Financial Independence Progress Report for April 2018

April is usually a dull month, post March dividends. But, this time, I did a rework of my portfolio to cash out profits from my equity funds and move them to MUNI funds. Dividends for rest of the year and going to look totally different than prior years. So, excited to see how the changes work out rest of this year. Let us see how the numbers look for April 2018.

5/03/2018
Emergency Fund 83.33% 20.83%
College Fund ($80K) 64.54% 65.61%
Passive Income (2017 vs 2018) $450.13(4/2017) $911.81 (4/2018)..cheating!
Retirement Fund 82.79% 78.08%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 9.77% 9.77%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for April 2018 is 100% higher than April 2017 🙂
      • I know I know….this is cheating a bit.I sold funds which distribute dividends quarterly and bought funds which distribute dividends monthly. Details below.
      • The June, September and December dividends are going to be much less. The total dividends for the entire year should be the same OR slightly higher though.
  • Additional Investments
    • Investments in taxable accounts
      • I sold some more stocks…primarily international funds, captured the gains and moved the money into my MUNI funds. Why?
        • Tax equivalent yield for MUNI funds are close to 4%
        • VTMGX and VEMAX yield is roughly 2.5 to 2.75% and I get taxed on top of that. It is possible that VTMGX and VEMAX might add some capital gains….but I am okay with this risk.
        • When the prices drop later this year, I will invest back into these funds…lets cross that bridge when we get there.
      • In addition, I took a bunch of money from my house down payment fund and deployed them as well….a house purchase does not seem to be on cards this  year….so, why let the money sit idle?
      • I also took a bunch of money from my emergency fund and invested them as well. If I need money, I would have to sell some bond funds….hopefully the funds do not lose too much value in case such a case comes….touch wood to avoid taking such a loss.
    • Investments in tax-deferred account (IRA)
      • In the last few months, I have taken some profits and set up a a cash fund to take advantage of the next investing opportunity. Unlike 2008, I want to have a cash fund ready to take advantage of lower asset prices in the next bear market!!
      • I bought some VEIPX (Vanguard Equity Income Fund).
        • Every fund in my tax-advantage portion is earning money for me: stocks and bonds and REIT funds. The stocks are primarily International funds.
        • I am slowly going to dollar cost average into US equities using VEIPX with the cash fund I have developed over the last few months.
        • Basic strategy is that I can get access to entire vanguard funds inside my IRA. A generic total market fund is easy to get from any 401K provider….so, I will add more US equities via my 401k using a total market fund.
Advertisements

Financial Independence Progress Report for September 2017

I was eagerly waiting for September dividends to come….it is the third highest grossing quarter after Dec and June. So, what is not to like? But, September has come and gone and there is not much excitement in reporting the numbers. The numbers are not that bad year-over-year, but I guess it is the slow progress towards the goals’ end that has made me a bit less excited. But, I told myself…One step at a time….build the dividend streams and the dividend snowballing will start for sure!

That said, lets look at the numbers for September 2017.

10/06/2017
Emergency Fund $60K Done
College Fund (80K) 57.59% 58.61%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $1176.20(09/2016) $1547.52 (09/2017)
Retirement Fund 77.79% 78.74%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 4.18% 4.20%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for September 2017 is approximately 31.5% higher than September 2016. The main reason for this increase is Investments in a couple of International funds…..VTMGX (International Developed Markets Index) and VEMAX (Emerging Markets Index).
    • I have tried to diversify away from investing only in US market funds and I am just seeing the fruits of that this year on. Roughly 17% of my total dividends this year have come from International funds. I want to bring this up a bit more to reduce the risk of all dividends coming from the US markets.
  • Additional Investments
    • Investments in tax-deferred account (IRA)
      • In July, I sold portions of some funds to capture accumulated capital gains and created a cash fund inside my IRA.
      • In August, I deployed some of the cash in the cash fund to buy two international mutual funds…the US funds have not come down from their super expensive valuations.
      • In September, I continued more of the same and invested in the same funds again.
        • VTIAX: Vanguard Total International Stock Fund
          • Lower expense ratio
          • Covers the entire international market (large, medium and small caps)
        • VIHAX: Vanguard International High Dividend Fund
          • Higher expense ration
          • Covers a portion of the international market only (mainly large caps)
      • The curious reader may ask: why not just invest everything in the cheaper VTIAX?
        • I am following my old rule of risk diversification….in the same class of mutual funds (international market), I always have two funds compete for your money.
      • So, both VTIAX and VIHAX will now compete with each other to make more money for me 🙂

Financial Independence Progress Report for July 2017

Belated July progress report. I was out of town on work related matters.

