Re-balancing my investments: 2015 Roth IRA contribution edition

I set my 2014 investment allocations back in December 2013 and then left them alone, which went great!

As of 01/02/2015, my investments portfolio was worth ~$164,400. I decided to re-balance my investments now with this Roth IRA contribution and then I’ll re-evaluate things once I start the new job. That will likely be calculating what my new 401(k) contributions should go into and then re-balancing my overall portfolio when I make my 2016 (!) Roth IRA contribution and set my 2016 401(k) contributions.

(Note: when I wrote this post last year, I estimated that my end of year balance would be $156,000. It is $8,400 higher than that! Crazy!)

First, what are the balances in my various accounts?

  • $38,900 Roth IRA (with $5,500 new contribution)
  • $8,400 Old tax-deferred CDs
  • $10,200 Series I Savings Bonds
  • $15,300 Taxable account
  • $97,100 Now-old 401(k)
  • $169,900 Total investments

What is my asset allocation?

% Category Amount
27% Fixed income $45,873
36.5% International stocks $62,013
36.5% US stocks $62,013

My allocation has gotten itself to the following with the markets and contributions in 2014 (a tiny bit out of whack):

  • 27% Fixed income
  • 34% International stocks
  • 39% US stocks

And if I just added my 2015 Roth IRA contribution to total US stocks, my allocation would get a tiny bit more out of whack:

  • 25.8% Fixed income
  • 32.8% International stocks
  • 41.4% US stocks

At which point, US stocks are 4.9 percentage points higher than they should be, which warrants re-balancing in my 401(k) account at the same time. Last year, since I’d just re-balanced in November 2013 to make my 2013 Roth IRA contribution, I didn’t do any when I made my 2014 Roth IRA contribution and instead re-balanced with my 401(k) contributions over the course of the year.

If we follow my ordering from my post on tax-efficient investment placement, what does that ideal portfolio look like?

Steps

  1. (not necessary – all in S&P 500 index fund) My employer match to the company stock
  2. Series I Savings Bonds that already exist in taxable
  3. CDs that are already in my Roth IRA
  4. The remaining portion of my fixed income allocation to the stable value fund in my 401(k).
  5. (not necessary) As much of my remaining fixed income allocation to Total Bond Market in my Roth IRA as possible
  6. (not necessary) If my tax-advantaged balances weren’t enough for all the fixed income necessary, added $10,000 in Series I Savings Bonds (possibly early for future-proofing)
  7. (not necessary) Any other fixed income went to a tax-exempt bond fund in taxable.
  8. As much of my international allocation in taxable as it allowed (in the first few years, my entire taxable balance; in later years, the entire international allocation)
  9. Next, I added any of the remaining international allocation into my 401(k).
  10. The remaining 401(k) funds went to the S&P 500 index fund. Call this amount X.
  11. (X/0.8)-X is how much I put into the Extended Market index fund in my Roth IRA (minimum of $3,000).
  12. The remaining Roth IRA funds went to Total Stock Market.
  13. (not necessary) The remaining taxable funds went to Total Stock Market.

Ideal portfolio

Account Fund Current Ideal Difference
401(k) Stable value $25,300 $27,300 +$2,000
Taxable Total international stock index (admiral shares!) $15,300 $15,300 (same)
401(k) Total international stock index $40,400 $46,700 +$6,300
401(k) S&P 500 index $31,400 $23,100 -$8,300
Roth IRA Extended Market index fund $7,100 $5,800 -$1,300
Roth IRA Total Stock Market index fund (admiral shares!) $26,300 $33,100 +$6,800

Note that these numbers are all rounded, so they may be slightly off if you try to make calculations with them, but they should still illustrate my example sufficiently.

My portfolio is pretty simple right now: one taxable account, one 401(k), and one Roth IRA, with one fund in taxable, two in the Roth IRA, and three in the 401(k). My re-balancing here is really just adding new money to the Total Stock Market index fund in my Roth IRA and then adding some money to fixed income and international stocks in my 401(k).

