Charting my stock market performance over the years

27 thoughts on “Charting my stock market performance over the years”

  1. I always thought we were long lost Caddy loving brothers Steve, but if you don’t like charts and graphs… then I know it’s not true. But on a serious note, I tend not to track the performance of my index funds. Now that was NOT the case when I owned more individual stocks. But I’m all about keeping it simple these days, and have been divesting from individual stocks in favor of cheap index funds. Even a couple of months ago when all the news outlets were crying for an equities market crash because of some volatility, all of us in this community were buying away like ALWAYS!

    I have no idea what returns I’m going to get (I’m assuming 7% in my calculations) but if it’s 5% or 9%, it’s not going to matter all that much because I’m flexible and have long-term goals.

    1. Being flexible is the very best enabler of an early retirement, that’s for darn sure. The more flexible we are after we quit work, the easier it will be for us to stay happy, healthy and, well, *out of work*! 🙂

  2. Consistent gradual growth would be nice. I just started a year and a half ago and so the little bumps before the correction in your graph are a roller coaster of dips into the red for me. I have a small rollover account that has never seen green! But like you said, I’m in it for the long haul too.

    1. That’s the right attitude, Miss GF – in it for the long haul, so those dips just become a natural part of stock market investing. And sometimes the less that you track your returns over the years, the better – especially this year!

  3. Nice post Steve. It’s great to see the transparency.

    I actually had a question for you, which is somewhat answered by this post (it could be that personal capital does what I am asking).

    It’s easy to track ROI on a one off lump sum. If you lump in 10K and you end up with 15K, it’s 50% ROI. But when you start adding in new amounts each month (investing what you save), it gets messy to work out the ROI specially. As some of it is added money Especially with the software we have in the UK (we don’t have an equivalent to Personal Capital).

    How much do you worry about that? Or are you happy to just keep throwing in extra money and tracking the overall net worth? And it is what it is?

    1. Hi Daniel – I like to keep things simple. In fact, I don’t even do my own calculations – all the charts in this post were taken straight from Vanguard, so they’ve already done the math for me. While there is a way in most online banks to track the performance of individual stocks, it is probably tougher to track the performance of an individual *contribution* unless you’re buying a brand new stock and can therefore track it separately.

      But honestly, I don’t worry about any of that at an individual basis. I just throw my money into the market and watch it grow. Unless I have to be in the details, I usually stay out of them.

      Hope that helped. Thanks for your comment!

      1. I think you’re right.

        I just like to know my overall ROI and didn’t want the extra deposits I make throughout the year to look like ROI. And the platforms I use don’t do a very good job of breaking that out.

        But, to be honest I could just careful track my deposits and subtract that from the difference at the end of the year and it’ll be clear.

        I like your simple approach too. It is what it is I guess and I should just plough in what I can and the total will be the total 😉

        1. Yeah, understood. Vanguard does an awesome job at breaking out your contributions from the actual growth, so it’s trivial to see the difference. That’s one of the reasons why I like the Vanguard web site – it’s ability to distill potentially confusing information into a package that’s easily to read and understand. 🙂

  4. I’ve also wondered if starting now is a bad time. Seems like if I had my ‘awakening’ in 2008, it would have been better 😉

    But you have to start sometime right? And there will always be ups and downs and if you have a 5-10 yr view, hopefully it will be up in the long term.

    I have moved my cash into index trackers and also working on remortgaging (I had paid off my mortgage with my savings before), so I can move some of that into rental properties and more indexes for better returns.

    Kinda scary (I’m naturally risk-adverse), but also exciting!

    1. It’s true, you gotta start some time. And over the course of 10 or more years, it probably won’t make a whole lot of difference. The key is to just *be in the market*, and at least now you’re able to buy stocks for cheaper prices than if they had continually gone up this whole year – as they did in year’s past.

      Good times ahead, I’m sure of it! 🙂

  5. Looks good Steve. While we’re all hoping for ROI and strong market performance, I think I’ve slowly come around t believing that there isn’t much we can do to control it, so investing in a S&P index is the way to go. It’s the consistent saving of a large portion of your pay and use of tax avoidance tools like 401k, IRA, etc that seem to really make the biggest differences for most of us.

    1. I’m completely with you, Freedom40 – there isn’t much that we can do to control the market, so I just throw my money in and forget it. The market will do what the market will do. History has shown that the market will provide a return on your money over the years – sometimes it might be 10%. Otherwise, maybe only 3%. It happens. I don’t worry much about it.

  6. Thanks again for maintaining this blog. Having a blog myself, I know the challenge sometimes in being creative and maintaining it. I use Fidelity for all my investments, Brokerage, IRA and Roth. Their online platform is awesome and when you need to call them, they offer great customer service. A nice area on their platform is an opportunity to view all of your accounts together and they pull from your checking, reward programs, credit card usage etc. This gives you a quick snapshot of all your finances and net worth. You can also see your net worth by year back to when you joined. Very happy with their products….Hope your holidays are good…….Steve

    1. You’re very welcome, Steve – glad to do it! You’re right, it truly is quite a bit of work, but when you truly enjoy something, it doesn’t feel much like “work”.

