Paul Merriman
Sound Investing For Every Stage of Life 

Motif Investing and Paul Merriman’s Recommended Portfolios
Easy, Low-Cost, Diversified Investing 

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Paul Merriman & Chris Pedersen compare M1 Finance & Motif Investing and why they're excited by these easy, low-cost ways to invest, implementing Paul's recommendations.  Click here.

What Is Motif Investing?

We are excited to affiliate with Motif Investing, an innovative online brokerage firm that lets you purchase an entire portfolio with the click of one button and a total transaction fee of just $9.95. Other firms charge this to purchase just a single ETF.

Now you can easily buy Paul Merriman’s recommended Ultimate Buy and Hold portfolios for just $9.95 each, starting with as little as $300 to invest. 

Track your investments anywhere and anytime. Motif gives you the analytical tools to track your progress towards your investing goals and make informed investment decisions.

Rebalance with the click of a button for the same low fee. And, if you sign up through our affiliate link to Motif – which costs you nothing extra – you’ll be helping sustain the work of The Merriman Financial Education Foundation, making it possible for us to improve and maintain recommendations into the future. 

More Things to Know About Motif Investing

Motif is low-cost and convenient, but there are also some limitations: 

  • Customer support is not nearly as responsive as full-service brokerage firms.
  • Motif requires a minimum initial investment of $300 to purchase a Motif, and $250 for incremental Motif investments.
  • Motif only accepts market orders for buying and selling Motifs — no limit or stop-loss orders.
  • Motif investing requires a ~2% cash buffer for orders placed while the market is open, and 5% for orders placed after hours.
  • Motif doesn’t support automatic dividend reinvestment plans, so dividends won’t be reinvested until you make your next investment in the Motif.
  • Motif also doesn’t officially support auto-invest or auto-repurchase for community Motifs like Paul’s.
  • Motif allocation percentages drift with market values of the underlying assets.
  • We update Paul’s Motif allocations on roughly a quarterly basis, or as needed to keep them close to the ideal allocations for new investors.  
  • Motif fund and allocation updates will not be reflected in new purchases until you re-balance, so you’ll need to re-balance to benefit from the update.
  • Motif assesses a semi-annual “platform fee” of $10 for accounts with balances of <$10k and >$0 and no trades in the past 6 months.
  • Purchasing and re-balancing are different transactions, so it makes sense to plan to do both on an alternating regular basis — for example, purchasing in January, and re-balancing in July.
  • Alternatively, you could re-balance first, then invest dividends and new money once at the beginning of the year and pay the platform fee mid-year until your balance is >$10k 

ONCE YOU SIGN UP, search for Paul Merriman’s profile page. To see all of Paul’s Motif portfolios, based on his recommendations, click here.  Because Motif allows any member to create his/her own portfolios – and several people are offering Motif portfolios based on Paul’s work – be sure you are seeing and choosing from Paul’s portfolios. Again, you will find them here.  


How does Motif simplify following Paul’s recommendations?

For years, Paul has provided portfolio recommendations for taxable and tax-deferred ETFs but – for the DIY investor – using them meant calculating and making many individual purchases.  Rebalancing was even more complex for most investors. 

Through Motif Investing, Paul offers pre-configured portfolios to match a wide range of interests and needs. If you want to include additional ETFs, you can modify these portfolios; but then you’ll need to maintain and update them on your own.

By offering many Motifs, we hope to provide you completely balanced and diversified portfolios that you do not have to modify to meet your long-term financial goals… and they will work with your comfort level of risk. 

Can I buy Paul’s Ultimate Buy and Hold Portfolio using Motif? 

Absolutely! Paul has created tax-deferred and taxable Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold Motifs and an All-Vanguard tax-deferred version for investors who want an all-Vanguard solution, although Vanguard is missing several important asset classes. The Ultimate Buy and Hold Portfolio offers you maximum defense, peace of mind and value. Pick the bond percentage you’re comfortable with and you’re done. Read about the Ultimate Buy and Hold strategies.

What is “Best-in-Class?”

Best-in-class refers to Paul’s choice of the best ETFs for each and every asset class in the portfolio, with no attempt to stay within one fund family, e.g. all Vanguard, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, etc. This way, you get the best and most-diverse allocations of the asset classes Paul recommends.

How can you know your acceptable level of risk?