I performed a few transactions to accomplish this:

  1. Contribute $5,500 to the money market account in my Traditional IRA.
  2. Convert the $5,500 from my Traditional IRA into the total stock market index fund in my Roth IRA once the funds settle.
  3. In my Roth IRA, exchange $1,300 from the extended market index fund into the total stock market index fund.
  4. In my 401(k), exchange $8,300 from the S&P 500 index fund to $2,000 in the stable value fund and $6,300 in the international stock index fund.

D’oh! I did all of these transactions and then realized while writing this post that I needed to set it to only use my Traditional 401(k) portion to do the exchange, so it’s trying to do the re-allocation using all sources (also my Roth 401(k) and employer matching money), which I have conveniently set to only have one fund in those “accounts”. Oops! I called the plan administrator on Monday and they couldn’t do anything to fix the transaction. So my asset allocation is on track, but my accounts are a tiny bit more complicated than I like them to be. Oh well.

2015 Plan B: Mega Backdoor Roth IRA

My plan has always been to pay off the mortgage after maxing out all tax-advantaged investment accounts available to me. When I first made the mortgage payoff plan, I only had access to an employee-contribution 401(k) of $18,000 and a Roth IRA of $5,500 in 2015 dollars. It is possible (I don’t know yet) that with my new employer, I’ll have access to the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA. This is where the employee contributes after-tax up to the total 401(k) annual maximum of $53,000 in 2015 and then you use in-service distribution to transfer the contributions to a Roth IRA and the earnings to a Traditional IRA (and then convert the small bit of earnings to the Roth IRA to keep things clean).

Since I don’t know whether or not I’ll have access to the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA at my new job, I made a plan for 2015 assuming I don’t and then this is my plan for if I do. I’ll go with whichever plan pans out.

The 401(k) maximum is $53,000 in 2015. The maximum employee contribution is $18,000, which I will contribute pre-tax, leaving $35,000 for my employer’s contributions and after-tax contributions. This will leave me approximately $31,425 to contribute after-tax, which is about $2,856/month averaged over 11 months or $2,618.75/month averaged over 12 months. This is clearly going to put a dent in my mortgage payoff plan, but I think it’s worthwhile.

I project my total net pay in 2015 to be $118,142.85. I also expect to have $24,000 extra in my savings account at the end of 2014, after the $5,500 for my 2015 Roth IRA.

The first $18,000 of this goes towards maxing out my 401(k). Then $34,611.43 for monthly spending plans (this includes the mortgage payment). My current plan is $550.00 to my Health Savings Account.

This leaves $88,981.42 of money to work with, including the extra savings account money. Some portion of this money will be funneled into the ESPP with a good discount, but I only see that as a cash flow annoyance since I plan to sell the ESPP funds once their holding period is up.

Next, I’ll fill up the after-tax 401(k), leaving me with another $57,556.42. I’ll throw all of that at the mortgage. I had planned on throwing $73,806.93 at it from savings in 2015, so that’s only $16,250.51 less than planned, which isn’t so bad. This would leave me with the following financial structure at the end of 2015:

  • $20,000 general savings
  • $2,800 Health Savings Account
  • $119,400 Traditional 401(k)s
  • $6,800 Roth 401(k)
  • $73,500 Roth IRA
  • $26,800 taxable investments
  • $75,500 mortgage balance
  • $659,000 net worth

I would then be able to pay about $25,746.63 extra on the mortgage in 2016 and in 2017, which should erase it save for $1,902.56, which I would take out of my $20,000 general savings account. Even if I don’t quite pay it off before the rate resets in January 2018, it will not reset high enough that I can’t afford the payment and I think that is worth it for taking advantage of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA. I mean, an extra $30,000/year in a Roth IRA in my late twenties is too amazing of an opportunity to pass up. So then in 2018, once the mortgage is fully paid off, I’ll be able to save approximately $38,074.47 outside of tax-advantaged accounts. Note that all of these calculations also assume no raises, no appliances dying, and expenses in general not going up.

The only annoying thing about the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA is that it’ll make my checking account cash flow negative most months since gross pay – taxes – pre-tax 401(k) – ESPP – after-tax 401(k) is less than my monthly spending plan. That’s okay – I can use my signing bonus and savings account to smooth out my cash flow, plus the ESPP funds will be able to be cashed in at various intervals.

Readers, do you take advantage of a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA? How does it impact your cash flow? Would you if you had access to one?

