First off, I haven’t made many posts throughout this year. I apologize.
This year has been pretty hectic for me. The first half of the year was spent studying for the CFA Level 3 Exam which I spent a total of 451 hours doing from January 1 until June 22 (yeah it’s a freaking hard exam!). And yes, I kept a spreadsheet to track all of my study hours (I’m anal, yes). This was in addition to having a full time job and working on both my MBA and my Master of Finance degrees part time.
So yeah, I had no time for anything.
Fortunately, all that is over. I’m done with the CFA Program. I found out I passed on August 28 when the results were released. For my Masters programs, I finished up my last class on October 17 with an A (yes I’m a nerd). I officially graduated on December 19, 2018 and finally updated my LinkedIn page.
And from this point,
NO. MORE. STUDYING.
A Review of 2018
So what have I been investing in during 2018? I’ve gradually changed the way I participate in the stock market throughout the years and as I get older, I find myself leaning more towards the investing end of the spectrum. I used to be an active day-trader, way back in 2010-2011. Today I find myself not trading as much as before. Not only because I’m not allowed to day-trade at my new job. But also because I don’t find that the rewards outweigh the risks and the time commitment. (I also prefer to sleep soundly)
So what exactly do that do now? As I wrote in a previous post, I’m focused on Enhanced Indexing using the Core-Satellite portfolio structure. My spreadsheet to track my portfolio has also been reformatted to match my investing style.
I beat the market this year. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re part of the 5% of portfolio managers who can beat the market. But the fallacy behind this is that you’re managing your own money, not a huge ass pool of client money. Because your decisions will be different depending on each customer’s individual situation so you’re basically trying to cook 5 different dishes for 5 different customers based on their needs.
However, I still beat the S&P in 2018 and I’m glad.
The S&P 500 opened up in January 2, 2018 at 2,695.81. It closed on New Year’s Eve at 2,506.85. It’s return for the year is -7.01%. Since my return was -1.34%, my alpha against the benchmark is 5.67%.
I beat the S&P 500 by 5.67%!
Additionally, according to Robinhood, I saved $1,504.30. I’m not sure what reference price they use to calculate this but I do not remembering making that many trades during the year. If anything, it was mostly portfolio rebalancing and option writing. Although I suppose some brokerages do charge an assignment fee when your options get assigned while Robinhood doesn’t so that might be where the prices spike. Some brokerages charge up to $25 for assignment.
This year, I received $1,515.01 in dividends. Below is the schedule of my dividend payments for 2018.
Dividend Payments Calendar
This year I was able to max out my Roth IRA at the beginning of the year. Depositing $5,500. However, I only managed to contribute $16,045.64 out of the $18,000 limit.
I’ve only meal prepped about half the amount of days this year as I should have. This was mainly due to my lack of being at home. I spent most of my time either at work, on campus, or at the library. I was almost never home and my places of studies would be pretty far away. I’m usually in a different state so stopping by at home for a quick meal was out of the question (I live in Virginia and was a student at the University of Maryland. It usually takes 45 minutes to get there without traffic, which is almost never).
To track my meal prep, I use an Excel calendar from a template that I printed out. Everyday that I eat out, I mark red. If I don’t eat out, then I mark black. I use red because it’s like when you’re in grade school and your teacher marks you down for something using a red pen. It has a negative connotation.
Another mini-win for me was when I posted this to Reddit and it eventually made the front page.
As you can see from the calendar above, I didn’t start this until the day after my CFA Exams were completed. Prior to that, I’m pretty sure I ate out almost every day. Whether a small lunch during school on campus or grabbing a coffee before going to the study lounge. I tried to bring snacks and tea from home as much as I could but they didn’t last throughout the day.
With all the free time I have now, I began looking for ways to make additional money on the side. Let’s face it, working at a non-profit does not pay the highest salary. So I need to find other ways to supplement my income and achieve my goals.
So I used to play Magic: The Gathering back in high school and college. Recently I found out that some of the cards I own are worth from $100 to $500, specifically my dual lands! I decided that since I don’t play much anymore, that I should sell them. So I went and dug out all my old cards. I must’ve gone through hundreds of them, picking out the ones I thought were rare(r) to see if I could fetch a decent price. In the end, I sold a handful of dual lands and netted a monthly income of $2,002.59 in December selling cards on eBay. Since I’m a new eBay user, my monthly limit was set to $2,000.
Unfortunately this is temporary side income and not sustainable. Because I don’t have an infinite supply of cards to sell. But it is a nice bonus like finding extra cash laying around. I’m going to continue this next month, selling another $2,000 of cards since that’s my limit.
My supplementary income for 2018 totals:
- Dividend Income: $1,515.01
- eBay Income: $2,002.59
- Total: $3,517.60
Goals for 2019
My goal for 2019 is to increase my total dividends to $4,500 next year. This will develop my foundation for passive income and lay another stepping tone towards the path of Financial Independence.
I aim to max out my retirement accounts this year. I’m planning to contribute $6,000 in January and then spend the rest of the year maxing out my Roth 401(k) at $18,000.
I also hope to increase my net worth by $10,000. According to this post: https://www.budgetlikealady.com/10k-net-worth-money-challenge-for-2019/, I think this is a challenge that’s reasonable and something we can all do. I plan to do this by both paying down my student loans and continue to save and invest.
I’m aiming to meal prep at least 3 weeks out of 4, every month. This is part of my saving money strategy. After all, it is cheaper to eat at home. Home made meals also taste better to me. Additionally, I will be blog posting about my meal prep in order to show how easy it is to throw something together and save money. I am by no means a good chef, or even a chef at all for that matter. I’m resourceful and know how to throw a bunch of crap together so that it doesn’t look like crap.
I’m hoping to write more this year. At least one blog post per week. I found out how important it is to promote my blog across social media. In 2019, I hope to get 1,000 followers. Additionally, I want to continue to write and publish articles on SeekingAlpha. This will also be part of my side income gigs. On December 28, 2018, I published my first article ever on SeekingAlpha about buying Visa stock. I found that this is where I can pursue my dream as an Equity Research Analyst without the 80 hour work weeks. And I can continue to do it as a hobby instead of making it my job and chore.
Speaking of side income, my goal is to find some more side jobs to do in order to increase my side income. I already mentioned SeekingAlpha. Additionally, I’m looking to add tutoring and perhaps even driving for Uber/Lyft or Ubereats to that list. This morning someone contacted me about a potential tutoring job for the Spring season so I hope that will come to fruition.
Those are my goals for the 2019. Basically take as many steps towards Financial Independence as possible. I’ve updated my Budget Template for 2019 and I will post it here when I get home from work.
BUDGET TEMPLATE SPREADSHEET LINK HERE ->>> :
Having the template is like having a GPS towards financial independence. It won’t happen anytime soon but as long as we’re moving towards it and not standing still.
What are your 2019 goals?