July is here and has the super tough goal of going against June…one of the best dividend months of the year! As expected, July got beat hands down 🙂 Lets look at the numbers for June 2017.

08/12/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 84.97% 85.34%
College Fund (80K) 54.72% 56.83%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $579.61(07/2016) $486.86 (07/2017)
Retirement Fund 75.19% 76.87%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 4.14%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for June 2017 is approximately 20% lower than July 2016. This is an expected decrease. I sold off an investment which used to produce dividends off cycle in Jan, April, July and October. So, passive incomes for those months will be less.
    • But, since I re-distributed the sale proceeds to other funds that follow the regular quarterly payout cycle, my total dividends for 2017 year-to-date is higher than that for 2016 at the same time. So. nothing to worry!
  • Additional Investments
    • Captured gains in taxable account
      • Sold some of Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX) and Tax managed Balanced fund (VTMFX) to capture some capital gains and pad my cash fund. Details below.
    • Captured gains in tax-deferred account
      • Some funds in my IRA had developed some nice gains over the past 6-8 years since the last major downturn in 2008. Sold some portion of a few funds to capture capital gains and created a cash fund inside my IRA to fund a future dip.
  • Add to the cash fund..details 
    • I started a small cash fund accumulated a couple months back to take advantage of any market dip(s) in the US market. This month, I captured some gains in a couple of my investments to add to this cash fund. 
      • Captured some gains (10%) from VTMGX (Developed Markets in Europe and Asia
      • Captured some gains (12%) from VTMFX (Tax Managed Balanced fund)
    • Now, the waiting game begins for a significant stock dip. What is a big dip? I will wait to employ my cash fund at least until the NAV drops 10% on any of my passive income streams.
      • Was disciplined enough in July…and was rewarded with a 1.5% drop in August…lets see how much more disciplined I can be on this one….waiting for a 10% drop!

Financial Independence Progress Report for June 2017

June is here and welcome to one of the best dividend months of the year! I had both good news and bad news. Good news was all the dividends coming in…bad news was that I could not resist raiding the home down payment fund and putting that money to work for me 😦

Since I have to travel for work next week, I am publishing the report ahead of time….most of the dividends are deposited anyways…so, I am not going to miss anything. So, lets look at the numbers for June 2017.

06/23/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 84.73% 84.97%
College Fund (80K) 53.24% 54.72%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $1741.69(06/2016) $2392.05 (06/2017)
Retirement Fund 74.27% 75.19%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 2.6% (site down)
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • June is one of the best months of the year for me (and all dividend investors I am sure!). My passive Income for June 2017 is approximately 37% higher than June 2016.
    • I was weak this month also in that I stole some money from the house down payment fund to fund my passive income streams. The longer I delay the home purchase, the higher seems the risk of me stealing from it. In some ways, it is good…the money is employed in the market and working hard for me….but my flexibility w.r.t. home prices is lost. Lets see….
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US market. US stocks seem so overvalued that I just can’t bring myself to add to it.
      • I added some more funds to my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
    • Vanguard Intermediate Term Tax Exempt MUNIs (VWITX)
      • Dollar cost averaged my existing investment in VWITX.
        • Last June at this time,  the price was $14.61….now it is $14.21. So, lowered my cost basis.
      • This will add to my monthly federal tax free income stream.
    • With this, I am done with monthly automated investments for this year….ran out of money 🙂 Except for the cash fund in case of a dip.
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market dip(s) in the US market. I am done accumulating….no money left to steal anymore 😐
    • Now, the waiting game begins for a significant stock dip. What is a big dip?
      • Take a broad based index like the S&P 500. A well known fund that tracks this is SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSEARCA: SPY).
      • Compared to October of 2016, this fund is almost 20% more….for no good reason. The market seems to have gone crazy. To get a nice view that summarizes what I feel, take a listen to this wonderful podcast: http://www.financialsense.com/when-things-get-crazy-dont-get-lazy Valuations have truly gone crazy.
    • So, I will wait to employ my cash fund at least until the cost drops down to 10% on any of my passive income streams. Lets see how disciplined I can be on this one.

