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Ask HN: I've saved up $80k USD. What should I do with it?
50 points by neilgodwin 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 107 comments
It's been on my account for at least 3 years. Nothing ever seemed worthy of investing it. How does one find the confidence to invest large sums? Do you start small? How to get rid of the pressure knowing that money is just collecting dust?

The world of investing is filled with a lot of bs, conflicts of interest, snake oil, fraud, and plain old incompetence.

Therefore, you need to pretty much learn enough that you could do it all yourself. At that point, you might not do it all yourself, but you'll have a decent chance of judging whether or not someone (advisor, robo-advisor, investment fund, index fund provider etc.) you delegate to knows what they are doing.

And by the way, I'm starting up a hedge fund right now. I can guarantee you an annual 20% return.

Good job! I was nodding along and almost choke to dead from laughing at your last sentence.

Well, it depends on your situation, but in general you could consider:

- Do you have high interest debts? Paying off debt is a guaranteed return.

- Can the money be invested, or is it earmarked for e.g. downpayment for a house, new car, education, or other short to mid-term purchases ? Consider your investment horizon. If it's less than 3-5 years, consider leaving it where it is.

- Can you spend it on yourself, e.g. improve your earning potential or start a business ?

- If you want to invest it in the stock market, I would not try and pick stocks, but spread it across a number of well diversified funds. I also would not spend all the money at once but e.g. aim to invest a chunk of it every month over 6-8 months

Think within the context of broader personal finance considerations, there's already a few good links in the answers.

First off: Well done saving up! If you are paralysed about (getting started with) investing, I can recommend the books "A random walk down Wall Street" and the (very thick but well worth it) "The intelligent investor".

Especially the last one opened my eyes a lot about how to approach investing. I have the revised edition from 2006, though the original publication was in 1949. The 2006 edition has a section after each chapter discussing how the original chapter fared in the decades after publication. Without exception, the lessons discussed in the book from the 1929 recession and earlier turned out to have been very applicable in the dotcom crash of 2000, the "black monday" crash of 1987, etc. It really shows how most things are nothing new and gives a lot of perspective on the markets.

Reading up and understanding how the stock markets work can take away some of the pressure. Finally, there is no rule about having to start big or small. If it makes you feel better, start with $500 and see how it goes. The sister comment by "ForHackernews" about starting with a diversified index fund is good advice (and probably what you'd conclude anyway after reading the books).

One Up On Wall Street, Peter Lynch

I am currently reading this and I can't help but think every single page is a puff piece on how many stocks he owns and which opportunities he did and didn't see.

It doesn't feel like learning about investing for a beginner but rather an autobiography on his portfolio. What did you like about it?

The idea that one can go about his own world, think for himself, and get into positions based off his own information advantages before wall street catches on. As a type 1 diabetic, this idea has paid off handsomely with my returns on $TNDM and $DXCM

I take it you are a young person... First max out your company 401K with as much contribution to the ROTH option as you can afford... invest it in the lowest fee broad market matching index fund (Hint: S&P500) you can find. OK... now hopefully you are down with this and you still aren't eating into that 80K... If you don't need this money for a house, Well... over the long haul investment in the broader stock market "historically" doubles investments every 7 years. So, I'd suggest you open a cheap online brokerage account and first invest as much as you can into a ROTH and drop both ROTH and excess into an (again S&P500?) index mutual fund with the lowest expense ratio that you can find... and... try not to look at it again for the next 30 years except to convert as much each year into ROTH as possible. After 30 years you will hopefully look back into your account and have about $1.5M in that account with... being able to pull some significant amount of that investment out _tax free_. If you do need some of it for a house try to avoid 30 year loans and elect for 10-20 year loans.

Right now is a very risky time to invest. It could be that it turns out to be a good time, because stocks are about 20% below the all-time high. But there could also be a second crash, when investors realize the real impact of the economic crisis caused by Covid-19. In addition to that, there's the risk of inflation caused by government bailouts. What I'm doing right now is keeping about 1/3rd in gold ETF as inflation protection, about 1/3rd in stocks ETFs and the rest in cash. Once the whole thing is over, I will probably move back to stock ETFs.

