Two items before we begin:
- Thank you for all of the kind words concerning my dad’s situation. He has since had another surgery and will be moved to a hospital that focuses on rehabilitation very soon. He’s still on a ventilator and the road to recovery will be a long and arduous one. He may never be the same. But the fact that he’s alive with normal brain function is a miracle.
- It doesn’t seem quite right to talk about money with everything else going on in the world, but I feel that I owe these updates to my readers. More on the state of the world at the end of this post.
On with the show.
My main goal* was to build an investment and cash portfolio of $1,120,000* ($1,000,000 to retire on and $120,000 to pay off the house) in 1500 days**, starting from 1/1/2013 and ending in February of 2017. I made my goal in 2016, my 1500 Days are over, and I’ve left my job. In the interest of openness, I’ll continue to share my numbers.
Tech On A Tear (and other factors)
April was the best month for us ever in terms of monetary gains. Our net worth started the month at $2,344,773 and ended at $2,641,119 for a gain of:
How did this happen?
Tech On A Tear
I’m a big believer in index funds, but this is a recent phenomenon. When I started the blog, I didn’t even know what an index fund was. Prior to embracing index investing, I bought a lot of tech stocks and I hold most of them to this day.
April was a stellar month for most of our major tech holdings. Tesla appreciated 49% (!!!) and alone contributed $50,000 to our monthly gains. Craziness. Owning an actual Tesla would be a lot more fun, but holding the stock isn’t bad either. Facebook (my largest holding) and Amazon also had a huge month.
I have mixed feelings about these stocks. While my picks have vastly outperformed the markets, no empire lasts forever. It doesn’t matter if a stock appreciates 1,000% if it then goes to $0 and you rode it all of the way down. Something on a smaller scale happened to me during the dot com bubble. I bought a fund for $10 which then went to $120 before going bust. I held on the whole time. Index investing is self-cleansing and eliminates this worry.
The markets also had a stunning April. The major indices had gains of about 10%.
Mindy and I performed some financial gymnastics in April. We took out a mortgage ($300,000, 3.50% for 30 years) on our primary home that we mostly owned free and clear. I used the word “mostly” in that prior sentence because we used a HELOC from our previous home to buy the current one and still owed $100,000. With the mortgage refinance, we paid off the HELOC and invested the remaining $200,000. As it stands today, we got very lucky with our timing:
The refi appraiser valued our home at $75,000 more than we bought it for ($365,000 -> $440,000), so 25% of our net worth gains was due to appreciation. It was nice to see the sweat equity we’ve put into the home already paying off. We’ve cleaned the place up, painted, remodeled a bathroom, put in new lighting everywhere, and replaced the windows. The improvements we have yet to complete such as finishing a basement (with another bathroom), updating the kitchen, and remodeling the master bath will have an even bigger effect.
Finally, I’ll note that my net worth calculation only includes home equity. The effect of the refi is that our investment portfolio took a huge leap, but our primary home now makes up a much smaller percentage of our net worth. And this is how I like it. I’m fairly confident that my investments will return greater than 3.5%.
April Performance Update
Our investment portfolio (stocks, rental home, coworking space, trailer park, and other real estate deals) started the month at $1,979,773 and ended at $2,491,119 for a gain of $511,346. To reiterate, much of this increase was due to our cash-out refinance which decreased our home equity but increased our investments. With our primary home accounted for, our net worth now sits at $2,641,119:
2020 (as of 4/31/2020)
- Days elapsed: 121
- Investment portfolio gains: $491,298 (Again, gains our outsized because we took equity out of our home and invested it. The next number, net worth which includes home equity, is more accurate.).
- Net worth gains: $241,079
Since the Start (1/1/2013)
- Days elapsed: 2677
- Investment portfolio gains: $1,448,997
- Net worth gains: $1,905,073 (Net worth includes primary home. We’ve done well with Longmont real estate.)
Portfolio and Net Worth
- Investment portfolio and cash value: $2,491,119
- Net worth (primary home equity of $150,000 included): $2,641,119
The news is not so great on the real estate front. The Elevated Living Estates (trailer park) is struggling. Most of our syndication deals have temporarily suspended distributions. One private loan has been struggling. Two thoughts:
- Our real estate holdings are all residential and for that I’m thankful. The mall may close because of Amazon and commercial office space may not do well because of new telecommuting policies, but people always need a place to live.
- But, if I would have just stayed within my strongest circle of competence (stocks), I’d be doing much better financially. Hindsight is always 20/20.
