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Thread: Stocks/Investments log

  1. #1
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    Stocks/Investments log

    Background:
    I lost significant savings from my first 401k plan with the market crash back in ...2006? I also minored in economics in college, but my focus has always been markets, investments, stocks. I've poured over comparisons when investing in 401ks, I've made IRAs, I've enrolled in an annuity and I took full advantage of a stock purchase plan at an old company.

    With how 401ks work, you are basically having some firm manage your money, and even the riskiest portfolio doesn't make that much. You are subject to fees from individual funds, and fees for overall management of your 401k. You may see them in tiny decrements from your funds every month or quarter, or you may NOT see them at all, because they are in the form of a spread that is cut off the top of your funds.

    Basically, banks are making money on your money. You make 2 or 5 or 8 or even 10%, but they pocket the additional 1.5 or 2% on top of that. And in a bad market, you lose money, but you don't stop paying fees, do you?

    Meanwhile the stock market is rising like the dickens. Netflix and technology stocks in general have gained massively over the last 12 months. If someone had the rare combination of:
    1) large investable assets ($50k plus)
    2) minimum per-trade fees (preferably $0)
    3) a modicum of understanding of some stocks
    4) free time during the day (9:30-4pm), to watch and buy/sell at the opportune times
    then that person could make a good bit of extra money - or, significantly increase their retirement assets.

    In January I started a Marketwatch game between me and 7 acquaintances, to get used to trading - the limitations, margin, selling short, etc. At first I was focused on getting the biggest gains, but eventually I started experimenting to understand what can go wrong (and selling short can go very, very wrong).

    The Plan:
    I have begun rolling all retirement assets into two self-directed, fee-free IRAs at a financial firm (one Roth, one not). The firm has given me free trades, 30/month...effectively endless for my purposes. I have access to all kinds of stocks and mutual funds. Now the game will be: how much can I increase my retirement funds? What % gain can I post, compared to the paltry single-digits gains posted by letting my investments sit? And since I have some regular cash in there too - how much can I make on that?

    I started the regular stock account back in March, selling my company stock at a high (4x what I bought it for). I've since meandered around various tech and bio stocks, and from 3/20/15 to 6/10/15 I've posted a return of 13.80%. That's less than a full quarter. If I keep this up I'll see gains over 50% in a calendar year. Oh and there's another dividend coming on 6/16 that will bump me up over 17%, so I should be able to close over 18% in three months.

    I just started the IRA accounts on 6/5/15, meaning I've had about three market days. My return there so far is 2.68%. That's more than my annuity made during the last 12 months combined. If I made that every week, holy cow, I'd more than double my money in a year.

    I know all this money stuff can annoy some of you, or fly overhead, but this is my retirement, it's my future, it's my wife's stability and the key to getting out of the regular 9-5 at 50 instead of 65 or later. It's also helpful coverdell funds for my friends' kids! I'll visit this post and update the gains at certain intervals or when I feel particularly proud...or when I do something particularly stupid. I've invested in some dividend stocks then cashed out at a loss, and sold out of other things at the wrong time. Let's see what one goober working from home can do, when he takes his finances into his own hands!

    Quote Originally Posted by gleklufdshlaw View Post
    Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers...

  2. #2
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Day trading was huge at the turn of the century. I was doing ok. My wife decided she wanted to buy a house. I caved in and pulled money out to get that stagnant investment, at the time, real estate. So my home went up in value about 70% at the same time the internet stocks tanked. I came out looking like a genius.
    So my advise, get lucky and seriously, protect your gains.


    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
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  3. #3
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Not too much to report, moving money around, so my smaller non-retirement account is pretty much frozen for a month. One of my big winners, AMBA, just tanked 20% yesterday and I dumped in the middle, but then gained 10% back today and I bought back in (bigger) for less than i sold for, lol. I also picked up DUK, since they were at a low, they give a dividend, and its energy...everyone need that.

    Since 3/20 stats:
    play money: up 16.37% (frozen for another 2 weeks or so)

    Since 6/5 stats:
    retirement monies: up 4.92% as of yesterday's tank. More like 5.30% including today.