Are you familiar with https://portfoliocharts.com/portfolio/golden-butterfly/

20% Total Stock Market

20% Small Cap Value

20% Long Term Bonds

20% Short Term Bonds

20% Gold

You could replace short term bonds with Cash, TIPS, CDs, Bitcoin.

Not this portfolio, but I don't see the point of buying bonds anymore, at least when you invest a relatively small amount of money. Low interest, risk is relatively high compared to what you can earn, and no inflation protection.

Long term bonds benefit from low interest rates.


1. Open a margin account on Interactive Brokers.

2. Choose a target volatility level you're comfortable with (I like 20%).

3. Buy shares of BRKB. Buy enough such that volatility of your portfolio reaches your target volatility.

4. Every month, update your share amount to maintain the same target volatility.


At step 1 I was half expecting this to go towards /r/wallstreetbets and some terrible jokes.

> some terrible jokes

I'm immediately shorting everything you own.


Short answer: Dump it all in VFIAX and ignore it for about 30 years.

Alternately, wait for the housing market freefall that is scheduled to hit about 180 days from now, and buy a foreclosure or two.

EDIT: Cosigning the above recommendation about maxing out a Roth IRA each and every year as well, and of course maxxing out any company-matched 401(k) options.

The problem (for me) with index funds is that you end up participating in stocks for companies you may not want. For example, I don't want a penny of my money to go to Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc. Here's the VFAIX top ten holdings:

Microsoft Corp Apple Inc Amazon.com Inc Facebook Inc A Berkshire Hathaway Inc B Alphabet Inc Class C Alphabet Inc A Johnson & Johnson Visa Inc Class A Procter & Gamble Co

It has always blown my mind that the answer for "retirement" now is to put your money in the online casino.

As a father of two young kids, the last thing I want to do is contribute to the erosion of any sense of privacy my kids may have in the future. Using Facebook as a tool for retirement is just as dumb to me as using Facebook for anything else.

Choosing to invest or not invest in Facebook does not change a single thing about whether or not society as a whole chooses to use Facebook and whether or not, via that use, Facebook becomes powerful and further erodes societal values placed around privacy. Facebook would still be Facebook (and thus dangerous) even if it were privately held.

Facebook is Facebook because they have an app that people love to use, and that gives them the power to sell and control placement in the communication between friends and acquaintances back to those same communities. They're not powerful because of their share price.

Index invest away. I have Facebook blocked at my router but I still own them via index funds.

Cool, I think you missed my point, though. I personally do not want to have a penny invested in Facebook/Google/Amazon. I do not care about the gains or losses or the number of people that love to use their apps/services.

Money isn't everything.

There are ethical investing firms, and they offer ethical investing mutual funds and ETFs -- my wife holds a few of their offerings. Their performance isn't amazing.

You're also not obligated to buy an ETF -- you can create your own "index" without much effort. The OP's $80k would let them do that, were they so inclined. Maybe not all 500 in the S&P, but a lot.

Eh, after seeing the pile of dogshit that VCs are pushing on the public markets lately, I've lost a lot of faith in publicly traded companies.

What do you do for retirement? Do you not have a 401k that invests in some index fund?

Your short answer suggests you cannot time the market but over the long run, stocks generally go up so they're a good long term investment. Also this answer touts the benefits of passive liquid investments with transaction costs associate with it.

Your second answer goes completely the other direction. The answer suggests to time an investment in real estate, the least liquid investment with the highest transaction costs a typical investor could buy.

No one knows what housing market will be like 180 days from now, no matter how many times they're interviewed on CNBC.

I like your first answer better.

overall awfully misguided advice. when you buy foreclosure you are buying all responsibilities for the home - past debts, mortgages, liens, future taxes, repairs etc - in addition you are betting that future appreciation will all pay off - not guaranteed at all. Homes are illiquid and a lot of trouble.

no one should just buy a foreclosed home without thorough preparation

Buying a foreclosure is the same as any other home purchase -- get an inspection and title search to know what you're getting into. You're not "buying all responsibilities" any more than you are when purchasing a home the "normal" way.

Saying just get title insurance is exactly what I meant you should be prepared to know what is required and is not something you should jump into thinking of it as easy money.

