I wanted to add a little more international exposure to our portfolios (if I’m reading things correctly, the IRA Roth is a great place to put international exposure because there might be higher taxes with international stock gains? I’m not 100% clear on this– I also read something that said the opposite), so when we recently did backdoor Roths, I put the money into an international index and an international ETF. The index (VGTSX) has an expense ratio of .18% and the ETF (VXUS) has an expense ratio of .11%.
If I have 10K invested, then I can convert my VGTSX investor shares into VTIAX admiral shares, which will decrease the expense ratio from .18% to .11% (same as the ETF). For most of the index funds that have admiral shares at Vanguard, the switch from more expensive investor shares to cheaper admiral shares occurs when the account has more than $10,000 invested in that specific index. Basically Vanguard gives you a discount on the index if you have a lot invested in them.
My 2017 IRA investment was only $5,500, but it is a new year so I contributed another $5,500, which, if the stock market doesn’t crash, adds up to more than 10K, meaning I should be able to switch to admiral shares to get the lower cost fund. So that’s what I’ve done.
I’m wasn’t entirely sure where to invest DH’s IRA this year. He had less invested overall and thus needs less international exposure and already had the lower cost ETF. (I know that since we’re living in a community property state that I should be looking at our accounts as a complete whole, but since I don’t know what the future will hold, I want to make sure that he’s also protected.) I will have to see what holdings he currently has one of these days. I suppose we’re due for one of those financial fitness days sometime so I can go through and readjust our assets etc., but maybe I’ll wait another year. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on and can afford to put it off, especially since I’m not really sure what asset mix we should be aiming for in the first place. In the end I gave him more VXUS.
Do you pay attention to expense ratios? How do they change your investment patterns? Any preferences between Index vs ETF?