Dan used to have several couch potato portfolios from simple to complex, with more asset classes including REITs, Real Return Bonds, small cap and value funds. The most complex one was called the Über-Tuber, with 11 funds. He changed to the current 3 fund portfolios to simplify and make things easier for novice investors. Even Justin's 5 fund portfolios stick to the basic asset classes.

I started back before Vanguard entered the Canadian market with a basic 4 fund with XIU, XSP, XIN and XBB. That was back in the days of 0.5% MER and $29.95 trades unless you had at least $50k in the account. We also had to slog through 6 ft snow drifts to the bank to make trades. And it was uphill both ways.

I now have 5 accounts with 7 funds in 5 asset classes. It's basically a Justin Bender lookalike portfolio plus some GICs. It took some thinking to set up, but I don't find it at all hard to manage.

- Non-reg: ZCN, VUN (Hold most of my Cdn in non-registered for the dividend tax credit)
- TFSA: XEF
- RRSP: VCN, XUS, XEF, XEC, VAB, 5 yr GIC ladder (I keep some of each asset class in here so I can easily rebalance without tax implications in non-registered)
- Small LIRA: VAB (smallest account so only one fund)
- Large LIRA: XUS, XEF, VAB, 5 yr GIC ladder

It's not perfect, but good enough. Fixed income is all in registered accounts. Note that I have 2 different Cdn and US funds, based on what I thought was best as I built my portfolio over time, but each is in a different account so it's not more work. For international I have only XEF and XEC since they were best of breed when they were launched. I think now that Vanguard VIU and VEE are very comparable. VXC and XAW were not launched yet when I built my current portfolio. In my non-reg I also have Mawer Tax-effective Balanced fund for my "Mad Money", and TD Balanced Index for short term investing distributions. But you could use a HISA for that too.

I have thought about using Norbit's Gambert and buying VTI in my RRSP and made some notes on how to do it. But so far I have had better things to do considering the couple hundred $ a year it would save me. (Rough arithmetic 15% withholding tax on ~2% yield on 20% of my portfolio ~=.06% annually if I did the math right.

You probably figured out by now I won't tell you what decision to make. Look at the total cost of 5-fund vs 3-fund portfolio based on MER and trade costs. Then map out how you would build the portfolio and what funds in which account. It should eventually settle on you whether you prefer flexibility and lowest cost of 5-fund over simplicity of 3-fund. And if you can't decide, then simplest is best. :)