Net Worth – January, 2018

Each month I’ll be keeping track of our net worth on this blog. The reason for making our net worth public is to not only hold myself accountable, but to provide a record so I can review my progress over time. I’ll be giving a brief analysis on our results for the month and what changes I’m thinking of making.

January was a solid month for The Money Commando household. Our investments performed well, our income was solid, and our rental properties performed about as well as can be expected (see our Investment Income – January, 2017 report for more details).

The net worth report below includes an adjustment for the Money Commando True Wealth Index (MCTWI). The MCTWI for January, 2017 is .60. This is the same as December’s MCTWI, even though the P/E ratio of the market grew slightly from 25.97 to 26.3.

 

The MCTWI is a way to provide a more stable and “true” valuation of the stock market by adjusting for overly high or low P/E ratios. As a reminder on how the MCTWI works, a value of 1 is fair value, values lower than 1 represent overvaluation and values higher than 1 represent undervaluation. The further from 1 the more the overvaluation or undervaluation. By my estimates, the market continues to be significantly overvalued.

To calculate the “true” value of your investments (that is, what their price would be at the stock market’s long-term average valuation) you just multiply the value of of your investments by the MCTWI. So if your total portfolio of domestic stocks is worth $100k at today’s valuation, you should use the value of .6*100,000 = $60,000 in your planning. That is – the value of your portfolio assuming the long-term valuation of the stock market is only 60% of the current valuation.

Without further ado, here is our net worth report for January, 2018:

 

S&P 500 performance for January, 2018 = 5.62%

Our net worth was up .63%, which is significantly lower than the market’s gain for the month. This is primarily due paying a large bill for some of the work on our house.

Our MCTWI adjusted net worth was down .47%. This is the first monthly drop in our MCTWI adjusted net worth in quite a while.

 

Assets – stock market

In August of 2017 I started reporting all of my equity assets using both their actual value as well as the Money Commando True Wealth Index (MCTWI). If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a method I created to remove the effects of excessively high or low valuation in the stock market. The idea is to produce a net worth that is more indicative of the actual value of investments rather than changes in the stock market valuation. The MCTWI should fluctuate much less than the actual stock market and is especially resistant to the irrational exuberance or despair that occasionally influences the market.

Brokerage accounts – This is our early retirement fund and where most of our net worth is. Our investments were up by a ridiculous $67,905.92, which was 2.8%. I’m not sure why we lagged the overall market so much, but I’m not too worried about it. There were no additions or subtractions from this account, so this is all due to the performance of the market.

Retirement Accounts – This includes a 401(k), two IRAs, and two Roth IRAs (one of each for my wife and me). The only account we are currently contributing to is the 401(k). These were up by about $8.7k (1.2%) for the month.

These are our longest “long-term” investments, as we can’t touch them for at least 18 years (when I turn 59.5). During that time I would expect these accounts to double twice, resulting in an account balance 4x larger than it currently is. Knowing that we can’t touch this money for that long is oddly reassuring.

These accounts have a combined worth of around $715k, so I’d expect them to be worth around $2.86M in 18 years when we can access them. The plan would be to let the tax deferred accounts continue to grow for as long as possible, with the goal that we wouldn’t pull money out until RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) when I’m 70.5 years old. The hope is that we’d never need to touch the Roth accounts and we’ll pass that money on to our children. Under current tax law that money would be tax-free, but who knows what the tax law will look like in 40 or 50 years.

529 accounts – We contribute $500/month to 529 savings accounts we’ve set up for our 2 kids. Assuming both of our kids go to college, these will be liquidated in about 20 years.

Total stock market assets: The total unadjusted value of our stock market investments at the end of the month was $3,245,629.59. That was about $79k higher than last month and good for 2.5% increase.

Total stock market assets adjusted for MCTWI: After adjusting for the market’s high valuation, our stock market assets are worth $2,217,698.55. As described in my introduction to the concept of the MCTWI, in times of high valuation (like today) your stock market investments are actually worth less than their current price. In this case, the math shows that a diversified portfolio of domestic stocks or a domestic index fund is actually worth about 60% of the current price. You should expect that, over time, your portfolio will eventually converge on the MCTWI calculation of the value of your investments.

This would imply either a significant “correction” (AKA – a stock market crash of 40%) or a prolonged period of time where stock prices go nowhere but earnings keep growing. This would allow valuations to catch up to prices.

 

Assets – Other

Checking – As I mentioned in December, starting last month I’ve changed how I track our checking account. We’ve been holding a bunch of cash to pay for some house remodel projects, and in the past I’ve been subtracting those funds out of our checking account (in my mind, that cash was already paid). But I’ve grown tired of estimating the remaining work, then subtracting that from our actual checking account balance, so it’s easier to just publish the actual numbers.

 

Our goal is to keep about $50k in cash in our checking account. This is due to an abundance of caution. I work in an inherently unstable field (sales) and my income varies widely from month to month. Keeping a good chunk of cash in our checking account helps me sleep well at night. This is roughly 6 months of expenses.

Private investments – 2 separate equity investments in startups. Since there’s no way to value these investments I will continue to keep them valued at my initial investment amount. Hopefully I’ll one day be pleasantly surprised to see that the companies are worth something. No change this month.

Rental properties – On the last day of each quarter I adjust the value of the properties based on Zillow’s estimate. No change this month.

Primary residence – Just like the rental properties, I adjust the value of our house at the end of each quarter. No change this month.

Total Assets – Other – The big payment for work on our house made this category look pretty bad. Overall these assets were down by almost $47k, which cancels out much of the gains from the stock market.

 

Liabilities

Credit cards –  We pay our credit cards in full each month. The amount owed varies from month to month due to when we pay the credit card bill, what we charged that month, etc. I don’t worry too much about changes here.

Rental mortgages – All properties are currently rented, which means our tenants paid down $924.44 of the balances on the mortgages for our rental properties. Thanks guys!

Primary residence mortgage – We paid $1,109.14 on our mortgage this month. Although I don’t really consider our house to be an asset, I definitely consider our home loan a liability. I think it would be difficult to retire early with substantial mortgage payments hanging over our heads. We need to have this paid off before I can really consider retirement.

Total liabilities – Total liabilities were up by $1,022.97 for the month (a 0.09% increase) to $1,083,657.64.

We still have over $1M in debt. At the current rate of paying down our mortgages (about $2,200/month) we’ll be under $1M in debt in about 38 months. That will be a fun milestone to finally hit!

 

Total net worth

As described above, I’m calculating my net worth both with and without adjusting for the Money Commando True Wealth Index.

Current net worth is $5,079,099.62, which was up $31,643.69 from last month (a 0.63% increase). If we hadn’t made the large payment towards our house remodel this would have been a great month financially.

The more accurate MCTWI total net worth is $4,051,168.58, which was down $19,066.25 from last month. This is the number I tend to concentrate on, as I feel it better represents our true net worth.

Here’s a graph of our net worth per month so you can see the year over year comparison.

 

 

 

It’s fun to see the big jump from January of last year to January of this year. The huge commissions I earned combined with the stock market run resulted in a 50% increase in our net worth.

Given the way the month of February has started I’m thinking this will be our high-water mark for quite some time.

 

How did everybody else do this month?  Have you been riding the stock market to hit new net worth numbers each month? Any thoughts on the big volatility in the market at the beginning of February?

2 thoughts on “Net Worth – January, 2018

    1. Well, the genesis of the idea was trying to find some way to correct for the ridiculous valuations in the market today. I’m a big believer in reversion to the mean, so I did some thinking about what the market would look like after an inevitable reversion to the mean in valuations.

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