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I've been reading a lot on this board as I prepare to shift part of our portfolio into fixed income – for the first time. I've been a 100% equities guy for the 15 years or so I've been putting money away but have been recently convinced, as we're planning to pull the plug in about 4 years, it's time to start being a bit more conservative. It's a brave new world with all kinds of terms I'm not at ease with yet – so, I wanted to ask a few hopefully simple questions.

Basics – won't need to draw on portfolio at all for 4-5 years and then only lightly.

170k in TSP
75k in Roths – spread over 2 brokerage (USAA) and 2 mutual fund (Vanguard) accounts
45k in inherited IRA – taxable

I moved to put a whopping 3% of my TSP into the bond fund – just to get my feet wet.

What I was thinking of doing was liquidating about 6k or so in each of the 4 Roths and buying an instant ladder – of 5k each at 1,2,3,4 & 5 year maturity CDs or Treasuries. This plus the TSP move puts me at about 10% non-equity – where I've decide to sit for awhile.

While any comments on this in general are welcome – I'm most interested in the mechanics of getting from A to B.

With my current brokerage account I can't buy CDs or treasuries without a 25k minimum. I could buy USAA CDs in 1k increments in a new Roth there by opening an account but this seems a bit cumbersome when from what I can gather I could just shift my brokerage assets to a new account at Vanguard, have all my non-USG assets in one place and build my ladder. However, the drawback to that is the fees I'll incur. Vanguard wants $30/year for a brokerage account vice free at USAA. And since I've got less than the 250k to get Voyager status I'd need to pay $10 per Treasury and or need 10k minimums to buy CDs without commission.

Ok $30/year and $10 per treasury isn't much – but I'd rather pay less. I'm getting the feeling to beat the fees, until I am ready to do larger fixed income transactions, I'll need to just open Roth CD accounts. Is this the case or are there better options out there for the small investor? All advice appreciated – Tom

ps - I read suggestions that refer to the FAQ -- how do I get to it?
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