Getting Your FIRE Asset Allocation Right. Here’s Ours (Part 1)

What is the best way to divide up your investments among stocks, bonds, and other vehicles? Asset allocation is an essential yet confusing topic. That said, it is an area of critical importance when thinking about early retirement. This is because decisions made about asset allocation can have huge implications on portfolio performance, taxation, and ease of maintenance. Join us for this first episode in a two-part series, as Eric and Jason talk about their portfolios, the merits of simple vs. more complex strategies, the role of bonds, and the risks they considered along the way.

Note: This content does not constitute investment advice and is being presented for informational and educational purposes only.

Show Notes

Our asset allocations:

I do have a very small crypto stake but it’s well below 1% – Jason

The Bogleheads Wiki is an excellent place to begin one’s research on the potentially complicated topic of asset allocation. Named after and inspired by Vanguard founder, Jack Bogle, the Boglehead philosophy is focused on a “small number of simple investment principles that have been shown over time to produce risk-adjusted returns far greater than those achieved by the average investor”. Most commonly these employ so-called “lazy portfolios” of only a few diverse funds that are low cost, easily managed, and capture the performance of the entire market. The site also has an excellent discussion forum.

An Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is an important starting point for any portfolio. The IPS is a document that – according to the Bogleheads wiki: “defines general investment goals and objectives. It describes the strategies that will be used to meet these objectives and contains specific information on subjects such as asset allocation, risk tolerance, and liquidity requirements.” See the link for more information and a template you can use for your own portfolio.

M1 Pies (M1 Finance) are one of the visualizations Eric discussed to reference the investment approaches of others in the personal finance community, like JL Collins and Paula Pant. These are M1 Finance’s flagship portfolio tool, allowing you to see the asset allocations of others and potentially invest in the same approaches.

Portfolio Visualizer is a site containing a variety of modeling tools, including the one linked here which allows one to backtest different portfolio asset allocations. While past results are not necessarily predictive of future returns, this approach does allow one to understand the merit + drawbacks of various asset allocations. One useful approach this enables is to compare the performance of your current portfolio vs. a variety of others of your construction.

“Our Retirement Investment Drawdown Strategy” (Retirement Manifesto) is a great article describing how Fritz employs the bucket strategy to build a retirement paycheck and manage his investment portfolio post-FIRE. This is just one element of our last episode – be sure to watch for helpful background – but is a great example of how one’s asset allocation very much informs how assets are drawn down in the de-cumulation phase of FIRE.

Preferred Stocks (Early Retirement Now) and associated funds, are one of the “hybrid” investment vehicles one could consider in a portfolio. In the linked article, Big ERN talks about how he invests in an ETF made up of preferred stock elements, which have features of both stocks and bonds.

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.