RTP, NC Chapter Meetings in 2017

The Research Triangle Park Bogleheads®,  North Carolina Local Chapter  has held three meetings in 2017.  This entry will be updated for subsequent meetings.

Bogleheads forum member Steve Thorpe recaps these meetings in this  guest article.

RTP, NC Chapter Meeting 11:00 AM Sat April 1, 2017


Satisfaction Restaurant

We had yet another fun chapter meeting today. I counted a dozen of us at our Satisfaction’s get-together, including 4 newcomers and two new Triangle residents who recently moved here from Minnesota. Some topics of conversation included:

  • If you’ve won the game, don’t get greedy (taking more risk than you need to).
  •  Drawdown strategies in retirement — accumulation phase vs. drawdown phase. Competing constraints of spending now for fun vs. not wanting to run out of money later (and not wanting to have regrets later about not spending money now).
  • Medicare premiums are influenced by your income a couple years back. If you’re not careful you can get unexpectedly bitten by this (e.g. partial Roth conversion strategies at age 63 can hurt you at age 65).
  • Pros and cons of Traditional vs. Roth contributions.
  • Larry Swedroe and Andrew Berkin’s “Your Complete Guide to Factor-Based Investing.”
  • Ed Tower’s recent research on Vanguard ETFs, TIFs, and actively managed funds
  •  Jack Bogle’s honesty and integrity.
  •  Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Service vs. higher-expense options such as Wells Fargo, vs. Do-It-Yourself.
  • Jeremy Siegel’s “Stocks for the Long Run.”
  •  Larry Swedroe’s “Investment Mistakes Even Smart Investors Make and How to Avoid Them.”
  • Gordon Formula for estimating “expected” (not certain!) future stock market returns.
  • And much more!

Thank you to everyone who attended today. I enjoying seeing you and learning from you!

Also I would like to thank Satisfaction Restaurant for allowing us to use their excellent private dining room!

RTP, NC Chapter Meeting 11:00 AM Sat September 9, 2017


Satisfaction Restaurant

We had an enjoyable meeting yesterday with a nice mix of returning and new members, around 15 total. Thanks to all who attended!

Here are a few topics we discussed:

  • Investing early and often, having a plan and sticking to it.
  • Reaching “your number” and how/whether to dial back risk.
  • Professor Ed Tower’s research on Vanguard’s International fund offerings and predicting returns from investing in the US, Europe, Asia and Emerging Markets.
  • If you take some risk off the table, which table do you move that risk to?
  • William Bernstein’s (?) statement that “If you’ve won the game, you don’t need to keep playing it.”
  • Suggestions on how best to help a spouse prepare to take over the family finances in case the other spouse passes.
  • Having a “play money account.”
  • The American Association of Individual Investors (AAAI).
  • Muni vs. Taxable bonds, Taxable vs. Tax-Advantaged accounts, what and when to hold which type of bond in which account?
  • Geo-political risks.
  • Mr. Money Mustache.
  • Being sure to enjoy every day! e.g. if you have the opportunity to have a Guinness at Satisfaction’s Restaurant – go for it!
  • Bitcoin and money laundering.
  • Is it risky to hold everything at Vanguard? Could Vanguard get “Equifaxed”?
  • Freezing your credit.
  • Setting up your bank and credit accounts to notify you of all transactions.
  • The Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule.

Of course this list is only a sampler – you had to be there to enjoy the fun! So for those who weren’t able to make it this time, I hope you can join us at the next meeting.

RTP, NC Chapter Meeting 11:00 AM Sat December 2, 2017


Satisfaction Restaurant

My sincere apologies about yesterday’s traffic and parking problems. For future meetings I will try my best to research whether events like that Christmas parade might interfere, and either schedule it at a different time/place or at the very least give a heads-up if it is too late to reschedule. As for yesterday, until just a few minutes prior to 11 AM I had no idea there was a Christmas parade scheduled for the exact same time as our meeting, and needless to say that made logistics difficult. To everyone who was impacted, especially to Colleen, Bruce, Mary, and anyone else who couldn’t find their way in – my apologies.