When you are buying a typical real estate the cost of title search and title insurance are usually part of the settlement process and are included automatically, you don't have to do anything, all gets done for you.

The problem is that with foreclosures that they often are sold via auctions where you don't get to inspect the home, you have to pay cash upfront, getting title insurance is not so given either. Plus you have to do it all yourself. All serious issues.

There will be plenty of pre-foreclosures.

Even if there were to be a massive freefall in housing it would take the banking system months, and probably years, to get round to processing all the mortgages which were in arrears.

Foreclosure is a slow, slow, slow process even at the best of times. People can avoid paying their mortgages and still be living in a property for many years. If you're imagining something that covers a significant amount of property that will take even longer.

It will be 180days + unemployment + CARES act unemployment (13w) so the better part of a year before the real defaults start. Not that it won’t happen it will be much more slow motion that most people will be comfortable with.

BTW I just lost out on buying a house, the market is still there but it is much lower.

So, you're saying no fall in prices in the short to mid term is expected?

I have heard people predicting a collapse of the housing market for almost a decade. I expect some areas will see a rise in prices, and some a fall.

Mass unemployment will cause problems for many, but at the same time lots of countries are essentially forbidding evictions and that has to have a somewhat balancing action for the short-term. How well that will hold up is an open question, and nobody knows the answer.

We are preparing to sell our current house and buy a new one. Our realtor (so grain of salt here) said that its currently a buyers market and that he expects it to remain that way at least through fall. But honestly, no one knows and there is no way to know.

Not necessarily. People are still buying houses. Interest rates are low.

Why VFIAX over VOO? does buying a foreclosure mean buying a house for cheap after the owners were unable to pay for it?

VFIAX is "Admiral Shares" and has a lower expense ratio compared to VOO. But it also requires a higher minimum investment -- $80k is over that limit.

Even if OP splits it into smaller, dollar-cost-averaging purchases they'll still be able to get VFIAX without a problem.

I've heard that the decrease in prices is expected for business housing, not so much in residential. What are your thoughts on that?

I hear a lot of things. I personally believe that the net result of all of this in a few (3-5) years when the worst part of it shakes out is that a lot of people who used to have equity will now be renting, but living in basically the same areas/levels: this is going to result in a very large net equity transfer to those who have cash on hand or cash flows in the next few years, at the expense of wage slaves who get totally fucked because their employers collapse over the summer and unemployment skyrockets.

Lots of large companies are going to do big layoffs to survive. Many others are going to dump their entire workforces when they go under entirely. Large industries like travel and tourism and entertainment and gambling and the related services for same are going to get scaled back for years. Money for the non-wealthy (and by wealthy I include pretty much everyone who knows pointer math or web programming, as even having $-20k in assets if you're able to make $100k+ puts you far better off than most) is going to become harder and harder to come by. I expect this to result in a lot of evictions when the courts reopen, and lots of foreclosures about 3-6 months after the layoffs peak in 3-4 months. All of the figures I am guessing at here are +/- ~10 weeks and are sketchy guessing at best, because who the fuck knows what's going to happen the rest of the year with any potential second or third waves of disease, or governmental closure orders, or even the outbreak of another world war.

It sounds like you have savings and income. Personally, with all of this uncertainty, I'd guard both as carefully as you can. Millionaires can afford to take bigger risks right now, normal people with nest eggs generally cannot, as it's not certain that the jobs will be as plentiful or high-paying in the next ten years as they were the last.

If in doubt, stick with the index fund, and just "set it and forget it". If you want to get more actively involved (or if you don't plan to change cities much and don't already own a home), real estate is almost always a good long term investment as well.

My advice would be markedly different if you were asking about $8M or $800k and not $80k, but $80k isn't a ton of money these days (I'm guessing it's less than a year of your gross income) so I personally would go lower-risk for the first few hundred k before ramping up the potential for higher returns.

all speculation - nobody knows, everyone can claim anything, then survivorship bias will kick in, and those that happened to say the right thing will claim "expertise"

Dollar cost averaging into an index fund.

After paying down any high interest debts and earmarking at least 3 months worth of living expenses into a savings account or other cash equivalent as an emergency fund.

There’s a great decision making flowchart floating around somewhere or other.

There are a handful of them. Some simple, some complex.

