Friday, July 6, 2018

Mid-Year Review of Investments

Like many financial bloggers, I'm taking a little time now that 2018 is half over to look at how things have gone for us so far this year.  Luckily, the answer to that question is "just fine, thank you".  Our net worth is higher than our next worth at the end of the year, plus what we have saved, so we are moving in the right direction, though like most people with money in the stock market, we haven't gotten rich.

About 10% of our income automatically goes into our 401k accounts, and we managed to save 5% of our income beyond that.

On the spending side, we have paid for a beach vacation for me and my husband and for part of a trip to New York for me and my daughter, besides the normal day in and day out bills.

Let's take a look at the investments:


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, Emerging Markets Fund (new this quarter) and REIT Index Fund. In the last year, our rate of return has been 6.3% overall, but year-to-date, our returns are negative. 

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 2.24%
  • My Roth IRA:  Estimated yield 1.99%
  • Husband IRA:  Estimated yield 2.88%
  • Husband Roth IRA:  Estimated yield  2.67%
  • Taxable Joint Account:  Estimated yield 1.6%

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 positive return.   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 1/6 of my take-home check.


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.


It is interesting how changing the fee schedule changes my behavior.  Initially, Motif charged a transaction fee when you purchased stock, and that was it.  I invested via a few large chunks of money and then withdrew my dividends and invested them elsewhere.  Then Motif instituted periodic fees for accounts under $10,000.  I left the dividends in the account and deposited more money to bring the account to $10,000.  Next,  Motif started offering free opening price trades, so I used them to buy individual stocks.  When they instituted fees on Motifs (baskets of stocks) they designed, I looked at the ones I had, and sold the underperformers.  Now my Motif account has the following:

  • Buyback Leaders:  A collection of companies that were buying back their stock.  While it has been pretty flat this year, overall, since 2014, it has increased in value over 90%, mostly because of NVDIA, which is up over 900%.  
  • Growing Dividends:  A collection of dividend paying stocks.  It is up about 27% since purchase, whereas the S&P is up 42%.  However, it yields over 2% in dividends yearly.  Most of the stocks that are down are retail stocks, and they are actually gaining a little ground lately.
  • High Yield Dividend:  Another collection of dividend paying stocks.  It is up 16% vs 39% for the S&P, but the average dividend yield is over 3% per  year.
  • Online Gaming World:  This collection of gaming stocks such as Activision/Blizzard, Weibo, and Cheeta Mobile is up over 148% as opposed to the S&P's 37% gain.
  • Things I Like:  I designed this basket, and a lot of it is retail stocks, which I bought at the wrong time.  It is up 10.4%, as opposed to the S&P being up 38.3%.  My winners were Alibaba and Alphabet and my losers are Lending Club and Ascena (Dress Barn/Ann Taylor etc)
  • Online Video:  Includes Netflix and Adobe.  Up 153% as opposed to 37% for the S&P. 
  • Low Beta:  These companies, including McDonalds, are supposed to have a low correlation to the market as a whole.  They pay really good dividends (average is probably close to 4%).  The Motif is up 10.8% whereas the S&P is up 37%
  • NVDIA:  This is a chip maker whose stock increased tremendously in 2017.  When I sold a couple of motifs, I used some of the money to buy more stock in this company. Unfortunately, it has been flat since then.  
  • Adobe:  Another stock that was great last year, but is down since I bought it.
  • CBL:  Up over 27% since I bought it.  This is a mall REIT and pays a dividend over 17% of current price.  
  • Amazon:  Up 7.4% since I bought it.
  • Energy Transfer Partners:  Owns natural gas pipeline etc.  Up 8.52% since I bought it and the dividend yield is over 12%
  • GOV is a REIT that owns buildings rented to government agencies.  Up 30% since I bought it.  Current dividend yield is over 9%
  • Johnson & Johnson.  Down 2% since purchase.
  • Realty Income:  REIT.  Up 2.52% since purchase. Dividend over 4%.
  • Southern Company:  Power company.  Up 6.82 since purchase.  Dividend over 4%
  • Starwood Propertiess (hotel and resort REIT).  Up 1.48% since purchase.  
  • Visa.  Up 3.04%.  I'm dripping all my Motif dividends into Visa right now.  Current dividend 0.6%. 
  • Weibo:  Chinese company that made me a lot of money last year in the online gaming Motif.  However, since I bought these shares they are down.33.8%  Talk about a hit!
  • Walgreens:  Down 11.4%, but at least it pays a 1.87% dividend.  The company is making money so I'm hoping this turns around.  

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 4.66%   whereas three months ago I wrote that it was 4.58%.  However, so far this year, I've lost more money to defaults than I've made in interest.  Definitely not what I had in mind.

 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 5.09%, and my "seasoned" returns--the returns on notes that are more than ten months old were 4.39%. Those figures have dropped to 4.08% and 3.93%.  As I receive payments from Prosper, they are going to our Roth IRAs.


I play with this account.  If I read an article about a stock that catches my eye, I'm likely to buy $50-100 worth for this account.  So far, I've invested a little under $2,000.  I usually set stop losses to I don't lose too much if the market goes down (and a couple of times I've repurchased for less after a stop-loss sell.  I ran the account through an XIRR calculator and I'm beating the S&P though not by much.

