This account of the South Florida local chapter meeting, July 30, 2017, is contributed by guest author, LazyNihilist.
The South Florida Boglehead Chapter had a meeting on July 30th from noon to 2pm at the Stirling Road Branch Library in Hollywood Florida.
Our new chapter leader Miriam2 chose the location for its wonderful conference room facilities and ample parking. This location also made it possible for some Bogleheads to drive down from Orlando.
The library’s conference room had a projector that we used to hook up the laptop and demonstrate some of the many features of Bogleheads website. The air conditioning was not working when we started our meeting, but the library staff were quick to fix it before it got too hot.There were between 35-40 Bogleheads that attended the chapter meeting and quite a few new faces. Taffy provided us with name tags so it would be easy to recognize and address fellow Bogleheads. This was a great idea.
Arthur and Taylor kicked off the meeting with a brief introduction and asking everyone in the room to introduce themselves. We had a good crowd with quite a mix of experience. Some of us have been attuned to the Bogleheads philosophy for the past 20 years and some of us had just discovered the website a few weeks back. We had Bogleheads with over 25,000 posts (Taylor of course) and we had Boglehead lurkers who were happy to be reading the tremendous wealth of knowledge on the forum and the wiki.
Larry Auton, one of the founders of bogleheads.org, joined us. Larry talked about how the website came into existence and how it was the vision of Taylor and the coming together of Larry and Alex Frakt’s expertise together with the help of the bogleheads member ‘Phoenix’.
Bogleheads was for a very long time hosted out of Larry’s garage, but now he has moved his server/hardware to Switch.com’s colocation facilities, provided by another Boglehead. We are grateful for their dedication to keep this wonderful website running and the moderators for keeping the discussion civil and focused.
Main discussion topics
The main topics of discussion in this meeting were mainly gathered by Miriam2 from questions that Bogleheads most wanted to discuss.
Roth IRA conversions and optimizing taxes for Roth conversions and contributions
We discussed when to do a Roth IRA conversion. How to perform the conversion. A lot of the details are specific to an individual’s situation and it would be good to model them in a ‘what if’ scenario’s provided by the tax software. But the main idea is to keep the total income under a certain tax bracket so additional taxes are not triggered.
This was a hot topic and as with one of the most debated topics on the forum, there was no unanimous consensus. While US stocks outperformed International in the past few years, that does not mean anything because ‘past performance is no guarantee of future results’.
Dollar Cost Averaging vs. lump sum investing
This was an interesting topic, as we discussed the pro’s and con’s of DCA vs lump sum. DCA might provide peace of mind, but it can also lead to missing out on market returns based on when an investor starts to DCA. For example, if an investor started DCA right after the 2008 downturn, they might have missed on the huge market upswing. But if an investor started DCA in 2006/2007, they might have been pretty relieved that they didn’t go all in with a lump sum.
Taylor brought up an important point that one should also take a good hard look at one’s asset allocation. If the asset allocation is properly set, investing lump sum shouldn’t be a problem.
Contributing to 529 plans
We discussed on strategies to invest in 529’s for college education for kids and when should someone invest in a 529. If someone has not filled up on their Roth contribution space, it probably doesn’t make sense to put that money in a 529. But for an investor who has already filled their other tax advantaged space, 529’s are an excellent investment vehicle. (Please refer to the wiki page, Prioritizing investments. )
Social Security withdrawal strategies
There were questions about what would be the right time to start Social Security withdrawal. Does it make sense to wait until you are 70? A lot depends on the individual’s situation. There are circumstances where early withdrawal makes more sense. The bogleheads wiki is a great resource here. Also if Social Security withdrawal puts someone in the next tax bracket, it might prevent them from doing Roth conversions. These situations are best modeled in a tax software for each situation to check which would be the best strategy to minimize taxes and maximize benefits.
Odds and ends
Miriam2 showed us some of the useful new features of the Bogleheads.org forum and wiki. The wiki has an Index link in the upper left sidebar which shows the user a list of all available wiki pages. This is a very useful research tool similar to an Index at the back of a book.
Many Bogleheads also expressed their interest in attending the Bogleheads Conference.
Like the last chapter meeting, Taylor, Taffy and Michael once again provided us delicious sandwiches for lunch. We also had Bogleheads bring in cookies, salad, chips, soda and bottled water.
It was great to meet many familiar faces along with new Bogleheads and see many smart, talented, kind and helpful people. Thanks to Arthur and Miriam2 for arranging this wonderful meeting. Looking forward to the next chapter meeting and meeting many more Bogleheads.