Investing,  Portfolio Updates

My portfolio – January update – positive returns

It’s the first update of the new year and the latter part of 2016 as well as the first week of 2017 continued to show positive returns.

The S&P 500 was up 0.35% since the last update; nothing major but anything above zero is good to see. I’ve talked about valuation in the last portfolio update so I won’t reiterate that here. We’ll soon get a big group of Q4 reports that will likely give some clearer insight into what’s expected for 2017.

If Q4 earnings show growth, it’ll be the first time the S&P 500 index has show growth in two consecutive quarters since Q4/Q1 2014/2015. That would be good news and might bode well for 2017 especially if guidance is favorable as well.

December was a three paycheck month for me. That meant some additional savings flew into the account. I maxed out my 401k this year as well as my HSA and still have my 2016 ROTH IRA contribution to make. That means solid near term portfolio growth due to contributions. I probably won’t make the 2016 contribution till I get my bonus in a month or two.

I’m looking forward to see what 2017 brings with it. I hope we can continue the run we’ve seen in the past few years. I’d just like to see some earnings growth this year to bring some of the valuations back into reality. Another year of flat earnings will make it difficult for the market to grow a lot with where it’s priced right now.

My portfolio grew over $70,000 in 2016 through contributions and market appreciation(25% growth!). I collected just north of $7000 in dividends. At this pace I’ll be retired in no time! Note that this is comparing the 12/11/2016 update to the 2015 update in the same month. If I compare today’s update to the January update in 2016 then the growth is actually north of 30%! It’s amazing what compound interest can do!

I know every year won’t be as successful as this. We’ll have some pain throughout the journey but it’s nice to see my first year tracking my portfolio be so fruitful. I hope the long-term journey is more of the same.

The holidays have made for a quieter than usual market than the previous month. It was nice to take a break from the hustle-and-bustle of work and relax. I hope you all had a similar break and enjoyed the time with your loved ones. Now it’s time to get back to the grind and grow that portfolio to help achieve our goals.

Let’s take a look at the portfolio this month.

positive returns

The first update of 2017 brings with it another month of growth. That’s four consecutive months of growth since the dip in September. You can’t beat those kind of positive returns!

My portfolio now stands at $372,838.70!

That’s an almost $6000 bump from the last update or a 1.63% increase.

My December dividends came in just shy of $3000. That was nice to see. I actually discovered an error in my dividend update as I was putting together my portfolio update. I missed a $76 dollar dividend out of my HSA that brought my yearly total to just north of $7000. I’ve gone ahead and updated that post since with the correct information.

Cash didn’t change this month as my taxable dividends were used to buy more ETF shares in asset classes where I was deficient. Cash makes up 8.2% of my portfolio. That is lower than last month despite the cash total staying almost the same due to the portfolio growth.

My taxable accounts grew 2.1% this month. That was driven by ETF purchases as well as favorable performance from APPL and UNH.

My tax-advantaged accounts grew 1.63%. That was mainly due to contributions and some positive returns from the market.

Let’s take a look at where my asset allocation is this month.

Asset Allocation Update

I started this journey so far off my target allocation. Now, there are no asset classes that are more than 0.5% off their target. That is so much better than when I started and I had multiple asset classes that were 4-5% out of whack.

I’m at a point now where I can easily re-balance by redirecting future contributions toward a lagging asset class and/or sell overweight asset classes if contributions don’t do the job themselves.

I recently opened a brokerage account within my 401k that will allow me to better target assets that I need that aren’t represented in my 401k. The brokerage account is free and gives me access to a variety of low expense ratio AND commission free ETFs as well as any individual stocks with a low trading fee. Can’t complain about that deal even if it took some work to set it up.

My 401k has some great low cost options but it doesn’t have every asset class represented so it’s good to have some extra flexibility via the 401k-linked brokerage account.

Here’s a break down of asset classes versus their target this month.

  • US Large Cap at 42.5% versus 42.5% target(-0.04%)
  • U.S Mid Cap at 10.5% versus 10% target(+0.49%)
  • US Small Cap at 10.3% versus 10% target(+0.27%)
  • US REIT at 9.7% versus 10% target(-0.28%)
  • International Developed at 14.6% versus 15% target(-0.38%)
  • International Emerging at 4.7% versus 5% target(-0.25%)
  • US Bonds at 7.7% versus 7.5% target(+0.19%)

Things are looking pretty good. Purchases brought REITs back in line thanks to the brokerage link account.

International markets have lagged the US sector and that combined with my REIT contributions has driven my international equity allocation below target. I plan to work on that next. Bond performance has been lackluster as interest rates went up but that asset class was above target before and still remains above target.

Future contributions will be directed towards international equities as well as REITs to get those two closer to target. I still have a large portion of the ROTH IRA contribution for 2016 to go and have already bumped up my 401k contribution % to get an early head start on maxing that out so portfolio growth from contributions should be robust in the first few months of the year.

The plan for next month then is as follows.

  • 401k contributions into international equities
  • ROTH IRA contributions in international equities and REITs
  • Cash pile at 8.2% – invest in anything that looks fairly valued

Earnings season is about to kick into high gear so there might be some overreaction to earnings announcements that could potentially create some solid values. If not and the positive returns continue then I won’t be complaining.

My savings rate update is next in line and then I’ll develop my 2017 goals once I see exactly where all the things I track came in as the 2017 goals will be pretty simple; improve on 2016. Here’s to more positive returns in the future!


  • Dividend Life

    Hi timeinthemarket,

    Congrats on making great progress as well as reaching your target allocation. I'm planning to focus on mine this year but it's slowly getting there.
    Looking forward to following your progress this year.

    Best wishes,

  • Buy, Hold Long

    Well what can I say? You are absolutely smashing it! A 25% increase is nothing to scoff at. Imagine if you could replicate that every year, now that is some serious investing. You'd be able to retire very soon at a 25% increase. All the best for 2017!

  • DividendMonkey

    Congrats on maxing out your 401k. It appears that you have achieved a lot over the last year. With earning season coming, a market over reaction can provide a couple of really good buys. Best of luck to you in 2017.

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