I’m not sure that the markets reflect the long-term effects of COVID-19 shutdown. Mr. Market is forward-thinking and perhaps is already living in a post-COVID world, but it seems aggressive that markets are within 10% of all-time highs now:
While April was a great month and it makes me happy to see the gains, putting much weight into 1 month of performance is silly. Investing is an exercise best performed over decades, not weeks.
One More Thing
You’re an interesting species. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares.-Carl Sagan
I’m not a poet and much of the time, no more eloquent than a rock, so commenting on current events isn’t easy for me, but here goes.
In the past seven days, we’ve seen horrific images and also beautiful ones. On Saturday afternoon, I watched the SpaceX launch with my girls and it was incredible. Perhaps one of them will become a NASA engineer and will point to that launch as the inspiration.
But sometimes humans are awful. It makes me question how thick the veneer is between order and chaos or savagery and peace. I’m not sure.
One thing that I’m pretty certain of is this: It’s usually not difficult to figure out the right thing to do. Do it.
*My goal wasn’t to have $1,120,000 at the end of 1500 days, but at any time before the day count was up. Why? It all goes back to the 4% Rule. Remember that our little friend, Mr. 4%, is nothing more than the most conservative safe withdrawal rate. Since my investment portfolio now sits at $1,550,000, I can spend about $62,000 in my first year of retirement.
**My original goal was $1,000,000 and no debt, I later raised the goal by $120,000 to $1,120,000 because I will have debt in the form of a mortgage and I firmly believe in not paying it off (LOOK at the MONEY I’m MAKING!). My compromise was to have enough money put away to cover the mortgage at the time of retirement.
***This is an affiliate link. If you sign up, the blog (me) makes some cold, hard, beautiful, cash. Personal Capital is a totally free and awesome way to keep watch over your investments. It’s worth it for the fee analyzer alone. I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally use and completely believe in, so give it a try. If you’ve already signed up through the link, please know that you are a fine person of above-average intelligence.
****My 401(k) contributions include my own, Mrs. 1500’s, and the contributions from my corporation. Self-employment with a solo 401(k) is a very powerful savings tool. I should have done this years ago.
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Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.
*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.
freddy smidlap says
we’ve crushed it this year too (so far). we have tech but mostly different tech than your holdings. somewhere around 15-20 of our stocks hit all time highs last month. i even sold off a few slivers but not anything major. gotta turn those shares back into money at some point right? isn’t that the point?
freddy smidlap recently posted…The Smidlap Portfolio Doubled in 17 Months! May 2020 Scorecard
Dave @ Accidental FIRE says
When the pandemic started and after the initial market crash I figured we were all getting on a wild and crazy roller coaster. And that’s kind of playing out, although it seems the coaster cars are climbing a hill to (possibly) another crazy down. We’ll see… All I know is that my net worth is barely down from the highs in Feb, and I find that kind of crazy after all that’s happened.
After updating today we’re in the same boat and it makes zero sense to me. Current net worth is $732,018.11 and on January 1 it was $719,931. How on Earth does that logically follow after the steepest dropoff in market history and then *waves hands* all this?!
Mr. 1500 Days says
I know, right? Crazy! But, I’m not complaining! 🙂
I live in Lakewood which is not far from Longmont. I hope you don’t mind me asking but I know you are a diligent shopper. Who did you end up using for your windows upgrade? I just got some quotes and they are very expensive.
Mr. 1500 Days says
Wow, have I got a recommendation from you! I used Lakewood Glass: https://www.lakewood.glass/ I hired a friend (Dan) who works there to help me install and paid him an hourly rate. I had 12 large windows and 3 sliding doors. The cost of everything was $16,000 which may sound like a lot, but I went with fiberglass which cost a lot more than vinyl. Also, the sliding doors were $2,000 each. The two of us completed everything in 12 hours. Not hard.
In any case, if you’d like to talk more, shoot me an email: email@example.com
BC | FrugalWheels says
You know, I had those same reservations about posting this week. But I’m learning toward posting anyway. Reality is that my posting or not won’t change the situation at all one way or another. What will change it is systemic change, particularly in how police are trained and how their actions are reviewed. In the meantime we can all make a difference through our actions day to day, which is much more powerful that mere words.
BC | FrugalWheels recently posted…A bicycle man’s guide to frugal male fashion
Mr. 1500 Days says
“Reality is that my posting or not won’t change the situation at all one way or another.”
