Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2017 Investing Results

Recently we got together with a bunch of old friends.  We all got married about the same time; we all had our (older) kids about the same time, and now most of us are becoming empty nesters.  We were all pushing 30 (or over) when we married, so it isn't surprising that we are all starting to contemplate retirement.  We all have friends our age who are retired.  When we talk about saving for retirement, the goal isn't quite so abstract anymore.

As anyone who has any amount of money in the stock market knows, this has been a very good year.  It makes up for a few stinkers we've had lately.  Let's take a look at how things are going financially at my house.

My college graduate is still looking for a fulltime job but her mean mom has started to make her pay rent and for her phone and Netflix, so its a little less outgo here.  At this point we own her car but starting with the next payment, the insurance bill is hers.  She has two part time jobs and is considering moving out in the not-to-distant future.  I'll miss having her around, but it's time.

Let's take a look at some numbers.


My husband and I have Roth IRAs and regular IRAs, and a taxable account.  We deposited money in each Roth IRA this quarter and the money was taken from Lending Club and Prosper.   These accounts consist of a variety of mutual funds purchased for us by our ex-financial advisor, along with Vanguard's International Bond Index Fund, Total Stock Market Index Fund, 500 Index Fund, Total Bond Market Index Fund, Dividend Appreciation Fund (new this quarter) and REIT Index Fund. In the last year, our rate of return has been 14.4% overall.

One interesting figure Vanguard puts on its statements is your estimated yearly income and estimated yield from each fund, and for your account as a whole. Here are the figures for our accounts:

  • My IRA:  Estimated yield 2.17%
  • My Roth IRA:  Estimated yield 1.81%
  • Husband IRA:  Estimated yield 2.88%
  • Husband Roth IRA:  Estimated yield  2.64%
  • Taxable Joint Account:  Estimated yield 1.86%

My husband's IRA is the largest of these accounts and his return figures are higher than the other accounts because our REIT fund shares are in his accounts and they are high-yielding (4.59%).


My 401k has a year to date return of 19.78%.  It is invested in Janus Triton,  Oppenheimer Int'L Small Mid Co A, MFS Government Securities Fund-A , Pioneer Fundamental Growth Fd-A,  and Delaware US Growth Fund-A.  My firm contributes 5% of my salary, and I contribute 6%.  Dividends this year totalled about two weeks' pay.


My husband's 401K is with AXA and it has increased in value, though not a lot.  He puts in the minimum necessary for employer match.


The initial investment in this account was $7,000.  It began the quarter at $8,850.43 and ended the quarter at $9,268.55.  This quarter  the account has paid $34.32 in dividends.  I have invested in "Motifs" or baskets of stock with a variety of themes including dividend payers, things I like and online gaming.

I had been withdrawing my dividend payments and investing them via a no-commission broker, but Motif has changed their fee policy such that if you have less than $10,000 and do not have any commissions in a given six month period, they charge you a $10 fee.  To avoid that, I have started accumulating my dividend payments and last quarter  I purchased another Motif--this one contains shares of a variety of REITs.  My plan is to contribute to the account until it reaches $10,000.  The market is helping.

I was curious about whether I would have been better off putting this money in an index fund rather than in Motif.  For each motif, Motif tells you how much the S&P has gone up since you bought the motif, and how much that motif has gone up.  I did the math, and I'm about $50 better off, based on share appreciation alone.  Dividends aren't included. 

Lending Club:

While my returns have been steadily dropping for  months, accounting for expected defaults, Lending Club estimates my return since I began the account at about 4.58%   whereas three months ago I wrote that it was 4.53%.

During 2017, my interest was $2848.71 and the amount lost to defaults was $2827.33.  Needless to say I'm not a happy camper.

 As my notes mature I'm moving the money to our Roth IRAs. . The economy on the whole is fine now; if I can't make money with Lending Club under this economy, I'm going to lose it big time if things go downhill.  The profits today do not justify the risk.


My returns here have dropped as well.  Three months ago my annualized net returns were 5.41%, and my "seasoned" returns--the returns on notes that are more than ten months old were 4.82%. Those figures have dropped to 5.09% and 4.39%, and while the first few months of the year had positive returns, the last few have been negative.   As I receive payments from Prosper, they are going to our Roth IRAs. 


At the beginning of the quarter I owned shares of AT&T, Visa, CVS, Lending Club Hormel and Hanesbrands.  During the quarter I bought Qualcomm, Ford, Mattel, Cardinal Healthcare, Omega Healthcare Investors, Ascena Retail Group, Macquarie Infrastructure and Pfizer.

I read about most of these companies on Daily Trade Alert.   or other blogs.  Basically, if I have money and the article makes sense, I'm likely to buy a share if recommended.  I know this is not enough research on which to base a major purchasing decision, which is why I buy a share or two.  Instead of buying shoes I don't need, I buy stocks I don't need, and if I lose them all, well, right now I'm out  about $800--but since I have stop loss orders for most of my shares, I should be okay.
So far, I'm doing alright though.

