Happy Invoice Day, EOY Stock Report Day, and Backup All Your Files Day. Oh yes, and evidently many people will use this time for celebrating the new year, or in many cases, having survived the old year. Pop that cork. Meanwhile, I’ll be sipping a cocktail as I end the year by sending out invoices, reconciling my business and personal finances, backuping up a few hundred gig of data – and, oh yes, posting the results of my semi-annual portfolio review.
I look at my stocks daily, as much for entertainment as anything; though lately it has been hard to tune in when my portfolio shrinks while the markets hit records. That is one of the consequences of investing in overlooked stocks, when the big money is running to the big companies, the little companies are left behind. Long-term investing, however, relies on patience, perseverance, and confidence in analyses and logic. That’s hard to do when downward trends run for years.
Emotionally, investing or speculating in small companies isn’t easy when the downturn is so severe that emergency funds are all that is left. Logically though, regular reminders of the basis of the decisions is valuable. While I may rationalize my holdings readily in conversation, or allude to it in posts on discussion boards, writing down the reasons is valuable and requires more logic. Writing down the logic behind positions and comparing it to the current situation is more valuable because an investor should always be willing to sell if the situation has dramatically shifted from the original intent.
I’m very aware of the irony of writing a book about personal finance, frugality, and independent investing and then losing almost everything. While most people see the book and the subsequent performance, I see almost 40 years of data interrupted during the last most public episode. (The pre-2008 data is in the book, if you want to see my investing history.)
Ironies are entertaining in the media, but this irony created a massive scramble as I successfully struggled to keep my house, build my business, and pay the rest of my bills (which prominently involves health insurance). 2014 was better than 2013 which was better than 2012; and 2015 must be better than 2014 because certain bills will come due. Paying taxes in April is an obvious goal.
My portfolio has the potential to recover and ease those concerns, even within the April deadline. My portfolio has had that potential for years. Each of the companies represented by my stocks has made progress despite falling share prices. Each has also had issues, but if they had none I’d suspect them of hiding something. Long Term Buy and Hold (LTBH) investing, as I do it, requires patience and is usually eventually rewarded, though there are no guarantees. I don’t expect them all to recover in 2015, though that is probably more likely than having them all fall as they just did. So, 2015 has better future odds than the recent past performance.
I feel that my world, and the world in general, are in races between good news and bad news. Will my stocks recover sufficiently before I need to pull money from my IRA? Will we develop the attitudes and technologies that will help us adapt and change to the shifting environmental, financial, and societal shifts? If you haven’t visited it yet, I’ve launched a blog for “news for those of us who are eager and anxious about the future” called Pretending Not To Panic,
a phrase that nicely captures an attitude I and others find we must adapt. (Hip flasks now available.)
I post the semi-annual review of each of my stocks on various discussion boards. I could post the entire collection here, but: 1) it would be very long, 2) the more public the conversation, the more valuable it becomes, and 3) reading my posts on those boards introduces you to individuals who have different perspectives, strategies, and experiences. Collectively, those communities are more powerful than large financial institutions because the motivations and incentives are those of similar individual investors rather than that of profit-minded corporations.
Here are the links to the discussion boards I use. Feel free to comment here or there, and to pass along links to others. The bigger the discussion, the better the chance of valuable insights (as long as the trolls and flamers are moderated appropriately.) Congratulations to those who are using the same exercise. I hope it is working for you too.