Q1 2014 Update: Life and Finances

I’ve been pretty silent on this blog so far this year.

I spent most of my energy in the first quarter on work, getting involved in my new job and ramping up. Things are definitely going a lot smoother now and I no longer feel so new – a great feeling! After work, my energy went to cooking with my boyfriend. We’re still tweaking that, but we’ve definitely gotten to a really awesome place with our cooking! And I think we should settle in at around $300-350/month on groceries, which makes me feel a lot better than the first month’s $500.

The second quarter is going to be about finding myself again: getting back to the gym and finding myself (and us) a good routine. I paid for an annual unlimited membership at a gym in December. It’s an amazing gym: fitness and yoga classes, a full gym, and more for a pretty reasonable price. The caveat? It’s a 10 (ZERO traffic) to 35 minute drive, or about 25-30 minutes on average, and it’s always impossible to find parking. So sure, it’s a reasonable price and awesome once you get there and parked, but it’s not super convenient, so once I fell out of my gym routine with my injury in September, I just never got back into my routine. Now, I don’t think it’ll be a complete waste by the end of the year as its effective cost will probably come out close to buying punch cards throughout the year, but it’s still a good lesson.

Fitness

So, my project for this quarter is to re-acquire a fitness routine. I walk to/from work, which gives me about 5 miles of exercise per day, but that’s not enough for me to de-stress from work. I could never have a drive commute – even a bus commute stresses me out. I’m not good at motivating myself unless I have a commitment to a specific time / people, so running only works when I’m meeting friends, which leaves me with fitness classes. I identified several yoga studios and alternative fitness classes such as barre and cycling that are convenient to both work and home and have been trying them out. So far, I’ve tried one barre place, am on a week at a yoga place, and want to try out one more barre place. The first barre place I tried, though convenient to both work and home, wasn’t very me as it was super women-marketed. It’s still not bad for a weekend workout, but I’m hopeful that the barre place close to work will fit me better, though I wish it had yoga as well because then it would be basically perfect! I’m really loving this yoga studio I found!

You know what I hate about fitness places? Trying to decide which membership ‘package’ to buy! Do you buy a month? Three months? Monthly renewal? Annual renewal? 5? 10? 15? 20 class punch card? There are way too many options. Most places have a free session or week or some period of time, which is really great for seeing if it works for you without having to put up any money up front. The way I’ve always looked at these in the past is buying a membership equivalent to how long I want to commit to doing this thing.

Punch card at a place I feel like my friends will drag me back to once a week for a while and the punch card never expires? Go for it!

A place where I don’t know when I’ll return? A single visit.

A place where I feel like I can commit to going enough in the next month for it to be worth it over the longest punch card? Buy one month.

Oh, I enjoyed the first month? Maybe I’ll buy another month or three (depending on the place). After doing that for a few months, re-evaluate the commitment again and maybe buy a year.

It’s much easier to do make this evaluation when you’re just looking at one gym too. If you’re looking at multiple, a punch card is often the easiest commitment. By the end of this month, I’ll be looking at what I want to do going forward after evaluating all of these places.

Where is the budget coming from for these new fitness plans? I have been setting money aside each month to pay for an annual membership in December at my “old” gym aka sport #2, so there is $219 stashed there. There is also $199.76 stashed for sport #3 that I probably won’t end up doing this year. I also have $235 stashed for sports tournaments and with the injury last fall, I didn’t actually play in any! Lastly, I have $134.39 set aside for equipment because I’d been planning on buying something for sport #3 and some maintenance costs for sport #2. So I should be able to re-allocate that $788.15 somehow!

Finances

Okay, now back to what this was supposed to be…my first quarter financial update! So finances consist of income, saving, giving, and spending.

Income

I don’t have any bonuses in first quarter this year, so income chugged along as expected this quarter. I don’t know yet if I will get a raise this year or what it will be, but that would go into effect in April. I’m actually pretty convinced at this point that I will get no raise. Thankfully my bonuses are from prior year reviews and I only live off of about half of my regular pay, so the possibility of not getting a bonus won’t hit me very hard either.

I’ve had some troubles getting my W-2 allowances just right, but that’s always a work in progress, isn’t it?

