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PoF Portfolio Performance Update

Set For Life

A couple months ago, I shared my portfolio with you. In the previous post, I showed you which funds I hold in which accounts, including the percentage of each fund within the account, and as a percentage of the overall portfolio.

I didn’t share performance. Today, I’ll fill that gap. I like a highly customizable spreadsheet to track the ratios, and I like Empower to track the balances and performance day-to-day and over time.

The current spreadsheet for the PoF Portfolio, as of 5/18/2016:




Not a whole lot has changed in the interim. The taxable account now represents 51% of my portfolio, an excellent proportion for an aspiring early retiree.

A weighted average of the expense ratios comes out to 0.082%, which is below the lowest rate used when we looked at the brutal effect of investment fees.

I have included the asset allocation information that is calculated automatically when I update the balances for each of the funds. This makes it easy to see how far from my desired allocation my investments have strayed, and helps with rebalancing.

You may notice I have set a “% desired” for the overall asset allocation and for the international portion, in which I have an emerging markets tilt.

I don’t set a desired allocation percentage within the U.S. Stocks. I do have a small and value tilt, but I let the ratios drift. I keep U.S. stocks in all account types (taxable, Roth, tax deferred), but I keep large-cap (S&P 500) and total market funds in taxable, and only mid-cap and small-cap in the others. This strategy helps me avoid wash sales when it comes time to do tax loss harvesting.



Performance of the PoF Portfolio

Using Empower’s You Index feature, we can compare the performance of the PoF Portfolio to the S&P 500, DJI, Foreign stocks, or US Bond Index. I chose S&P 500 for this exercise. So far this year, the PoF portfolio is up 1.12%, compared to 0.18% for the S&P 500. Looks like we’re doing alright! My blue line rises up above the turquoise index, but they do track pretty closely.




Maybe we should look back a little further. Going back exactly five years to 5/18/2011, we see the following performance.




Ouch. Turquoise dominates, with returns of 52.8% to my paltry 36.13% (assuming I have held this particular asset allocation for the last 5 years). Is it time to rethink the PoF portfolio? Let’s hit rewind again and take an even longer view, dialing back to 5/18/2006 for a 10-year look in the rearview mirror.




Blue for the win! Over 10 years, the PoF portfolio has trounced the S&P 500, 74.3% to 54.5%. The gap actually widens if you go further back. I haven’t independently verified these results, but the point of this exercise is not to prove a winner. It is to show that a widely diversified portfolio that is mostly invested in stocks is going to move more or less in step with the stock market. It’s also to show you one of the many cool tools Empower offers in hopes that you’ll consider signing up via any of the links on this site (like this one), an action that will help support the site and its charitable mission.

Here’s another fun tool from them, a breakdown of my current asset allocation. One thing I learned from this is that compared to my spreadsheet, I am actually overweight in REIT, displayed here as “alternatives”, since the total market and small-cap funds also contain REIT.




I may have to make a change in the spreadsheet to accommodate for REIT holdings in some of the Vanguard stock index funds. I do like to play around with Excel, which reminds me…

I have been adding Excel based calculators to the calculators page, which now includes:

These are available to download as one Excel file in exchange for subscribing to receive notices of new posts and my quarterly blog progress note. Confirmation of the subscription is not required to complete the download, but I would encourage you to follow through with the subscription. If you change your mind later, you can always opt out with the click of a link. You can also subscribe in many places throughout the site, including at the bottom of this very page.


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


My next quarterly progress note will include revenue information that I do not share elsewhere. I should have good news to share, as I am exploring more revenue opportunities.

Speaking of revenue and charity, if you have been considering using Empower, signing up through any of the links on this page will result in a donation of $50 to our donor advised fund, from which we donate to various local and national charities.

