Papasan Pickle Portfolios - low fee balanced funds, core portfolios, ETF wraps

Papasan Pickles make couch potato investors look motivated !
Papasan Pickle: <noun>, pronounced [papasan] ˈpɪkəl 

Definition: investor who is less motivated than a Couch Potato index investor, but who still wants to manage his portfolio (e.g., avoid high mutual fund fees)

Key features: complacent, sometimes-condiment, cost-conscious

We talked about the BlackRock Balanced Portfolio as a possible Papasan Pickle portfolio. Good thing there are alternatives with lower fees! did a review of 4 popular no-load, direct-to-client fund companies that offer a globally diversified balanced funds. These are actively managed funds with MERs ranging between 0.89% – 1.34%.  As a bonus, each firm provides investors with advice, great for the Papasan Pickle investor who can't peel himself off of his chaise to do his own research.

Here is a comparison of fees:
Leith Wheeler Balanced Fund1.23%
Mawer Balanced Fund0.98%
PH&N Balanced Fund0.89%
Steadyhand Founders Fund1.34%
BlackRock Balanced Portfolio1.55%
Bad wrap - hold the pickles!

Looking at core ETF portfolios instead you can try the iShares Conservative Core Portfolio Builder Fund (XCR) or iShares Growth Core Portfolio Builder Fund (XGR).  Their MERs are 0.63% (yield 2.52%) and 0.62% (yield 2.82%) respectively.  Note, these ETF wraps got a bad rap for wild swings in holdings, too much foreign income, etc:

Trailer fee rebate from Questrade on some balanced mutual funds.
Looking to lower fees even more? You could hold the Mawer Balanced Fund at Questrade and take advantage of the Mutual Fund Maximizer - this program returns part of your funds' trailer fees to you once you cover a certain quarterly amount.  This balanced fund returns 0.135% of the 0.98% MER to you. Over 15 years on $100k, that adds up to $3,300 in savings in the example to the left. Sorry, no trailer fee rebates for the other Leith Wheeler, PH+N, or Steadyhand balanced funds.  You can get higher trailer fee rebates on some good funds like from Dimensional Fund Advisor (core Canadian, US and International equity have 0.90% rebates), but they have no single balanced portfolio fund at Questrade.  More on DFA at Questrade here.