      I’ve used Fidelity as well and generally like their online system, though I personally haven’t used one that I prefer more than Vanguard’s.

      Thanks for dropping by, and I appreciate the comment!

  7. I love tracking our investment performance, but I still use my trusty old spreadsheet rather than Quicken, Mint, or anything provided by our investment houses. The current spreadsheet that I have has been in use for over 14 years and includes investment data all the way back to 1989 when I started my career. Over that time, the S&P500 has returned 7.1% (before dividends). Our portfolio has done exactly 100bps better at 8.1% (before dividends). This year we are up +5.9% – a lot better than the overall market – due to my employer’s stock climbing +9.2%. We also have a lot of leverage on that performance through stock options. I’m 4 months from early retirement (@ 49 years old), so I’m happy with my +5.9% year.

    1. Hey MrFireStation – nothing wrong with using your own spreadsheets if that is what you prefer. My wife would probably do that too if our online tools didn’t make this process as easy as it does to track all this money stuff.

      Congrats on the growth this year – definitely a nice number to see among the stagnation and instability that we’ve seen. 🙂

  8. Ah yes, the long haul. 🙂 I’m totally with you on that. Even though I know very little about the stock market, I have never understood that knee-jerk reaction where people sell their stock when it starts to go down. Because (assuming we’re talking about a varied portfolio here), it’s always going to go up again.

    I am curious about something — and if this question reveals my utter ignorance about how one obtains funds for living expenses during retirement, please forgive me, as I am a total newcomer to this topic. 🙂

    I’m assuming you’ll make periodic withdrawals from your accounts once you’re retired… How will you decide precisely when to do this? Do you think you’ll take money out on a regular schedule (like quarterly, or on the first of the month), ignoring what the market is doing and assuming it’ll all wash out in the end? Or will you try to be strategic about it by watching the market and trying to make your withdrawals at times that *might* turn out to be peaks rather than troughs?

    1. Hey Sarah – yeah, I think the tendency to sell when prices drop is purely emotional. After all, selling when prices drop is the absolute wrong track to take if you hope to make money in the market over a number of years, but it’s also tough to see your net worth decrease, too.

      Regarding our withdrawals, we plan to withdraw money monthly from our investments without regard to what the stock market is doing. I don’t think there’s much wisdom in trying to *time the market*, because the market isn’t something that we can control and, quite frankly, we want to spend our retirement enjoying ourselves, not fixated on market conditions and getting frustrated if and when we don’t time it properly.

      We like to keep things simple around here, so equal monthly withdrawals is all that we plan on doing in retirement. We also plan on living our first year off of a portion of our short term savings rather than touching our longer term investments, which will allow that money to grow for a year unfettered. So, part of our wealth accumulation phase at the moment is building our short term savings account up so it will support our first year’s living expenses as well as contain 6-month emergency funding.

      Thanks for the comment, and I hope that this helped. 🙂

  9. I was lucky this year because I have one particular stock that’s been doing well. It’s one of the remnants of my “let’s pick stocks” era, when I didn’t know better and thought that choosing companies was the name of the game.
    Now I’m happy that I have this stock, but I’m worried it will not go so well next year, and it could end up counterbalancing gains from the market. I need to sell, but it will have huge tax implications… oh well, first world problems, amirite?

    1. Good deal, Stockbeard – I definitely appreciate those stocks that always just seem to do well…but then again, we probably also have a few stocks that never seem to gain traction. I guess that just makes us appreciate the ones that do!

      And you’re right, first world problems. 😉

    1. Yup, these graphs are available straight from Vanguard on the ‘Personal Performance’ page. All the calculations are done for you, and graphs created. It’s great.

  10. Ha my 1st chart look basically the same (even same 9.0% return) except mine start 1/1/2007, so I don’t have that little bit of green in the beginning. Retirement only is a 9.6% return but that’s been moved mostly into bonds recently… but then my 10 year is the same as my all-time since it only goes back 8ish years. It’s kind of interesting how if you follow basic principles, even if not exactly, you get pretty much the same results.

  11. Fair warning — you’re about to get an influx of comments. 🙂 For some reason, you are the ONLY blog we read that gets blocked every time by United wifi, so I couldn’t catch up on your posts during my monster blog catch-up session yesterday. Oh well… giddyup! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your charts! I must be the opposite, because I love seeing numbers represented graphically, and I wish more people would share their data this way. It’s certainly clear when you made a big effort to up your savings game! That’s maybe what I love most about seeing charts — seeing the visual representation of when you got serious, or when you slacked off, or when the markets didn’t share the love. The pictures tell a little story.

    As for future predictions — I’m with you. I don’t think we can expect 2013-14 level growth to be the norm. We’re debating making a personal loan at 6% — if the markets stay flat, we’ll feel pretty smart, but if they go back to 2013 levels, we’ll be pretty sad. 🙂

    1. Ha! No idea why United insists on blocking my site, but hey, guess it could be worse (like Delta?!?). Yeah, I like colorful charts that are easy to read and digest too – I’m in the middle of writing another post about our Personal Capital charts, and that should be out in January. More charts. More colors. It’s gonna be gooooood. 🙂

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