Here is a complex one... https://i.imgur.com/c0p24cU.png

This flow chart is awesome! I'm not sure I agree on the order of all of the steps. For example you may want to put section 3 before section 2. Also, it looks like this is recommending saving for a downpayment on a house before maxing out your 401k. It makes sense but I'm not sure it is one size fits all.

Pick one or two ETF and set up a monthly amount to invest into them. You don’t need to invest everything at once and the monthly commitment averages out short term effects. If you want to be more active with a part of your money, you can also commit to buy a couple of stocks monthly. If you get rid of poorly performing stocks regularly and rebalance the portfolio you can declare them as capital losses that will count towards any future capital gains.

I would actually keep holding it in cash -- that is maybe 2 years of emergency funds if you are married/have a family?

Keep it in cash, pretend you don't have it (create a separate account that is just this sitting there), continue earning and saving. Anything extra you earn after this 80k base you can invest (simple things like index funds, dollar cost average in slowly).

You could put 80K in the stock market, and if you have an emergency borrow against it at 2%.

This is terrible advice. Cash is cash, you can pay bills, buy food, get through hard times without needing to do anything but access it. Coronavirus should be showing everyone that random insane things can happen, so be conservative with emergency funds.

And borrowing can be same day, same as cash. Or within 30-45 days to pay off a credit card, using it as free float.

The nice thing about borrowing against stock is not having to sell the stock while its down, unless you borrowed so much to hit a margin call. If it's allowed, you could borrow against treasury inflation-protected securities to protect you against runaway inflation. TIPS are up 8% on the year. I'd take 8% gain for 2% cost and peace of mind that my cash isnt losing value.

80K is a lot to have in an emergency fund. Borrowing even a quarter of it should be no problem, without risk of short term margin calls.

I believe pure dollar cost averaging to be a worse choice than picking and filling an allocation with low start date sensitivity and high baseline long term returns. Even averaging in over a year isnt enough time to tackle start date sensitivity, you are better off with an array of stable equivalents, and contributing into just stock allocation over time, as you make more, than holding just cash and waiting to buy stock. Cash by itself is a sure fire way to lose money over time. https://portfoliocharts.com/portfolio/portfolio-matrix/

Some combination of total world stock market, small cap value, reits and bonds/tips, gold, cash, bitcoin. Rebalance quarterly. You'll be much more diversified than holding cash, or holding a cash plus a mutual fund with 90% stock, and cash will still be instantly accessible. It's really not that different in concept than a HELOC, except your collateral is much more diversified than your house.

I used to be a stock broker. But right now I am not your stock broker. This is not advice.

Great fundamental wisdom is that you can't (consistently) time the market but you should try to Buy Low, Sell High. That said, we experience a massive COVID crash. It's a great time to buy, but we don't know how long it will last or whether it will be long recession afterwards.

Index investing through ETFs is a great way to get diversity in a single financial instrument such as the S&P (large companies), NASDAQ (tech), or the Russell (small companies.) The NASDAQ has largely recovered but the Russell still has a long way to go back to February prices.

I have an old friend whose parents sold their home recently and gave him a sum. He's putting in 10% per month for the next 10 months, all in the S&P.

What's the reason for splitting it in 10 if you know you're going to invest it this way already?

I would assume to be more flexible and be able to change strategy if something goes wrong?

Dollar cost averaging means you aren't trying to time the market.

Key question is: When do you need the money?

Depending on time frame is the key to deciding where to put it.

How to put it, the best advise, and I am doing this myself, is to put it in a little at a time. For my needs, I have selected 8 places to put the money. Based on 3 different times to need the money. I then looked at each to determine where I thought they were going. i.e. money in emerging markets I will not put into until a year from now. Real estate and banking I am waiting to the start of summer. Others started a month ago. When I expected to be fully invested. For each I assigned now much in total I plan to put in. This gives me an amount over time to invest.

Using your 80K, assume you wanted 3 pots. Pot A is 35K, pot B is 25K and Pot C is 20K. Assume you want to put pot A 35K in over the next 6 months - assumption being you expect the bottom of that market within that time frame. 6 months is approximately 180 days - or $194 per day - $1361 per week. So I would either once a week put in $1361 or every other week $2722. In your case, I would probably do it every week.

