Last week, September 5-8, was a shortened week due to the Labor Day holiday, but stocks were down significantly in those 4 days the market was open. Stocks were lower on the week as political headlines and concerns surrounding Hurricanes Harvey and Irma weighed on investors. The U.S. government debt situation recaptured some of the market spotlight last week as President Trump and Congressional leaders crafted a budget agreement that offered federal finances for hurricane relief and an extension of the government’s funding and debt ceiling.
The debt ceiling debate is not new and will continue to grab headlines given the budget disputes in Washington stemming from the GOP agenda that includes tax-reform and infrastructure-spending proposals. The total U.S. debt is nearly $20 trillion, a figure that on its own appears worrisome.
The U.S. economy continues to show signs of being long in the tooth, as even the Bureau of Labor Statistics has acknowledged that employment growth has been slowing. We have an economy and a bull market that are both long in the tooth heading into what is typically the most volatile time of the year, on top of unusually high domestic and geopolitical tensions.
Last Week’s Stock and Bond Index Performance (September 5-8, 2017)
- NASDAQ -1.2% (YTD 18.2%)
- Dow Jones Industrial Average -0.9% (YTD 10.3%)
- S&P 500 Index -0.6% (YTD 9.9%)
- U.S. Aggregate Bond Index 0.4% (YTD 3.9%)
Last Week’s Retirement Portfolio Performance Report
(September 5-8, 2017)?
Below is a snapshot of my three biggest retirement portfolio mutual fund movers in terms of percentage gained (or lost!) last week.
The below mutual funds are held within my work 401(k) plan as well as two separate Roth IRA plans. I currently invest 15% of my income into my company Roth 401(k), and that doesn’t include the company match I get. All accounts are held with Vanguard (so as you can see I primarily invest in Vanguard funds because of this).
- Vanguard REIT Index Fund (VGSLX) 0.7%
- Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VTIAX) 0.7%
- Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWILX) 0.3%
Can I Beat the Stock Market?
I am actually not trying to “beat the market” with my retirement portfolio…I am trying to match it. I do have alternative indexes in my retirement portfolio to help possibly beat the market, e.g. Small Cap Value, REITs, International, and Emerging Markets. Through lots of reading and research on my part, I’ve found that a number of these assets classes “zig” when the market “zags”.
With that said, if I can beat the market I will absolutely take it (obviously)! Last year in 2016 my retirement portfolio returned 13.01% versus 9.54% from the S&P 500. In addition to the S&P 500, I like to measure my portfolio performance against Target Date Retirement Funds. I specifically like to use the Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund (VFORX) because that is what I used to invest in before I went to all index funds. But if I can’t beat the Vanguard 2040 fund, then why not simply invest in it (one fund) versus the 10+ mutual funds I am in now? Well in 2016 the Vanguard 2040 fund was up only 8.73%. So it under performed the market (S&P 500) by nearly 1%, and I personally beat it by nearly 5%. So that tells me I am on the right track with my well diversified portfolio.
Millennial Personal Finance Blog
My goal with this Millennial personal finance blog is to show all Millennial’s that you have the power to take control of your personal finances through self-education and self-development on money and finances, and by striving to become financially literate. That is what I have been doing for years now, focusing on becoming an expert in financial literacy, so I can one day become financially independent. I’m trying to prove to Millennial’s that we can all do this and thrive with money. We Millennial’s have the greatest resource on our side to become financially independent and build wealth…time! Save, invest, and let compound interest do the rest.
Follow my blog as I highlight relevant personal finance and retirement topics pertaining to us Millennial’s. You can also join my journey as I track the true cost to raise a child these days. Most of my research shows that on average it costs $14,000 per year to raise a child, which equates to roughly $250,000 to raise a child from birth through high school (the cost of college is not included in this $250,000). I am trying to defy that price tag and show that a Millennial family can raise a child on well less than $250,000…or I will come to the sad realization that this number is dead on. Time will tell.