In October last year I got an email from Vanguard that they were wanting me combine my traditional Vanguard accounts which held Vanguard mutual funds with my Vanguard Brokerage Accounts which I used to buy and sell stocks and exchange traded funds. I had one account of each type for taxable investing and for Roth IRA’s. So I had four accounts and they wanted me to go to two accounts. Here is how they put it:
To make investing easier for you, we’re simplifying our account structure and we need your help . . . This change won’t cost you a thing, and it will help us serve you more efficiently. While we would like to make the switch for you, we need your permission to move your Vanguard mutual funds into brokerage accounts.
I’ve always liked Vanguard’s approach to investing and they have been pretty good to work with, so I made the move right away. Nothing in the email warned me of any possible problems, just that it would be easier, simpler, and more efficient. I made the change immediately.
I have been using TaxAct for years to calculate and file my taxes. At first I would pay to download the software and run that, but as prices went up for the download I would use the online software. TaxAct was always cheaper than TurboTax and others and you could import the previous year’s information which helped speed things up. It was usually extra to get the state version, so I would fill in my own state forms and mail them in, which was so easy it wasn’t worth $10 extra. Then they started having the deluxe version for maybe $5 more which included state as well as state electronic filing, so I was getting that for around $12-15 total. They would run specials in November or December offering the best prices for next year’s taxes. This year the price structure changed and it was now $14.99 for federal and $14.99 for state (and the sale was only 25% off, maybe just the federal version). I felt like that was too much and I needed to check out other options.
Eric was moving all of his stuff out last weekend. I don’t think he realized how much stuff he had never taken back to his apartment, but he threw away or took almost all of it. He found his old laptop and a 2.5 inch hard drive that I said I could recycle next time I go to an electronics recycling day. After he left I opened up the laptop and there was a 120 GB solid state drive in there. So the 320 GB hard drive had probably been the laptop’s original hard drive and he had put the solid state drive in there to increase performance. I could sell the solid state drive. They seem to fetch $30-$40 on eBay, or I wondered if I could do the same with my old laptop that I am using as a desktop now. I had swapped in a 500 GB hard drive to get a couple of more years of life out of it, but after my desktop computer failed, I bought an external hard drive attached to my network, and the idea is that all computers will store their files in one place, on the external drive, so a large hard drive isn’t necessary in the laptop. I’m still working on a good way to back up that drive in case it fails, but I have quite a collection of portable drives that I could use. I recently got a 1 TB drive to use as the main backup. When I upgraded the old laptop I had bought a 500 GB portable drive and then took that drive out and put it in my laptop. So that enclosure had the old notebook drive in it for 250 GB of storage. It is pretty easy to take the drive out of the enclosure, so I tested Eric’s 320GB and 120GB drives in the enclosure and they both seemed to work fine. Because the laptop doesn’t work, I went ahead and formatted them both. All it seemed like I needed to was copy the 500 GB drive contents over to the SSD.