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2018 Q2 PoF Portfolio, Spending, and Blog Performance Update

Welcome to the latest quarterly report. I’ll look back on the last three months, the 10th quarter that has come and gone since I started this website in early 2016.

I like to focus both on where we’re going and where we’ve been. I’ll start with an update on my investment portfolio, will review the last three month’s and year-to-date spending, and finish with a slew of blog statistics detailing website traffic, how it finds me, and where it’s going from here.

If you’d like to receive my quarterly newsletter describing my online income and a few other tidbits (like which brewery I own 4% of and visit quite often in the summer), please consider subscribing — you can do so here.


2018 Q2 PoF Portfolio Update


No major changes here. I continue investing in my 401(k) throughout the year so that I’ll continue to get the employer match. Cash is building up as we prepare to build on our lakefront property as soon as this fall. The new place will likely take the place of both our primary home and our second home, a lake cabin.

I don’t include any of the three properties in the retirement portfolio below. Also not included are a couple of six-figure 529 Plans and $252,000 in donor advised funds. Only dollars that can be used to fund our retirement are listed below.



At the moment, about 30% of our money is in Roth dollars, and over half is in other after-tax money (taxable, cash and other). The tax-deferred portion is 18.9% of our portfolio.

I’m very happy with this tax diversification; I’ve made the brash statement before that My Money is Worth More Than Your Money. If a substantial portion of your invested dollars are in tax-deferred accounts, the statement holds true.

Since I haven’t been investing in my taxable account much at all this year (although I have made a few crowdfunded RE investments), I haven’t had much opportunity to tax loss harvest. I did take a loss in VFWAX for a few hundred dollars mid-June and jumped back in just now with some VMGX.

Normally, I exchange on the same day so I don’t sit out of the market at all, but knowing I’ll be needing cash sooner than later, I figured I’d just hold cash. When international funds continued to drop, and I received my quarterly dividends of about $8,000, a sum similar to what I sold, I decided to go ahead and make the delayed exchange.


2018 Q2 PoF Portfolio Performance


Once again, I have a few losers to report as the market has zigged and zagged and mostly gone sideways in the 2nd quarter of 2018.

The combination of a handful of losing asset classes and some cash drag (I’m currently earning 1.75% APR in Ally bank) left me with a return of 1.65% according to Empower’s “You Index” compared to the S&P 500, which had a return of 2.93%.


YouIndex represents my investment portfolio


Let’s start with the best performer among the bunch. The first quarter dog made a decent comeback in the second quarter, with the REIT index fund returning 8.83%.


VGSLX in light blue


Small caps performed well, also. Growth stocks have outperformed value so far this year, and the small cap index in my 401(k) and 457(b) has both.


VSCIX in light blue


Bonds did what bonds tend to do — offer a smooth, non-volatile ride. They’re the lazy river in this waterpark, losing a modest 0.86% in the second quarter.


VBMFX in light blue


I told you there were some losers. International funds did not fare well this last quarter, and emerging market really took a dive, looking like the rapid plunge slide, losing 9.12% in three months.


VEMAX in light blue


A stalwart stalled last quarter. I didn’t make the May stockholder’s meeting, but I’ll bet there were some grumbles as Berkshire Hathaway managed to do poorly while the small caps had a heyday in the second quarter. BRKB lost 6.43% since April Fool’s Day, no foolin’.


BRKB in light blue


2018 Q2 Spending


After spending $62,000 in 2016 and $61,000 last year, we appeared to be on pace to blow those numbers away, spending nearly $21,000 in the first quarter of 2018.

With a whole lot of travel and a $2,400 orthodontist bill, I knew that first quarter expenditure was a bit of an aberration.

We’ve come down to earth in the second quarter (and not the Hawaii part of earth, where we spent about a quarter of the first quarter).

We did spend $1,400 as the final installment on our Cruise to Cuba (it’s not too late to join us). I scored Hamilton tickets for an August show in Minneapolis and paid biannual property taxes on our primary home.

The rest of our quarterly expenses were pretty much ordinary day-to-day stuff. We don’t track as closely as we once did, but with everything going on a credit card or from our checking account, all the expenses are logged.

The categorization may not be perfect, though. I know some of the Costco purchases were gifts or clothing and not grocery, but I’m not that dedicated to break down the receipts. If I didn’t have this blog, I probably wouldn’t track at all. Thank you for keeping me honest.



Our spending plunged by about $8,000 to under $13,000 for the quarter, despite the four Hamilton tickets. We’re on pace to spend about $67,000 if the second half looks like the first. I’m guessing it will be a bit less than that, as the only big travel plans have already been paid for.

How do we keep most of our expenses at a reasonably low level? I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. We are able to spend less 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 Rewards. 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.
  • Any money spent improving our lakefront property is tracked separately. We’re building equity as we do that and the costs will eventually be offset by selling one or both of our other properties.



