Typical Investment Advice

I received a comment recently from an anonymous person.

This person sounds like a fairly typical example of a somewhat average American.  Perhaps you could say this person is somewhat of a typical example of an average American who reads my blog, since the person has some gold investments.

It is hard to comment precisely, not knowing details about family, location, income, total savings amount, and risk tolerance.  But I can make some comments that might be helpful.  Since others may find them helpful, I decided to write a separate post, instead of just a response in the comments.

First, I think this person is on the right track.  He (I will assume this is a "he") has a good portion invested in gold and silver (hopefully more gold than silver).  He has some of his savings in cash or cash equivalents, which is actually a good position to be in right now.

It is good that he is only contributing to his 401k plan up to the company match.  You should never go beyond this.  I have written about the risks involved with 401k type plans before.  If your contributions are hurting your other savings to a large degree, then you might even consider not contributing to the 401k.  Yes, I know every financial advisor out there is screaming.  But 401k money is the most illiquid savings you can have, especially when your employer won't let you withdraw your own money.  It is more important to have an emergency fund that you can actually access, than a 401k.

He did not say what his investments are in his 401k plan.  Hopefully it is well diversified.  Some plans allow you to opt in to a special brokerage link account where you can buy any mutual fund that you want.  You would probably have to fill out a special application for this.  If your company allows this, then you should do it and you can then put the majority of your 401k money into PRPFX.

I would not start a regular IRA.  If you are going to start an IRA, then go with a Roth.  At least you can withdraw your principal money (not any gains) before hitting retirement age without getting hit with a penalty.

For the brokerage account, this person can set up something similar to the permanent portfolio using ETFs.  I have written about this strategy before.  He is already doing one portion with a gold ETF, probably GLD.

I'm not sure the total net worth of this individual.  He says that he has some of his savings in cash though.  If he is in a decent location, he might want to consider investment real estate.  If he could just buy one three-bedroom house and put 20% down, it might be a good payoff in the long run.  Mortgage rates are historically low and housing prices are low, depending on where you live.  This should generate positive cash flow for the average month.  If it doesn't, then it shouldn't be done.

Of course, there is also the option of paying down your mortgage if you own a home and have a mortgage.  This is a guaranteed rate of return equivalent to the interest rate on your mortgage.  It is a good compliment to gold holdings that hedge against inflation.  Paying down your mortgage is more of a hedge against deflation.

Overall, I encourage everyone to set up the majority of their investments (outside of real estate) into something similar to the permanent portfolio.  You will probably sleep better at night.