Net Worth Update: December 2018

Monthly Summary

December saw a continuation of the market declines and market volatility that we are starting to get used to. The S&P 500 hit new lows for the year, taking out the previous low of 2532 in February 2018.

Despite the falling pattern over the past three months, we're still just in a "market correction" as measured on the S&P 500 and MSCI ACWI (USD). However, at this point no investor can ignore that things are looking more dangerous. There is hardly a leading stock remaining that is making new highs.

If the U.S. market holds the uptrend since 2009, we're in a fantastic buying position. But be careful, the medium-term trend is down and things can get a lot worse in a hurry in highly volatile markets. Plus, a market with the valuations we've seen this year can take years to unwind.

While emerging markets seem to be holding a little bit above the October bottom, the MSCI EAFE developed countries are sinking fast. They are now at prices not seen since early 2017! That's two whole years of zero returns.

This past month I traveled with my wife to see our families over 1,000 km away. We're planning some skiing this week and have enjoyed a great time eating and drinking and celebrating this time of year.

We also spent a good portion of our evenings and weekends in December catching up with many of our friends. Parties, potlucks, chilly outdoor time, and some modest gift giving. I openly admit I've got a Grinch element in me when it comes to gifts.

In December I still carried a healthy allocation to U.S. stocks as per the Dual Momentum signal. Even the still-falling Canadian dollar couldn't save me this month so I saw a decent loss there.

In our non-registered account, I have exposure to gold and silver on the upside. I'm also betting against U.S. Real Estate and Natural Gas with long-dated put options. My cash position is in U.S. dollars and there is a lot of cash sitting there waiting to pounce on good opportunities.

In November, we finished the month with a total of $735,222 in our investment accounts. If you recall, we had a decent gain in excess of 1 percent that month.

December generated a positive monthly investment return of +0.71 percent on our portfolio.

Given that most of our portfolio is in cash, I didn't bother contributing to our non-registered account this month. I am holding the money in the chequing account to fill our TFSAs this month. But I will still include my usual contribution amount in my net worth numbers.

I hope through sharing our real numbers you will be inspired to start saving and investing young—it pays!

The Current Numbers

Here are our current Investment Assets as of the last trading day in December. We invest in TFSAs, RRSPs, and a non-registered joint margin account.

We use a version of Dual Momentum and a moving average/breakout trend strategy to determine what we buy and when we sell our positions. I often employ leverage in positions, so our results tend to swing a bit more each way than the underlying indices.

January 1 of the current year is in brackets to help illustrate the change during the current year. Net Worth Change reflects the total increase/decrease of this past month including new contributions.

The Investment Return is the total year-to-date return on our investment positions, corrected for new contributions at the end of the month. Due to the end-of-month adjustment, the true rate of return on a daily adjustment basis would be slightly different dependent on the intra-month return on the new contribution.

Total Investments:  $745,462  ($670,856)
Monthly Net Worth Change:  +$10,240
30x Rule Safe Annual Income:  $24,849  ($22,362)
YTD Investment Return:  +0.44 percent

Background Story

My wife and I are late-20s professionals working in the public sector. We don't earn enormous salaries, but by keeping our spending under control we save a large portion of our incomes each month.

Our Investment Assets are 100 percent the result of our own hard work and the return on investments; we have not received any gifts or won any lotteries.

While we both work in pension careers, for this purpose we don't include pension values in our net worth nor pension contributions in our savings. Our investment assets and contributions are from our net paycheques.

We invest primarily with index ETFs using a dual strategy portfolio that I personally developed and maintain. To keep our investing costs as low as possible, I use Questrade and Interactive Brokers as my online brokerages. Questrade is my go-to choice for registered accounts. Interactive Brokers offers powerful tools, low commissions, and low margin interest for our joint margin non-registered account.

Comments & Questions

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4 Replies to “Net Worth Update: December 2018”

  1. Awesome return for 2018 Daren!

    Question: how many years/months do you consider to define a short/medium/long term trend respectively?

    1. Daren (Editor) says:

      Thanks, I think a positive return for 2018 is pretty decent all things considered. Even if it’s barely positive.

      I don’t have a hard definition in trend length. Using common SMAs, I would say everything less than 50-day is short and longer than 200-day is long. However I have heard other traders consider the 50-day to be a long trend. Its very arbitrary.

  2. So, when you referred to medium-term trend in this post how many days did you have in mind?

    1. Daren (Editor) says:

      I was looking at the 10-week which roughly corresponds to the 50-day. At this point even the 50-week SMA has rolled over so I could say the long term trend is also down.

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