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2017 Q1 PoF Portfolio, Spending, and Blog Performance Update

Another quarter has come and gone, and I thought it would be a fine time to update you on my portfolio, the markets in general, and some facts and figures regarding the blog.


PoF Portfolio Update


I haven’t made any significant changes to my investment portfolio. I have added a solo 401(k), which gets a portion of website profits. The account represents 0.15% of the overall portfolio.



My taxable account has TLH (tax loss harvest) trading partners VFIAX (S&P 500) and VTSAX (total stock market).

The international funds are also TLH partners, although not ideal, since one has emerging markets (VFWAX) and the other does not. If I ever see an opportunity to TLH out of VTMGX, I might use VTIAX (total international), which I have owned in the past.

I bought BRK-B because I like the zero dividend, and I hope to make it to an annual meeting while Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are still kicking it. Unfortunately, I’ll be working that weekend this year.

I’ve got a little more dry powder than normal (2.7% cash). I recently received a sizable tax refund (which happens when you donate $100,000) and haven’t decided where to put it, or if I should just give it to Mr. 1500, as he politely suggested.

PoF Asset Allocation



I’m not too far off my targets, and I’m intentionally allowing the REIT portion to drift smaller for a couple reasons.

First, REITs are included in most US stock index funds. If I owned none of the REIT index fund, I would still have about 3% of my money in REITs via the other index funds I own.

Second, I would like to have 10% of my portfolio in REIT & “alternatives.” Currently my alternatives include a couple small brewery investments, and I may add crowdfunded real estate (CAPFUNDR, RealtySharesEquityMultiple, Fundrise, etc..) or make investments in additional small businesses in the future.

For more information on my chosen allocation and rationale, please see The PoF Portfolio.


PoF Portfolio Performance


I track all my investments with Empower. If you choose to do the same, please sign up from a link on this site to further my charitable mission.

Like last year, we’re tracking pretty darned close to the S&P 500 so far this year. The S&P 500 has returned 5.21% and the PoF Portfolio is up 4.99%.



There was a decent gap there for awhile, but the gap has closed in the last 30 days, with the PoF Porftolio up 0.79% while the S&P 500 dropped 0.72%.



The top performer so far this year has been Emerging Markets, with VEMAX returning nearly 11% already in 2017.



Bonds have been rather flat, and have been the poorest performing class in the portfolio, eking out a miniscule gain year-to-date.


Quarterly Market Performance


Morningstar has a very complete list of market index performances, with returns in the last week, month, quarter, year-to-date, one-year, three-year, and five-year timeframes.

A number of sites offer quarterly market reviews. Here are a few:

Fidelity and T. Rowe Price also share quarterly market reviews, but they don’t release them until a few weeks after the quarter’s end. Truthfully, if you’re a buy and hold investor, these reports are largely noise, but you might feel a little smarter (or a lot dumber) after reading a few of them.

In summary, it was a pretty good quarter to be an investor. I just saved you several hours of tedious reading. You’re welcome.

First Quarter Spending


Last year, we spent $62,000 out of pocket, as detailed here.

In the first quarter of 2017, we burned through $14,000, compared to nearly $18,000 by this time last year. We saved significant money by hitting zero deer so far (a decrease from one last year) and having zero surgeries in the family (again, a decrease of one).

The most expensive categories were Food & Dining (& Drink), followed by Travel. Although the airfare was purchased last year, the expenses of a week in Punta Cana for my wife and 9 days in Europe for the family were incurred this year.

Here is the breakdown, courtesy of Mint.com.



The Auto category included a year’s worth of insurance at $857 and $175 in Public Transportation for numerous Metro passes in Paris. The latter perhaps belongs in the Travel category; the same could be said for meals purchased on vacation, but you’ve got to eat no matter where you are, so those costs landed in the Food category.

Other significant expenses this first quarter were some football tickets purchased now for the upcoming fall and tuition for two in a summer STEM camp.

I predicted about $60,000 in spending this year. This does not include health insurance premiums, nor does it account for eventual replacement of big ticket items, like our cars. I use the figure of $80,000 as our anticipated early retirement spending needs.


Blog Performance


E-mail subscribers have already seen the following figures. They also saw the revenue data from this site, which I reserve only for e-mail subscribers. I am happy to report that the site brought in more money in the last quarter than it did in the entire first year.

If you’d like to join the nearly 1,600 strong, you can subscribe right here!

The site now has 195 posts and 29 pages, including a new Student Loan Resource Page.

Numbers! I heart numbers:

  • 739,000 all-time pageviews with 314,000 in the last quarter
  • Viewed from 195 countries. Still none from Greenland or Madagascar


More numbers:

  • 1,570 e-mail subscribers (930 new in the last quarter)
  • 538 Feedly subscribers
  • 167 RSS Feedburner subscribers
  • 3,227 Twitter followers
  • 275 Facebook Page Likes & 96 Friends.

