View Full Version : Good finance books? What brokerage do you use?

4-16-11, 4:08pm
I have been reading "Mutual Funds for Dummies" by Eric Tyson. I think it does a great job of explaining MF and gives recommendations. As you may know, I recently retired and have to get my finances in order.... ie rollover retirement accounts, etc. Do any of you have other worthwhile finance books to read? I have read Samuel Case's books and a few other 'Dummy' books.

Currently I have some funds at TRowe Price but have been checking Vanguard and am impressed with their website and fees. Any pros or cons to report would be greatly appreciated!

4-16-11, 7:11pm
I like Vanguard and TIAA-CREF (had them several years), but am no expert. Hear Fidelity is good too.

Good books: Your Money or Your Life! :) Any books by Dave Ramsey (although he has a very direct style that you may need to get used to :)

4-16-11, 7:53pm
I personally really like Vanguard for their simplicity and low fees. I am an index kind of gal, so their approach works well for me.

Many people on the Early Retirement forums strongly recommend the Boglehead forums as an excellent place for information about investment strategies, especially for those with a more index-oriented, buy and hold mentality. I haven't been there yet but it is a place I plan to check out.

Firecalc is a great tool for looking at how your investment plans will play out long-term over retirement. If you haven't run that yet, you might want to. Google it for the link.

I have my current work retirement accounts at Fidelity and they seem fine. They have some nice tools on their website, which I think you may need to be a custmer to use. One of their retirement planning tools is very similar to Firecalc but seems to be easier to tweak with. I have been having fun with that one. Our latest inputs say DH can retire at 60 and me at 55 with no problems :)


4-16-11, 8:24pm
We have been enormously satisfied with Schwab located in Indianapolis.

4-16-11, 9:06pm
Thanks for the input! I will check out the forum, Schwab, and TIAA-CREF (I never heard of them?)! Great info!

4-17-11, 1:41pm
Not wanting to put everything in one place, I'm split between Vanguard and Fidelity. I like the low Vanguard fees, but have had a little better customer servce from Fidelity. Fidelity also has a handful of low cost index funds, but not near the selection of Vanguard.

After the last/recent economic turndown I think many of the financial books need to be re-written, but have always liked The Four Pillars of Investing by Bernstein.

4-17-11, 1:50pm
I've had good service with Fidelity, Prudential, Vanguard, and Federated. My only experience with Fidelity and Federated is on line. Their sites are user friendly and self explanatory, and they managed all my transactions with no unnecessary delays or errors. I've actually spoken with the human beings at Vanguard and Prudential, and found them to be extremely helpful and cooperative. In fact, they did the paperwork for me, sent it to me, and all I had to do was sign.

4-17-11, 6:48pm
Interesting that you think the investment books should be rewritten Rogar! How do you think the allocation should be? I gather that is what you are referring to. I will check out Bernstein's book. I was considering just consolidating all my accounts with Vanguard. Based on the responses here... I wonder if that is a good idea???

4-17-11, 8:43pm
"Security Analysis", Benjamin Graham
"The Intelligent Investor", Benjamin Graham
"A Random Walk Down Wall Street", Burton Malkiel
"Common Sense on Mutual Funds", John Bogle
"Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits", Philip Fisher
"Where Are The Customers' Yachts?", Fred Schwed

I use Schwab, low pricing, good order execution, good customer service.

4-17-11, 11:19pm
Interesting that you think the investment books should be rewritten Rogar! How do you think the allocation should be? I gather that is what you are referring to. I will check out Bernstein's book. I was considering just consolidating all my accounts with Vanguard. Based on the responses here... I wonder if that is a good idea???

Most of the investment books I've read imply future returns based on historical performance. They were written before our last economic turndown. I'm hardly the technical analyst, but I would guess that the averages of performance for equities, bonds and real estate (or REITs) have changed. This would change optimum allocations, retirement time horizons, returns to mean, and suggested withdrawal rates for retirees. There have also been some fairly big changes in the economies of developing countries. I also personally think that oil prices will weigh heavily on global economies as might climate change. Then again maybe the basic philosophies would be about the same.

It would be nice to have a core investment book like those by Bogle, Swedroe and Bernstein take a new look at these things.

4-18-11, 12:56pm
Rogar, So what would you think would be a good allocation for a retiree? I was lucky and reallocated conservatively before the crash. Prior to that I was aggressive. Now... I think I may be too aggressive for the times?? As I type the market is down over 200 points!

Thanks Bae for the book recommendations. grendel... I have been talking to some of the brokerages you mentioned as well.

This week I will make a decision. I don't think I will stay at one brokerage. Sigh...I hate making these types of decisions. You never know how it will go except in hindsight.

4-18-11, 6:56pm
Frugal-one, I've pretty much gone a little more conservative than the old 100 minus your age equals percentage into equities guideline. Almost all of my equites are broadbased index funds with low management fees. A little international and no REITs. Figuring out the non-equity portion of my nest egg has actually been the more difficult of my recent thoughts, with interest rates so low, but possibly poised to go up.