Financial Independence Progress Report for May 2017

May is a one of the super-special months in the year. Why? Because it comes before June….one of the two biggest dividend months in the year 🙂 Other than that, May was a dull month. And I have missed my update for April 2017….I do remember writing it…but I guess I forgot to publish it…I found it in my Drafts folder. So, it is going to be a 2-month update for some categories!

Let us look at the numbers for May 2017.

06/02/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 84.135% 84.73%
College Fund (80K) 51.35% 53.24%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $371.51(05/2017) $470.72 (05/2017)
Retirement Fund 71.45% 74.27%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 2.6%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for May 2017 ($470.72) is appx 26% higher than May 2016 ($371.51).
    • I have stolen as much money I can from all my other goals to fund my passive income streams…especially from our home down payment fund. This has resulted in double digit year-over-year gains. But, next year, I will not see this kind of gains…I will enjoy them while they last hey!
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US market. Dividend investors are not supposed to look at the stock price…but US stocks seem so overvalued that I just can’t bring myself to add to it.
      • On the other hand, I want my passive income streams to come from many countries all over the world to spread the risk of a single part of the world going through a bad phase. So, I added some more funds to my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I am accumulating some money in a money market fund. I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market dip(s) in the US market.
  • Capture gains in my IRA/401K
    • Seeing the insane manner in which the US market stocks are going up, I can’t shake the feeling that we are at the top. I see all the signs of a big drop except the market is going up and up. It is tapering now and I feel that a major dip is quite near.
    • My IRA lost a lot of its value (total return) in the 2008 downturn and I had to wait almost 6 years for it to come back up. I was a financial fool at that time and did not even attempt any corrective actions….I could have moved to preserve some of my gains…but did not know any better.
    • For the upcoming downturn, I do not want to lose the gains in my IRA. So, I cashed out most of the gains accumulated in my IRA over the last few years and have parked them in cash inside my IRA. When the next dip happens, I will put them back to work. Until then, I am okay with losing 2-3% in dividends versus losing 10-20% of the stock price.

Financial Independence Progress Report for March 2017

Three months already over in the new year….this year is definitely going faster than last year! Nothing interesting this month. My passive income streams boosted by appx 16% but somehow I feel unsatisfied…not sure why. Maybe the pace of reaching my goals is slow 🙂 Anyways, let us look at the numbers for March 2017.

04/01/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 83.00% 84.135%
College Fund (80K) 50.57% 51.35%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $1052.01(03/2016) $1219.83 (03/2017)
Retirement Fund 68.61% 71.45%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 2.6%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for Mar 2017 ($1219.83) is appx 16% higher than Mar 2016 ($1052.01).
    • I did not add more funds this month since all my investment vehicles are trading at peak values. Waiting for the next dip to invest more. One exception is listed next.
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US. Stocks in United States seem too overvalued to my simple mind. I want my passive income streams to come from many countries all over the world to spread the risk of a single part of the world going through a bad phase.
      • So, I have added some more funds to my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I am accumulating some money in a money market fund. I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market dip(s).

Financial Independence Progress Report for February 2017

Two months already over in the new year….somehow feels that this year is going faster than last year!

I am still not sure on what should be my yearly goals for 2017. I am carrying forward some goals from last year…college fund, retirement fund, etc. Thanks to valuable comments on a blog post from Vivienne, Baba Joga and AmberTreeLeaves, I am getting close to a decision. By next month, I will decide one way or the other…else quarterly update in in jeopardy 🙂

Lets look at the numbers for Feb 2017.

