September 2009: Net Worth Update and Stock Market Investing
Published 9/30/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
Update: Finally Feeling Bullish and Hopeful For The Future Once Again
Despite the fact that historically, the month of September has traditionally been a down month for stock market investors - after months of sitting on the sidelines and hoarding online savings account cash, I've finally pulled the trigger and re-entered the market en masse. Rather than take the often advised path of investing in small bite size chunks through dollar cost averaging, I decided to plow all of my investment cash into long term equity positions simultaneously. I don't plan to pull out of my newly invested positions anytime soon and am very determined to stay the course for the very long haul - in excess of 5 years or longer. Despite the recent run up in the market, stock market prices are still at historical once-in-a-lifetime lows - and I have every intention to double or triple my investments in the next 5 years. The irrational fear and gloom of pending economic depression that gripped the whole world back in spring 2009 has mercifully passed and it now appears the beaten down economy is finally back on the track towards recovery.
Of course, this is not to say that we are anywhere close to experiencing a traditional bull market anytime soon that's punctuated by rising employment numbers and increased consumer spending, but at the very least, the specter of a crippled financial system kamikaz-ing into an irreversible death spiral has disappeared - and replaced by faint glimmers of hope. Who knows if President Barack Obama's second economic stimulus package truly worked or whether any of the resuscitative measures implemented by Congress such as the increased FDIC insurance limits, the Cash For Clunkers Bill, the $8,000 Federal Housing Tax Credit for first time home buyers, or even the appointment of new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner really did much to jolt the economy back to life in a sustained way. But at the very least, these measures have at least reassured formerly scared to death and shell shocked investors like myself that the federal government is finally ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to get this economic ship steaming full speed once again. That seemingly firm commitment, as evidenced by the number of quick and decisive emergency measures the federal government has thus taken - is enough to assuage my once irrational fears, and encourage me to think about a more optimistic future once again.
While I do not know where we will all be economically 12 months from now, I'm starting to have more faith that things will be okay in the coming years. With the possibility of a disastrous economic Armageddon finally out of the way, I'm willing to finally start placing long term economic bets for the future, and allow the normal economic tensions of fear and greed to put the market back to normal equilibrium once again. True economic recovery may be months or even years away, but as savvy investors like Warren Buffett will agree - it's during the worst of times that enormous amounts of wealth are created by those willing to take on a measure of calculated risk. For the next few weeks and months, I intend to take advantage of every dip in the market to invest more. As I continue to make money blogging and generate income through my small legal practice, I intend to plow all upcoming profits into this market while prices are still attractive. Price dips from here on are all potential buying opportunities in my investment opinion.
Do you agree or disagree that the economic recession is nearing the end? Remember, the stock market is a forward looking entity, and has historically attempted to project what economic reality is to come an average of 6 months in advance. Optimism in terms of increased consumer spending and job growth numbers won't likely be experienced by ordinary American consumers until the second half of 2010. Personally, I think the very sign that mergers and acquisitions are finally creeping back into the marketplace again is an extremely and exceedingly bullish sign that overwhelmingly overrides any of the current negative lagging indicators like low employment rates or even struggling consumer sentiment statistics.
My Current Net Worth and Financial Status Update Compared To Last Month
Picking Out Final Options To My New Construction Single Family House
As I mentioned in previous networth updates, I'm in the process of finalizing the purchase of my very first home - a 2,300 square feet, 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath, single family new construction house. After weeks of persistent meetings with my real estate agent and the home builder, I've finally completed the process of choosing and pricing all of my optional upgrades. After much thought, I decided to ditch the cheaper carpet route and go with all hardwood floors - even in the bedrooms. Despite the fact that hardwood costs substantially more in the way of optional upgrades, I think the cleanliness and maintenance conveniences of hardwood floors greatly outweigh the dirt and dust accumulation headaches of carpet floors.