I’ve been doing pretty well with credit card rewards so far. Between the Barclaycard Arrival bonus and the regular cashback rewards, I saw over $700 in credit card rewards in the first quarter. The Chase Freedom and Sapphire Preferred bonuses should hit next quarter, but things will probably slow down in that department for the rest of the year.

Saving

This is the easy part! In Q1, I saved 61% of my net pay.

My 401(k) contributions have been chugging along, as expected. Since I no longer have a high-deductible health insurance plan as of my April paycheck, I’m going to redirect part of that money to my 401(k) each month to max it out a little bit by the end of November instead of December.

I finished maxing out my Health Savings Account for the prior plan year and there’s a nice balance in there that I can still use for health expenses that I have to pay out of pocket!

I made my 2014 Backdoor Roth IRA contribution on January 2nd, so that is done already! I’m unsure about when I will do the 2015 contribution – I may wait until the mortgage is paid off, so I likely won’t set aside money to do that this year.

I’ve also been paying down the mortgage. So far this year, I’ve paid down $10,575.54, which is about 3.7% of the original mortgage balance. I can’t wait for my next bonus to hit – that’ll make a much bigger dent in the mortgage than I’ve been making so far with my regular paychecks.

Giving

I’ve never been very good at finding causes that I want to donate my money to. In December of last year, after a discussion on the comments on a post at nicoleandmaggie, I made a rash of extra donations. And this year, I am making a conscious effort to donate X% of my income. I’m sure that X% is a lot less than other people might do so in my situation, but I felt like it was a reasonable improvement over where I was. It’s kind of fun researching causes and donating larger chunks of money than what I was doing before too!

Spending

So, spending. I’ve spent a lot more this quarter than I had originally intended.

2014 Q1 Spending

I wasn’t expecting it to quite add up to $1,700 over my estimate. Oops! Some excuses/explanations:

  • Clothing: this was mostly because I found myself with very few items of clothing that fit in certain areas. There were some returns already in Q2, so this should look a little better at the end of Q2.
  • Woo for coming in basically right on on entertainment! Same with personal care!
  • On Food, I did really well on eating out by myself. We’re doing better with groceries now, so we’re going to alternate months instead of reconciling at the end, which means I’ll only have to pay one month next quarter. I have been eating out for lunch every day at work this year, which is part of why this is so high. I’m okay with that decision for now.
  • Housing is a bit under because I’ll pay property taxes next quarter and ‘household goods’ spending has been mostly squashed into groceries with the joint spending. I spent more on internet and electricity than estimated, but that should even out a bit more next quarter. And my mortgage payments and HOA dues were right on par. My property taxes did go up more than expected, so that will show up in next quarter’s report.
  • Medical – I estimated only spending on premiums. Oops – I forgot about bills from the injury in the fall.
  • Recreation – I spent nothing in Q1. There will definitely be more spending here in Q2.
  • Shopping – this one was a killer. I only budgeted for the closets and painting. I didn’t plan on repairing my laptop or buying a new case for my cell phone, but those at least came out of some building up line items. I didn’t plan on any of the general furnishings I bought or sales taxes on the painting estimate. Those all added up to almost $500, oops.
  • Transportation – this was awesome! I bought one tank of gas and paid some toll bills. I’m working on trying to lower my insurance costs so I don’t have a $1,360 cost come Q3. I think I might have found an insurance company that should cut that in half!
  • Travel – annual estimate was $4,000. I don’t anticipate going over $4,000 total for the year, so it should work out okay.

There you have it – I went over my estimate by an average of $600/month in Q1. I don’t feel bad about any of the spending. Q2 should be better – my estimate for now is that I’ll come in under $10,000 for the quarter.

Readers, how was your first quarter of 2014?

Financial Plan for 2014

Simple goals, simple implementation, right?

Income plan

The vast majority of my income comes from my W-2 day job. This is separated into regular salary, which is paid out monthly, and stock of which I will see two comparably sized vests this year. I am expecting my overall W-2 income (before deductions) to be somewhere between $160,000 and $200,000 for the 2014 year. This assumes a modest 2% increase and the 52 week low and 52 week high +20% stock prices for the RSUs. I anticipate my income surpassing the Social Security tax maximum ($117,000 in 2014) with my September or October paycheck.

