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Experiment with Investing: The Lady Finally Gets Serious

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The Lady in the Black shares where she’s at with her experiment with investing. For a Lady who went a little investing crazy early on, you might be surprised how grown-up she’s being about everything.

The Situation

For a financial late-blooming Lady, I’m exceedingly pleased with myself for starting to invest. Yet, of late, I’m being forced to reconsider, re-evaluate, and re-assess my entire financial big picture. (I’ll likely go into details about that in another post.) Priorities need to be decided on and adjustments made.

Taking a long, hard look at my investments has revealed a few interesting points that I thought might benefit others. And, as always, I want to document some of these bigger financial moves to hold myself accountable on this crazy journey of mine.

The Experiment

Not quite 2 years ago, I felt like dipping my big toe into investing, after being introduced to the concept in ways that were non-threatening and encouraging to me. (Shout out to Feminist Financier.)

From the start, I talked about investing in terms like dabbling or “fooling around.” (Check this risque little post!) The parallels from investing to dating seemed to make sense to me and I kind of just ran with that as a theme. In 4 short months, I was a self-proclaimed promiscuous investor.

All along the way, I did admit that I had no clue what I was doing. That was OK because, for me, it was far more about overcoming the fear of investing and learning something new. That said, I also had daydreams of somehow finding that dream stock and living happily ever after.

Now, The Lady has had her fun.

The time for fooling around is over.

I’m ready to get serious.

I want to commit to an investment strategy that works for me now AND for my future self. And with most big changes, there are two sides to consider; the head and the heart (or logic vs. emotion, if you prefer.)

Which brings us to evaluating how “smart” my investing has been to date.

The Numbers

My modest investing goal, other than education, was to exceed current savings interest rates. Pretty much, if my performance on a individual holding and/or entire portfolio exceeded 2%, I figured I was doing pretty good.

What do the numbers, as of this minute, show?

STASH

  • Started investing in June 2017.
  • Current Portfolio Value: ~$3,200
  • Positions/Holdings: 7
  • Current Adjusted Unrealized GAIN: $387 (+13.68%)
  • Pulled out money twice since inception
  • Trading fees: $1/month
  • Additional custodial account for The Kid: $551

TDAmeritrade

  • Started investing in August 2017.
  • Current Portfolio Value: ~$3,100
  • Positions/Holdings: 10
  • Current Adjusted Unrealized GAIN: $52 (or +1.7%)
  • Realized LOSS in 2017: $45
  • Realized LOSS in 2018: $59
  • Trading fees: $6.95/trade

Taking both accounts’ unrealized gains collectively, I’ve succeeded in exceeding my “beat the savings rate” goal, kinda. (I’m not a math expert but my gains seem to put me in the “not bad for a noob” category.) Yay me. I also made about $120 in dividends. Yay dividends.

But am I even getting close to market performance?

Well, according to the charts, it seems like I decided to starting to invest with bulls and then got the experience of meeting a bear, a big ugly bear. I suppose this is a good thing to happen early on when my investments are relatively low. Some would say it’s a very good thing as I am getting in the market during a “sale” time. Either way, even investing experts don’t make market performance so I’ll just let myself off the hook on that one.

In short, The Lady’s current investing experiment (by the numbers) can be summarized by:

  • Over $6,000 invested in under 2 years
  • Modest gains in a tumultuous market

When it comes to these two investment accounts, there are also some intangible, touchy-feely emotions that should be weighed when judging the true vale of my investment portfolios. Apparently, my “heart” has an opinion, too.

The Intangibles

Money is emotional. I know this to be true for myself and believe it to be true for most. What emotions have I attached to these two investment portfolios?

Hope

I strongly equate these guys with my future financial wellbeing. Unlike other savings vehicles, I am better able to imagine the stock market, and my portfolios by default, growing over time. I’ve seen the long-term market indexes and know that means long-term=growth.

Being able to attach existing funds to my future financial self is pretty damn important. Before I started this financial journey, I never could do that. It never really even occurred to me. Being able to visualize and imagine a happy, healthy financial future is something I hold dear.

Education

There is also an intellectual challenge to investing. Yes, I’ve learned a bit over this experiment but I also know I’ve barely scratched the surface. As a woman who loves to learn new things, it’s fun to know that I could really dig my heels in on this investing topics and learn a ton.

But will I? Eh. Maybe. Maybe not. (I’ve got a lot of stuff swirling around this Lady brain.)

Entertainment

And fooling around with investing is fun. It really is. I check in with my portfolios everyday (sometimes more than once) just to see what’s up with them (and what’s down.) I learned early not to panic and so now it gives me a level amusement that might equate to that of a hobby.

In short, The Lady emotions tell her that:

  • She’s learned a lot about investing but still doesn’t know much
  • Investing is fun and important to my positive mindset

The Next Steps

In light of everything I’ve expounded above, does my investing behavior need to change? No, probably not. Is it bankrupting me? No. Is it making me a millionaire? No.

I realize now that my financial foundation was never really built correctly, and that includes a profound lack of investment strategy. Sure, you can fool around in the market and have a good time. No judgment from me. But, I now have a driving need to simplify my finances across the board and am in the process of making big changes.

Plus, my horoscope said it was a good time to work on finances. Because astrology and finances mix well, right?

So, what did I decide about my investments?

Streamline the Good

As of today, I have decided to keep my STASH account but consolidate my holdings from 7 to 3.

How did I decide what to keep and what to cut loose? Truthfully, I used both my head and my heart. I looked at the returns, the dividend yields, and the expense ratios. I looked at the ETFs holdings to spot areas of duplication.

I also used a bit of Marie Kondo. Does this ETF spark joy, I asked myself. Apparently 4 did not.

STASH has been good to me. He teaches without talking down. I’ll continue my relationship with this nice guy of newbie investing.

Dump the Junk

TDAmeritrade? Sorry, Charlie. This Lady is calling it quits with you.

I’m selling off everything and applying the funds elsewhere.

I currently selling off anything with positive returns and will give the remaining positions about 2 weeks to see if they turn around. Buy low, sell high, right?

I plan to use the freed-up cash toward my credit card balance and some to fund my new money machine.

Sorry, TD. Our little fling was fun but you are just too costly and, to be honest, we are just not on the same page.

Summary

The Lady in the Black is about personal finances and personal development. My experiment with investing is not concluding but evolving. I’m growing as a financial creature and there are definitely growing pains along the way. Fortunately, there can be good times and better learnings as well.

For any of my readers who haven’t “fooled around” with investing yet, don’t be scared. Just be safe.

 

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