I highly recommend vanguard.

Plan two, follow Warren Buffets advice - he said when he dies to put in 10 amount in short term government bond fund for his wife to spend every year, and the rest in a S&P 500.


Nobody can answer that seriously without knowing your situation in life. Age, family, job, etc.

30, no family, software engineer, male

As someone in a similar situation, just throw it all in VTSAX vanguard or FZROX fidelity and let it sit for the next 30-40years. Dollar cost average over the next year maybe if that makes things less nerve wracking.

Obviously we are in a really crazy market right now, and while that might be disconcerting it is the case that s&p 500 has existed through 2 world wars and a Great Depression and still delivered returns.

No idea why that comment ended up dead. But anyway, in that case, one potential thing to invest in is a own company. If that is something you are interested in. Not now, but when the timing is right. Until then, leave the money where it is.

One other thing would be an extended travel / sabbatical. As soon as this is an option again, of course. Regarding the startup thing, this is what I did after two years. Less money (keep some funds for rainy days!), but with a house and family.


Just invest in a broadly diversified index fund.

Start here if you're a total beginner: https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Getting_started

Thanks for mentioning this. Bogleheads Wiki [1] is a goldmine of index investing and asset allocation insights for every stage of an individual investor's lifecycle. Highly recommended.

[1] https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Main_Page


That’s a great low risk way to proceed, but is lazy in my opinion.

For one, those stocks include weapons manufacturers and other poisonous companies that maybe you wouldn’t want to support.

Second, it detached you from your underlying investment. In my opinion the ability to evaluate businesses is itself worth investing in.

Go pick a sector you are interested in. Compile a list of small - mid cap companies (I.e. companies worth hundreds of millions to a few billions). Read up as much as you can on them. What’s their business model? Who leads them? What’s their current state? Invest in the ones that stand out!

Not many people will tell you this because “investing in the index fund will give you amazing returns after 30 years and Warren Buffet said some!!”.

I dunno man I'd go for precious metals and gemstones so you can at least look at it while it collects dust. Personally I think old gold pesos are pretty cool.


You could look into investing it into crypto money. It obviously is risky, there is no doubt about that, but can yield you very good returns, even in the current crisis. There are a large variety of options depending on the risk-level you are willing to take.

If you are interested in trading, I can warmly recommend starting here: https://hackernoon.com/all-my-trusty-crypto-trading-wisdom-i...

If you don't want to go that deep, I can recommend the crypto.com app/platform, one of the most approachable options right now imo with more or less "safe" earning options for which you do not need to know anything about trading (my referral code: aenfe3qkjz): https://crypto.com/

Wisdom of the crowd: https://old.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki

You decide whether to trust it. Considering your circumstances, the advice can be condensed to buying and continually investing into ETF and holding the assets for a couple of decades, as a few fellow HNers already said.

What do you want? How old are you/how much career do you have left to fix a screwup? How much of a catastrophe is losing everything? Are you responsible for other people's well-being? Where are you located? How do you feel about risk? What is your housing situation?

I used a similar amount to buy a very small house in cash, but this would be considered a poor move in many ways (mortgages are pretty cheap debt). It works for me, though.

Find a fiduciary financial adviser / asset manager perhaps who gets paid based on service rather than periodic commissions.

What about: nothing, just accumulate more, stach it and one day a need or opportunity will arise.

Might not be a popular opinion since we all are expected to optimize everything but 50 years in and this non strategy has made my financial live rather dull, which I like.

This might already be you but if not it gives some useful advice for your situation: https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/geeq4t/i_h...

I would keep 1-2 years worth of living expenses, then take the rest and put it in an index fund, and keep putting new savings into the index fund.

I would also move to a country with 1/4 the cost of living so that you're instantly 4x wealthier, and use the extra to take time off and enjoy life and build your own company.

He has 80K, not 80M.

I left San Francisco to live in a country where 80K can last 6 years without working. IMO, arbitraging cost of living is the smartest thing to do with your money if you’re an engineer and can earn USD anywhere, especially since OP is single with no kids.

Depending on your age and background, consider investing in yourself, e.g. invest in things that help you finish your degree or boost your career or invest in your physical health. Returns of such investments might be considerable.