My RSUs see a flat 25% of federal income tax deducted from them, which isn’t quite enough tax because my base pay alone takes me into the 28% federal income tax bracket these days, so I need to compensate for that with my W-4 allowances. My spreadsheet suggests that at this point in time, I should set zero (0) allowances on my W-4 for 2014. I will re-evaluate this after each RSU vest and raise.

Investment contributions

I plan to:

1) Contribute the 2014 maximum of $17,500 to my 401(k) for the year, spread out throughout the year:

  • H3 = annual base pay (gross)
  • J2 = Yearly max to the 401(k) – $17,500 for 2014
  • I2 = ROUNDUP(J2/H3,2) = the % that I should contribute monthly from my paycheck to max out the 401(k) over the course of the year, e.g. if it is XX.3%, I will set it to XX+1%. I will most likely reduce this by one percentage point for my April and subsequent paychecks.

2) Make my 2014 Roth IRA contribution of $5,500 through the backdoor on January 2nd, taking the funds from my savings account.

3) Continue contributing the maximum to my Health Savings Account until the plan year ends partway through 2014. I will then re-evaluate health insurance plans and whether I will contribute to the Health Savings Account again (depends on which plan works out the best).

4) Set aside my 2015 Roth IRA contribution from my final RSU vest for the 2014 year in a savings account. This will probably either be $5,500 or $6,000.

Mortgage plan

All funds that are not set aside for spending, my 401(k), my Health Savings Account, or my Roth IRA will be thrown at the mortgage. My estimate is that this should be around $2,500/month on average, plus RSU vests.

Investment allocations

This exercise is similar to what I did for 2013. As of 12/12/2013, my investments portfolio is worth ~$130,700. I estimate adding about $25,000 to the portfolio this year, including my 401(k) contributions, my employer match, and my Roth IRA contribution, putting an estimated year end balance at $156,000.

(Note: when I wrote this post last year, I estimated that my end of year balance would be $98,100. It is $34,600 higher than that as of November 30th. Crazy!)

My target asset allocation at the end of 2014 will be:

  • 27% Fixed income
  • 36.5% US stocks
  • 36.5% International stocks

Based on this, let’s calculate my ideal portfolio at the end of 2014 and compare it to where my portfolio is now:

Current Ideal EOY Difference
US stocks $48,500 $56,945 $8,422
International Stocks $47,900 $56,945 $9,073
Fixed Income $34,400 $42,124 $7,773
total $130,700 $156,000 $25,268

I will add my $5,500 Roth IRA contribution to the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares, which means I only need to add another $2,922 to US stocks for the year. Subtracting out my 401(k) match from there leaves my 401(k) contributions as follows for the year:

  • 4% or $654 to add to US stocks (S&P 500 index fund)
  • 52% or $9,073 to add to international stocks (total international index fund)
  • 44% or $7,773 to add to fixed income (stable value fund)

There, we can set and forget for the rest of the year!

I will re-balance the Extended Market index fund vs S&P 500 index fund amounts in January 2015 when I make my Roth IRA contribution for that year – for now, I just care about US vs international vs fixed income.

Banking plan

I’m going to have my entire pay direct deposited to my credit union checking account and then pay the mortgage from there with the leftovers each month. My credit cards are all on auto-pay from here and all of my bills are on auto-pay to a credit card.

I will continue to withdraw any health expenses from my HSA after putting them on a rewards credit card through the end of this plan year. I will re-evaluate my HSA plans during open enrollment.

My plan for expenses is as follows:

  1. If purchase is in person and < $15, use debit card until I reach N transactions. This should earn me just under $200 in interest for the year, i.e. meets my $100 gain for the year rule.
  2. All Amazon.com purchases go on that credit card (this is mostly automatic, so no big deal), as well as restaurants and in-person places that don’t take American Express.
  3. All non-foreign purchases that take American Express go on the Fidelity Amex card
  4. All other purchases (including possibly foreign ones) go on the credit union cashback visa (I love this one because it does automatic redemption every month, no matter the amount!)

This algorithm should net me about $400-550 in cashback rewards for the year, based on 2013 spending levels.

