May 2009 - Current Net Worth and Personal Finance Report

Published 5/31/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

Well it's that time of the month again. It's time to calculate my net worth, and update readers with a review of my current financial situation and prospective outlook. So, after spending a few months overseas for personal family reasons, I've finally returned home. As the bulk of my online and so-called real life business operations are run and managed over email, instant messaging, and Skype, there was barely a blip on my small business operations while I was away. In fact, despite me not even being in the country to run things for much of the last few months, the month of May still saw a pretty healthy bump up in income (as reflected by the significant increase in total assets), thanks primarily to the acquisition of several new legal clients and online affiliate partners. As my total net income is comprised of several income sources to form a diversified base, I've fortunately avoided much of the devastating carnage leveled by this ongoing economic recession. Only time will tell whether this healthy income streak will be able to continue for the foreseeable future at its current rate - however, I remain hopeful despite my cautiously bearish nature of late.

Thus, as far as I can tell based on current projections and observations, the only significantly damaging element that has the foreseeable potential to hurt me financially in a big way - is higher federal and state income taxes. Hopefully President Obama will play nice and leave existing federal tax rates alone and not implement any drastic increases. Yes it's easy to get all orgasmically gun-ho about fleecing the higher bracket taxpayers to generate tax revenue to pay for aggressive governmental social projects, but let's not forget that it's small business owners such as myself who directly stimulate this economy via trickle down effects by generating new jobs, expanding our entrepreneurial expenditures, and purchasing/leasing real estate properties. Taxing small business owners beyond current levels is ultimately counter-productive to achieving economic recovery in my humble opinion. Do we not agree?

My Current Net Worth and Financial Status Update Compared To Last Month

Assets Balance $ Change % Change
Cash $268,065 -$55,309 -17.10 %
Stocks $144,572 $123,388 582.46 %
Bonds $0 $0 -
Retirement (401K, Roth, IRA) $14,381 $5,696 65.58 %
Car and Vehicle Value $0 $0 -
Real Estate and Home Value $0 $0 -
Other Real Estate $0 $0 -
Total Assets: $427,018 $73,775 20.89 %
Debt and Liabilities Balance $ Change % Change
Credit Cards $4,476 $4,372 4,203.85 %
Car Loans $0 $0 -
Home Mortgage $0 $0 -
Student Loans $26,983 -$196 -0.72 %
Total Debt $31,459 $4,176 15.31 %
Total Net Worth
$395,559 $69,599 21.35 %

Seeking Out High Interest Alternatives To Savings Accounts and CD Deposits

If you've got money in the bank, then you're likely well aware that both online and brick & mortar savings account rates and CD rates have been plummeting for a while now. Unfortunately for those of us who are aggressive cash savers, things aren't likely to improve anytime soon. So what's one to do in our current predicament where high yield savings accounts no longer offer the same high interest rates we've come to depend on? While certainly one can opt to spend the extra cash savings towards paying down high interest debt such as outstanding credit card balances, home mortgages, or student loans - persistent rate chasers can always choose to seek out comparably risk free short term savings account and high yielding CD alternatives instead.

A few of the popularly rated short term savings alternatives I've been looking to are high yielding peer-to-peer loan investments from online companies like Lending Club, high interest reward checking account offers, and special rate deals from local banks and community based credit unions. All of these underused and under tapped alternatives currently offer APY interest rates that greatly exceed overall market rates and are definitely worth looking into. With average interest rate yields in excess of 9.00% APY (even after accounting for risk factors), P2P social loan investments on sites like Lending Club definitely deserve some extra mainstream attention.

Transferring Funds From Cash Savings To Investment Brokerage Accounts

While I remain unconvinced at the short term sustainability and authenticity of the momentary run up in the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 Indexes in the last few months, I must admit - the surge has been rather impressive. However, as as investor and trader who believes it's important to remain vigilantly fearful when others are greedy, I hope to hold out for more positive economic news to back up this bullish stock market run before I make any decisions to start investing again.

