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Let's take those one at a time--

Do you do portfolio trimming in a portfolio that holds the other funds you mentioned such as an international, a growth, a hot sector, and a bond fund?

Yes, but as a practical matter most mutual funds that I own tend to be mediocre performers. That means I'm only likely to trim them when the all the other under achievers have been sold. Or buy them when other opportunities are lacking. (Ie chart looks uncertain.) Taxes are often a major consideration in what to sell.

I have index funds, one bond fund, and BLE a closed end leveraged bond fund. At this time I have no international funds or sector funds. Most recently I had SOXX, which tracks the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. I usually own only domestic stocks but many multinationals have large international components.

if you held other accounts like a robo advisory w/ a low fee, a Roth, or a 401k that you mostly left alone, other than occasional rebalance, like an auto pilot?

No, I don't use an advisory. I do my own research and make my own choices. Yes, I have a small Roth (index funds) and a sizable IRA (doing RMDs). I have had several 401Ks but rolled them over to my IRA. I think rebalancing is mostly for mutual funds. My trim and buy routine tends to keeps things balanced. But I deliberately try not to over buy in one sector.

401k plan, and debating if i should use their brokerage window

I never had a 401k that had a brokerage window. Watch out for high fees. Others say some are expensive. So better to invest in a Roth where you can do your own thing for low fees (if you can spare the funds).

I just heard the typical target funds are set up kind of lousy

Target funds tend to put you into index funds when you are young and then gradually shift to bond funds as you get close to retirement. If you invest in say a 2040 fund, expect to be 100% in bonds in 2040. To reduce bond allocation chose a longer one like say 2060. The bond allocation is out of date. Time was when you expected to retire at 65 and die at 72. But now many live to 95. You do not want a 100% bond allocation in retirement. You need equities to keep up with inflation when you will be retired for say 30 years.

Do check out the expenses for Target funds. You want something low cost. Those that own multiple mutual funds and then charge your their fees in addition to the funds expenses are too expensive. Check it out before you decide.

When you say buy the investment grade individually, so you can get back full face value. Does this not apply to bond funds that are considered pretty safe? Is the 15 year timeline determined, because it is a reasonable amount of time to allow the bonds to mature, and give yourself an opportunity to gain all the face value back?

If you have questions about bonds and bond funds, check out the Bonds and Fixed Incomes discussion board.

Bonds are a contract to pay a fixed interest amount at specified times and return your investment at maturity. Hence, an 8% bond pays $80 in interest for $1000 of face value. But what happens when interest rates rise? If you want to sell the bond on the market before maturity, to be competitive you have to reduce the market price to meet the new competition. So bond funds are not in danger of bankruptcy, but their net asset value has to be driven downward by market forces. Theoretically, if you buy bond fund shares at low interest rates, you will not be able to sell without taking a loss until interest rates return to where they were when you bought. That can take years, maybe decades.

The other problem bond funds have is when rates rise and people begin to sell in anticipation of declining net asset values, the fund is forced to sell bonds for cash. That means they cannot hold their bonds to maturity.

Bonds are available for a wide array of maturities. 30 year used to be a typical long bond, but now some go up to 100 years. Short bonds are available, but interest paid tends to be low (very much like money markets). The thing is, if you buy a corporate bond, you know who the successful companies are now. Buying their bonds now is safe. That judgement probably will hold for 3 or 4 years. 7 years is a bit more risky. 15 is about the limit for individuals. Long bonds are bought by institutions, not individuals. (Although of course there are professionals out there who do.)

[I'm surprised that we don't have other posters offering contrasting points of view. Be aware that I'm sharing my views, but others may have other views. None of this is cast in concrete.]
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