Its January, time to re-balance the portfolio! Yeah!

Boy, do I have a boring life. ….

African elephant female and her baby elephant balancing on a blue balls.

Actually, since I enjoy the financial side of life, and like doing math, I do get some happiness from this. For those unclear on the concept, rebalancing is where you look at your current investments and compare them to the asset allocation (the split of where you have invested your money) and see if they are significantly different. If they are, then you sell some assets and buy others in order to bring them back into alignment with your goals.  You will be “selling high and buying low” which is the goal when investing.

Typically, you do this annually, or semi-annually (like I do every Jan and July). If you did it more frequently, you’d drive yourself nuts, and not gain much in the process. I usually look at my allocation, and see if something is more than 2% off from it is supposed to be (i.e. if my allocation is 17.5%, and its 18.3%, I tend to leave it, but if its 20.%, I’d sell part of it and buy something else).  If you remember my previous posts on this from Jan 2018 and July 2018, there is a specific process I go through.

With this year, the regular stocks and international stocks have really suffered in comparison to the bonds (and somewhat to my REITS). My standard allocation is:

  • 30% Index Bond funds
  • 17.5% S&P 500 Index
  • 17.5% Small cap Index
  • 17.5% International stocks index
  • 17.5% REITs index

This month I’ve found myself selling bonds (and some REITS) and buying stocks, especially international stock funds (which got hammered in 2018). Fortunately, the companies that we use (Vanguard, TRowePrice, etc.) make it relatively easy to do this, so I was able to do my calculations, and then make the moves on the computer for everything within 30 minutes. Again, as a finance geek, I enjoyed the process.

Lately I’ve been considering changing my allocation somewhat, to 20% for S&P500 and small cap, and 15% for REITs and International. We’ll see in February if I act on this.

Hopefully you are considering rebalancing, so you can “buy low and sell high” yourselves.

Have a great 2019!

Mr. 30 Months

Just Like a YoYo

Wow, you go away for a week and the market goes nuts. Down an unprecedented 600 points the day before Christmas? Up 1,000 points the day after Christmas? What is going on?

In my opinion, the market is still unsure of where the economy is going to go in 2019, and there are a lot of scared people running out of the market right now, trying to find safety. This is forcing mutual funds to sell at a prodigious rate, often times having to sell their winners in order to generate sufficient funds. It’s almost a self-perpetuating drop, as each new drop pulls the next group after it. The overall drop was around 20% from the market high, which brought us into “bear” territory. Time to panic and sell?

The problem is, as was just demonstrated with today’s 1,000 point jump, you not only have to get out before it drops and you have to get back in before it starts going back up again! Or you can do what so many good investors do, and don’t worry about it.

Stick to your plan. Invest regularly. Dollar Cost Average. Diversify. Take advantage when folks panic and sell at bargain basement prices to pick up some deals. The mutual funds that folks have shed will be there, ready to jump back up again shortly.

In a previous posting, I talked about the P/E ratio. The P/E ratio had dropped down on Dec 24th to 18.03 – still higher than its mean of 15.73. This was back below its Jan 2014 number. Still higher than its mean though, so we could have more to go before we get back to an average market.

I still have over 18 months to go before I hit my FIRE date. The typical market downturn is 12-24 months, which is why they tell you to have 1-2 years in savings bucket, to weather that storm. So I intend to stay with the plan, and keep investing.

How about you?

Other Bloggers on the topic:

Mr. 39 Months

Investment update for Nov 1, 2018

I think this post is going to be similar to a lot of FIRE posts in early November. The stock market, bond market, and every other market in the US got crushed near the end of October, and almost everything went down. Ouch!

Retirement Accounts: Remember, my allocation for these is:

  • 30% Bond Index Fund
  • 17.5% S&P500 Index Fund
  • 17.5% International Index Fund
  • 17.5% Small Cap Index Fund
  • 17.5% REIT Index Fund

So for the month, I’m down about 5.5%, with the big losers being the S&P500, Small Cap and International . My Bonds and REITs were down , but not as much.

  • S&P500: -7%
  • Small Cap: -10%
  • International: -8%
  • Bonds: -1%
  • REITs: -2%

My 401K/Deferred account at work is down even more, -7.6%. This is primarily due to it not having a REIT option, so since it is heavier with stocks, it suffered more.

