In today's post I am going to try to explain my long term plan for rebalancing my portfolio. I find it easier (financially) to have things planned out, so that even when my portfolio runs hot (or cold) if I stick by the rules that are decided long beforehand everything will work out well in the long run.
Rebalancing your portfolio (in my case) is just making sure that I have a certain percentage in each asset class. In my simple portfolio, I have two asset classes: stocks and bonds. Stocks would be considered to be the more risky asset (as those who have had money in the stock market lately would agree with me) and bonds would be considered to be more conservative.
One of the old financial sayings is the 90 minus your age rule. That is, the percentage of your portfolio that should be in stocks is 90 minus your age. I am currently 31, so that should mean that I have 59% stocks and 41% bonds. This is far too conservative for me, so I decided to make my own splits that will become more conservative over time, allow me to reap the gains of the stock market (regardless of my age) and even in the case of an economic down turn (if one hits 20 years from now when I am planning to retire) I will still be able to retire when I want.
My basic rebalancing act is this. Each paycheque I deposit 90-95% of my investment money into stocks and 5-10% into bonds. The reason for this is that in the long term, I believe that there will always be money to be made in the stock market. When the Toronto Stock Exchange hits a two-year high (that is, the highest value in the last two years), I will rebalance by portfolio to a 50-50 split of stocks and bonds. My doing this, I will still have money in the stock side of my portfolio, but I have claimed a lot of the profits along the way.
Will this be maximizing my profits along the way? Probably not. If the stock market were to rise nonstop for 5 or 6 years (pretty much from 2002-2008) I would not have as much money in this scenario as if I had all my money invested in the stock market. But, I will be less affected by a 10% drop in the market in one year, as I have taken a lot of my profits along the way. All investment books that I read say that you should be buying when people are selling (obtaining stocks when the prices are low) and selling when others are buying (selling stocks in a hot market). This plan will allow me to keep money in the market always, and minimize my chances of risk in the long term (as the money will tend towards 50% stocks and 50% bonds).