Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Do You Want to Learn More About?

I'm often thinking about different investing topics I'd like to write about, but want to write something that is most likely to benefit someone (which of course means someone has to at least read it!).  Here are some topics I've been thinking about:

  • Prioritizing between 401(k) and IRA contributions
  • Sample portfolios (from simple to complex, recommended by different investment authors, actual portfolios that I've helped construct)
  • A conservative approach to investing for retirement (using TIPS)
  • Bond Basics (what is a bond; what are the risks of investing in bonds and bond funds?)
  • Current risk/reward tradeoffs for selected bond funds
  • Assessing your risk tolerance
  • Constructing an effecive portfolio from the pieces (e.g., IRA, 401(k), taxable account)
  • What's an ETF (Exchange Traded Fund)?  Tradeoffs between ETFs and mutual funds.
  • Considering your human capital in your asset allocation decisions
  • Estimating future returns: history vs. math
  • Why you shouldn't own individual stocks
  • Transitioning from your high cost money manger or broker to low cost mutual funds or ETFs
  • Investing theory and terminology (what specific investing words, phrases or statements have you heard that you want to learn more about?)
Please post a comment or email me if any of the above topics interests you, or if you have other investing topics you'd like to learn more about.  Also be sure to post comments to previous articles if you find them confusing, and would like to understand the topics better.


  1. I personally am interested on the topic of constructing an effective portfolio from the pieces... In the most basic terms possible since I tend to get a little lost!!
    Thank you!

  2. OH! Also... I know we've discussed in person the difference between 401k and 403b, but can you explain it in writing so I can process it?

  3. Hey Marisa -- thanks for the inputs.

    Delving into Portfolio 5 (from the post on Some Real Portfolios) will give us a chance to explore constructing an integrated portfolio using multiple accounts at multiple institutions (IRAs, a 401(k), and a taxable account).

    A 403(b) is similar to a 401(k), but is offered by a non-profit entity like a school, hospital or charity.

  4. I found your blog as I was searching for info about who else does what Vanguard does. Like your daughters, I am a fairly young investor with some knowledge, hoping to learn more. I'm not sure if you are still writing, but here is something that I would like to learn more about: socially responsible investing--to what extent do you know people who invest based on their values?

  5. Hi Jasmine,

    Although I'm familiar with the concept, I haven't paid much attention to socially responsible investing. I would think it would have a negative impact on your expected return, since you are ruling out entire segments of the market, thus reducing the efficiency of your investments. This is because the total market theoretically provides the most efficient investment opportunity.

    I personally don't know anyone who invests this way, and I don't recall ever seeing it discussed on, which is the only investment forum I participate in, but I'm sure there have been discussions about it there that I haven't seen.

    If you want to pursue it anyway, the most practical way to pursue it would be to use a mutual fund or ETF that invests according to your values. You can search the web for these funds. Wikipedia has a list, but only current as of 2010.

    I see that Vanguard has one fund that follows this approach: FTSE Social Index Fund.

    Good luck!