Every month for the past few years I have calculated my net worth and shared the ups and downs with whoever would like to take a peak into see how I have done. I truly believe that if more people actually did this monthly ritual our country’s personal finances (as a whole) would be in a much better spot. There is something therapeutic and scary about calculating your net worth, having to be accountable to even just yourself can do wonders for behavioral finance.
My thoughts Before Calculating my Net Worth: I usually have a feeling about how I have done the past month, and this month is going to be a blood bath. Even before calculating I am positive this will be the biggest decrease in net worth I have ever seen in the past 5 or 6 years that I have been keeping track of my net worth. Actually, it may be the biggest change, positive or negative, that I have ever seen (outside of year end bonuses). The reason? The god damn market!
- The S&P 500 lost 6.9 percent in October, its biggest one-month slide since September 2011, when it fell 7.2 percent.
- The Dow dropped 5.1 percent to post its biggest monthly fall since January 2016, when it dropped 5.5 percent.
- The Nasdaq plunged 9.2 percent, its largest monthly pullback since November 2008, when it shed 10.8 percent.
While I often think I am too correlated with the market, I don’t worry about it too much as I own assets that are not correlated to the market that I just don’t include. An easy example would be the cash surrender value of my life insurance policies. I recently reviewed and shared how my cash value has increased since last year, but those numbers are no where to be found in in my calculations.
My Net Worth Calculation
My assets are pretty simple:
- Emergency Fund – My goal is to keep an amount in cash that The Wife and I believe is needed for a real emergency amount rather than a specific amount linked to monthly expenditures. At this point it is a quite a bit lower than I’d like it to be.
- My Dividend Growth Account – I am finally back into undervalued dividend growth investing and I am very excited to share my screens and purchases! I decided last month to take the record keeping of this account a bit more serious than I have for the past 18 months.*
- My Wife’s Roth IRA – Nothing special – just a mixture of cheap index funds and individual companies that capture my attention.
- My 401(k) – I finally just reallocated future contributions after discussing it for a few months.**
- Wife’s Mutual Funds – This was an amount that was given to my wife from her deceased grandparents. They were horribly mismanaged until I stepped in, putting them in low expense vanguard mutual funds. She and I both look at this account as a super emergency fund.
- My House – I increased the value of my home starting in 2018 3%. This was the first time since I bought the home that I even bothered to increase the value.
- My Traditional IRA – Just a few stocks that have captured my attention.
Wife’s Business – NEW IN 2018– Just going to value this at the cash that is on the books at the end of every month. There won’t be a distribution for quite sometime, so hopefully, there is a nice trend upwards.
- Physical Gold – Earlier this year I decided that I would buy a small amount of physical gold every month or two. After doing some quick math, I am getting killed in transaction costs. I set up a capital one 360 account to save the amount I would be buying in gold and I will make a larger purchase less often.
- Crytocurrency Account – Earlier this year I bought a tiny amount of Bitcoin. By the time my initial payment cleared bitcoin had dropped 40%. I am not exactly sure what I am going to do with this account just yet. Right now I am going to ignore it.
* – This account is also where I sell naked puts, so when market volatility reared it’s ugly, ugly head this particular account got decimated in terms of percentages. Currently, I am holding two large positions in BUD and WYNN, as well as very in the money puts. My plan is to keep selling covered calls on those positions, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep rolling the puts until they are out of the money (if I get prematurely put the underlying equity I’ll sell covered calls). When I finally close these positions out I am going to rethink how I sell naked puts.
** – ahhhh the 401(k). Easily, my largest non-real estate account, so it took the biggest plunge. I am about 84% equities the account took a nose dive! I am nearly 37, run a personal finance blog, and work in a financial planning office I am not about to sell out into the dip, but holy shit does it hurt when doing this exercise monthly!
- My Law School Loans – Despite being 36 years old I have a significant amount of law school loans left. The loans are locked in at 3.5%, so I have no real rush to pay them off. I’d like to get the monthly cash flow back but at about the $40,000 it would be a tremendous hit to liquidity.
- My Mortgage – I live on Long Island (and it’s on, not in) so the odds of me ever prepaying this down, especially with a 3.375% 30yr fixed is unrealistic.
- Credit Cards – My favorite card was my American Express Premier Gold Card, whose fee I fight every year, but in January of last year I opened up an American Express Platinum Card for 60,000 points, and last month I opened up an American Express Delta card to get $200 off our recent trip to Atlanta and I got an extra 40,000 delta miles (not sure how that translates to the Amex points yet). I’ll be canceling the Platinum card this month because I can’t justify the $500/yr membership costs.
- My HELOC – A good portion of it was to capitalize The Wife’s Business. I decided to keep the debt of the HELOC on the balance sheet, but ignore the corresponding asset (the removed checking account).***
*** – My HELOC was used to clean up some outstanding debt I couldn’t take of on the consumer side quick enough. So the balance increased but overall rolling debt didn’t move that much. I have also shifted extra dollars weekly to be moved over to pay it down quicker. I am hoping that if I get a decent bonus at work and/or if The Wife has a decent last quarter I can throw a good chunk at it.
My Net Worth Increase/Decrease
- From October 1st to November 1st my net worth decreased a staggering -7.07%
- Year to date my net worth has increased .98% (it was +9.40% last month’s update)
Phew, that was a tough net worth update to calculate and subsequently write! I couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have the last 2 days of October where the broad market moved a couple percentage points up. Notwithstanding, I think it has provided me with some real insights/lessons to think about as we enter the last 60 days of the year:
- In 2019 I want to get serious about some of the long term, outstanding debt that I have
- In 2019 I want to get serious about building some non-correlated assets (either bigger cash reserve or adding to my life insurance policies)
- In 2019 I want to rethink how I sell naked puts to build income
Since I feel the need to end this post on a positive note, while the net worth plummeted I had an amazing time with my kids and The Wife in Atalanta for a Falcons home game!!
tl;dr my financial month absolutely sucked!