The big news from the last quarter is the creation of the WCI Network, with Physician on FIRE being the first network site. After meeting up with Dr. Dahle and the WCI crew in February, we made it official in March, announcing our partnership in this post on my site and this one @ WCI.

As you can see from the numbers above, the affiliation has been quite beneficial, and I’m happy to be reaching more readers — most of you on the receiving end of this e-mail are reading one of my newsletters for the first time.


I like to write Top 5 posts, so it seems appropriate to share the top 5 viewed posts of all-time. They are:

  1. Stealth Wealth: I’m Just an Ordinary Average Guy(13,432 views)
  2. He Has Read Over 250 Investing Books. He Recommends These Three Funds. (9,350 views)
  3. My Path to Financial Independence (9,127 views)
  4. Financial Independence versus Financial Freedom (8,952 views)
  5. A Tale of 4 Physicians: The Impact of Lifestyle (8,939 views)

The second post is new to the list. In sixth place is a post in which I describe my investment portfolio, The PoF Portfolio.



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

  1. White Coat Investor (30,433 sessions)
  2. Twitter (12,433 sessions)
  3. Rockstar Finance (10,955 sessions)
  4. Retireby40 (6,631 sessions)
  5. Facebook (4,688 sessions)

1500days.com fell off the list, but registers as number 6. He deserves mention because his retirement is imminent (it’s official this week), and I plan to visit him to celebrate next week!


I frequently send readers away to different sites. Unfortunately, not every site registers, so while I know the White Coat Investor would top this list, my current setup with JetPack doesn’t track links to that particular site. I may configure Google Analytics to work with Google Tag Manager to get better data.

Here’s where people are clicking, mostly from The Sunday Best & Christopher Guest Posts:

  1. The Happy Philosopher (3,427 clicks)
  2. ESI Money (3,064 clicks)
  3. Early Retirement Now (3,036 clicks)
  4. Bogleheads (2,924 clicks)
  5. KevinMD (2,757)

Once again, 1500days.com just missed the cut, landing at number 6. I’ll mention his site again in hopes that he’ll pick up the first round at Oskar Blues.


I've got my 2 acres of non-leveraged, crop-producing, cashflowing farmland via AcreTrader. Get yours.


Thanks for reading, and for being a part of this site’s success! Cheers to the beginning of another successful quarter!


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35 thoughts on “2017 Q1 PoF Portfolio, Spending, and Blog Performance Update”

  1. After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new
    comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is
    added I receive 4 emails with the same comment. Is there an easy method you
    are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!

  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. A very good month (and year for that matter, good luck on the deer and health side of things for the remainder) on all fronts. You can be proud of yourself!
    Best of luck for April, despite already being halfway 😉

  4. Awesome work, both on your finances and the blog. The number of sessions is incredible, you’re doing really well considering how long you’ve been blogging.

    Why don’t you allocate more to REITs?

    If you do visit Mr1500, please tell him to answer my e-mails 😛

    • REITs? I think 10% is enough. I was at about 13%, currently between 11% and 12% (with ~3% coming from US Stock funds). I may add some crowdfunded RE once my REIT total is under 10%.

      I owe some of my blogging success to being featured in many other places, including your site.


  5. Congrats on your blog growth, PonF! Well deserved!

    You motivated me to look up the referrals I received from you. And since you featured me in a November 2016 Sunday’s Best, it has been over 250 visits and 3 email subscribers. So, thank you sir!

    And thank you also for adding me to the blog roll.

    Is there any particular strategy you use on Twitter, I am admittedly lazy there. I share my posts and a few from others on my blog roll.

    Enjoy the beer with Mr. 1500. The last time I had a beer with him at Fin Con all hell broke lose when those dinosaurs of his came out. They are party animals and convinced me to drink one more than I should have;)

  6. Strong work, both with your finances and your blog. I’m definitely amazed by your site’s growth over the past year. That’s just a testament to your hard work and excellent content.

    Thanks for sending some traffic my way as well. It’ much appreciated!

  7. Awesome quarter, love the fact that you were able to keep your expenses lower than predicted. That’s a win in my book.

    PS… what about sending some traffic my way? :p Just kidding lol.

  8. You went to Punta Cana! Nice. Where did you stay? We’re heading there in May for two weeks. We usually rent a car so that we can venture out and stay at a condo.
    Our expenses were low for the quarter. The reward credit card points helped lower our stays during our only vacation for the quarter to Virginia.

    • Enjoy! I’ve never been to the Dominican, but my wife went on a girls’ trip with her family. She stayed at an all-inclusive, which I’ve done once. I was going stir crazy by the second day. I like your idea of renting a vehicle and a condo.


  9. Love these stats! You’re doing awesome and have really inspired me to focus on paying it forward. While I’m still small time, I’m working on adopting your approach to utilize my social media presence to support other bloggers. looking forward to continue tracking your success.

    • Thank you, MSF. You’ve got nothing to lose by promoting blogs you enjoy. I think the bloggers who fade away are the ones who mostly keep to themselves. It’s a much more social endeavor than I could have imagined.