02/05/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 100% 83.00%
College Fund (80K) 49.58% 50.57%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $269.65 (02/2016) $408.50 (02/2017)
Retirement Fund 65.07% 68.61%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 0.5% 2.6%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Emergency Fund changes
    • It is looking more likely that my next significant goal will be a real estate investment. Before that, I want to seed my passive income streams with as much money as possible to get it as close as possible to my intermediate goal of $1000 pm. My final goal is $4000 pm as documented here.
    • So, to get closer to $1000 pm, one change I made I reduced my emergency fund by appx $10K and pushed the money into a cash fund….to roll this into my passive income streams.
    • I have initiated a per-month contribution towards rebuilding my Emergency fund, but that can happen in the background.
  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for Feb 2017 ($408.50) is appx 51% higher than Feb 2016 ($269.65). This increase is an expected one.
    • In July of 2016, I welcomed some new members to my mutual fund family. One of the new arrivals was VWITX (Vanguard Intermediate Term National MUNI fund).
    • A good portion of the year-over-year increase in passive income for Feb comes from VWITX. This pattern will repeat the rest of the year as well.
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US. Stocks in United States seem too overvalued to my simple mind.
      • And I want my passive income streams to come from many countries all over the world to spread the risk of a single part of the world going through a bad phase.
      • So, I added to my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I am accumulating some money in a money market fund. I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market dip(s).

Financial Independence Progress Report for January 2017

The first month in the new year is done and it is time for the monthly update!

For the first time in the last couple of years, I am struggling with what should be my yearly goals for 2017. There are some basic goals that I will carry over from last year…like college fund, retirement fund, etc. But my struggle is mainly with the housing goal and that in-decision is affecting a couple other goals. But, I think I am getting closure on this issue and will update on the decision soon.

But for now, lets look at the numbers for Jan 2017.

02/05/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 100.0%
College Fund (80K) 47.95% 49.58%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $592.90 (01/2016) $441.42 (01/2017)
Retirement Fund 64.27% 65.07%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund 00.5%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for Jan 2017 (441.42) is appx 30% lower than Jan 2016 ($592.90). This is a big decrease but an expected one 🙂
      • I sold all my ESPP shares from a previous employer and moved them into a couple different mutual funds. Basically cashed out for better risk diversification….shares in only one dividend company vs shares in many dividend paying companies.
      • The ESPP shares had an odd dividend payout frequency: Jan, April, July and October. Post the sale, dividends for these months will take a hit this year, but they will be more than compensated by investments with normal cycle of dividends in Mar, June, Sept and December.
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior months, I continued to increase my exposure outside the US. Stocks in United States are way to overvalued and frothy in my opinion. I want my passive income stream to come from many countries all over the world as a good means of diversification.
      • So, I added to my existing investments in an Emerging markets fund (VEIEX) and Developed Markets International fund (VTMGX).
    • Build a tiny cash fund again
      • Since I have stopped investing in US stocks, I am accumulating that money in a money market fund. When the market tanks later this year, I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of the dip.
  • Medical Fund
    • I signed up the family for a High Deductible Health Insurance Plan and got access to a Health Savings Account (HSA). $6750 of pre-tax money can be saved in it. HSA money is eligible for all valid medical expenses…free of federal and state taxes.
    • This will begin the accumulation of the Medical Fund. I have accumulated a couple of nasty health issues through all the ups and downs in life…this makes a medical fund an absolute necessity for my later years.
    • My hope is that the family medical expenses are small enough to be able to pay out of pocket now and let the HSA funds compound over the years. Lets see how it goes.

Financial Independence Progress Report for October 2016

October was a big down month! There was enough volatility in the month to show some RED in the nos. There were deals to be had in the early part of the month and I thought I made out good….until the later part of the month wiped out the gains 🙂 Let us see what the numbers say for October.

09/03/2016
Emergency Fund $60K 100.0%
College Fund (80K) 45.65% 47.95%
Passive Income (2015 vs 2016) $628.60 (10/2015) $551.80 (10/2016)
Retirement Fund ($900K) 66.36% 63.44%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund 00.00%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance payments initiated)

