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What Percentage and What Kind of Bonds Should I Have in My Portfolio?

Bonds, viewed as a safer yet lower-yielding investment, serve as a counterbalance in a portfolio otherwise dominated by higher-risk stocks. Despite their reputation for lower returns compared to stocks, bonds offer a range of risk and return potential. Different types of bonds and bond funds can adapt to varying market climates and fit into diverse portfolio compositions.

In the long run, stocks generally yield higher returns, but with higher returns comes higher risks. The counterweight offered by bonds is essential in mitigating the risks associated with the volatility of stock markets. Their potential for consistent returns provides a sense of stability and assurance in turbulent times.

Diversification and Age Factor: The Optimal Bond Allocation

The crux of building an efficient investment portfolio lies in proper diversification across various asset classes, including stocks, bonds, cash, and others. However, the optimal allocation of these assets often changes with age, risk tolerance, and financial goals.

As a rule of thumb, younger investors can afford to take more risks and invest a substantial percentage of their assets in stocks. This approach enables them to leverage the long-term growth potential of equity markets and benefit from the power of compounding.

However, as one nears retirement, the need for safety and steady income becomes paramount. At this stage, the security and consistent income provided by bonds, particularly Treasury bonds and investment-grade corporate bonds, emerge as more suitable investment choices. They offer a shield for asset protection and a steady source of income in the retirement years.

What Percentage of Bonds in My Portfolio?

Determining the right percentage of bonds in your portfolio depends on your age, risk tolerance, and investment goals. A common strategy is the "100 minus age" rule, where you subtract your age from 100 to get the percentage of your portfolio that you should keep in stocks, with the remainder allocated to bonds. For example, if you're 30 years old, 70% of your portfolio would be in stocks, and the remaining 30% in bonds. As you age, the allocation to bonds would increase to compensate for the reduced risk tolerance.

However, as life expectancies increase and retirement periods lengthen, some financial advisors suggest a more aggressive approach, proposing the "120 minus age" rule to account for the longer investment horizons.

It's essential to reassess your asset allocation periodically, ideally once a year, or after a significant life event such as marriage, birth of a child, or retirement. This ensures your portfolio stays aligned with your evolving financial goals and risk tolerance.

Choosing the Right Type of Bonds

The bond market is diverse, with numerous types of bonds catering to different risk profiles and income requirements. Treasury bonds are the safest type, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. They offer lower yields but come with virtually no credit risk.

Corporate bonds, issued by businesses, offer higher yields but carry a higher risk. Within corporate bonds, investment-grade bonds are issued by companies with lower default risk, while high-yield bonds (or junk bonds) are issued by companies with higher default risk but offer higher yields.

Municipal bonds, issued by state and local governments, offer tax advantages, as their interest income is often exempt from federal and sometimes state and local taxes.

The type and mix of bonds in your portfolio should align with your risk tolerance, income needs, and tax considerations. Diversifying across different types of bonds can help mitigate risks and enhance returns.

The role of bonds in your portfolio is critical for balance, diversification, and income. While the percentage and type of bonds would depend on your individual circumstances and goals, a well-diversified bond portfolio can offer stability, income, and peace of mind. Consulting with financial advisors and leveraging financial resources can further assist in making informed decisions about your bond allocation.


Bonds can provide consistency and balance to a portfolio otherwise comprised of stocks.

In the long run, stocks are generally associated with a higher yield, but as we know, higher returns mean higher risks. Bonds are seen as a safer, yet lower-yielding investment. Bonds offer a spectrum of risk and return potential, however, and various kinds of bonds and bond funds can be used in various market climates and portfolios.

Ideally, a portfolio should be diversified between various asset classes, which include stocks, bonds, cash, and others, but the optimal allocation changes with age.

As a general rule of thumb, when you're young you can afford to take more risks and invest a large percentage of your assets in stocks, but, as you near retirement age, the safety, and steady income provided by bonds, especially Treasuries and investment-grade corporate bonds, can be a more suitable means of getting the asset protection and income you’ll be looking for.

Our resources here at Tickeron can help you to arrive at the right allocation for your goals and situation.

Is My Portfolio Diversified Enough?
What is the Role of Asset Allocation in My Investments?
What Types of Bonds Are There?

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