Yep. I have the same thought. I’m a small fart in a big sea. What gives me the right to say much about the situation? I feel like it would be arrogant to say much, but perhaps I’m looking at it the wrong way.
But, I have been menaced by the police. When I was about 16, I happened to be walking by a crime scene where a car had been vandalized. One of the cops yelled at me, threw me in the back of the car, grabbed me around the neck, and tried to get me to confess to the crime. My life was never in danger and nothing came of it, but the memories suck and are still vivid. I can’t relate to what humans go through who are regularly harassed by law enforcement. With that said, I’m pretty sure most police are good. However, the bad one REALLY fucking ruin it for the rest of them.
Oh, that last part read as pretty eloquent to me!
The market doesn’t seem real to me and I keep waiting for another drop too. Seems like a little shove (in the form of any number of bad events) and it will fall again.
Mr. 1500 Days says
Thanks for the kind comments Amy. Stuff like this is hard.
Yeah, isn’t in insane what the markets are doing? When will reality set in? Maybe July when Q2 reports come in…
“It’s usually not difficult to figure out the right thing to do. Do it.”
I love that …. and it should be that simple…alas.
Mr. 1500 Days says
Yep, I wish it was…
Mr. P2F says
Glad the portfolio has rebounded and we can all hope that it continues although I too share your concern about the future. I also get your mixed feelings about your Tech stocks. While I don’t generally own individual stocks, I have owned some mutual funds that I find hard to release as they have performed well over the years but really don’t belong in my portfolio going forward. I’ve found it difficult to trim them but have been making some progress.
Best to your Dad.
In a way, getting lost in the numeric detail of these sorts of updates is calming. Thanks for sharing, sometimes diving into details like this is a good way to take a breath from the world around.
We did our monthly balance sheet analysis and found that May was quite a bit lower spending than we expected (65% savings rate! despite pretty dramatic income drops moving to part-time). It’s explained by COVID of course… not exactly the positive reason one wants to see spending drops.
Any thoughts on the REIT / real estate world? I was just listening to yesterday’s The Indicator (Planet Money) who suggested there’s a pretty strong likelihood that bankruptcies have been heavily delayed because of the stimulus. I’m wondering if REITs and banks get crushed later…
Chris@TTL recently posted…Our First Pre-Retirement Month, 65% Savings Rate, May 2020
Mr. 1500 Days says
REITs! Yeah, that’s a broad category. I think it partially depends on what the REIT invests in, but I think everything will take a hit. Residential will get hit because of job loss. Retail will get hit because of stores going under. Commercial will get hit because some will realize that their business can run OK with a remote workforce.
Cathleen Cooks Stuff says
Glad your dad is doing well. I am a weird sentimentalist where I Worry about people I haven’t even met (and yet hate people I havent even met when I am driving. those people didn’t use a blinker!)
Technically, with your gains, you could buy an actual tesla, but it’s probably way more fun having the stocks.
Have you tell you, an electric car is a pretty good drive- we’ve got a Leaf, it’s quiet, good for short runs, steers nicely, and IDGAF if i accidentally scrape the side with a pillar when parking in a too-tight parking spot to get Texas-style BBQ..
Mr. 1500 Days says
I’ve been in a couple of Leafs (Leaves?) and they are smooth vehicles! I may never own a Tesla, but my next vehicle will be electric.
Glad to hear positive news on your dad and that acute rehab is coming up next.
Even with the caveats, your April performance is impressive! I appreciate your points on commercial versus residential real estate. I have come to realize the current economic situation has made me a bit of a market timer.
I’m fortunate to have a job right now, but the healthcare landscape has changed, and with it came a 50% pay cut. I was already thinking about buying a house in the near future and so I have more cash now for a down payment than I would normally have. Perhaps the housing market with cool (I think government relief is just delaying this) and I end up trying to “time” even more when we buy a house. Who knows, it’s a real-life experiment playing itself out. I’m happy the results of the experiment won’t make or break me either way.
Medimentary recently posted…Hospitals and the Big Business of Healthcare
Mr. 1500 Days says
50% pay cut. Oof! I’m sorry to hear that.
House! Cool! Will that be here or your current corner of the world?
Sport of Money says
It’s nice to experience the stock market rebound right now, especially in the technology stocks such as Apple and Amazon.
I’m not sure how much longer the equity market can continue to go up. When I look at my net worth, I know it can go down drastically in a short period of time if the equity market revisits the lows.
I mentally discount the net worth I currently have.
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