul, but I would diverge a bit in this case. I assume that if you have yet to develop an asset allocation plan, you may prefer to spend your time doing things other than financial planning. Also, I don't know if this is aimed at a university/college professor or K-12 teacher, so I'll be a bit pedantic.

First, I would begin by tracking cash flow with Quicken or an equivalent program, and include accounts for everything, not just checking, but credit cards, loans, investments, and so forth, so you develop a good understanding of cash flow. Avoid "miscelleaneous" like the plague. Don't bet on your expenses being that different in retirement. I presume you have been reading the safe withdrawal rate posts, so don't count on an annual draw of more than about 4% of your investments, adjusted for inflation.

Second, I would simplify investments, aiming for an overall allocation of around 60-75% equities and 40-25% fixed income securities. Total stock market index and total international stock index funds could be the core, with maybe 10% in a REIT index. IIRC, TIAA-CREF has an equivalent to Vanguard's total stock market index that tracks the Wilshire 5000. Unless you've got the bug and love to follow them closely, I'd avoid individual stocks. What seems bullet proof can go bad quickly, often for seemingly quirky reasons.

Third, Paul is big on building 5-year CD ladders that will cover 5 years of the that portion of expenses (you understand so well by careful tracking of cash flow) not covered by pension and social security, and that seems like a good idea to me as well. The ask-bid spread in bonds is a worry unless you buy at origination and hold to maturity, which you might do in a bond ladder -- big players, e.g. funds, institutions, buy at deep discounts not available to you. Not sure what your guaranteed investment is, but I assume some sort of annuity. I'd move into something like Vanguard's total bond market or intermdediate-term bond index funds.

I have found both TIAA-CREF and Vanguard to be above board companies, although Vanguard has a better web site and tools. I would stick with one or both of them when you can roll over funds.

db
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