David Swensen manages more than $20 billion in assets as the Chief Investment Officer of the Yale endowment fund. Several years ago he distilled his investment knowledge and experience into a book, Unconventional Success, for the average investor. The book is an excellent guide to low-cost, passive investing. One of the many great aspects of the book is Swensen’s “Framework for Investing Success.”

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The framework is a simple investment portfolio. The portfolio is well-diversified and equity-oriented, ideal for any investor. Here’s his recommended portfolio:

  • 30%–U.S. Equities
  • 15%–Foreign Developed Markets
  • 5%–Emerging Markets
  • 20%–U.S. REITs
  • 15%–U.S. Treasuries
  • 15%–TIPS

As Swensen points out, asset allocation is as much art as it is science. His framework is not intended to be the one and only investment portfolio, but rather a starting point. In my case, for example, I have less in REITs (10%), more in emerging markets (10%), and less in bonds (25%).

Using Swensen’s framework, however, I put together a portfolio with specific mutual funds and ETFs from a variety of mutual fund companies and even the TSP (Thrift Savings Plan).


Asset Class Allocation Vanguard Fund Investor Shares ER Admiral Shares ER
U.S. Equities 30% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Investor Shares VTSMX 0.17 VTSAX 0.05
Foreign Developed Equity 15% Vanguard Developed Markets Index Fund Investor Shares VDVIX 0.20 VTMGX 0.09
Emerging Markets 5% Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund Investor Shares VEIEX 0.33 VEMAX 0.15
U.S. REITs 20% Vanguard REIT Index Fund Investor Shares VGSIX 0.24 VGSLX 0.10
U.S. Treasuries 15% Vanguard Intermediate-Term Treasury Fund Investor Shares VFITX 0.20 VFIUX 0.10
TIPS 15% Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities Fund Investor Shares VIPSX 0.20 VAIPX 0.10
Weighted Average Expense Ratio 0.21 0.09


Asset Class Allocation Fidelity Fund Investor Class ER Advantage Class ER
U.S. Equities 30% Fidelity Spartan® Total Market Index Fund Investor Class FSTMX 0.10 FSTVX 0.05
Foreign Developed Equity 15% Fidelity Spartan® International Index Fund Investor Class FSIIX 0.20 FSIVX 0.12
Emerging Markets 5% Fidelity Spartan® Emerging Markets Index Fund Investor Class FPEMX 0.31 FPMAX 0.20
U.S. REITs 20% Fidelity Spartan® Real Estate Index Fund Investor Class FRXIX 0.23 FSRVX 0.09
U.S. Treasuries 15% Fidelity Spartan® Intermediate Treasury Bond Index Fund Investor Class FIBIX 0.20 FIBAX 0.10
TIPS 15% Fidelity Spartan® Inflation-Protected Bond Index Fund Investor Class FSIQX 0.20 FSIYX 0.10
Weighted Average Expense Ratio 0.18 0.09


Asset Class Allocation iShares Ticker ER
U.S. Equities 30% iShares Russell 3000 Index (ETF) IWV 0.20
Foreign Developed Equity 15% iShares MSCI EAFE ETF EFA 0.33
Emerging Markets 5% iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF IEMG 0.18
U.S. REITs 20% iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate (ETF) IYR 0.45
U.S. Treasuries 15% iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Trasry Bnd Fd IEF 0.15
TIPS 15% iShares Barclays TIPS Bond Fund (ETF) TIP 0.20
Weighted Average Expense Ratio 0.26

T. Rowe Price

Asset Class Allocation T. Rowe Price Ticker ER
U.S. Equities 30% T. Rowe Price Total Equity Market Index Fund POMIX 0.35
Foreign Developed Equity 15% T. Rowe Price International Equity Index Fund PIEQX 0.50
Emerging Markets 5% T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Stock Fund PRMSX 1.25
U.S. REITs 20% T. Rowe Price Real Estate Fund TRREX 0.79
U.S. Treasuries 15% T. Rowe Price U.S. Treasury Intermediate Fund PRTIX 0.51
TIPS 15% T. Rowe Price Inflation Protected Bond Fund PRIPX 0.50
Weighted Average Expense Ratio 0.55

Charles Schwab

Asset Class Allocation Schwab Investor Class ER
U.S. Equities 30% Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund® SWTSX 0.09
Foreign Developed Equity 15% Schwab International Index Fund® SWISX 0.19
Emerging Markets 5% Schwab Emerging Markets Equity ETF SCHE 0.14
U.S. REITs 20% Schwab Fundamental Global Real Estate Index Fund SFREX 0.49
U.S. Treasuries 15% Schwab Intermediate-Term Bond Fund™ SWIIX 0.45
TIPS 15% Schwab® Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Index Fund SWRSX 0.19
Weighted Average Expense Ratio 0.26

Thrift Savings Plan

The TSP is one of the best retirement plans available. Its fees approach zero. Yet it doesn’t offer exposure to certain asset classes, such as REITs and emerging markets. For that reason, I had to get a bit creative with this portfolio.

Asset Class Allocation TSP ER
U.S. Equities 30% C Fund .029
Foreign Developed Equity 15% I Fund .029
Emerging Markets 5% I Fund .029
U.S. REITs 20% S Fund .026
U.S. Treasuries 15% F Fund .039
TIPS 15% F Fund .039
Weighted Average Expense Ratio .031


  • Rob Berger

    Rob Berger is the founder of Dough Roller and the Dough Roller Money Podcast. A former securities law attorney and Forbes deputy editor, Rob is the author of the book Retire Before Mom and Dad. He educates independent investors on his YouTube channel and at RobBerger.com.