Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How much are you up or down? One ugly chart, and one that's not so bad

When I calculate my net worth for the month, the data get fed into some dynamic charts that I've created, to provide a visual representation of my progress over time. I've posted these charts a couple of times, but this month's output really stopped me in my tracks. Behold the majesty of my retirement investment performance since I started tracking in April of 2007:

Despite contributing roughly $18,500 to my retirement accounts since April 2007, my investments have gained only $2,171.50 in value.


Now, I need to point out a couple of things here:
  • This chart only shows the month-end value of my investments - I haven't done any adjustments to show "what $10,000 invested on April 30 of 2007 would be worth today", or the like. This is a very basic "what was my investment portfolio worth on X date?" view of my RRSP's value over time.

  • This graph starts at a value of $36,087.43 - Although a quick look at the chart makes it look like I've come full circle, there is actually another 6 years of progress prior to April 2007 that got me up to that point. I have to keep in mind that I'm really "up" by $38,258.93 over where I was at the beginning of my career (namely $0).
Since the beginning of the year, my retirement investments are down by 7.9%. I'm OK with that, since this money is for the long term, but it still hurts to see such a pronounced drop-off over such a short period.

A post at Clever Dude made me stop and think about how I'm really doing this year. True, my investments are down (by a lot), and my net worth has been slowly declining the last couple of months as a result. However, I've been making consistent progress on paying off my revolving debt, and tucking some cash away in my Emergency Fund and Freedom Account. As a result, my net worth is actually up by 71.8% over where it was at the end of 2007, my revolving debt is down by 32.1%, and my cash savings are up by 96.0%:

There's no question in my mind that I'm moving in the right direction, and although net worth has been stagnant the past few months, I'm laying a very solid groundwork for the future. By starting with a small base, and sticking to the plan, I've survived a huge drop in the market and actually grown my net worth by over 70%. That's not too shabby.

How is your big picture looking? Is market performance overshadowing the rest of your financial life, or are you seeing small changes add up to something better?

Monday, December 1, 2008

November update

Somehow, December is already here. I'm not entirely sure how this happened, but the holiday season is upon us, and we're in the final stretch of 2008. How are your holiday savings coming along? Have you been planning ahead for the shopping season? Are you scaling back on your purchases this year?

I didn't set specific goals in November (two months in a row equals a big slap on the wrist for Mr. Loonie), but here's a summary of my progress for the month:
  • I reduced my revolving debt to $15,892.86 - This $498.99 drop pales in comparison to the $1,041.94 I paid off in October, but it's still a good-sized chunk of debt that's now gone. Not much new to see here, but it's movement in the right direction.

  • My Emergency Fund dropped from $2,067.70 to $1,701.46 - What happened??? Did I have car repairs? Did I need to cover a health emergency out of pocket? No, things are fine in the Loonie household, which brings us to the third point...

  • I proposed to Ms. Loonie, and she said yes! - The slowdown in debt repayment and the slight dip in my Emergency Fund are due to my purchase of an engagement ring last month. For most of the year, I've had some money stashed away in a savings account, and I finally put it to good use to pop the question to the woman of my dreams. We're looking at dates in early 2010 for the actual wedding, but for now we're just basking in the glow of being engaged.
Now, on to my month-end update:

Online Savings - $3,549.33
Self-Directed RSP - $31,128.93
Employer Group RSP - $7,130.00

Revolving Debt - $15,892.86
Student Loans - $23,445.00

Net Investable Assets: $2,470.40
Net Liquid Assets: ($35,788.53)

My liquid savings grew slightly in November, which reflects some substantial contributions to my Freedom Account, offset by the withdrawal from my Emergency Fund. This month had a much smaller drop in my RRSP, which shed only $2,789.20 (as opposed to $6,200.26 in October). Still, the last time my retirement savings were this low was July 2007. These changes translated to a net decrease of $2,590.82 in my investable assets, more than offsetting the $1,066.52 of progress I made in reducing my non-mortgage debt.

Overall, my net investable assets decreased by $1,524.30, and my net liquid assets increased by $1,264.90. My NetworthIQ profile has also been updated (including loose cash, home, car and mortgage). The market took a much smaller bite out of my retirement savings this month, which is a relief. The continuing forward motion in my net liquid assets is good to see, considering that the Loonies have a wedding to plan. Let's keep building those savings and shrinking that debt!