  • AT&T:  2 shares purchased at $37.62.  Current price $38.98.  Collected $3.92 in dividends in 2017.  No stop loss on this one; I bought it for the dividends.
  • Lending Club:  1 share purchased at $5.51.  Current price $4.11.  No dividends. No stop loss. 
  • Visa:  2 shares purchased at $78.00.  Current price $114.00.  $1.38 in dividends in 2017. I have a stop loss order placed at $100.00.
  • Hormel:  3 shares purchased at 33.91.  Current price $36.39.  Purchased June 21.  $1.02 in dividends since then.  I have a stoploss set at $34.00.
  • Hanesbrands: 2 shares purchased at $21.93 on January 13. Current price $20.91,  Stop loss set at $18.00.  $1.20 in dividends in 2017.
  • CVS:  1 share purchased July 3 for $80.77.  Current value $72.50.  $1.00 in dividends in 2017. No stop loss.  
  • Qualcomm: 1 share purchased October 9 for $52.68.   Current price:  $64.01.  I have a stop loss sell order in at $60.00.  
  • Mattel: 1 share purchased October 30 for $13.87. Current price $15.35. $15.00 stop loss.  
  • Ford: 3 shares purchased November 7 for $12.33.  Stop loss $11.50
  • Cardinal Healthcare.  1 share purchased November 27 for $56.42.  Current value$61.27.  Stop Loss at $58.00.
  • Omega Healthcare Investors.  1 share purchased December 6 for $26.75.  Current value $27.47. Stoploss at $26.00.         
  • Ascena Retail Group. 3 shares purchased December 11 for $2.00.  Current value $2.40.  Stop Loss at $2.03.  
  • Macquarie Infrastructure. 1 share purchased December 26 for $64.18.  Current value $64.20.  Stop loss at $62.00.
  • Pfizer.  1 share purchased December 26 for $36.17,  Current value $36.28.  Stop loss at $34.00.                      

 Robinhood is an online broker that uses phone apps only, no webpage.  They charge no commission and allow you to place limit or market orders.  They also allow you to initiate bank transfers and then invest the money immediately--you do not have to wait for the transfer to complete.  You do have to buy whole shares.

If you use this link to open an account with them, you and I will both receive a free share of stock. Here is a link to my review of Robinhood.


This is an online broker for whom I wrote a sponsored post.  I invested $100 in Johnson & Johnson through them.  They charge $0.99 per trade, so even though they sell fractional shares, I don't recommend investing less than $100.00 per trade.  I plan to keep the account and use it when I want to buy shares of stock that are substantially over $100, since my investments in individual stocks are as much toys as investments and I don't plan to put too many dollars in any one stock.  Stockpile had a promotion last quarter where they were giving away $5.00 worth of Apple stock so I got mine.  At the end of the year this account was worth $112.56. 

If you use this link, you get $5.00 worth of stock to begin your account with them, and I get $5.00 too. I wrote a full review of Stockpile a few months ago.


I'm in the process of withdrawing my money not only because I'm in the red (an expected risk of investing) but because I've become convinced that Kickfurther is going to fail.  They have too little business at this time and while they have tightened their contracts and changed their business model somewhat, I've just seen too much incompetence to believe that the investment risk is the only risk I'm bearing and the returns have not justified the risk.

The Bottom Line

As compared to the beginning of the year, we are over a year's pay richer, but most of that is stock market gains, not savings.  We did not have to pull any money out of our savings this quarter, but we haven't been able to replace any we withdrew earlier this year.  However, the big bills for the year have been paid; the next big irregular bill will be the car insurance three months from now and we are saving for it and the other big irregular bills.

One thing I found interesting is that using a dividend rate of about 2% (more or less what we got on our Vanguard accounts) our dividends  and expected Social Security  would cover one of our paychecks.  Since leaving a substantial estate to help care for our autistic son is one of our financial goals, that's good to know.

How did 2017 go for you? 
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*


  1. Only about 1/6th of our money is in the market and that money did make about 15% (Individual stock picking). Our other money made about 15 cents! Otherwise we saved about 1/5th of our monthly retirement income. Both of our children are finally on the same coast and travel has become very inexpensive. We still do "envelopes" (through many different small savings accounts from our bank). A few of those envelopes were busted open with a trip to Disney$$orld, the care of pets, and, much needed, preschool for a grandchild. They have been closed again and savings for the next crazy events are being saved for. Taking the entire family to PHX to see my mom is next on the list. Our family will be twelve people in a few months. Together trips have gotten very $$. If I ask them to come, I least for now.

    1. You are a great grandmother! Of course one of your greatest financial assets is that pension check that shows up in your bank account every month. If we had that coming in, it would make a big difference in how we chose to invest the rest.

  2. Thanks for all this research information. I like the thoughts of Robinhood and the shares that earn dividends. Little checks that might turn into big ones someday are kind of interesting. the stop loss feature is good. Although really we don't have a smart phone so I imagine we will not be doing it. Someday though!

  3. This is the year we build up savings (and more retirement money) after paying off debt. But we're both itching to get to the stage of investing more money! I still love that you buy individual stocks instead of using fun money on shoes! I'm seriously interested in Robinhood.

  4. This year had some unexpected large expenses, but what year doesn't? Still, I'm retired and I managed not to touch my retirement accounts, but live off of Social Security. Plus I had the pleasant surprise of learning that I have a small pension which has started coming to me. Overall, a pretty good year.

  5. I'm glad the returns were so great this year--and thanks for the info on the different P2P lenders. Three defaults have always scared me away in the end but maybe there's one or two I should look a little harder at.