  • AT&T:  10 shares, average price $35.82,  Current price 32.68.  Dividend is $0.50 per share per quarter . No stop loss on this one; I bought it for the dividends.
  • Lending Club:  1 share purchased at $5.51.  Current price $3.74.  No dividends. No stop loss. 
  • Visa:  2 shares purchased at $78.00.  Current price $131.45.  $1.38 in dividends in 2017 and $0.84 so far this year. . I have a stop loss order placed at $125.00.
  • Hormel: 3 shares purchased at $31.80.  Current price 36.82.  2017 dividend was $0,51 per share; current quarterly dividend $0.56 per share.
  • Hanesbrands: 7 shares, average cost $19.20.  Current price $22.12,  Stop loss set at $19.70.  Dividend is $0.15 per share per quarter. 
  • CVS:  4 shares, average cost 70.64.  Current value $64.66.  Dividend is $0.50 per share  per quarter.  No stop loss.  
  • Qualcomm: 1 share purchased October 9 for $52.68.  Collected $1.14 in dividends before stop loss sale for $59.65.  
  • Mattel: 1 share purchased October 30 for $13.87. Current price $16.63. Stop loss sale for $15.00 on January 18. 
  • Ford: 3 shares purchased November 7, 2017 for $12.33.  Stop loss sell for  $11.50 on 1/25/18.  Repuchase for $11.00 on 2/1/18, and another share on August 5 for 11.37.  $0.15 per share in dividends. and then sold (stop loss) 6/25/18 for $11.40.  
  • Cardinal Healthcare.  1 share purchased November 27 for $56.42. Sold 2/5/18 for 64.98.  Repurchased on 2/5 for $64.70.  Stop loss sold again on 3/20 for $67.00, and repurchased for $66.50.  Quarterly dividend is $0.46.  Current price $49.50.
  • Omega Healthcare Investors.  1 share purchased December 6 for $26.75.  Current value $31.70. but my $26.00 stop loss executed on Feb 2 and I did not re-buy.  I did collect $0.66 in dividends so I'm only out a few cents.          
  • Ascena Retail Group. 3 shares purchased December 11 for $2.00.  Current value $3.79.  Stop Loss at $3.50.  
  • Macquarie Infrastructure. 1 share purchased December 26 for $64.18. Sold via stop loss on 2/6/ at $61.85.   Current value $42.82.  
  • Pfizer.  1 share purchased December 26 for $36.17,  Current value $36.35 but I sold on February 5 for $34.15.       
  • Giliad Sciences.  1 share purchased 1/19 for $81.30.  Stop loss sell 2/5 for $80.00. Repurchase for $79.00.  Quarterly dividend is $0.57.  Current value 71,33
  • ProAssurance.  1 Share purchased for $54.98.  Pays a quarterly dividend of $0.31 but its value has fallen to $36.05.  I should have set a stop loss.  
  • Viacom:  2 shares purchased for $33.31 each.  Current value $29.41.  Quarterly dividend of $0.20 per share.  
  • GE:  Another dog.  Purchased 3 shares at average cost of $15.90. Current value $13.41.  Quarterly dividend of $0.12.
  • Altababa:  Purchased 1 share for $80.00.  Current price $73.33.
  • CBL:  Purchased 13 shares for average price of $4.60.  Sold via stop loss at $5.50 on 6/21.  Repurchased at $5.48 (and added two more shares).  Current price $5.76.  Quarterly dividend is $0.20 per share.
  • Gamestop:  Purchased 1 share accidentally.  Decided to see what happened.  Cost was $17.05.  Current price  $14.63. Quarterly dividend is $0.38. 
  • Sprint:  I earned two shares via Robinhood's referral program.  Average value when awarded was $5.37.  Current value is $5.48.  
  • Macys: One share purchased for $24.00.  Current value $36.82. Quarterly dividend is $0.38.
  • GOV:  9 shares, average cost $12.93.  Current value $16.29.  Quarterly dividend is $0.43.  Stop loss set at $15.00.   
  • USA. 18 shares, average cost $6.35.  Current value $6.53.   Quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share.   
  • GLU Mobile:  Trying for a home run here.  20 shares; average cost $5.15.  Current value $6.38.  Stop loss set at $6.00 but I'm hoping for big things.  
  • Zynga:  2 shares awarded via Robinhood's referral program.   Average value when awarded was $4.36.  Current value $4.13.  
  • Delaware Investments Dividend Fund:  5 shares at $11.71.  Current value:  $11.92. 
  • New Residential Investments:  2 shares at $17.58.  Current value:  $18.04.              

 Robinhood is an online broker that now has both an app and a 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.  Stockpile had a promotion 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 $100.46--Johnson and Johnson has not done well.

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.

The Bottom Line

As I noted earlier, we haven't gained much in terms of increased account value, but we have managed to live on what we make, put money in our 401ks and even put a little more away.  It has been a pretty good six months, all things considered.

One thing many investors track is dividends.  By this time last year my dividends totalled $3,656.82.  This year they are up to $5,349.75.

How was the first half of 2018 for you?

Disease Called Debt


  1. I am impressed that you can track so many things! Wow!
    Good job on all of the dividends!
    We are up 2.35% from the beginning of the year. I just put 50% of my IRAs into a 18 month CD at 2.35%. It is about 20% of our portfolio. I am looking to ladder CDs for a bit.

    1. Yea, I've been looking at CD rates and considering a couple of them. I also noticed that Vanguard's money market fund is paying 1.84%, far more than my bank is paying. May be time to move some savings from the bank to Vanguard.

    2. Navy Federal is running a special.

  2. Nice recap of the mid-year review RAnn. Congrats on the increase in dividends from last year as compared to this year.

    I play around with Robinhood as well, but to a much lesser extent. I think I have one share in each of three stocks, just to keep the account active. I was thinking about investing in stock options, in which case I would use Robinhood, but I'm not ready for that yet.

    My Roth IRA is with Vanguard and unfortunately, I'm only invested in one fund, which is the Total Stock Market Index Fund, Admiralty shares. Eventually, I'll add a Total International Index Fund, and maybe in the super long run (but probably not) a total bond fund.

    Finally, I agree with the previous comment. It's awesome you're able to track so many things. I like that fact that you did a mid-year review. It's something I'll have to consider.