The Fine-Tuning tables show the historical returns of various percentages of stocks (equities) and bonds (fixed-income) within a portfolio. This should help you determine the mix with which you are comfortable. If you are young with many earning years ahead of you, or you are a “good saver” and in front of the savings curve for your goals, you can usually take more risk. High returns usually entail big ups and downs, while lower returns usually mean smaller ups and downs. But the most important consideration in assessing your risk level is: what will give you peace of mind?

What mixes of equity and fixed income are available?

For each Merriman Motif portfolio, choose what percentage in equities (stocks) and fixed income (bonds) you want – from 100% equities and 0% fixed income, down to 20% equities and 80% fixed income, in 10% increments.

These equity and fixed-income ratios are shown in the Motif names and descriptions, and in bottom left (equity %) and bottom right (fixed income %) of the Motif icons. These are the icons for the Best-in-Class worldwide Ultimate Buy and Hold portfolios.

How do I sign up for Motif Investing?

Click here for our affiliate link to access Motif Investing and open a free account. After you understand how Motif works, you need to fund the account. Just as every brokerage firm does, Motif offers many ways to fund the account. Every time you log-in, you’ll be prompted to fund it until you do. Each Motif can have up to 30 different ETFs or stocks.

Even if you decide to choose another Motif or create your own, signing up through our link will help fund The Merriman Financial Education Foundation’s on-going projects so we can continue to update and maintain these recommendations.

SIGN UP FOR MOTIF INVESTING and create a free account.

See Frequently Asked Question Below!

To start, we offering six basic portfolio families: 

Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold Worldwide (WW) Tax Deferred

50% U.S./50% International

This portfolio is available in 9 equity/fixed-income combinations from 100% equities to 20% equities/80% fixed-income

Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold 70% US Tax Deferred

70% U.S./30% International 

This portfolio is available in the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above.

Vanguard Ultimate Buy and Hold WW Tax Deferred

50% U.S./50% International

This portfolio is built with the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above but restricted to using the Vanguard ETFs we provide in our Vanguard commission free portfolios on our website.  This is for investors who don’t want to spend the time to rebalance and want our recommended portfolio changes automatically applied to your portfolio when you rebalance.

Vanguard Ultimate Buy and Hold 70% US Tax Deferred

70% U.S./ 30% International

This portfolio is built with the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above.

Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold WW Taxable

50% U.S./50% International

This portfolio is built with the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above.

Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold 70% US Taxable

70% U.S./30% International

This portfolio is build with the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above.

Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold WW Taxable

50% U.S./50% International

This portfolio is available in the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above.

Best-in-Class Ultimate Buy and Hold 70% US Taxable

70% U.S./30% International

This portfolio is available in the same 9 equity/fixed-income combinations as above.

More thoughts about Motif from Paul

I know this is a big change, and I don’t expect my readers to leap into something new without careful thought.

I’ve studied MOTIF enough to have full confidence in it, and I have already invested some of my family’s money there.

In the coming months, I will describe additional ways to use MOTIF. For example, we can create custom portfolios for children, young adults, retirees and for people who want a target-date retirement fund that’s more aggressive (or less aggressive) than those offered elsewhere.

I think this represents a big step in our mission to do the best work we possibly can for individual investors.

I encourage you to go to Motif, open a free account and get started with these simple, done-for-you, low-cost families of Ultimate Buy and Hold portfolios. Please share this link with family and friends.


How do I find Paul’s Motifs at Motif Investing?

Once you open a free account, using our link, search for “Paul Merriman Diversified” and you’ll see a list of Paul’s recommended portfolios.

What if I want less International market exposure?

Paul now offers 70% US / 30% International Motifs for customers who are not comfortable with a 50/50 US/International allocation.

Will Paul be introducing more Motifs?

Yes! In the months ahead, new Motifs following Paul’s recommendations will be offered. Stay tuned by subscribing to Paul’s FREE bi-monthly newsletter at his website.

Are there other resources for information on Motif?

It is a good idea to read through all of the Motif FAQs. You will note there are a lot of services at Motif that are designed to engage traders and investors who are building portfolios of individual stocks. Of course, those are NOT the strategies that we recommend but it is a good idea to understand all the ways that Motif is trying to serve investors.

What do I do now?

Get started! Click here and set up your free account.