I would prefer to buy property any time. People will always need housing. So while the price of the property is pure speculation, rent is a nice steady source of income.

Only if people want to live where you buy the property. If you bought property in Detroit in 2005, how much rent would you have collected in the last 15 years?

This is true, but it's worth considering that investments in individual stocks or in index funds (I would avoid actively managed funds) are incredibly liquid.

If I decide the housing market isn't for me or I need to raise cash quickly, I could be forced to wait anywhere from 8 weeks to 18 months, or longer to get any of my investment back (even longer if I don't want to lose money through desperation to sell).

If I need to raise money from stocks or index funds I can get market value for those investments instantly during business hours.

Assuming you had no property, would you be comfortable with your first purchase being something you can't yourself live in? Also, would owning mean a huge time investment maintianing it?

Burn it on hookers, booze, dope, travel, education

Invest in local food and farmers.

I am building a startup, invest in me. Not kidding. No really.

If you have any debt and less than 3-6 months of emergency savings, and do not own your home, I recommend starting with a free BYU personal finance class (I can dig if you cant find a link), and/or Dave Ramsey materials.

I second this - pay off any non-mortgage debt (student loans, cars, etc) before investing.


thanks for the link

A comment is appreciated on down-votes; thanks.

Donate a portion of it.

Spend it on the people you love (including yourself).

Do you have any interest in building a startup yourself? If so, $80k will last you 4-5 years for bootstrapping if you move to a low cost area and don’t have any dependents or other expenses.

I have no experience with this, but I would caution about starting a startup purely because you have enough money to run it for a while.

...that’s why the first sentence of my comment is “Do you have any interest...?”

This is a great thing to do (for some people) but keep in mind that 4-5 years of lost income should be included in the calculation.

If you don’t do a startup because of supposed lost income, frankly you shouldn’t be doing a startup in the first place.

Which, of course, is a good thing to keep in mind when making that decision.

"I can survive for 5 years on $80k but will I miss ($x) where x could be $200,000-$2,000,000 when it comes time to retire" is a relevant question.

Right, but again, if calculating your retirement is the prime factor when determining what to do with your life, a startup probably isn’t for you anyway. Stick with a solid well-paying software job and you can do the early retirement thing.

I sure am, but as mentioned in one of the replies, I would need an idea that I believe enogh in. Would you do it differently? How do you know if something is worth it?

Maybe keep the current job, don’t touch the 80k, and spend your free time coming up with a good idea that you can see yourself working on for 5+ years? That’s my advice.

dang, any idea why all comments are ending up dead from this user? Anything I miss?

not such a great idea, you would risk both your time and your savings

- an investor would on risks money

- another team members risk only time

you would do both

First, you have to ask yourself "When do I want to spend the money?"

Only then can you decide the best way to invest it.

Buy property, silver or gold.

Or - in the current climate shares in the airline industry.

Please also mention how risky your advice is. Refinitiv calculates currently e.g. an implied probability of default of ~14% for American Airlines and there are price targets of 1$ for them posted by some analysts. The gold price is close to its all time high and silver doesn't move much at the moment.

Why precious metals?

The perception that they will hold value while other assets are in flux. Because they're, like, metal, and won't rot, turn into water, or dry up, or have their value crash because no one wants to live in Detroit.

Gold's value floats just like any commodity. Oil isn't going to rot either, but is famously volatile.

As I understand it, gold reliably appreciates in times of economic distress. Whether now is a good time to buy, seems like a question worth taking seriously.

/r/wallstrettbets is your friend

Only if you like tendies and tears

buy urbit stars

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Sr. Cosmosnot Andropov Niet Bing Zhou

Whatever you do, don't follow the advice of posters here at HN. If even one of them has valid advice, it is coincidence.

This is basically liar paradox [1] :)

If it's true, then they shouldn't listen to you. But then they can follow advice of anyone, including yours.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liar_paradox

This sentence is false.

"This sentence" = "This sentence is false."

[This sentence is false] is false.

"This sentence" = "This sentence is false is false."

[This sentence is false is false] is false.

"This sentence" = "This sentence is false is false is false."

[This sentence is false is false is false] is false.


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