qandaAs a dedicated financial educator and retired investment advisor, Paul Merriman welcomes questions from his readers. Please email your questions (stated as succinctly as possible) to Title the subject line: ASK PAUL.  Be sure to include your name and phone number so Paul can reach you if further discussion is required. We may post your question and Paul's answer here on this site. We will not post your name or personal information. Thank you!


Q: I am trying to find a Vanguard Index Fund or ETF for your international small value category. What would you suggest?  

Q:  I am 55 years old and want to start investing, should I?

Q:  When do I know it's the right time to enter the market?

Q:  I am in the process of implementing your Buy and Hold Strategy... Based on my age, should my equity exposure be higher than 60%?

Q: How much further can this bull market go? 

Q: Is your portfolio advice in First-Time Investor applicable for retired persons?

Q: Are your principles better realized by an do-it-yourself investor, or are your ways of diversifying best handled at the company that bears your name?

Q:  You mentioned in your newsletter that DFA Funds are significantly better performers then Vanguard Funds. So why you recommend in your column only Vanguard funds and ETFs without a word of better DFA funds?

Q: Why do you always allocate to large and small cap stocks but never mention the mid-cap tier? What is your  reasoning for the omission of this capitalizationsize tier from your recommendations?

Q: There has been a change at Vanguard that changes our status on the Developed Markets Fund.  The question I have been getting is:  What do you recommend now that the Vanguard  Developed Markets Fund is closed?

Q: How often do you update those portfolios?

Q:How can a beginning investor get started with little to invest?

Q: Do you think that it is worth it, in the long run? (I plan on working overseas for the next 4-5 years at least) Or should I skip on diversifying into real estate until I am able to do so in an IRA? Would an REIT ETF fund be a better move over an REIT mutual fund?

Q: Thank you so much for your MarketWatch article about "The Ultimate Buy & Hold Strategy". I was wondering: Should I wait for a pull-back in the market before switching our retirement funds to your strategy?

Q: What should I do now with the market being so high?

Q: What is the differences between Index Funds and ETFs? The strengths and weaknesses of each? And in particular, how should people go about choosing one over the other?

Q:Good article, I like the small value stock analysis and comparison to other ways of investing in stock. What is the best strategy to avoid market loss and invest defensively?

Q: Don't you think you suggest too many funds? I think all the portfolio needs is emerging markets, International markets and US REITs.These 3 essential troika asset classes will do well. 

Q: The Emerging Markets Fund VEIEX has not done very well. Do you still recommend VEIEX as part of your Vanguard recommendations?  

Q: Would your recommend anything different for our 60% in Vanguard?

Q: Why no bucket of commodities in your portfolio recommendations?

Q;  I follow your recommended Vanguard portfolios and wonder what you think about the recent addition of two International Bond funds - the Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund and the Emerging Markets Government Index Fund?

Q: How can you write, "don't pay a commission for a fund blah blah blah"?

Q: Wow, you are extrapolating the past into the future there. Very creative analysis! Or wait... wait a second! Wasn't all this extrapolating the past into future one of the behaviors that led to massive losses during the financial crisis?

Q: What's the most tax efficient strategy to withdrawal from their IRA and ROTH?

Q: What would happen if I did the exact opposite of what you recommend? 

Q:  Your recommended bond funds include Tips and Treasuries. What do you think about allocation to foreign bonds, such as Australia or Brazil? Some even recommend bank loans, e.g., BKLN. Or am I just reaching for yield?

Q: Should my retirement funds be in my taxable or 401(k) accounts?

Q: Did they pay this guy, Paul Merriman, for this MarketWatch article on asset allocation? It's NOT a new idea.

Q: Is it possible to put money into our IRA account after retirement?

Q: Now that Apple is down to $450, is it time to purchase again?

Q: If everyone believes that small-cap index funds will outperform and have better results, won't everyone invest in them until they become overvalued and not such and amazing deal anymore?

Q: Do you have an opinion on the Vanguard Managed Payout Funds as a way to tap portfolio income in retirement?

Q: Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money" in 2008. You were very high on DFA.  Are you still as high as you were when you wrote the book?

Q:  Is there a reason to wait until after year end distributions are paid at Vanguard before I re-balance my funds?

Q:   I don't think turnover rates mean as much for bonds as equities, but should I even be looking at turnover rates of bonds?

Q:  You recommend people hire an advisor who uses Dimensional funds. Are there advisors who offer Dimensional funds in Canada? And are they no load?

Q:  I am meeting with a new investment advisor next week.  What should I ask them about their track record?

Q:  I've noticed that my recent investment performance has been significantly lower than the recent performance of the S&P 500. Does it still make sense to stick with your recommended Vanguard Index Funds vs. the simple Vanguard S&P 500 Index?