For more than a year now, I've held back from investing into further positions - hoping to ride out the worst of this economic recession with my cash savings intact. Well so far so good as my savings account funds have been shielded from loss, but I think it may be time to start looking for opportunities again. At the start of this month, I transferred a large chunk of funds from my high yield savings accounts and expired CD deposits into my brokerage accounts. But for now at least, the newly added broker funds will be held in my money market sweep accounts rather than invested into any new stock, index, or mutual fund positions. I want to tread very carefully for the next few months and not make any hasty investment splurges that I'll regret later.

Making Contributions To My Retirement Accounts (IRA, Roth IRA)

Despite whatever bearish or bullish sentiments I may personally harbor towards market investing at the present time, I still feel that it's very important to continue contributing to one's tax deferred retirement accounts (whether they be 401K's, IRA's, or Roth IRA accounts). As most investment retirement accounts like the Roth, are use it or lose it arrangements, failing to make the maximum IRA contribution limit for the year (it's $5,000 for 2009) will only deprive you of future investment funds that could be growing tax-free. At the very least one ought to avail him or herself of the maximum contribution amount as there is no requirement the contributed funds must be invested right away - they can sit as idle cash in the broker account as long as the account holder desires.

My Monthly Credit Card Balances Are High, But I Always Pay Them Off In Full

You may have noticed that my total current credit card balance suddenly surged 4,204 % during the month of May. That's because I've only recently returned home to the states from overseas. While I was away, I stuck with cash purchases exclusively, a practice that differs significantly from my U.S. consumer habits, which primarily revolve around credit card based transactions. However, the moment I returned home, my credit card expenditures reverted back to their pre-existing levels. But despite whatever balances I may carry on my credit cards, I always pay my card balances off in full every month, and have never paid out a single cent in hefty credit card overcharges or late fees, thanks to my pervasive usage of automatic account debit payments and crafty utilization of 0% balance transfer offers.

Speaking of credit cards, one particular cash back program that's caught my eye recently is the new Charles Schwab Bank Invest First Visa Credit Card (link). Cardholders get 2% cash back on all purchases, with no cash back limits, no minimums, and no annual fees. Plus, for frequent international airline travelers like myself, the Schwab Visa Card impressively waives all foreign exchange transaction fees. The only catch with the Schwab credit card is that you must open or already own a Schwab One brokerage account where the cash back rewards can be deposited into every month. Charles Schwab offers great research tools for hardcore investors, but their trading fees are higher than I'd like.

Disclaimer: Discover is a paid advertiser of this site.
Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the Discover online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards.

Feed for this Entry

13 Responses to “May 2009 - Current Net Worth and Personal Finance Report” 

  1. JasonK says:

    Sure income tax rates can always be lower, but how else is the government going to pay for all of the banking stimulus package, consumer stimulus checks, and auto industry bail out money without jacking up rates on you rich people? Be happy that you have a job in this market and stop whining about taxes

  2. john mel says:

    its time you invest that 401k in real estate trust deeds. Secure and a great return

  3. Chuck says:

    You are waiting until the stock market gets higher to buy it. Not a good move if you plan to invest in stocks. If you believe the market will go higher, buy it. If you believe the market might go down more, then up, buy it. The only excuse for being in cash is that you need the money in less than 5-10 years, or you think the market will go down forever.

  4. Raymond says:

    Chuck,

    Well, while I believe market timing is a bad approach to long term investing, I also still think there is a right and wrong time to start investing. I would much rather be on the sidelines wishing I was in than heavily invested in the market and wishing I was out. I've been on the inside looking out before for many years, and it wasn't a pleasant feeling. That's why I'm taking my pretty time this time around.

    With markets at historical lows (30-50% down even after the run up in the last few months), any investment decisions I make now will ultimately pan out. However, I'm just working to convince myself that the market has stabilized and that conditions are legitimately backed up by major economic indicators such as housing/real estate, consumer consumption, and employment figures. So far, I've yet to be convinced. Just trying to be super cautious. Remember, just a few months ago many people were talking about a mild depression, let alone just an economic recession. And now it looks like things are suddenly all better. Just too quick of a turn around and too optimistic too soon in my opinion.