Based on my spending patterns and my rule that I will only add a credit card if it will gain me at least an additional $100/year in cashback rewards and I think I could use the card effectively for at least two years, I can’t really optimize any further than this. I could add the US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card for 5% cashback on restaurants, but with my spending levels, that may or may not actually make any sense. My credit history is still new enough at this point that I don’t want to churn yet (under 4 years), but I will re-evaluate that in 2015.

I’m really enjoying how simple this plan is and I can’t wait to let it be implemented! Here’s to an awesome 2014!

Re-balancing my investments: 2013 Roth IRA contribution edition

My investments have been mostly plodding along this year. Occasionally, I have adjusted how much of my 401(k) contribution went to what (S&P 500 index, total international index, and stable value fund) and then left it alone again. For example, my September and October contributions went about 50/50 to the stable value fund and the total international index because the US stock markets had been doing so well.

But now that it is time to make my 2013 Roth IRA contribution, I am going to re-balance by exchanging some funds around. Back in May, I wrote a post on Tax-Efficient Investment Placement Over Time, which I have referenced so many times that I should really bookmark it.

First, what are the balances in my various accounts?

  • $23,600 Roth IRA (with $5,500 new contribution)
  • $8,200 Old tax-deferred CDs
  • $10,100 Series I Savings Bonds
  • $15,700 Taxable account
  • $74,500 401(k)
  • $132,000 Total investments

What is my asset allocation?

% Category Amount
26% Fixed income $34,320
37% International stocks $48,840
37% US stocks $48,840

If we follow my ordering from my post on tax-efficient investment placement, what does that ideal portfolio look like?

Steps

  1. My employer match to the company stock
  2. Series I Savings Bonds that already exist in taxable
  3. CDs that are already in my Roth IRA
  4. The remaining portion of my fixed income allocation to the stable value fund in my 401(k).
  5. (not necessary) As much of my remaining fixed income allocation to Total Bond Market in my Roth IRA as possible
  6. (not necessary) If my tax-advantaged balances weren’t enough for all the fixed income necessary, added $10,000 in Series I Savings Bonds (possibly early for future-proofing)
  7. (not necessary) Any other fixed income went to a tax-exempt bond fund in taxable.
  8. As much of my international allocation in taxable as it allowed (in the first few years, my entire taxable balance; in later years, the entire international allocation)
  9. Next, I added any of the remaining international allocation into my 401(k).
  10. The remaining 401(k) funds went to the S&P 500 index fund. Call this amount X.
  11. (X/0.8)-X is how much I put into the Extended Market index fund in my Roth IRA (minimum of $3,000).
  12. The remaining Roth IRA funds went to Total Stock Market.
  13. (not necessary) The remaining taxable funds went to Total Stock Market.

Ideal portfolio

Account Fund Current Ideal Difference
401(k) Stable value $14,300 $16,000 +$1,700
Taxable Total international stock index (admiral shares!) $15,700 $15,700 (same)
401(k) Total international stock index $22,100 $33,200 +$11,100
401(k) S&P 500 index + employer stock $38,000 $25,300 -$12,700
Roth IRA Extended Market index fund $8,400 $6,300 -$2,100
Roth IRA Total international stock index $9,700 $0 -$9,700
Roth IRA Total Stock Market index fund (admiral shares -soon!) $5,500 $17,300 +$11,800

Note that these numbers are all rounded, so they may be slightly off if you try to make calculations with them, but they should still illustrate my example sufficiently.

The main thing here is that I’m moving my Roth IRA from being mostly Total International Stock Market index (TISM) with a bit of Extended Market index to being mostly Total Stock Market Index (TSM) with a smaller amount of Extended Market. I’m also going to exchange all of my company stock into the S&P 500 index fund to diversify better. (So many people don’t know you can do this!)

I’ll perform a few transactions to accomplish this:

  1. Contribute $5,500 to the money market account in my Traditional IRA. – done!
  2. Convert the $5,500 from my Traditional IRA into the total stock market index fund in my Roth IRA once the funds settle. – done!
  3. In my 401(k), exchange all of the company stock money to the S&P 500 index fund.
  4. Next in my 401(k), exchange ($11,100 – company stock money = $12,700) from the S&P 500 index fund to $1,700 in the stable value fund and $11,000 in the total international stock index fund.
  5. In my Roth IRA, exchange $2,000 from the extended market index fund and the entirety of the total international stock index fund into the total stock market index fund.

