Monday, 2 March 2015

February 2015 Net Worth: $537,000 (+5.5%) and Goal Tracker

I have been doing these net worth posts for almost 5 years now and I am constantly refining the process.  As explained in my last post I have 'reset' my measurement methodology to account for future committed liabilities (like my wedding and honeymoon) to more accurately reflect what my net worth position was.

This is the second month where I have included these future liabilities and is a clean month (i.e. you can compare back to last month easily).  My future liabilities balance currently sits at $65,000 so add this to my net worth if you want to know what I would have been at if I had not restated it.


February 2015 Net Worth: $537,000 (+5.5%)


Value
% Change
Assets
$966,000
+2.5%
Liabilities
$428,000
-1.0%
Net worth
$537,000
+5.5%

I can't believe the month I just had.  In absolute terms this was the best monthly performance that I have had (outside of months where I am paid my bonus) since I started tracking my net worth.  The best bit is that it was a 'clean' result - there were no restatements or inclusions of big swing factors.

Below I have outlined some of the positive and negative factors which affected my performance.

Positive Factors

  • My share portfolio performed incredibly strongly
    • Australian shares have had an incredibly rally since the end of the last calendar year and my portfolio benefited significantly from these moves
    • A couple of stock specific bets really paid off this month and I took the advantage to sell some of my FKP (now AOG) stock which I have written so much about.  I have sold approximately 1/3 of my portfolio locking in a ~90% gain (although  did crystalise a capital gain which increased my liabilities a bit)
    • Additionally the Australian dollar continued to depreciate against the USD which helped my international shares which make up just under 50% of my portfolio
  • My employee share plan vested
    • I get a significant bump in

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Importing my Japanese sports car...Step 1: Buy the car

As some readers of this blog may know - I have been looking to get a sports car for years.  I finally decided to stop talking and do something about it.  After looking for a while and trying to work out what I actually wanted to buy I settled on buying a Nissan Skyline...the only problem being that I had to buy an import from Japan.

I could either buy one that had already been imported by someone else (and run the risk that the clock had been wound back) or I could import one myself (and go through all the hassles that that entails).  In the end I decided to import the car myself and I appointed an import broker to help me through the process (you can see that post here).

Finding the car was much more involved than I first imagined

I had originally planned to let my import broker do all the work.  He could scour the lists of cars coming up for auction and then could contact me when one met my requirements, give me a price estimate and a history of the car along with the results of any tests and the whole process would be easy.

However I got much more involved than I previously intended to be

I love cars and I couldn't help myself - every day I would scour the auction lists on the import brokers website looking for any car that could meet my requirements.  After a while I started to get bored and started to loosen my requirements - I was looking at older cars that didn't have the specifications I wanted in colours I was previously not interested in.

I also started to get a better idea of what specific cars would sell for - after a while I was pretty confident that I could estimate how much a particular car could go for given it's specifications and after taking a look at the pictures.


I found several cars...but they needed to pass muster first...

This is where having an import broker really started to pay dividends.  I found several cars that met my requirements and I would get my import broker to send along a guy to test the car and give a report back (along with photos) of what he found.  Some of them turned out to be duds mechanically while another had a smokers smell (which is something you would never see in pictures)

...and then I came across one which I thought may just be the one

After a few weeks of absolutely nothing and as

Thursday, 19 February 2015

You are never too young to have a Will

Recently a friend of mine passed away.  He was very young, not sick and it came completely out of the blue.  He had no dependents, lived at home and like most young people (including myself) he had no will nor had he given any thought (or provided any indication) about how he would like his personal possessions dealt with.

If you have no dependents you don't really need a will...right?

Honestly that was pretty much the approach I had taken until now.  I have no dependents and if I passed away people could do with my stuff as they liked...I'm no longer here and there is no one I need to look after...so no worries right?

As I found out I couldn't be more wrong

Even if we are not 'responsible' for anyone our affairs (especially our financial affairs) still need to be dealt with by someone.  Normally it will be a family member who will step up but essentially you are putting the responsibility on them of deciding what should be done with your things and how it should be split up.

Does your next of kin know what you want done with your affairs and who you want taken care of?  Do they even know how many bank accounts you have or where everything is?  Are you going to create problems for them if you don't have a plan that you have thought through?  Do you care who gets looked after and who misses out?

Honestly these are all very real questions.  It is hard enough to deal with these issues when a family is functional and close (as my friend's family is) however can you imagine if this happened in a family where there was dysfunction (as many are)?

Having a will is the easiest way of ensuring the basics are taken care of

Honestly having a will is the easiest way to ensure that
  1. The people and causes you care about are taken care of
  2. The person you want to deal with your financial affairs will be the one who does so
  3. A reduced chance of fighting and dysfunction occurring on your behalf
  4. It doesn't leave your assets and their disposal in the hands of the government (in the event of no will there is a specified order of preference for who receives your assets)
Wills don't have to be incredibly expense.  In some

Friday, 13 February 2015

Resurrecting my alternative coin investments plan

A couple of years ago I wrote about my first foray into alternative investments.  I purchased my first set of collectible coins which were then followed by another set a few months later.  Every month when I get my wage I put away $50 to keep investing in the coin collection with the idea that every few months I will buy a selection of coins.

Unfortunately I didn't stick to my plan...


