March 2009 - Net Worth Update and Personal Finance Status
Published 3/31/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
March 2009 has turned out to be a pretty routine month for me. As I'm currently traveling overseas for an extended period of time and won't be returning home to the U.S. for several months, I haven't had much time to really closely follow the progression of my financial portfolio. However, even while away, I still find time to occasionally glance at my net worth balances periodically to make sure everything is okay. So far, all basic metrics, bank balances, and credit reports indicate that I'm maintaining a pretty stable and healthy financial position - well positioned to keeping growing for the foreseeable future and weather any significant or further downturn in the economy.
While I've had to put my part time ambulance chasing legal practice on hold while traveling overseas for family health reasons, my portfolio of online and real world small businesses have continued to churn out a fairly steady income stream while I've been away, much of it passively generated without substantial attention on my part. Much of the hard work, mind numbing stress, and financial sacrifices that I made in the past few years in creating semi-self run businesses have finally paid off, allowing me to generate income and make money even when I'm not actively sitting at my home office desk in Maryland working on the computer or making phone calls.
In terms of my profession, I'm very thankful that I've been able to successfully make the transition from traditional 9-5 day job worker into a self employed entrepreneur and sole proprietor. The journey to get to this point wasn't easy and there were many times when I felt demoralized and extremely lonely during my late night extended hour work sessions to the point of wanting to give up, but fortunately, I persisted. Today, I can confidently say that it was all worth it. Without my humble network of work from home based businesses and semi-self-run real life operations, I would not have been able to take 2-3 months off work to visit an overseas ailing parent - a luxury I'm enjoying today. After all, it's not always the money - but the flexibility to set your own schedule and working pace that is frequently most sought after by many, myself included. Besides, it's great being my own boss and not having to work for a psychotic, over-worked and under-loved attorney hag anymore (long story - I'll save it for another day).
Those who have always desired to become their own bosses one day should make a concerted effort to make it happen and not allow idle hands to delay their dreams. There is an element of natural risk and sacrifice when trying to balance the duties of a full time job and a fledgling home office based business - but then nothing in life that is worth pursuing is inherently easy, at least initially. It's true what they say - no pain, no gain. Anyhow, I'm sure you didn't come here to just listen to me ramble about dreams and goals. Here's my net worth update for March 2009.
My Current Net Worth and Financial Status Update Compared To Last Month
Continue Saving Money In Online Savings Accounts Or Start Investing?
For almost a year now, I have refrained from taking on any new stock, index, or mutual fund positions - instead opting to store the vast bulk of my money in the best bank accounts and in certificate of deposits offering the best CD rates. Thus far, in light of current volatile economic conditions, I've been cautiously pleased at the modest but predictably stable���� rates of return that I've been getting from my conservative savings approach.
However, something strange happened during the month of March. The financial and stock markets actually saw a bit of an extended rally. Could we possibly be seeing the early stages of a substantive once-in-a-lifetime bull market - the likes we've never experienced before in our short existences? Very unlikely. Sorry to burst everyone's bullish bubble, but I sense a massive bear market rally at work here. Sure, the market seems to be staging a bit of a rebound, perhaps soaring 20-30% in a matter of weeks, but there is nothing really tangible or economically positive as of yet to support this sudden stock buying resurgence. At this point in time, our investment emotions and sensibilities are still being artificially propped high by nothing more than mere cotton candy pufferey and wishful thinking from the Obama White House. The economy is still in the tank, unemployment rates across all 50 states are still climbing, housing market prices are STILL grossly overvalued (home owners must start selling at these depressed prices or we'll never get back to market equilibrium), and the major banks are still struggling to deal with toxic mortgage based assets and trying to stave off a widespread federal government take over.
But with all this said, why do I strangely find myself starting to ponder whether this is a good time to start investing in the stock market and buying up real estate properties again? The answer is - because I'm a greedy capitalistic with a lusty dog nose for opportunity and profit.
As a greedy (but not evil) capitalist bent on maximizing my money and growing my financial portfolio, I subscribe to the age old Warren Buffett mantra regarding investment fear and greed - which calls for one to become fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Because there is so much greed rampant in the economy and financial markets right now, the potential for massive windfalls and financial gains have never been better. Of course, the biggest problem now is timing. The worst thing I can probably do at this point in time is blindly jumping in and getting myself suckered into one of these bear market rallies, or dead cat bounces, as they are often called - only to see my portfolio get beaten into a whimpering pulp a few weeks later.
However, the winds of opportunity are in the air, and in the next few months, I may start shifting my money into online broker accounts again in anticipation of what lies ahead. While my better judgment will likely prevent me from jumping in and making a premature mistake at this very moment, I must admit, my investing trigger finger has grown a bit itchy of late.
Continuing To Invest In My IRA and Roth Retirement Accounts
While my small retirement portfolio has taken quite a beating from this recession, losing almost half of its value thus far, I intend to continue making annual contributions pursuant to my long term (25+ years horizon) investment strategy. Currently, I have a small amount of funds invested in Roth IRA's and in traditional IRA accounts. I have yet to hit my IRA or Roth IRA contribution limit for 2009, so I will likely add additional funds in the next few weeks. Those who have not yet opened a ROTH or IRA account should really look into doing so. Stock market prices are at ridiculous lifetime lows and if you are a first time investor, now is the time to open an account with a Roth IRA broker and take advantage of cheap prices.
Filing My 2009 Federal and State Taxes Online With TurboTax
Well, after much procrastination, I've finally prepared and filed my 2009 taxes. Even though I'm currently overseas, I was able to bring all of my tax statements, 1099's, and W-2 forms with me and file my taxes online. This year, I decided to file my taxes via the web again with good old TurboTax 2009. The company has always offered me a fairly efficient tax preparation and filing experience and this year was no different. The only change this year was my decision to go with the TurboTax Small Business edition instead of my usual TurboTax Premier version - mostly because of my growing need for extra assistance with business tax deductions.
This year, my taxes were incredibly high, and combing my federal and state income taxes, I paid out more than $140,000 worth of taxes for 2008. Obviously, it's time I started looking into converting my current sole proprietorship business into a more tax advantaged business entity. So far, it looks like forming an S-Corporation, or a limited liability company (LLC) with election to be taxed as an S-Corporation are my best bets tax-wise.