Durham parade

Durham Christmas Parade, December 2, 2017


Meeting highlights

Around 10-12 Bogleheads made it through the parade to Satisfaction’s private dining room, including at least three first-timers who are always welcome. As usual we had an engaging conversation covering a wide range of topics. Here are a few highlights:

Ed Tower described his factor-based research related to small vs. large cap, value vs. growth, and historical performance data from Fama/French, Vanguard and DFA.

The Bogleheads® Conference

See also: Notes from Bogleheads® 16

Henry and Ed were our local chapter’s delegates to the national Bogleheads meeting back in October and they described mingling with such well-known folks like Jack Bogle (founder of Vanguard), Christine Benz from Morningstar, Jonathan Clements (former WSJ columnist and prolific author), William Bernstein (chemist, neurologist, investment advisor, author…), Allan Roth (CPA, advisor and author), Mike Piper (CPA, author), Wade Pfau (professor, retirement researcher, author). Henry reported that they’re all approachable and friendly and Ed reports they are all extremely smart plus funny to boot.

Henry briefly described a number of takeaways from the national meeting (you will recognize many of these as common Boglehead themes!):

  • If you’ve won the game, stop playing (don’t get greedy!)
  • Pascal’s Wager. Its not just the probabilities that are important, but also remember to consider the consequences if an unlikely possibility actually happens.
  • If you’re saving enough, it’s OK not to have a budget.
  • Bill Bernstein’s assertion that if you have saved a large amount (e.g. 30x annual expenses), the excess isn’t really “yours” since you’ll never spend it anyway. You’re really investing that excess for your heirs.
  • Tax managed strategies are best started when you’re younger. When you reach age 70.5 and Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) start, that is not the time to first start thinking about optimizing your lifetime taxes!
  • Jack Bogle on his “100-age in bonds rule-of-thumb”: He says this is a reasonable starting place if you include your expected social security income as part of your fixed-income (bond) allocation.
  • Gus Sauter is a fan of behavioral economics. We’re not rational creatures!
  • There is no free lunch. (risk and return are indeed related!)
  • You can always explain the data AFTER the fact (data mining)

Year end tax planning

We had a discussion regarding year-end tax planning opportunities in light of the tax overhaul that will very possibly take place sometime soon. Until something is actually signed into law we actually can’t say for sure. However, if something is signed into law before the end of 2017 it might not take effect until at least January 1, 2018. Therefore, if we get the actual details with a little time remaining in 2017 there might be some steps certain taxpayers can take in 2017 to benefit there overall after-tax circumstances. With that in mind (and with the caveat that I’m not a tax expert!) I described a few changes that /might/ happen although it is still to be determined:

  • Specific share lot tax ID method may be going away.
  • Marginal tax rates probably will go down.
  • Standard deduction will probably approximately double.
  • Alimony payments may no longer be deductible to the payer, or considered income to the payee. (for future divorcees)
  • Medical expense deduction could go away

We discussed potential ways to improve our net after-tax bottom line depending on whether these changes do take place. But the bottom line here is let’s watch carefully in the next few weeks to see what actually happens.

Ed Tower on behavioral economics

George Orwell

George Orwell

Ed recommends George Orwell’s 1946 essay on “Politics and the English Language” that criticizes the “ugly and inaccurate” written English of his time and examines the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of language. (See Politics and the English Language – wikipedia for more info)

Ed shared some findings from behavioral economics research, e.g.:

  • Spending money on experiences rather than stuff is often preferable in the long run.
  • Take your time when you’re thinking of buying something. The anticipation of buying can be more rewarding than actually pulling the trigger on the purchase.

Plus we had a bunch more Q&A on various other topics. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to our next get-together!

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