A sampling of some of the organizations that benefitted from our charitable giving last year:

  • Salvation Army
  • Local Soup Kitchen
  • Local Food Shelf
  • Bike the US for MS
  • Local No-kill Animal Shelter
  • Hospital Foundation
  • Hospital Auxiliary
  • Local School PTO
  • The Boaz Project (cares for orphans internationally)
  • The Alma Mater “State U”
  • Local Sports Association
  • YMCA


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


I’m up 1.12% this year, at least until the markets open this morning. How is your portfolio doing year-to-date? Do you know the answer? Would you like to?

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15 thoughts on “PoF Portfolio Performance Update”

  1. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have
    put in writing this website. I’m hoping to check out
    the same high-grade content by you in the future as
    well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own blog now ;

  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. One quick comment about personal capital. I signed up for is as I have seen you mention it, and I love the layout and the way it can analyze your portfolio. The only downside is that since I signed up 3 days ago I have gotten at least 5 calls to my cell from multiple different states. My cell was clean from telemarketing calls, that’s the only downside to the site I have found so far.

    • Sorry they’re being that aggressive. That wasn’t my experience, but I’m guessing I answered the first one, and told them I was only interested in the free service. I get an occasional e-mail, but I can live with that for the free service, which I love.

      I actually went through with a portfolio review with an advisor, eventually. It was interesting to see what they proposed, and the gentleman was complimentary of my current setup. Of course, he offered to take over for me, but there was no hard sell.


  4. Thanks for sharing your portfolio! Clearly you’re very well informed and I’m interested to hear your perspective on something. Would you mind commenting on why you choose to hold less than 10% of your portfolio in bonds and cash? I’m (probably) 10 years younger than you and am holding about 20% fixed income, which was suggested by a few different sources I read, but I think I could probably get more aggressive. Thanks!

    • Hello, Brian. I talked a bit more about my rationale in the first PoF Portfolio post. When it comes to the bond allocation, some bright minds say “why bother,” others say “age in bonds,” and there are variations, such as “age -10” or “age – 20” in bonds.

      Ultimately, you need to be comfortable with your chosen asset allocation, which is largely based on your risk tolerance, which has emotional and philosophical components. I’ve linked to about five different quizzes you can take to help determine yours in the 20 Steps to Effective DIY investing post. I hope that helps!


  5. Great portfolio you got going there. It shows the power of index funds rather than stock picking, something I am trying to stop doing! I have been investing recently into REITs however, curious as to why you do not have VNQ in one of your retirement accounts as it tracks REITs as well as pays a great dividend.

    • Thank you, Stefan. There’s nothing wrong with some stock picking with “play money”, but I would recommend limiting play money to 5% of your portfolio.

      I do hold the Vanguard REIT Index Fund in the form of the admiral version of the mutual fund, VGSLX. The ETF version is VNQ.


  6. Nice Performance Update. Any particular guesses why the portfolio has underperformed in recent years? Is there any one fund that’s underperformed significantly in recent years that did not repeat in the last 10?

    Just curious.

    • Thank you for the question, Tako Tuesday! Yes, there are definitely some underperformers. Bonds have been flat, International up only 10%, and emerging markets down about 30% over the last 5 years. REITs look like a bright spot at a + 30%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500, is up over 50% over the last 5 years.

      Rebalancing into the lower performing classes could improve returns, unless this discrepancy persists indefinitely (which it never seems to do).

  7. Nice set of low cost funds. I have a few actively managed funds also. I don’t own any bond funds. I plan on sharing my portfolio soon but I’m in the process of making some big changes overall. But after the overhaul I’ll probably structure it a bit more like yours.

    • Thank you, Green Swan. I went through an overhaul of my own over the last few years, finally unloading the last of my actively managed funds a year ago. The capital gains were killing me!


  8. Quick curiosity question
    Why do you own VFIAX on top of VTSAX? Doesn’t their performance essentially track extremely closely over long haul?

    • Good question, Mr. PIE. There is no logical reason to buy-and-hold both. BUT, I tax loss harvest from one to the other. In January, I sold all the lots of VFIAX that had losses and bought VTSAX.

      Since they track extremely closely, they are excellent TLH partners. I still have some VFIAX because the lots that I’ve held longer still had gains, so I kept those.


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