Annual Update – 2018 Review

Welcome to the annual 2018 update. This is part of  a series where I track our financial progress on a regular basis. I present three parts in this series: (i) Investment & Portfolio Update, (ii) Passive Income Update, and (iii) Goals Update.

1. Investment & Portfolio Update

2018 was quite an interesting year. The broad equity markets performed very well for the first 9 months of the year, but ended the year poorly with the S&P 500 returning -4.4% for 2018. Regular readers of this blog may be aware that I have been defensively positioned with lots of gold equities, utilities and almost no allocation to the tech sector. As a result, my portfolio did pretty well for the year. I finished the year with a return of +4.86%, a difference of 9.26% compared to S&P 500 returns.

Changes to our portfolio are summarized below.

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Books I read in 2H 2018

2018 turned out to be a great year for knowledge compounding by reading a wide variety of books. I took a conscientious decision in 2017 to quit some social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and whittling away my overusage of Twitter. I still see a lot of value in Twitter, so I find it hard to quit completely — especially since I get to connect with some brilliant people and have/follow interesting ideas and conversations in an easily digestable format.

In addition to quitting social media, I made a decision to reduce my consumption of news. Most of today’s news – be it financial media, political media etc is nothing but drivel that generates excessive noise, and I wanted to get rid of that from my life.  These little changes opened up so much time; allowing me to do more of what I wanted to do for the past few years: read more books.

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Books I read in 1H 2018

2018 turned out to be a great year for knowledge building by reading a wide variety of books. I took a conscientious decision in 2017 to quit some social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and whittling away overusage of Twitter. I still see a lot of value in Twitter, so I find it hard to quit completely — especially since I get to connect with some brilliant people and have/follow interesting ideas and conversations in an easily digestable format.

In addition to quitting social media, I made a decision to reduce my consumption of news. Most of today’s news – be it financial media, political media etc is nothing but drivel that generates excessive noise in my mind, and I wanted to get rid of that from my head.  These little changes opened up so much time; allowing me to do more of what I wanted to do for the past few years: read more books.

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Investing Lessons Learned

There is an investing adage: “You either learn a lesson or make a profit; never both”. I have found this to be true for a better part of my investing years, but as I gain more experience, I am trying to reflect and learn lessons from all my trades – from both winners and losers.

This bull market in stocks has been ongoing for a decade and most investors have forgotten what it is like to lose money and come to witness heart-stopping moments when you suddenly see your envisioned future disappear. I first started  investing in individual stocks in 2008, just before the Global Financial Crisis and that was a great teacher. I try to remember the lessons I learned back then and continue to learn new ones everyday. Over the last couple of years, I decided to move a big portion of my portfolio into the precious metals and mining sector as I saw more value and the sector was hated by many. My reasoning is fairly simple: when the markets crash (and they will), most investors will seek safe havens, and there is no better safe haven than gold. There are a few other reasons, but that is the big one.

Over the last few quarters, I have been finding so many interesting prospects for investing in the sector, that I have overshot my initial target. The sector now makes 1/2 of my overall investing portfolio. Even with a few sales over the last few months, I have been hovering close to the 50% mark due to good returns. And the bull market in gold/silver mining stocks is just getting started!

While I look over the overall portfolio composition, I am being reminded of a lot of investing lessons from each trade. So, I decided that I will share some of these thoughts (including some random observations) here. Hopefully you will find the thoughts valuable & interesting.

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Annual Update – 2017 Review

Welcome to the annual 2017 update. This is part of  a series where I track our financial progress on a regular basis. I present three parts in this series: (i) Investment & Portfolio Update, (ii) Passive Income Update, and (iii) Goals Update.

1. Investment & Portfolio Update

2017 was quite an interesting year. The broad equity markets performed very well with S&P 500 returning ~19%. Regular readers of this blog may be aware that I have been following a multipronged approach to investing lately — with a focus on diversification and following multiple strategies for different portfolios. I focus on active stock investing in both dividend growth companies and growth-focused companies, while my wife’s and daughter’s portfolios use index funds.

The companies from our portfolios increasing their dividends and details of portfolio changes are summarized below.

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