And that’ll be the last re-balance I make by exchanging until early 2015 when I make my Roth IRA contribution for 2015 – all other rebalancing will be done by adjusting which funds in my 401(k) get how much of my contribution each month.

Happy Friday, all!

[My] Backdoor Roth IRA: near the end of the year

NOTE: Based on Bichon Frise’s comments and some research on Publication 590 from the irs.gov website, as well as the link to fairmark.com in the comments from Bichon Frise, I’ve decided to make my 2014 Backdoor Roth IRA contribution at the very beginning of 2014. Since it’s so late in 2013 already, I’m going to continue with my existing plan for my 2013 contribution. You’ll see an update on both of these in one of my remaining net worth updates for the year. I’m still leaving the content of the post here because I feel that my concerns and wonderings are still valid. Just please read the first few comments as well.

 

Many people who can make the maximum contribution to their Roth IRA at the very beginning of the year, in January. Some people even make a game (?) of trying to do this as early as possible in the year. Me? I try to do this as close to the end of the year as possible. I’m not against setting aside the cash to make the contribution throughout the year so that I could technically do it at any point.

Why do I do this? Well if you read line 6 on form 8606, you need to enter the value of all your traditional, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs as of December 31, 2013. I want to be confident that there will be no money in a traditional IRA at the end of the year before I make the Roth IRA contribution when I’m making it through the back door. Why?

My employer charges a fee to keep money in my 401(k) once I’m no longer an employee. The difference in expense ratios between admiral shares and what I can get through my employer is not worth paying this fee, so I plan to roll my 401(k) into a Rollover IRA or the next employer’s 401(k) as soon as the plan administrator will let me. I don’t want to be caught with having money in a Traditional IRA at the end of the year, so I’d rather wait on making the Roth IRA contribution. If the new employer doesn’t let me contribute to the 401(k) for some period of time or their plan isn’t as good as admiral shares at Vanguard, I would rather use the Rollover IRA, even though it would make me ineligible for a Backdoor Roth IRA that year.

With the current balance in my 401(k), most of my conversions from Roth IRA to Traditional IRA would have been taxable, which would be expensive in my 28% bracket. That would be approximately a $2,500 mistake. I’d rather pay the fee to leave money in my 401(k) than the income tax on the conversion. Honestly, looking at form 8606 now, I should have waited until the end of the year to make the conversion from Traditional to Roth on my 2012 contribution. Or I should have just made it in 2012 itself.

In conclusion: my assumption that some day I will have a Rollover IRA instead of a 401(k) is also part of why I am doing the Backdoor Roth IRA for now, even though I was originally against it. Since I hit the income cap for direct Roth IRA contributions so young (at 24), I would like to build up some Roth space while it’s still possible. I’m hopeful that I will at least get to contribute to a Roth IRA through the backdoor this year, in 2014, and in 2015, which would give me $35,000 to $40,000 in the account. My Roth account will almost always be dwarfed by my eventual Traditional IRA from my 401(k) and my taxable account, but it’s still valuable space to have, to diversify on future taxes, especially since I otherwise would have invested the money in a fully taxed investment account.

Readers, when do you make your Roth IRA contribution for the year?

Tax-Efficient Investment Placement Over Time

Since I don’t let myself actually fidget with my investments, I instead make a lot of spreadsheets about them. My latest spreadsheet shows how I would ideally split my investments across multiple accounts as my portfolio grows in size and my target asset allocation shifts. With this spreadsheet, by 2025, I hit a target of a 50/50 asset allocation split and decide to leave it there for a while. This is honestly the most mentally helpful spreadsheet I’ve made about allocating investments so far and I will try to do it justice.

Some assumptions in the making of this summary table:

  1. 401(k) maximum stays at $17,500/year and Roth IRA maximum at $5,500/year.
  2. My employer matching doesn’t increase. (Which it actually does with my salary.)
  3. 5% returns on the overall portfolio, year-over-year.
  4. I have access to the same funds as I do now in my 401(k) for the next 12 years.
  5. My income 2015 and beyond is stable at around $160,000 gross and my expenses stay stable at ~$36-40k/year until the mortgage is paid off and then $24-28k/year after that.
  6. I didn’t calculate any of the Series I Savings Bond interest.

