How's it goin'? Well it's goin' like this.... 

"Energy and persistence conquer all things."

-- Benjamin Franklin

Charts and tables up. Let's look at where I stand after two years and a coupla three four weeks of running my own 401 money versus leaving the money in the default choice; the "Balanced Pooled Fund" (BPF). My goal is to beat the BPF's rate of return by enough to justify the effort I'm putting into taking care of my retirement money, and to protect my self against losing money because of not putting enough effort into taking care of my retirement money.
Why do I even have to take care of my retirement money? Isn't 342 paying people to do that for all of us? They are supposed to be. I know better. The people watching our money are baby sitting it for us. The baby sitters/investment advisors/custodians earn fees first, for not doing anything stupid and second, for doing well enough not to lose us as clients and thereby losing the ability to charge us fees. You can't expect much from this set up and sure enough at times we haven't gotten even that. Read elsewhere on this site how they have been doing with your money. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't be doing this if all I had to do was let my money pile up in the 401 and the pension fund and grow itself into a fortune and a lifetime of easy living for me.
So... How my doin'? Pretty damn good. Check out my tables at http://joefacer.com/id11.html. I averaged almost 12% return/year over the first 16 months, from 9/04 through 12/05. Bull markets make almost everybody look like a genius and I was there to let it do its magic for me. My unstated until now goal is to get to the point where my investment return is substantially greater than my contribution. At that point, the hard work is done and my yearly investment returns start to approach what would make a really nice pension check. That makes living happily ever after a real possibility. I flirted with that kinda return in 2004 and 2005. 2006 is a different story. Check out the charts. Everything went great up until May. I stepped off the elevator just as it hit the top and went to almost all cash. This is the "not losing money" part of my "timing the market" plan. I started to get back in as stocks found a bottom but got scared back out by the Mideast war, rising interest rates, a slowing economy, the collapse of the housing industry and housing prices, and a desire to protect my gains from '04 and '05. In the meantime, stocks went up while I sat on the sidelines and waited for something major to tell me to get back in. I never heard the whistle and so for this year I'm hoping that the seasonal year end stock rally will show up like it usually does and get me back close to the 20+% up for the first half of the year that I had in my pocket in May. I may get there, I may not. And either way that's OK...
Having a workable plan and the discipline to stick with it is how you deal with not being able to tell the future and not being perfect on every move every day. I diversified among funds and it kept me from being totally invested in the two top funds, but it also kept me from having any money in the three or four worst funds and from having much money in the so-so funds. Getting out when it looked like the top cost me a litte performance here and there when I bailed out a little early for a month or two here and there, but it had me out during most of the downdraft from May to July. Being nervous from August to date has kept me with one foot in and one foot out of the market and has cost me some gains, but that's all part of the price of having a plan and discipline. And having the plan is the key to being confident about boosting the amount I'm putting into the 401 plan, going heavily to stocks at times, and sleeping well every night.
I'm up close to twice what the BPF is and I don't mean 3% for me compared to 1.8% for the BPF either. I'm up over 30%+ in two years. I've gotten both the "deer in the headlights" fear of the market going down and the "the week that stocks doubled when I sold out" fear burned out of me along the way and that's good too. It ain't all good all the time, but it's pretty damn good most of the time and ...

"No one that ever lived has ever had enough power, prestige, or knowledge to overcome the basic condition of all life -- you win some and you lose some."
-- Ken Keyes, Jr

So YEAH, I'm getting my money's worth outa running my own money. The more I put in and the more I earn, the greater the payoff. The quicker I stop the bleeding in a down market, the quicker I get back to even and start making progress again. But you know that. You read it on my webpage.

See ya at the hall....
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