  10. I've got my 2 acres of non-leveraged, crop-producing, cashflowing farmland via AcreTrader. Get yours.
  11. Kicking butt and taking names! Nice work PoF. It is good to see how quick the site has grown and thanks for always giving shout out s (taking names) to other bloggers. Keep up the good work….

      • Makes me feel like I should be on the fast and the furious…the latest one that is going to be even more fast and more furious.

  12. Very impressive numbers for Q1, both financially and for the blog. Though, it looks like the second quarter is off to a slow start in the stock market. Then again, with the strong first quarter in and a little bit of dividend yield for the remainder of the year even a flat market until Dec 31 would hit my return target of~6% for the calendar year.

    And of course: Thanks for the traffic you’re sending over to my site. Outside of search engines and forums you are the #1 referrer!!!

    • I guess I’m your #1 fan. Does that sound creepy? It kinda does to me when I type it out.

      I’ll take 6% for the year. Anything in the positive seems like a win when everyone and his brother is saying we’re overdue for a correction.


  13. Wow, really impressed by the growth, both personal and the blog. Thanks for being an inspiration to me and so many of our fellow physicians!

  14. Awesome quarter PoF! Always like looking under the hood to see what’s going on here and am always super impressed with how fast you grew. You’re definitely a giver as well. Have always appreciated the support you give to folks like myself.

  15. “The most expensive categories were Food & Dining (& Drink), followed by Travel. ” – That’s exactly how a budget should be 🙂

    Congrats on the stats, you’re killin it, Doc! Enjoy a round with Mr 1500 for me 🙂

    • Good point. My top three are always student loans, taxes, mortgage. Not a fun way to plan your months. But hey, the month food tops your list is the month you know you’re planning your months right!

      • Well, income taxes would top every other category by $10,000 a month, but I don’t count those taxes as spending.

        You can also make a good argument that paying down principal on your mortgage and student loans is not spending, either.

        • I assumed you left out taxes. Mint doesn’t have that info 🙂

          Seems your breakdown, I guess, is more with an eye to a “lifestyle inflation” estimate than true expenses, then? Like, a breakdown of the little expenses rather than the set, ongoing, necessary ones?

          I do think its fair to count the principle payment on a mortgage as “savings” for many purposes, since it’s equity-building. And I count my student loan payment in its entirety as savings when I do a savings rate calculation since the student loans were an unavoidable expense (to achieve my income) that would otherwise be savings, and I make that calculation to keep an eye on lifestyle inflation. But from a pure cash flow perspective, the reality is that regardless of impact on net worth or circumstances in which they were brought on, they are still by FAR my largest expenses and will be for the next decade.

          I’ll be pumped when I can say “Yep, food is where all my money went.” That’s the dream!

        • It accounts for where my paychecks go — basically everything to live the life we live sans health insurance, which is taken out before I receive the check. Whatever I don’t spend is invested.

  16. Hey PoF, nice Q1 update. At first I scratched my head to understand why my PC shows 5.53% S&P gain for Q1 then I zoomed in and noticed you went until 4/9. Changing that on my end makes it match. I love PC for this type of insight. I wish it was better with budgeting features – then it might be my only financial tool.

    Question on the Solo-401k: Why did you chose that over a SEP-IRA? I’ve had a SEP-IRA for many years for my self-employment income. In my case it allows me to contribute more than a Solo would, but that isn’t the case for everyone of course. I’m curious what factors made you lean that direction.

    • Hey, Brad — good catch. I grabbed the data this weekend, so the returns are from a quarter + 1 week.

      Good question on the SEP-IRA vs. individual 401(k). I used to have a sizable SEP-IRA, too, but converted it all to Roth in a “Mega Roth Conversion” generating a six-figure tax bill.

      Since I have no traditional IRA money in my name, I am able to do a backdoor Roth without getting tripped up by the pro rata rule and triggering a taxable event. A SEP-IRA would foul that up, but a 401(k) does not. More from WCI on the differences here.


      • I plan to convert my self directed IRA to a roth at some point so that I can do the backdoor roth as well. First, I need to transfer the remaining $20K I have left in another account to my SD IRA and then figure out the timing of the conversion.

        I am kind of waiting to see what “The Donald” is able to do with taxes…if anything. It might prove to be advantageous to wait and save a bit on the tax bill it is going to create.

        • Yep – best to convert when either the market is down, taxes are less, or both. Right now, we have neither.

  17. Congratulations on your best quarter yet, PoF! You are very supportive of other blogs, including mine. You gave the top 5 (well, 6) sites you send traffic to. It would be interesting to know how many websites you have sent at least 100 clicks to, to see how many other personal finance blogs you have helped support.

    • Thanks, WaSP!

      I’ve found that the Golden Rule is useful in most any situation, including blogging. Pretty much any site I’ve linked to in the Sunday Best in the last 9 months has seen that many referrals from here.

      A quick look at the Site Stats shows over 200 websites with 100 clicks or more.

      Happy to help!


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