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Trade Like My Mom, a Year Later

It's never too late to start planning your financial future.

A year ago, I wrote about a retirement portfolio I was setting up for my mother, who had recently retired after a 43-year career in the computer software industry. The main question I had to ask myself was what sort of portfolio would be ideal for someone like her.

My mom wanted a return of about 8%-10% annually, which is more than a traditional money manager could get. Additionally, she wanted liquidity (the ability to take money out), which rules out all hedge funds. And she also wanted transparency, the ability to look at her portfolio on a daily or (Heaven forbid) hourly basis. And finally, she wanted low volatility.

On Stockpickr, I set up two retirement portfolios for my mom. Last year's portfolio achieved everything it set out to do -- and then some.

Including dividends, the portfolio returned 10.6%, and 20 of the 21 stocks in the portfolio were up for the year (also including dividends). About one-third of the dividends were tax-free, so the taxable equivalent return was about 12%. I still believe many of the stocks are fine to hold long term, and for the most part I wouldn't change anything about the portfolio.

Note that a taxable equivalent return of 12% was 2%-4% more than my initial and expected goal. This is not necessarily a good thing. When a strategy is too successful, it tends to swing back in the other direction. While I expect to get a return of 8%-10% from this approach over time, I also expect some underperformance to occur as a result of the recent success of this strategy.

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