From my experience and from what folks I know have told me, I really don't think you can go wrong with any of the brokerages mentioned.

4-19-11, 11:08pm
I have been very happy with Schwab. Much less happy with Fidelity, although my job uses them for our 401ks.

4-20-11, 8:45am
I tried to do a Roth conversion a year or 2 ago with TIAA-CREF on the 2nd to the last business day of the year. They wouldn't do it because it was past their cut-off for making such changes. I also had IRA's at Vanguard so I tried them and they would more than happy to do it. So, for me, I'm not as happy with TIAA-CREF. Also, TIAA-CREF's website is inferior to Vanguard's.

The only book that I can specifically recommend on investing is A Random Walk Down Wall Street, though I'm sure there a many good and not-so-good ones out there. There are some core investment concepts that I've gained over the years. Any book that discusses these should be good. These include:

1) Buy low, sell high
2) Be a contrarian investor (buy during bad times, sell during good times)
3) Mean reversion - business/money managers/mutual funds can't outperform the market indefinitely. Eventually, their performance reverts to the mean. The same can be said for the under performers. They reinvent themselves and their performance improves to the mean.
4) Get rich slowly
5) Investing should be boring

Obviously, you need to be switching to income producing investments, so any books that deal with that would be good. Also, you really need to understand how to manage your tax liability if you have 401K's and IRA's, so look for a book on that. Finally, having a good understanding of elder law and spousal impoverishment is important. Eventually, one spouse will end up in a nursing home which can suck assets dry leaving the other spouse with very little assets.

4-20-11, 11:23pm
Thanks all! I opened an account at Vanguard and plan on keeping the one at TRowe Price. Not all my eggs in one basket as they say. Still have to set up the allocations but getting there. Thanks for all the help!

4-21-11, 9:56am
Vanguard and TIAA-CREF here. Mostly because they were the lowest fee options (TIAA at work, Vanguard for Roth). Most of the big brokerage houses have similar offerings if you're just looking for index funds. I will add "The Bond Book" (Thau) for understanding the bond market, esp if you're considering how much to move into "safer" investments and what those might be. Many investment books talk primarily or only about equities and leave bonds out, and this book will help balance that.
Personally, I wouldn't watch the stock market if I were you, unless you have a small amount of "play money" you're going to use to trade frequently. Watching the market's swings means you are more likely to get suckered into buying high and selling low.

4-21-11, 2:58pm
Personally, I wouldn't watch the stock market if I were you, unless you have a small amount of "play money" you're going to use to trade frequently. Watching the market's swings means you are more likely to get suckered into buying high and selling low.

Unless you do the opposite what you gut is telling you ;)

4-21-11, 3:28pm
That is what I have been doing wrong. I have been buying high and selling low.

4-22-11, 8:30am
Your Money or Your Life completely changed the way I think about money. I have the first edition and I wouldn't follow the investing advice in it, but it was the first book that got me to recognize how much our culture (and therefore, me) is completely lacking in any concept of "enough" when it comes to money and buying things. It got me to start thinking consciously and intentionally about where my money goes and to (happily) take on the challenge of living with less.

For actual investing advice, I'm also a big fan of "A Random Walk Down Wall Street". It's basic premise is that the stock market is basically efficient (i.e. stocks are valued about where they should be for the real value of the company) and unpredictable (historical patterns aren't a reliable indicator of what will happen, especially in the short term), and when there are market inefficiencies (bubbles), you, as an individual investor, are not poised to benefit from them, because there are people with a great deal more information who can do better than you. By the time the information gets to you, the bubble will essentially have smoothed out and you'll get left holding the bag. His advice is buy index funds (or a broad range of individual stocks) and be content with matching the market.

I have my IRA with TD Ameritrade. It's an online brokerage, so there's no personal service, but I have access to a wide range of ETFs (index funds, basically) for reasonable prices. If I were going to do set up an account over again, I might go with Vanguard directly, but at least I can buy Vanguard funds this way. I also have an account with RBC Dain Rauscher, which is a full service brokerage. I didn't set up the account and I've basically ignored it for years, so I can't make any recommendations, except to say that any trades are a lot more expensive that way.

Possibly a bit off topic, since you're more interested in investing advice, but for every day personal financial management, I absolutely swear by the software program You Need A Budget. It's a bit expensive ($60), but it's the most effective and useable accounting software I've ever tried, and since I started using it six months ago, I've kept to my budget and successfully kept track of all my expenditures for the first time in my life.

4-22-11, 3:18pm
Perplexa... I also have a TD Ameritrade account for my self-directed IRA where I buy stocks. So far I have done better than many of the mutual funds I have. I will get A Random Walk Down Wall Street... a few others have recommended it as well. Thank you!