Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tips for cleaning up my financial act

Gerri "5 Tips" Willis just finished publishing a three-parter on "cleaning up your financial act" and I plucked a few special nuggets out to noodle more on:

Part I: Cleaning up your credit
This, the first, installment was really about cleaning up your credit *report*. I am sure I need to do this, but I saw mine last summer when we refinanced. My FICO was pretty decent and the only thing "off" were the closed accounts that still show as open (are they artificially inflating my score?). Since I am not planning on applying for any loans this year, my plan is to do this in Sept/Oct...about a year after my last quick glance and when FACTA hits my area.

Part Two: Cleaning up your nest egg
5 tips on diversifying retirement savings. Two things stuck out at me...the first:
If you have more than ten years to retirement, you might try an allocation with 70 percent stocks and 30 percent
Am I nuts for doing 80/20 at age 37? Or is that just somewhat conservative advice? My financial mentor Pepper has even had to gently encourage me up to 20 with a little help from the Motley Fool "rule your retirement" allocation for "more than 10 years" to go. And the other nugget:

How do you know when to dump a fund? Platania says, "At the end of the second year, if you think a fund is an under-performer, compare it to its peer group." If other funds like yours performed far better, it's probably a good time to fold on that fund.

This seems like good advice...a "two year" review. I don't want to hold on too long to a dog, but I don't want to jump ship too early out of impatience either.

My 401(k) only had 12 funds to choose from....and most of them mediocre at best. So my allocation scheme is based on choosing the best my 401(k) has to offer, and diversifying the rest of my portfolio accordingly with my IRAs at Fidelity.

Part Three: Clean out your financial closet
This installment didn't have much for me personally since I'd never keep financial secrets, I don't borrow from my parents, and I don't have college funds to bogart. Frugalgirl found the insistence on saving for retirement during your younger years particularly relevant for her. But being a bit older, and having neglected my retirement accounts despite stuffing them with some decent cash, what was most relevant to me was the "Cobwebs in your portfolio" section. That is so me right now. I don't have stocks lying around to re-evaluate, but I hadn't really evaluated my current funds according to their peers. Once I did that, I realized I had over 30% of my entire portfolio in underperforming funds. Ouch.

Time to fast-track the rest of my retirement consolidation.

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