Friday, January 15, 2016

Market turmoil not new. Does Vanguard provide an answer?

As I write this both the Canadian and American markets are down well into the double digits. The reports on the regular newscasts are tainted with a touch of panic. I shake my head. This has happened before and this will happen again. If you are not prepared for a slump, you should not be in the market. Relax.

Granddaughters keep market fall in perspective.
My grandchildren are here today and so I cannot write much but maybe next week This afternoon the most important thing is to build an Olaf snowman. I'm putting the tumbling market on the back burner. I'll try and have this post completed by Monday. Now, where's my Olaf snowman kit?

I track my money using Excel. But Microsoft no longer supports my version. And to complicate matters, my laptop is loaded with newer Microsoft software that is not compatible with my present program. When I inquired, I discovered an upgrade to make all right again is expensive. At least this senior living on a tight budget finds the charge excessive.

I did a Google search and discovered LibreOffice freeware. I loaded LibreOffice onto my laptop and encountered no problems. I will make a donation and I may switch allegiance. I'm testing LibreOffice on my main computer as I write.

I also found a personal budget template from LibreOffice. This template provides an excellent base for building a complete personal wealth tracker.

I find there is nothing better than an up-to-date spread sheet to keep one's market fears in check. Possibly I'll find a way to post my spread sheet and share my approach with the world. Keep an eye on this post after Monday, Jan. 18th.

Thanks to my spread sheet, I not only knew how much my total portfolio was worth as the bell sounded Friday morning, I knew my total expected dividends for the coming year plus my total other income (OAS, CPP and a small pension). Because I have been keeping an Excel-based budget for years, I have a clear idea of my total expenses for the year. My spreadsheet keeps me constantly aware of how much I must collect from my investments in order to keep the wolf away from the door.

My spreadsheet confirms I still have lots of wiggle room. I can easily survive a few cuts to my dividend income. There is clearly no reason to panic. In fact, it is a good time to watch for a bottom and to pick up some stock at fire sale prices. Dividend cuts or not, I plan on buying and those purchases will, with a little luck, increase my dividend income.

It is interesting to note that if I had chucked all this at the beginning of the year and converted my portfolio to the capped portfolio strategy one can find on the Vanguard site, I'd be much better off. Of all the approaches to constructing a portfolio I am tracking, the Vanguard one is performing best. It will be interesting to see if it produces the yield I need to live. I may yet go the index root.

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