September Financial Update

We are into October already! Last quarter of the year, so I thought it would be a good idea to see how the market did in the last month and quarter and also how we did.

Below is a table showing how much each of the three key markets (S&P500, NASDAQ, DOW 30) has increased in September, 2017 Quarter 3, and year to date. I have also included a benchmark mutual fund, namely the ‘Vanguard 2040 Target Date Fund’.

I’ll write more about target date funds next week, but for now the important take away is this a fund of funds with global coverage. It is currently approximately 90% stock and 10% bonds.

Market Sep-17 Q3 17 YTD
S&P500 1.93% 3.96% 12.53%
NASDAQ 1.05% 5.79% 20.67%
DOW 30 2.08% 4.94% 13.37%
Benchmark Vanguard 2040 Fund 1.82% 4.51% 14.96%
Our Net Worth 1.22% 2.05% 0.48%

Currently all the major US stock indices are up significantly through 2017, so it has been a good time to be investing! Please also note that all these numbers are purely price increases and don’t include any dividends, so the actual returns are better than this.

What you will notice though is our actual net worth is not increasing by anything close to these numbers. In normal circumstances this might be cause to panic, however this year i’m not concerned. The main reason for this is that we have just spent a lot of money relocating and readjusting our lives. We always knew that the first 6 months of the year would be expensive and we would take a significant hit. Also, back in December our estimate of our Houston house equity was higher than we actually got for the house, so that meant a readjustment to net worth estimate later in 2017.

The most important thing for us is that things are starting to stabilize, and September was up more or less inline with indices, despite a large expense in that month (see below).

September in Detail

So how did we actually do in September? First of all although these are September’s numbers as the vast majority of expenses go on the credit card the actual expenses occurred in August.

As mentioned in a previous post we are trying to live on $100 a day, so our overall monthly budget for day to day things in August would have been $3100. We are not including large items in this budget, such as health insurance, property taxes etc, we would expect this over the course of the year to amortize out to a similar amount (approximately $3000 per month).  We actually spent $4250, so we were not great and over by $1250. So where did we go over? As August was the first month in the house we spent almost $800 on paint and other sundries for the house that we wouldn’t normally expect to. Also we had to fully stock the house with food, so groceries were significantly higher than expected. Finally we had a weekend away in Seattle to see friends, this meant a hotel stay, a couple of nice meals and excess gas that wouldn’t normally part of our day to day expenses.

On the plus side we had no large expenses in September to count against the overall budget. We did have to pay our final moving bill for the transport of our belongings from Houston to Portland, but this was money that had been ring-fenced earlier on the year so we are not including that in our budgeting. Let me tell you, moving is *expensive* if you have to pay for it yourself across interstate lines.

So lets see what Q4 brings, I’m not sure if the markets will rise any higher or if they will stabilize at this level. Once we get into 2018 it will be interesting to see if the markets drop or stays flat, however I’m not expecting another 15% increase.


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Steve Traylensteve@pursuingretirementPETER WANG Recent comment authors
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A static 90% stock allocation is going to take a giant hit eventually. Down 40%-70%. It will alter your plans entirely.


You have done very good considering you moved from Houston to Portland. Moving is expensive. We have been in our home for over 20 years and I am not looking forward to the day we move.