Dividend Income Account: Allocation:

  • 25% Dividend Stocks
  • 25% REITs
  • 50% Bond Index Funds

This account didn’t suffer as much. Part of that is its high weight in bonds & REITs (which didn’t suffer as much) and part of it is that the stock picks, especially Verizon, actually were up. Overall, its only down -2.8%

Value Investing Account: Allocation (remember I refocused this at the beginning of February):

  • 40% in individual value stocks I picked myself (2 each, 20% for each) – SBS and GILD
  • 20% USAA Market Index (my brokerage is USAA)
  • 40% in Vanguard Value Index fund

Gilead was down -11.7%, USAA was down 9.8%, and Vanguard value was down 5%. Surprisingly, Cia Saneamento (which has done terribly for the entire year) was up 25.8%! Very odd.

So what do you do after such a shellacking? I stay the course. For 2017, I had a tremendous year (the market was up 19%), so I got to reap the benefits of that. Now in 2018, with rising interest rates and the FANG stocks of the S&P getting hammered, it looks like its going to be a null year. You have to be willing to take the good with the bad.

How did you do in October?

 

Mr. 39 Months

Interesting article in Kiplinger’s about the FIRE movement

Good article about the FIRE movement, with some examples. They’ve got most of it right, a few details off.

The examples they use is your typical high-income earning couple who made six figures in their early years. I wish we could see more examples of more normal people who do this in these sort of articles.

The article ends with  recommended steps, which folks in the FIRE movement can get behind:

To get on the road to Financial Independence, Retire Early, proponents recommend these nine steps:

1. Determine why you want to achieve FIRE, and envision what you will do once you get there. (This will keep you motivated.)

2. Calculate your net worth (total assets minus liabilities) to see where you stand.

3. Track every dollar spent so you know where your money goes.

4. Slash expenses. To reach a savings rate of 50% or more, you’ll need to cut major expenses, including housing and transportation.

5. Pay off high-cost debt, such as credit cards.

6. Build an emergency fund so you don’t resort to credit cards in a pinch.

7. Take advantage of tax-friendly accounts: 401(k)s, IRAs and a health savings account.

8. Use index funds to keep investing costs low.

9. Find a side hustle to bring in extra income and boost savings.

Labor Day Weekend with the family

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

 

The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During 1887 four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1884, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

From US Debt of Labor website

Labor Day is often celebrated as the last day of summer. Many companies change company policy (dress codes, work hours, etc.) after Labor Day.  For many places, kids go back to school after Labor Day (after enjoying their summers off). There is a fashion rule that says you never where white after Labor Day. All of these point to the same thing; the day is a transition time, between one parts of the annual cycle to another.

Like many times of change in your life, folks tend to want to experience it with family and close friends. It’s a time of barbeques, picnics, and dinner conversation. Sometimes the conversations are serious, but most of the times the talk is light and enjoyable.

This week Mrs. 39 Months and I are traveling north to New York to spend time with her family (hence the rest area picture). Her sister is closing in on retirement, and since the two of them are very close, where she ends up relocating (she doesn’t plan to stay in NY) will have some impact on our plans.

I hope all of you have a pleasant and enjoyable weekend!

 

Mr. 39 Months

Spending less doesn’t mean living less: How?

Guest Post: Spending less doesn’t mean living less: How?

Today’s post is contributed by Amy Nickson, a passionate writer on finance. Amy is a professional blogger whom has started her own blog and also works as a contributor for the Oak View Law Group. Please share your opinions by commenting below.

Spending less doesn’t mean living less: How?

If you are living beyond your means, then you should be wary about your poor financial future. Having a lot of financial obligations make you frustrated and restless.

Getting your finances in order is not easy, especially if you owe huge debts.

However, spending less money is one of the sure shot ways to make a positive impact on your finances. But, a lot of people often believe that spending less means depriving themselves. But it is not true. It is sad that people don’t know that living a fulfilling life while spending less is possible.

 Living on less: What does it mean?

 People often think that living on less means living in misery. They believe that once they adopt a frugal lifestyle, it will force them to live a poor life.