Main Takeaways this month

  • College Fund Portfolio Increase (in green above)
    • I got some extra money left over after September and pushed that money  into the college fund. Even though October was a down month, the additional cash offset it.
  • Retirement Fund
    • This portion of my portfolio took a good solid hit in October. I lost almost 3% and the way early November is looking, it is not done going down.
    • Major reason is the increased uncertainty from US elections and the interest rate increase/decrease uncertainty from the FED.
    • I am definitely continuing to invest and am picking up stocks at lower cost i.e. Dollar Cost Averaging full speed ahead! So, all good for now.
  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for October 2016 ($551.80) is appx 14% lower than October 2015 ($628.60). This is a big reduction but an expected one.
      • I sold some stocks from a previous company’s ESPP and spread the money into different funds. These funds do not distribute dividends like my ESPP stocks in Jan, April, July and October. So, all these months will show a reduction in 2016. But, the overall dividends for 2016 will increase and will show up in December of 2016 when all the other funds declare their dividends.
    • Additional Investments
      • VTMGX (Developed markets across Europe, Canada and Australasia)
        • Just like last month, I continued to increase my exposure outside the US using VTMGX. Definitely lowered my cost per share via Dollar Cost Averaging this October.
        • If you want more details on VTMGX, please get it directly from the horse’s mouth: VTMGX.
      • VWELX (Vanguard Wellington Fund)
        • Bought into this fund also quite a bit this month.
        • I already have another balanced fund in my portfolio: VTMFX: 50% stocks and 50% tax-efficient bonds. VWELX is another competitor for my balanced fund dollars…I always have atleast two funds competing in the category…manager diversification and hence risk diversification as well. 
        • VWELX is not as tax efficient as VTMFX since the bond portion is not tax-efficient. But I want risk diversification more….
    • My 2016 goal is to reach $750 pm in passive income by end of 2016…October is done…and my per-month dividend is at $603.04 pm.
      • Target Dividend: $9000 pa
      • Current Dividend (year to date): $7321
      • Balance to make up in the next 3 months
        • $9000 – $7321  => $1679 over the next 2 months
      • Unless a black-swan event happens in the next two months, it looks like I will make it…hurrah!!
    • I had kept some cash aside to invest in a dip….the temptation to get to $750 in passive income per month was very high in September and I could could not resist and burnt some of it. In October, I used up the rest of the money to buy the dip. October is historically volatile…and it did not disappoint this time…so, the purchases this month will help in the coming year!
    • I anticipate another volatile month in December 2016…post the FED’s decision on interest rates….scrambling to accumulate some cash for that. Lets see…

Finding portfolio gaps for a balanced portfolio

Since the end of 2016 is almost here, I wanted to see if there are any gaps in my investment portfolio used to produce passive income. If I did find some gaps, then I want to close them out to have a better balanced portfolio. I did some research and found that there are a few ways to find gaps in your portfolio.

Vanguard Portfolio Watch

If you have a Vanguard account and have all your investments in Vanguard, then Vanguard provides a tool called Vanguard Portfolio Watch. This tool will give you recommendations like the following:

  • OK: Your investments in foreign stocks add diversification to your portfolio.
  • CAUTION: The proportions of large-, mid-, and small-capitalization stocks in your portfolio differ from those of the market.OK: Your portfolio is tax-efficient.
  • CAUTION: Your portfolio emphasizes value stocks which puts you at risk of under-performing the market when growth stocks perform well.
  • CONSIDER: Holding more foreign bonds can potentially increase the level of diversification in your portfolio. Allocating up to 20% to 50% of your bond portfolio to foreign bonds is a reasonable amount to capture the diversification benefits.
  • CAUTION: Sectors indicated with a red arrow vary substantially from the benchmark weightings.

You can use the above analysis results to identify gaps in your portfolio and then invest accordingly. If you want to just see the effect of adding a new investment to your portfolio, you can use a tool called Portfolio Tester….also provided free by Vanguard.

Personal Capital Investment Watch

Personal Capital is a wonderful free tool that anybody can use for tracking their investments, spending and a whole bunch more.

  • The one feature I really like is that it breaks down all the funds in your portfolio into the following categories, JUST by taking the names of the different funds like VDIGX, VTCLX, etc. For example,
    • Large cap, mid cap, small cap split
    • Cash and bonds split
    • Alternatives (real estate, etc)
    • US and International split
  • Personal capital pointed out a weakness in my portfolio diversification w.r.t. lack of investment in Alternative Investments like Real estate, hedge funds, commodities, etc. Hence I started looking at how to add a real estate dimension to my portfolio.
  • I wrote about how I found this portfolio gap here.