With all optional upgrades including finished basement costs, upgraded hardwood flooring, a hardwired security system, and stainless steel appliances tossed in, the total price of the home will be around $620,000. I'm sure some of you who live in the Midwest or the South will be shocked at how much a mere 2,300 sq ft (excluding finished basement) home costs, but remember, I live in the state of Maryland - deemed by CNN Money to be the current wealthiest state in the United States, with high state wide income rates and high home prices to match. Pricey real estate in the general Washington DC, Virgina, and Maryland region is just a way of life for us. The ever present availability of federal government jobs here and the presence of highly ranked schools in my state make this area pretty desirable for singles and families alike.
In terms of good news in the real estate networth department, I'm pleased to note that my future home has already gained in home equity value, even though the home foundation has yet to be laid. Most recently, due to surging demand for up scale single family homes in my future neighborhood, the home builder who will be constructing my future house has decided to increase the base selling price for my home model by $9,000. At least in my future neighborhood (a pretty upscale D.C. suburb area of Maryland), the home resellers and new home builders are feeling extremely bullish about future housing demand.
With fingers crossed, I hope this is a portent of greater things to come in terms of future home appreciation. As I noted many times in past blog posts, I'm forever thankful that I was not unwittingly snagged by the housing craze of the last few years. By purchasing a home in 2009 after national home prices have collapsed by more than a third or even a half in certain regions, I'm in a much better position than many to experience the upside of home value appreciation. My prediction is that home prices will steadily rise from here on - certainly not at the crazy and outrageous pace that we all flabbergastically witnessed following the 2000 dot com crash, but I think home prices overall will very slowly but steadily trend upwards from here on as trepidatious home buyers return. The demand for housing never really abated, but the drastic plunge in home prices in recent years did scare away many prospective buyers, and force wannabe home buyers like myself to hold off until now. Remember, when prices are falling, consumers frequently ask themselves, "why buy now when I can buy later for less" as I myself did until very recently. But when buyers finally realize that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel and that overall home pricing declines have significantly decelerated and are on the verge of���� stabilizing, they will invariably return.
Paying Estimated Taxes For Self Employment, and Factoring In My New Home Deposit Into Real Estate Net Worth
This month, as I do every 3 months, I paid out a large chunk of my business profits in the way of quarterly assessed tax payments that likely deflated this month's improvement in financial networth. Because my monthly revenue from my blogging business, legal practice, and other small business ventures are fairly significant, I pay out a tremendous amount of money every three months in the way of mandatory federal and state income taxes. Obviously, I'm hoping President Obama will be keen on keeping universal federal tax brackets low as he ought to, but with his apparent crusade to crack down on high income earners and push through his health care social agenda, I'm bracing for the worst in terms of future tax rate increases.
In terms of real estate networth, because I also paid out a $25,000 new home construction lot deposit this month that will be payable towards my future mortgage down payment, I intend to treat this $25,000 figure as home equity for now (as reflected in the table above). Eventually when my mortgage loan application goes through and I get a more finalized home valuation number, I'll include the home value and mortgage numbers into my net worth calculations.
Back In the Stock Market Again As A Bull Market Investor After A Year Long Hiatus
After being away from the market due to excessive fear of the unknown, I'm finally back. This month, I plunged the vast bulk of my cash savings into aggressive stock market positions, primarily investing my money into popular exchange traded funds (ETF) with great future upside like the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM) among others. Both are admittedly rather risky and considered to be more volatile positions, but like I mentioned earlier, I'm now in it for the long haul. Even if the market drops or dips 5-10% lower, I intend to hold on for the ride down and hold my breath for the swing back up again. I never feared normal stock market price fluctuations. It's always been the catastrophic 30-75% price drops that scared the bejesus out of me -���� the type of market plunges we witnessed from September 2008 of last year to March 2009. But with financial markets back on the mend and with irrational panic and economic hyperventilation among the masses finally in check, the risk of future major bank failures or collapses of major financial institutions to trigger another massive and prolonged sell off seem less likely now. Of course, anything can always happen from hereon, but the probability of such a return to the brink of disaster has drastically diminished.
Those on the sidelines may want to now consider opening up an online broker account for cheap stock trades and start investing again, or for the first time. If you haven't opened a Roth IRA brokerage account, now may be the best time to do so. I know it seems like a cliche thing to say, but prices really are quite low at the present time, particularly for long term investors willing to buy and hold for 12 months or longer.