But in reality, living a frugal life means, you are able to distinguish between your wants and needs. Being a frugal person, you can live a more meaningful life. Of course, you can dream of a high-end watch, a car, and some latest gadgets, but all these come after paying the monthly bills on time, paying off debt, and deposit a definite amount into the savings account. Frugal persons are even able to make investments to grow their money over time. Frugal habits also make financial life peaceful and secured.

On the other hand, cheap skate persons deprive themselves or others just for the sake of saving some dollars here and there. They have only one goal in their life – saving money at any cost. They eat at a low-quality restaurant just because the price is low. They show their obsession over the price. They believe, the cheaper price, the greater benefit.

But being a frugal minded person, you are actually saving money by buying fewer but quality products.

Frugality helps you learn how to cut down expenses that are unnecessary. By doing so, you can save quite a significant amount that you can put into a savings account or can use purposefully.

Here are some ways you can start living a frugal lifestyle.

 1. Avoid frequent restaurant visits

One of the best ways to save money is to avoid eating out every day. It is true that eating out can be a lot of fun and sometimes it’s difficult to carry home cooked food to work every day. But, eating at a restaurant every time you feel hungry can cause a huge hole in your pocket. These expenses may not appear too big individually, but can be huge if taken altogether. You should try to eat at home and pack your lunch when going out to work. This will help you save a lot of money that you can put towards other expenses.

  1. Consider thrift stores

You must consider a thrift store for purchasing your necessities without spending a lot. By doing so, you don’t have to compromise on the quality of the products. The added benefit is, you are saving some bucks. Also, consider shopping in bulk for grocery and vegetables. You can easily store perishable items that you won’t use right away in the refrigerator and stock up the non-perishable items when they’re on sale.

  1. Keep one car in good state instead of keeping multiple bad quality cars

 Keeping multiple cars that are in a bad state can cost you dearly. You will need to pay thousands of bucks to repair the cars, if required. On the other hand, if you claim insurance for repairing the damaged car, the cost of insurance coverage can increase on policy renewal.

Therefore, it is wise to keep one car in good state, which can serve you better, and for which you don’t have to spend much.

  1. Make spending changes wisely

You may get tempted to purchase goods from the best manufacturers or goods that have a high brand value. By doing so, you are wasting money on something that you could have purchased for a much lower price. Thus, it is recommended to compare price before purchasing an item. You can also wait for a sale to buy the item on discount.

  1. Keep a piggy bank

Create a coin bank to dump the changes collected from the gas station or a grocery store. See how much you have collected over the course of a year. You can also save the money you received as gifts on birthdays, holidays and sometimes unexpected gains like the tax refund (you haven’t calculated), lottery, etc.

  1. Contribute money into a retirement account

You should set aside a certain amount (at least 20% of your monthly income) every month into a retirement fund. Try not to spend your hard-earned money in impulse buying. It’s possible for you to secure your retirement, but it takes some serious commitment and time.

  1. Consider free entertainment

Remember, your family needs your time, not your money. Instead of buying expensive gifts, or planning luxurious trips, entertain your family through public resources. Instead of buying costly story books, visit the library for story hours with your kids. You can rent movies to spend a good time with your spouse. Buying CDs or story books from a public library can help you save a lot of money. Go for fishing, gardening, and cycling, to spend happy hours with your family.

  1. Build an emergency fund

Put the extra money into a separate savings account so that you can easily build an emergency fund that can be utilized during an emergency. If you can make sure that you have built an emergency fund, you don’t have to take resort to loans and become liable to repay them in the future.

  1. Use cash for everything

Instead of using credit cards for buying things, you should use cash. By doing so, you can avoid buying things that you can’t afford with cash. Thus, you will be able to avoid huge credit card bills to pay off every month.

  1. Go for DIY revolution

The DIY revolution has helped a lot of people to live on less. It allows you to stop buying many items as you can make them on your own. Thus, you can save a considerable amount of money. Stop taking out a loan to meet the expenses. You can easily make your own gifts and decor items to save enough money in the long run.

Sometimes, it becomes difficult for you to resist the temptation of purchasing a particular thing. To avoid such a purchase, you should wait for a few days before buying that particular thing. After a few days, if you still desire to purchase the item, buy it. Many a times, chances are, you will lose the desire to buy the item. By following these simple frugal tricks, you will be able to live a more fulfilling life on less without depriving yourself. Living a meaningful life will help you to get a better financial prospect. So, think about it right now!