Buy-Only Rebalancing

Safer investments for lowering risk


The Human Factor

The "Buckets"

Increasing Risk

Decreasing Risk

This section discusses ways to reduce the risk associated with the basic plan. In reducing risk we trade the potential for larger profits for increased security.

Decreasing risk is not a necessary part of Buy-Only Rebalancing if there is no intention of ever spending the money that's invested. Otherwise, all the funds would ideally be in low-risk investments by the time the money is needed. Decreasing risk over time can accomplish the transition away from riskier investments.

When to decrease risk

A fun reason to decrease risk might be "taking profits" after a risky investment has increased in value. For example, a selected stock might take off in a bull market, and you might notice that the ratios at reuters.com look pretty bad. It might be a good time to sell the shares while they're worth a lot, investing the cash somewhere relatively safe.

Another reason to decrease the risk might be to affect a transition away from the moderate risk of investments like AAA-grade corporate bond ETFs (e.g. LQD) and whole-market ETFs (e.g. IWV). An easy way to start the transition would be to begin investing dividends in lower-risk investments.

Inflation-vulnerable low-risk investments

Besides risks like death, war, disability, and other life-changing events, the biggest risk to invested funds is an attack on the value of the funds. Inflation is rarely mentioned by financial advisors but often mentioned by Market Wizards who have accumulated wealth through trading.

There are great low-risk investments that are subject to the risk of inflation but should nevertheless be considered.

When bonds are discussed, an important point should be kept in mind: buying and selling bonds is risky business because of interest rate risk. If interest rates in general increase, your bond loses value on the open market. Avoiding the open market makes interest rate risk a moot issue. By holding bonds until maturity you avoid selling them in the open market. Of course, that means planning. You have to choose bonds with a maturity that fits your plans.

If the value of the dollar goes down, though, none of the above investments will protect the real buying power of your funds. The ones below will.

Inflation-protected low-risk investments

The U.S. Government is a good place to lend your money if you want to make sure you get it back. They are so low risk that they don't have to pay very high interest rates, but they offer some investment choices with an inflation protection feature.

These investments protect not only your dollars but their ability to buy stuff, which is really the point.

Recently the Treasury Direct website has gotten a makeover, and I found it highly usable and convenient. There is one little thing: The security is unusual and a bit technical—You even have to look up codes in a little table on a card they send you. But it's probably worth it, even if that kind of thing bothers you.

Once you have your money in these investments, it's not safe (from alien invasions, etc.), but it's as safe as it gets.