I'm a bit overwhelmed by all this information. Where do I start?
If you’re new to Sound Mind Investing and are not yet a member, start by reading the content in our Investing Basics tab. The nine principles you'll read about there will give you a good feel for how we approach investing. If you are a member, once you sign in to the site with your member credentials, you’ll see a Start Here tab. That’ll walk you through the process of choosing the strategy that’s right for you and implementing it in pursuit of your goals.
How do I choose between the SMI strategies?
We recommend that you start with either SMI's Just-the-Basics (JtB) indexing strategy or our Dynamic Asset Allocation (DAA) strategy. Although access to DAA requires a Premium-level membership, we believe you’ll find its unique set of benefits well worth the slightly higher membership cost.
DAA helps you share in some of a bull market’s gains, while minimizing or even preventing losses during bear markets. DAA is a defensive, low-volatility strategy that nonetheless has generated impressive back-tested results, demonstrating the power of “winning by not losing.”
To understand more about DAA, read the cover article we wrote when we introduced the strategy, Dynamic Asset Allocation: An Investing Strategy for the Risk-Averse. Also see The Role of SMI’s Dynamic Asset Allocation Strategy in Light of Current Market Dynamics.
If you’d like to be a bit more aggressive, consider blending your use of DAA with our Fund Upgrading core strategy. For a look at some very compelling research into this approach, read Higher Returns With Less Risk, Re-Examined.
Which broker should I use?
Our top recommended brokers are Fidelity and Schwab. Their fund lineups and pricing give you the greatest flexibility to utilize SMI’s strategies at the lowest cost. E-Trade is a decent alternative, so if you already have an account there, you may not need to change. Vanguard may be used successfully with Just-the-Basics and DAA, but it isn't appealing for anyone wanting to use Fund Upgrading.
If you are an SMI member, you’ll find more information on our Start Here tab.
Some funds have minimum investment amounts that are too high for me. What can I do?
Minimum investment amounts may, indeed, be a factor for those using our Fund Upgrading and Sector Rotation strategies. However, because Dynamic Asset Allocation uses exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are priced on a per-share basis, it’s possible to use either of this strategy with a relatively small amount of money. ETFs can be used to implement Just-the-Basics too.
Can I use SMI’s strategies in my 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan?
The short answer is “yes,” but how you go about it depends on how many investment choices your plan offers. If your plan offers many investment choices, ideally by giving you access to what’s usually referred to as a “brokerage window” (in essence, access to most if not all of the investment choices available at a broker such as Fidelity, Schwab, Vanguard, or another broker), then you are able to use any SMI strategy.
If your plan offers a more limited set of investment choices, we recommend using our Personal Portfolio Tracker to manage your fund choices. Read Using SMI’s Portfolio Tracker to Manage a Limited 401(k) Plan.