In February, I attended my first Bogleheads chapter meeting. It was a long drive. I drove over 100 miles to the Philadelphia meeting in King of Prussia, Pa. I have been a follower of the Bogleheads.org forum for many years and have spent countless hours reading the Bogleheads.org forum.
The Bogleheads take their name from John C. Bogle who founded Vanguard in 1975. He created the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX). The Vanguard 500 Index fund (VFINX) was the first index fund available to individual investors that tracks the S&P 500. John C Bogle has also made a career of being a champion for small investors. His approach to investing is to build a portfolio of low-cost index funds that are tax efficient and to stay the course during all market conditions.
The Bogleheads are a group of people who follow the investment teachings of John C. Bogle. They have a forum Bogleheads.org. They also have written The Bogleheads Guide to Investing and the Bogleheads guide to Retirement Planning. The Bogleheads are an altruistic group. They help others learn about investing at no cost and have donated the proceeds from their books to charity. A person can post a question about investing, education, careers, consumer goods, as well as other topics related to personal finance on the forum. Most questions receive many answers by highly knowledgeable and experienced investors.
I did not know what to expect since it was my first meeting. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. They were happy to see everyone who was in attendance. Even though I did not know anyone, it was like a meeting with old friends.
There were about 30 people who attended the meeting. They said that it was one of the larger chapter meetings. Some people were long time members. Others were first timers, such as myself. There were people in attendance from Philadelphia, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and the Poconos.
It was nice to put a face to some of the avatars that are regular contributors on the forum. It was a pleasure to meet “Lady Geek”. If you follow the forum, you know her as the moderator who regularly monitors the posts. She makes sure that the rules are followed. If someone strays from following the rules, the post will be removed or the thread will be locked. The Bogleheads forum is as close as it comes to being a perfect online community. That is due to the hard work that the moderators put in to keeping it positive and educational. No politics, religion, trolling, or solicitation is allowed.
The topics that were discussed over the course of two hours were:
- Retiree Portfolio Model, a highly informative lecture on Roth conversions (think MBA level).
- Social Security tax impact calculator, how a Roth Conversion can impact your Social Security taxes (think Ph.D. Level).
- Asset allocation, Lady Geek gave a great lecture on asset allocation based on risk tolerance (think undergrad level for newcomers).
It was truly an intense 2-hour lecture. It was almost information overload. I left the meeting feeling stimulated and exhausted. I cannot wait to attend the next meeting in May to listen to the lectures on tax loss harvesting.
The Bogleheads have chapter meetings in most major U.S. cities. They are free to attend. I highly recommend attending if you are into reaching FI and FIRE. If you are interested, there is a local chapter section on the forum to find a meeting near you. Also, if you are interested in the calculator and more detailed notes from the February 2017 meeting, they can be found under the Philadelphia chapter meeting section on the Forum.