Unfortunately my plan didn't quite work out. I did faithfully put away the $50 almost every month but when it came to actually buying the coins...well that always got put off for another day.  Honestly the reason was probably that they are such a small part of my portfolio that I just ignored it and would keep putting it off.

As a result I had hundreds that I had allocated for alternative investments sitting in a bank account (earning close to nothing).

...but I am committed to having an alternative portfolio...

I keep tossing up whether this alternative portfolio is worth pursuing it at all.  The amounts I am committing to it are very small and it is rarely going to get a significant amount of my attention.  I also don't want to commit a large amount of money to it because frankly I'm never going to want to be an expert on coins.

However I do

Monday, 2 February 2015

January 2015 Net Worth: $509,000 (-10.3%) and Goal Tracker

As highlighted in my 2015 financial goals, I am changing my net worth and expenditure trackers quite significantly.  The biggest impact on this is the massive decrease in my net worth this month as I start to include future liabilities in my net worth tracker ( I will outline why I am doing this below) however I am also changing my expenditure tracker to a 2015 goal tracker (to account for the fact that I am sharing finances with my partner and can no longer actually track every dollar I spend)

I'd love your feedback on the new format (as well as your views about including future liabilities as part of your net worth)

January 2015 Net Worth: $509,000 (-10.3%)


Value
% Change
Assets
$942,000
+1.1%
Liabilities
$433,000
+18.9%
Net worth
$509,000
-10.3%

Holy Moly!  Did my net worth really drop by $60,000 in one month?  No...thankfully not, however what I have started to do is to include budgeted future liabilities in my net worth.   
  • What are budgeted future liabilities?
    • Like most people I save up for big expenses before they come. This year I am saving for a wedding and a honeymoon.  I have already saved for a car but have yet to spend the cash.
    • These future liabilities are amounts which I am committed to spending in the future which I believe should be reflected in my net worth today
  • Why am I including them in my net worth calculation?
    • The problem with saving for particularly large expenses is that my net worth today looks artificially high and continues to do so until I spend the cash I have saved towards it
    • Honestly it is going to be inaccurate whatever way I do it but I would rather have a conservative net worth figure which improves as I save for the liabilities than an overstated net worth which looks like it is under-performing when I'm actually doing well
  • It requires a one off 'reset' as I include all of these in my net worth
    • I have been mentally including these liabilities in my net worth for a while now but had not actually included it in my excel spreadsheet until this month
    • Part of this was not wanting to take the pain and hit to my stated net worth (which is silly but hey...I'm proud of my performance) but I finally bit the bullet and did it this month
    • The actual impact of this was $70,000 for the month however a great performance over the month made it look like a lot less
Now that we have dealt with that...what else happened over the month?
  • I continued to save towards my 2015 goals
    • I will provide more detail below but my cash balances continued to increase as I save towards my various 2015 goals
  • My share portfolio performed particularly well
    • It was actually a great month for my share portfolio which recorded a 1.9% gain for the month.  My portfolio is skewed towards cyclical stocks which did very well this month.  In addition the falling A$ also helped my foreign investments...although this currency play could be coming to an end
  • My credit card bill remains frustratingly high
    • My credit card bill did not fall at all this month which was frustrating given that it was already at a significantly elevated level.  I have really noticed the difference in my saving focus as I no longer keep track of every dollar
Saving and investing has

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Dealing with Burnout: Reset, Revitalise, Refocus

I am completely burned out at the moment.  There I said it.  I have been trying to work out how to write this blog post for the last week and I always seemed to start it but never have a great way of introducing the topic.  When I sat down today to write this post I figured that I would just tell you how and why I burned out and what I am going to do to get myself back on track.

Why did I burn out?

I took on too much...

An entrepreneur friend of mine inspired me greatly with the amount of things that we can do if we only realised how much time we had in each day.  It was a great idea and it worked wonders for me - over the last year I've done more than I could ever have imagined possible...but I'm now tired!

A quick list of things I have been doing:

  • Working a reasonably intensive job (not as bad as investment banking but still 10 - 11 hour days)
  • Writing 2 blogs in my spare time
  • Planning a wedding
  • Travelling - I think I went overseas 4 times last year
  • Attempting to have a 'full' social life (I have all my weekends for the next 2 months booked out...and it has been like this for a long time)
  • Trying to get into shape (gym 4 times a week)
  • A bunch of different hobbies with weekly commitments
  • Maintaining relationships with my fiancee and family
There are probably people out there who could do all of this on a consistent basis and never blink...but trying to do this has really taken it's toll on me and as I've gotten more tired I've dropped the ball in several departments including this blog.

...and I haven't been resting...


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Is the currency play finally over?

Almost exactly 3 years ago I wrote a post arguing that there was an opportunity to invest in foreign index funds (as an Australian investor) because the exchange rate was far higher than it's historical averages and it seemed to me that this state of affairs wouldn't last forever.

My feeling was right and I have ridden the currency down almost 30% in the last ~5 years (this is before considering the returns that I managed to achieve by being invested in those foreign share markets).  I reassessed these investments 18 months ago and although I had already done very well out of them I felt like it still had further to go.

I'm still holding my foreign investments...but the currency is far closer to fair value


I'm still holding my foreign currency investments and they now account for just under half my share portfolio.  With the AUD / USD exchange rate sitting around the $0.82, I no longer have a strong conviction on the value of the currency.  It may be over-valued (I suspect that it might be a little bit strong) and it may be undervalued....I just don't know.

The currency play is finally over