When the stock market started to dip after a long period of highs, I asked my husband if we wanted to buy more stocks with our “extra” money (extra service contracts, money saved from housekeeping and hair-cutting, etc.). To which he said, “What, you want to try to time the market?”
Our strategy has just been to do dollar cost averaging through identical automatic investments every month in a variety of different funds. It’s worked out well for us thus far, although we do occasionally make large purchases (from tax returns or bonuses) into our existing stock and bond funds. When we have extra money to invest, it makes sense to spread it out and maintain a diversified portfolio – stocks, bonds, REITs, international, domestic, etc.
I recently did a quick reallocation of my retirement funds. When I first opened my 403(b), I opted for a 2040 target retirement fund (although obviously I am planning on retiring earlier than that). The Fidelity fund had a .79% expense ratio, which is really quite high. I was really paying a pretty steep fee for the automatic reallocation of my assets, when I could just do it myself quite easily.
I went ahead and re-balanced my retirement funds so that I have 80% in a total stock market index fund with a .10% expense ratio and 20% in a total bond market index fund with a .45% expense ratio. I have the option to invest in a less expensive bond fund, but I would have to pay a transaction fee since it is not a Fidelity fund, and I am not sure how much I would save overall by doing that. I’ll have to re-balance periodically in the future, depending on how the market goes, but it was really quite painless to do it the first time, so I’ll keep an eye on it and reallocate when I need to.
I wish I had the same option to re-balance my teacher retirement fund, but the pickings are slim for low expense ratio funds, and my current retirement fund expense ratio is relatively low compared to what my 403(b) target retirement fund was.