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2018 Q2 Blog Performance


Much like last year, the site had a really strong month of March and things have trailed off a bit since then. I see this as the summer slide. There are just so many better things to do this time of year than read blog posts. Like sliding down slides, for example.

We did cross the 3 million pageview mark last month, which is a pretty cool milestone, and I imagine the numbers will begin to rebound as the fall begins, the air starts to cool, and we start thinking about our finances as the end of the year approaches. Either that, or the recent trend will continue until I have no readers left by early next year. Time will tell!



As of 7.1.2018, the site has 437 published posts and 45 pages. These have been visited by people in 212 countries. Still no visitors from Greenland, North Korea, Western Sahara, Eritrea, or Republic of the Congo.

How readers are following Physician on FIRE

If you’ve got any friends who may benefit from my content, please forward this e-mail on to them. The more people who hear the message of financial independence, the better.


The Top 5 Most Viewed Posts of all-time:

  1. Vanguard Backdoor Roth 2018: a Step by Step Guide (81,244 views)
  2. Tax Reform! How Physicians and the Self-Employed are Affected (30,023 views)
  3. He Has Read Over 250 Investing Books. He Recommends These Three Funds. (28,253 views)
  4. The PoF Portfolio (26,694 views)
  5. A Fifth Physician Revisited: The $10 Million Dream (23,996 views)

The Backdoor Roth post gets lot of search engine traffic. I’ll be sure to update it again in early 2019. The $10 Million Dream post is new to the Top 5, replacing my Stealth Wealth post. A lot of people search retiring on $10 Million, apparently.


The Top 5 Posts of the Quarter:

  1. Vanguard Backdoor Roth 2018: a Step by Step Guide (19,833 views)
  2. What is fatFIRE? (16,245 views)
  3. Credit Cards for People Who Love Travel & Money (9,253 views)
  4. How to Achieve Financial Independence Spending $200K Per Year (8,964 views)
  5. The Sunday Best (5/27/2018) (8,120 views)

fatFIRE is not a new concept, but I was among the first to feature it in a blog post, and definitely the first to start a Facebook Group around it. The credit card post was popular because people love free travel. #4 is a Saturday Selection from WCI Network member Passive Income MD, and I have no idea why one particular Sunday Best had at least 1,500 more views than any other this last quarter.

Next in line at #6 is How Much Money Does a Doctor Need to Retire, a common question.



Where is my traffic coming from? Top 5 referring sites:

  1. White Coat Investor (82,760 sessions)
  2. Twitter (62,177 sessions)
  3. Facebook &  Facebook Mobile  (42,903 sessions)
  4. Rockstar Finance (36,405  sessions)
  5. Reddit (12,504 sessions)

Doximity is #6, just as it was before.


Top Referring Sites this Quarter:

  1. Facebook & Facebook Mobile (13,818 sessions)
  2. White Coat Investor (13,040 sessions)
  3. Twitter (10,328 sessions)
  4. Rockstar Finance (4,936 sessions)
  5. Can I Retire Yet (2,576 sessions)

Facebook has topped WCI for the first time as a source of traffic. I wrote a guest post at Can I Retire Yet, which, along with a couple features in their roundup series, led to some solid traffic this quarter.


Where do people go from Physicianonfire.com? (mainly referred from The Sunday Best & Christopher Guest Posts): All time clicks:

  1. ESI Money (12,251 clicks)
  2. Bogleheads (10,363 clicks)
  3. Passive Income MD (10,256 clicks)
  4. Early Retirement Now (7,231 clicks)
  5. The Happy Philosopher (7,059 clicks)

I’ve mentioned this before, but WCI would very likely show up as #1, but some setting must exist that keep me from seeing those clicks in the Jetpack Site Stats. Passive Income MD, the newest addition to the WCI Network rose from #6 to #3, bumping Nerd’s Eye View off the list.


Most clicked site this quarter:

  1. ESI Money (4,276 clicks)
  2. Passive Income MD (3,550 clicks)
  3. Early Retirement Now (2,201 clicks)
  4. Crispy Doc (2,170 clicks)
  5. Wallet Hacks (1,942 clicks)

The last two each wrote a CGP featured on a Thursday this quarter.  ESI Money does well with his millionaire interview series, which I frequently link to, Early Retirement Now has his ever-popular SWR series, and PIMD benefits from Saturday Selections as a part of the WCI Network.



Thank you to my loyal readers, subscribers, and if you’re here for the first time, welcome! I hope you’ll stick around.

In the coming months, I’m looking forward to spending a long weekend with dozens of “FIREwalkers” at the Camp FI Midwest event late August. I attended one near my old stomping grounds of Gainesville, FL in January, and it was a great time. This time, I’ll be a speaker, talking about the additional challenges of reaching FIRE as a family with children.