This tool has something called Investment watch and that is what I use often to see the composition of my portfolio. Take a peek at it and see if it is useful.

Correlation Analysis

Whether you have none of the previous two ways OR you have it and still want to still find portfolio gaps, Correlation Analysis is a super-wonderful way to do it.

  • Two mutual funds (or stocks or any of the asset classes) are correlated means that the investments behave similar to each other i.e. they both reach the same way in the same market cycles…both go up OR both go down. Lets use the following tool to find correlation co-efficient (Asset Correlation Tool)
    • Example 1:
      • Correlation coefficient of VDIGX and VDAIX is 0.98 (98%)
      • This means that VDIGX and VDAIX behave 98% similarly
    • Example 2:
      • Correlation coefficient of VDIGX and VTMGX (International) is 0.77 (77%)
      • This means that VDIGX and VTMGX behave 77% similarly
  • Two mutual funds are not-correlated means that the investments behave differently in diff ways i.e. both react differently in the same market cycle….if one fund goes up, then one goes down. Lets use the following tool to find correlation co-efficient (Asset Correlation Tool)
    • Example 1:
      • Correlation coefficient of VDIGX and VCADX (CA MUNIs) is -0.13
      • This means that VDIGX and VCADX behave totally opposite to each other i.e. they have negative correlation.

A portfolio is a balanced one if it has assets in it that are correlated in different ways i.e. all the assets should not behave the same way. If we are in a bull market, some assets should go up and some may go down….if we are in a bear market, the same should hold true. If you think this does not make sense, go watch this awesome video titled Asset Allocation: Building a Better Balanced Portfolio The video is a long one but worth the time…and quite entertaining too 🙂

Tool for Correlation Analysis

A wonderful and free tool (no login required) for Correlation Analysis of your portfolio is a tool called Correlation Tracker. I chose the option where I type in all my portfolio values and I get a recommendation of different SPDR funds/etfs that correlate positively (same behavior) and correlate negatively (different behavior).

  • I punched in all my mutual funds that generate passive income for me. They are: VCADX, VWIUX, VTMFX, VWELX, VDIGX, VDAIX, VHDYX and VTMFX.
  • Funds that correlate positively:
    • SPDR Select Sector Fund – Industrial                            XLI        Correlation = 0.882
    • SPDR Select Sector Fund – Consumer Discretionary XLY       Correlation = 0.874
    • SPDR Select Sector Fund – Technology                         XLK        Correlation = 0.805
  • Funds that correlate negatively:
    • SPDR Select Sector Fund – Utilities                                XLU        Correlation = 0.311

The last one (XLU) surprised me. The main reason I own so many different Vanguard funds is to diversify risk by acquiring different asset classes and within each asset class, have multiple managers competing for my money. But, a correlation coefficient of 0.311 for XLU indicates to me that my portfolio has a gap with utilities.

Verifying what the Correlation Tool said ….

To verify the gap of utilities in my portfolio, I tool 4 of the stock Vanguard funds I own (VDIGX, VDAIX, VHDYX, VWELX and VTMGX) and plugged them into Vanguard’s fund compare web page: Vanguard Fund Compare.

Fund          VDIGX     VDAIX      VHDYX      VWELX       VTMGX
Utilities     0.00%     2.81%        8.01%         4.23%         3.10%

The above is a clear clear vindication that the percentage of utility stocks in my passive income portfolio is low. The maximum is 8% but that fund does not have the most money. So, the correlation analysis tool correctly predicted a gap of investment dollars in Utilities in my portfolio.

Conclusion

Granted, utilities is not the most sexy of the stock picks, but it is a rock solid foundation on which passive income streams of many other people are built upon. And more importantly, it balances out my portfolio by adding an asset that correlates less with all my existing mutual funds.

I found one Vanguard utilities mutual fund (VUIAX) but minimum is $100K 🙂 No way that I have that kind of money. But there is a corresponding ETF called VPU. I just invested one share in this ETF….hopefully, I can save some more money and add a few more shares to my portfolio. I am happy to have added an asset that has only 30% correlation (0.311) with my existing funds. Wish me luck for some awesome passive income for years to come via this new asset vehicle called Vanguard Utilities ETF (VPU).