Other notes about the table:

  1. I’m maxing out my 401(k) and Roth IRA each year and either investing or paying down the mortgage with my surplus.
  2. VEXMX (Vanguard Extended Market Index fund, investor shares) is kept in an 80/20 ratio with the S&P 500 index fund in my 401(k) until that becomes < $3,000 and not worthwhile.
  3. The mortgage gets paid off in 2018, which is why the portfolio starts going up by a lot more in 2019.

Investment Allocations over time

Okay, so that table is pretty big. I took out the part below it where it shows that with a safe withdrawal rate (SWR) of 4% I should have enough in investments by 2021 (if I use retirement accounts) and assuming a SWR of 2%, I should be good around 2026.

I mostly made this spreadsheet because I was curious to see how my portfolio would change if it was larger. You can see that as my portfolio gets bigger, fund placement shifts a bit.

  • Things start shifting a lot once the mortgage is paid off (~2018) since I’m then putting a disproportionate amount of money in taxable versus my 401(k) and Roth IRA:
  1. The portion of my 401(k) in Total International gets smaller and smaller each year until 2019 when it’s gone entirely.
  2. Starting in 2019, the S&P 500 index funds in my 401(k) get shifted towards the stable value fund and the extended market funds in my Roth IRA towards Total Stock Market (TSM).
  3. I add shares of TSM in taxable in 2019.
  4. By 2021, there’s no more need to have the extended market funds in my Roth IRA and by 2022, the S&P 500 index fund in my 401(k) is no more.
  5. I start adding to Total Bond Market (TBM) in 2022.
  6. By 2025, my 401(k) and Roth IRA (i.e. all of my tax-advantaged funds) are fully in fixed income. My taxable account now accounts for more than 50% of my investment portfolio, so it definitely needs some fixed income. I recognized that this would happen back in 2022 and started adding some more Series I Savings Bonds, but in 2025, I finally add a tax-exempt bond fund.

Tax-efficient fund placement doesn’t seem all that important with a $100,000 portfolio, let alone the $50,000 portfolio that I had last year, but with a $1 million portfolio, it sure seems a lot more important doesn’t it? My absolute favorite Bogleheads wiki is on this topic. I’ve also read a lot of the Ask a Boglehead posts on the forum to learn more about how people suggest structuring portfolios. I’ve definitely studied this like a crazy person in preparation for one day having a multi-hundred thousand dollar taxable investment portfolio. In my case, this isn’t that hard since my 401(k) has good funds for all cases, except that there is no Total Stock Market fund, “just” a S&P 500 index one.

I had a separate worksheet in my Excel spreadsheet for each year and I started fresh, placing funds in this order:

  1. My employer match to the company stock
  2. Series I Savings Bonds that already exist in taxable
  3. As much of my remaining fixed income allocation to the stable value fund in my 401(k) as possible
  4. As much of my remaining fixed income allocation to Total Bond Market in my Roth IRA as possible
  5. If my tax-advantaged balances weren’t enough for all the fixed income necessary, added $10,000 in Series I Savings Bonds (possibly early for future-proofing)
  6. Any other fixed income went to a tax-exempt bond fund in taxable.
  7. As much of my international allocation in taxable as it allowed (in the first few years, my entire taxable balance; in later years, the entire international allocation)
  8. Next, I added any of the remaining international allocation into my 401(k).
  9. The remaining 401(k) funds went to the S&P 500 index fund. Call this amount X.
  10. (X/0.8)-X is how much I put into the Extended Market index fund in my Roth IRA (minimum of $3,000).
  11. The remaining Roth IRA funds went to Total Stock Market.
  12. The remaining taxable funds went to Total Stock Market.

I could have easily chosen to put Total International in my Roth IRA and more S&P 500 index fund in my 401(k), but this way will eventually eliminate the Extended Market index fund from my Roth IRA and make rebalancing even simpler. This exercise showed me that managing a multi-hundred thousand dollar portfolio isn’t that much more complicated than managing a $100,000 portfolio if you set things up nicely and it shouldn’t be that hard to keep up going forward.