I’ll also be speaking about a month later at FinCon18 in Orlando, although I don’t know the topic(s) just yet. I believe I am part of two panels that were selected for the final agenda, but I may only get to do just one. When I know more, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Leading up to FinCon, a number of us bloggers and ‘casters are cruising together to Havana, Cuba, and Key West. Details on the cruise can be found here, and you’re welcome to crash the party. We’ll be bringing our boys, who had a blast on our last family cruise two and a half years ago. But don’t mention this cruise if you meet them in the meantime (at Camp FI, for example)– it’s still a surprise, and we’re hoping to keep it that way.

Have a great holiday, celebrating our nation’s independence while secretly plotting your own. 🙂



-Physician on FIRE


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20 thoughts on “2018 Q2 PoF Portfolio, Spending, and Blog Performance Update”

  1. I can’t say I’ve been following your blog for too long, but I didn’t know you once spent time in Gainesville. Does this mean you’re a Gator?

    Congrats on the continues success!

  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. As my father told me long ago at my college graduation, “I’m like a chicken with his feathers ruffled!” Granted, the Cuban idiom translates poorly from the Spanish, but the sentiment is genuine.

    Thanks also for the traffic boost – I suspected there were more views than my known relatives could reasonably account for.

    Keep doing well by doing right,


    • Well, we’re all one big happy family, right? So those views did come from your relatives. 😉


  4. Amazing trajectory. It’s great to hear someone’s journey on the FatFire side (I’m not looking to live off of $20k per year). My wife and I are in tech and have 1 kid, and will likely have another, so I think many of your financial principles are highly relatable to us. Thanks for being so transparent on blog referring sources too. I’m pretty new in my journey on that front so it’s great to hear a success story and how it gained traction!

    • So far, so good!

      I imagine with a dual income in the tech industry, you’ve got income that rivals or exceeds many of the physicians who visit this site. Like you, most of us aren’t going to live on $20,000 or $40,000 a year. I’m not saying we couldn’t, but with a fatFIRE stache, we can be a little looser with the budget. We’re trying to decide whether or not to keep our lake cabin once we have a primary home on a different lake. #firstworldproblems


  5. wow that is some really impressive numbers. Congrats!

    I might have to subscribe to see which brewer you own. Thats very cool.

    love that you post top traffic sources, should up my game in those..

    keep it up

    • Well, it’s not a Canadian brewery, but you can reach Canada from there in a little over an hour.


  6. Congratulations on those stats and thank you for sharing with us! I keep looking at the social referral sites and saying where is the Pinterest? 🙂

    • Are you volunteering to be my Pinterest manager, J?

      I hear about the ups and downs with Pinterest and have decided not to put my time there, but I might consider finding someone to take on that task. And, no, I don’t expect that to be you.


  7. Seriously impressive stats. I am so feeling the FOMO about FinCon. Here’s to hoping I can make it happen in 2019.

    • I hope so, too. I didn’t go to FinCon my first year as a blogger, but in hindsight, I wish I had. They’ll announce the 2019 location during the conference and the price is lowest that first few days, so jump on it as soon as it’s announced.


  8. Impressive numbers as usual!
    Looking forward to hearing your talk at FinCon this year! Reaching FIRE with a family and children is a great topic of discussion.

    • I look forward to meeting you, as well. Will you be carrying a green apple so I can easily identify you?


  9. Looking forward to meeting you at FinCon!

    And there is no way that the trend continues into the fall. You have some very loyal readers, myself included, who share the word as much as they can. People just don’t like thinking about money in the summer 🙂

    Keep up the strong work! It still blows my mind that you were at 50,000 views per month 10 months in. I am 7 months in and nowhere close to that. Your results provide some really good inspiration, though!

    • FinCon18 should be a great time! The conference itself is awesome, we’ve got the cruise booked beforehand and now I’m looking into Disney World the week before that. So the budget might get a bit bloated again. It’s easy to drop $5,000 on a week at Disney. Craziness!

      See you in September!

      • Definitely. I grew up going to Disney every summer pretty much (parents had a time share).

        Then, I went back and took my kids. That magic they sell sure costs a lot of money!

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  11. Congratulations on hitting the 3 million mark. Wow. That is an incredibly accomplishment.

    I’m on pace to hit that mark in about 40 yrs. Lol ?

    I honestly think we need someone to visit Greenland, go to an internet Cafe and just visit every physician financial blog there is.

    That place is way too big on the Google analytic map to remain white (ie no visitors).

    I wish someone from Russia would visit my site too. That’s a huge component of the world map that is white on my personal map (so any Russian peeps please hook a brother up!)

    Congratulations on your success. You deserve every bit of it with the great content you have put out there.

    You are quite the inspiration and I know a lot of this 2nd generation of physician bloggers might not be around if it wasn’t for you (hopefully that is a good thing. Lol).

    • Thanks, XRV!

      Funny to think that I’m among the “1st generation” of physician finance bloggers since this site didn’t exist until 2016. But at the time, there were about 5 or 6 of us. That number is now 10x and I love it.

      Keep up the great work, and I’m sure you’ll be visited by Russian bots before long.



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