2017 Q3 PoF Portfolio, Spending, and Blog Performance Update
It’s time for a quarterly update on our investment portfolio, our family’s spending, and blog stats. Another quarter has come and gone, and the overnight freeze warning notification on my new phone is one of many indications that fall has clearly arrived.
I’ve been looking forward to this time of year. The part time portion of my career began last week, but I’m putting my time in this week, getting all my monthly hours in over the next eight days. Free time will be limited, so let’s get right to those updates.
2017 Q3 PoF Portfolio Update
Below you will see my asset allocation with the money I’ve got earmarked for retirement. Several items are not listed, including our:
One could argue for inclusion of the first two items as those have value and could be sold to fund retirement. I do include those when I calculate our net worth. I also include our 529 Plans in our net worth (it’s about 8%), but do not include it in our retirement portfolio, as it’s earmarked for a different purpose.
The DAF money, which would represent about another 8% of our portfolio, is no longer mine and will eventually be granted to charities of our choice. I don’t include that in our net worth or the retirement portfolio, but it will certainly serve a purpose in our retirement.
The taxable account remains over 50%, and only 17.7% of the portfolio is in tax-deferred dollars. This is a great setup for easy access to our dollars in early retirement. When all earned income ceases, we should have no trouble paying zero federal income tax as retirees.
Why would I be hoarding cash? We’ve been thinking we may start building on our lakefront property as soon as next spring. I’m not a big fan of putting money that’s expected to be spent within 12 months into the stock market. Also, the easiest action is inaction, and so far, I haven’t come up with a better place to park the money. I do have most of it in their 11-month no penalty CD earning 1.5% APY.
Our Current Asset Allocation is pretty close to what I have targeted. I’ll plan to continue “rebalancing” with new investments.
I haven’t set a specific allocation for the percentage of large, mid, and small caps, but I like to have some idea of what it is. I’ve learned that my numbers are a bit skewed, as Vanguard’s small cap indexes have some funds that are considered mid-cap. Personal Capital gives me a more accurate number if I really need to know, as explained in my Q2 Update.
2017 Q3 PoF Portfolio Performance
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we had another good quarter. According to Personal Capital’s You Index, my portfolio delivered returns of 4.17%, as compared to 3.96% for the S&P 500.
Impressive? Not so fast. My S&P 500 index fund outperformed both, with a quarterly return of 4.48%. That figure includes reinvested dividends, which are oddly excluded from many reports of the index returns, including the default view from Personal Capital. I’ll omit that orange line from the remaining figures after this one, using my You Index as the comparison.
My top holding from the last quarter happens to be my favorite (and only) individual stock, Berkshire Hathaway, with a return of 8.24% or nearly double that of the overall portfolio.
Another top performer of the third quarter was the emerging markets index fund, returning 7.77%. You tend to see more volatility with emerging markets, but good stretches can be really good.
The dud of the bunch, which should come as no surprise, is the total bond market fund. Most of the time, I’m glad I keep my bond allocation low at 10%. The smooth ride ended with a 0.09% quarterly return.
2017 Q3 Spending
In the first quarter of 2017, we spent $14,000. Last quarter, it was $12,000. Care to guess where we landed in quarter #3?
We split the difference with a total output of $13,000. The consistency is remarkable. I don’t expect it to last, as I owe $1,500 to my hospital for an E.R. visit after mangling a fingertip, and we just paid a nearly $2,000 biannual property tax bill in early October.
The last quarter’s spending did include about a $800 property tax bill for our cabin and a $900 electric upgrade to my Fortifed Bike. Stay tuned for much more detail on that bit of fun next week.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I continue to gain new readers, so I think this set of bullet points may become a standard disclaimer. We are able to keep our expenses low while living a comfortable life as a family of four by taking advantage of the following “cheats.”
- No mortgage or rent payments. We own our homes.
- No loan payments. Student loans have been paid off.
- No term life or disability insurance. We dropped them once we were FI.
- Health Insurance provided by employer. We will bear this cost when RE.
- Travel Hacks. Credit card points and CME travel reduce our travel costs.
- School-aged children. Both are enrolled in a quality public school.
- We live in a fairly low cost of living area.
- I do not count income tax in our “spending.” It’s a cost of earning income.
- Donations. We give to and from donor advised funds, and track that separately.
Here is the breakdown of our quarterly output, courtesty of Mint.com:
Food and Dining consistently comes in at around $1,000 a month. This represents restaturants, alcohol, and groceries, including things like dog food, toothpaste, toilet paper, and tiny umbrellas. We shop cost-consciously at places like Aldi and Costco, but still manage to spend $1,000 month in and month out.
If our fourth quarter spending remains under $16,000, and I believe it easily could, our annual spending will be under $55,0000. That’s $7,000 less than last year’s total of $62,000 and well under my prediction of about $60,000.
We’re not going out of our way to spend less, but I think we have a hightened awareness that we have more than enough. Our relatively newfound interest in embracing some level of minimalism (or a little less maximalism) has us spending less time shopping online, in stores, and at our neighbors’ garage sales.