  5. Donald says:

    Ray,

    Per Yahoo News.....Upbeat economic news & data were released today. Despite the GM bankruptcy filing, consumer spending fell only slightly and the U.S. manufacturing sector is seeing slower slowdowns than before. U.S. construction is rebounding slowly. Indicators show that things aren't really all that bad that this is a great time for a stock market rally. Remember, the market rebounds 6 months before the economy does so if you start investing when the economy seems recovered, it will already be too late! Now is the time to start putting money into your online brokers and start investing!! Hop to it

  6. AMH says:

    I would also consider a fixed annuity account as an alternative to cd's and money market accounts. Maybe more appropriate for long term investment money - say five years. The yields are certainly better.

  7. Eric Newton says:

    As a trader who's made a 97% return since end of march, I'd say you're missing the rally by doing the exact thing you claim to not want to do: time the market. Investing is a constant flow of cash, and you simply have to have an exit strategy for every position you open.

    Obviously the easiest exit strategy is sell if 10% down, and sell half if 30% up, and let the rest ride on a 10% trailing stop.

    Personally, I've made money by having positions in XLF (Financial ETF, a sector throughly beat down, and basically told by the gov't that it wont be allowed to fail) and XLE, (an Energy stock ETF) that until recently didnt go anywhere, until we as investors realized all this bailout-nation-spending and printing money would drive inflation up. Last week I opened up positions in a Basic Materials ETF (not sure of the ticker symbol ATM)

    My point is, you did good by being in cash. A previous poster mentioned that your cash position should be reserved for short term (<5 year) outlook on your stock. Otherwise, tread carefully, and be prudent.

    And congrats on weathering the downturn, I was doing well up until last month, but since all is good market-wise, I'm not too worried about my 6 month picture.

  8. Raymond says:

    Eric,

    Well I definitely don't profess to be an expert in investment strategy and tactics...however I must admit, it's incredibly hard not to be drawn towards a small measure of market timing. Dollar cost averaging sounds like a great concept on paper, but in practice it's not always easy to put into use. Despite a steady cash flow, it would have been tough to keep advising someone to continue plowing money into the market during the market plunging winter months of 2008.

    Admittedly, I have yet to fully figure out my best investment approach...

    The Financial ETF you mentioned looks very, very interesting though. I will have to look into it.

  9. DrDoom says:

    Don't buy the hype...this is a massive bear market rally and traders who think of getting in now will get super burned when all is said and done. The economy is going to get worse before it gets better. The market's behavior is currently irrational and overly exuberant right now. Just today General Motors finally declared bankruptcy and yet the stock market soared. Now does that make any sense?? A bunch of mindless lemmings we are.

  10. Eric Newton says:

    DrDoom: aptly named. You do realize GM's bankruptcy was not news. We ALL knew it months ago...NEXT. With all this spending, inflation is a real problem, so commodities are another place to play, hence Basic Materials ETF.

    Raymond: by the way, there's a FANTASTIC dividend yielder ETF for the financials: PGF. It invests in Financial Preferred shares, with their high dividends, currently at 10% for the fund. Thats actually a great ETF for an IRA, imo.

  11. Raymond says:

    Eric,

    I'm curious. Would you feel comfortable listing some of your major ETF positions here? You seem to be a major ETF investor/trader. ETF's are what I hope to build my work-in-progress future portfolio under and would like to know how others approach them in terms investing.

  12. Mike Pastore says:

    Credit card is very helpful in case you run out of cash or you want to purchase something in installment basis. But the always common problem of credit card holders is that they have to pay big overcharges or late fees every time they neglect to pay their balances every month.

    What is interesting in what you said is the cash back program of Charles Schwab Bank Invest First Visa Credit Card. Getting 2% cash back on all purchases with no cash back limits, minimums, annual fees will help card holders get back on their feet again after the high overcharge experiences they have been through.

    For tips on personal finance, visit http://www.mikesmillions.com/blog.

  13. Suze Ortoman says:

    With all of the chaos in the real estate market, are you keeping your options open? You can grow your money incredibly fast regardless of the direction of the market. Do your homework on tax lien certificates then come talk to me.

Leave a Reply



If you liked this site, please Add To Bookmark and/or Subscribe To A FeedReader

Search this site