2017 Q3 Blog Performance
E-mail subscribers can stop reading here, as this information was recently shared, along with site revenue detail that I only share via e-mail. If you’d like to be privy to the year-end summary of this site’s earnings, feel free to join nearly 3,500 others who receive my e-mails.
The site now has 289 published posts and 32 pages. These have seen some solid traffic.
- 1,517,000 all time pageviews with 425,000 in the last quarter.
- from 202 countries. Still no love from Madagascar, Greenland, or North Korea.
How readers are following Physician on FIRE
- 3,424 e-mail subscribers (880 new in last quarter)
- 841 Feedly subscribers
- 178 RSS Feedburner subscribers
- 5,450 Twitter followers
- 868 Facebook followers / friends
If you’ve got any friends who may benefit from my content, please forward this e-mail on to them. I’ll give them plenty of links to my top content. For example…
The Top 5 Most Viewed Posts of all-time:
- Stealth Wealth: I’m Just an Ordinary Average Guy 18,037 views
- He Has Read Over 250 Investing Books. He Recommends These Three Funds. 17,423 views
- Vanguard Backdoor Roth: a Step by Step Guide 15,840 views
- A Tale of 4 Physicians: The Impact of Lifestyle 14,108 views
- 20 Steps to Effective DIY Investing 13,709 views
Not much has changed here, other than #4 & #5 trading places.
The Top 5 Posts of the Quarter:
- Can a Bear Take Away Your Financial Independence? 5,884 views
- Second Generation FIRE 5,509 views
- The Sunday Best (9/3/2017) 5,178 views
- Four Rules I Followed To Get Wealthy 5,129 views
- Don’t Retire To Something. Retire On Something. 5,037 views
A couple of these were featured on Rockstar Finance, and #4 was a classic post from The White Coat Investor. It’s funny to see a Sunday Best post here, but I happen to know that my friend JL Collins linked to it for the Fortified bike featured in my commentary beneath the posts.
Where is my traffic coming from? Top 5 referring sites:
- White Coat Investor (47,228 sessions)
- Twitter (28,421 sessions)
- Rockstar Finance (17,388 sessions)
- Facebook (9,833 sessions)
- Retireby40 (8,120 sessions)
Reddit has replaced 1500days as #6. I’ve been listed as the 4th most popular financial independence blog in their FI subreddit sidebar, which puts me among some great company.
Top Referring Sites this quarter:
- Twitter (7,915 sessions)
- Rockstar Finance (5,794 sessions)
- White Coat Investor (5,262 sessions)
- Facebook (3,308 sessions)
- Reddit (2,667 sessions)
- ESI Money (6,373 clicks)
- Bogleheads (5,624 clicks)
- The Happy Philosopher (5,438 clicks)
- Early Retirement Now (4,762 clicks)
- KevinMD (4,212 clicks)
I’ve mentioned this before, but whitecoatinvestor.com would very likely show up as #1*, but some setting must exist that keep me from seeing those clicks.
Most clicked site this quarter:
- ESI Money (2,435 clicks)
- Wealthy Doc (1,828 clicks)
- Bogleheads (1,507 clicks)
- My Curiosity Lab (1,376 clicks)
- Early Retirement Now (1,291 clicks)
*My suspicions are confirmed. The White Coat Investor informed me that I sent his analytics registered 16,607 clicks in the third quarter. That’s more than these other sites combined!
I’ve kept my blogging persona and real life person pretty well separated in these first 21 months. Only a handful of people who knew me in real life before I started this site are aware that I’m doing this. I’ve met probably 15 to 20 new friends in small meetups in Minnesota and Colorado — mostly other bloggers and FI minded people.
Those numbers are going to grow by leaps and bounds. Later this month, I’m attending the biggest anesthesia meeting (ASA annual meeting in Boston) and the biggest personal finance bloggers meeting (FinCon17 in Dallas).
I will obviously meet hundreds of people in Dallas, and I think that will be exciting and somewhat liberating as there are very few people that I actually talk to about all this blogging and money stuff. None of it will be taboo there, and I’m looking forward to meeting so many amazing people that I only know from our online interactions so far.
A Meetup in Boston
If you’re in town for the ASA, or just happen to live there and want to get together over beer and doughy soft pretzels, I’m inviting you to meet me at Harpoon Brewery on Monday 10/23 at 4:45 pm for the 5:00 brewery tour. It costs $5, lasts an hour, includes some sampling time, and there’s a large beer hall where we can sit down afterwards. I hope to see a few of you there! Please share with anyone you know that might want to join us.
The Plutus Awards
I am humbled to have been named a finalist in a couple categories in what are pretty much like the Oscars, but instead of rich famous actors, it’s lowly bloggers taking home the gold, or plastic, or whatever they’re made of. I’m thinking plastic.
Anyway, those trophies or plaques or participation certificates will be doled out Saturday night a FinCon and I’m honored just to see my site’s name alongside these other excellent blogs.
The winners will be determined by a panel, but there is one category in which you’re allowed to vote. I’m campaigning for The White Coat Investor to win the People’s Choice Award. Please consider taking a minute to cast your vote with this link in which Dr. Dahle’s site is already filled in.