    Fun way to spend 20 minutes a day between work calls!

  4. #4
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Since 3/20:
    Play money: up 16.85% - finally was able to consolidate and start trading for free, got a half percent bump today.

    Since 6/5:
    retirement IRAs: up 4.27% so I have lost ground in the past 2 weeks. It's been a rough two weeks with Greece, and Tesla took a big hit today ugh.

    Overall, including dividends gained, my self-directed stocks are up 20.55% since March. That means I've padded my retirement (and play money) by about a fifth. Not bad for 4 months of goofing around.

    DUK has been the big winner this week, announcing a dividend increase and then jumping 3.32% today. I have lost money on Apple and might lose on Tesla if they drop much more.

  5. #5
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    What. A. Day.

    Investments in chip manufacturer AMBA and GoPro both paid off big; AMBA gained 8.31% on the DAY, and GoPro another 5.47 percent. Even the oddball pharma stock I have as a lotto ticket gained 5.62%, although I sold out too early and missed about $210 in gains. Eh.

    Since 3/20:
    Play money up 21.40%. Jesus this is easy. Why the hell did I let my money sit for 10 years and pay someone fees to manage it when they couldn't make this in a YEAR??

    Since 6/5:
    Retirement IRAs: up 7.61%. I now have $100k in retirement funds alone (IRA, Roth IRA, Annuity, 401k). They combined for $94.5k when I started, so I've gained 6k easy in two months. And that was with some serious downturns due to Greece.

    One of the biggest victories was bailing on Tesla at $267, before they dropped to the $250s. I saved a lot by bailing out after a 4% loss or so, instead of eating another 5% loss. It's all about timing! And by working from home, I have a big advantage. Who knows how long I will have the job, but I will keep taking advantage while I do!

  6. #6
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Two big days in the same week!

    Netflix jumped just over 18% in a single day after their earnings report, just a single day after the seven-for-one stock split. So I stock I bought at $631 per share a few weeks ago, I sold at the equivalent of $809 a share today. And it's just that easy!

    Since 3/20:
    Play money up 21.49 (no real change)

    Since 6/5:
    Retirement IRAs up 11.54%. Some people would kill for 11% in a year, and I got it in....41 days. Makes bonds, money markets, and annuities all look pretty silly. I really used to let my money sit in mutual funds, and let other people pocket this difference?? Crazy.

    I bought in a little on Google today after selling Netflix. I bought around $572, and then they released their Q2 earnings. Boom, another 7% after hours...the stock is around $620 right now. I've gained $41 a share for owning it just a few hours, lol. Imagine if I had gone all in, with ALL my money, instead of just a chunk? Wow.

  7. #7
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    God that week of 7/16 was sooooo good - I had three straight days of making over $3500. I bought Google at $572 and sold it at $670 the NEXT DAY. One day, huge gain. Just crazy. One of the best single-stock days in history, at least for a large cap company like Google.

    The market has sucked since, to the tune of losing $6400 since July 20th, which was my highpoint. I was big into Apple when they bombed. Other moves I made didn't help insulate me - oil fell, energy fell, now everything is tanking really. I actually had everything out of the market and in cash for a day or so there, that's how frustrated it had me. Luckily I made back $2300 of that big loss yesterday when Netflix jumped yesterday and I sold.

    Since 3/20:
    Play money up 18.34%

    Since 6/5:
    Retirement IRAs up 16.06%. That's fantastic, but still down from the 19.23% I was at on 7/20, ugh. If the average person was given the opportunity to get a 16% on their retirement every year, they'd jump at it. I could stop for the year and be happy. Instead I have ~5 months left to try and time some more jumps.

    Still 100% cash today, scared of more market dips. Do I buy something that is far down, or try to jump on a trend again, or go for safe eneergy/oil stocks since they will boom in down times….hmm. Or I could just sell short and bet on further market decreases. Tough to decide.

  8. #8
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Well I sat out much of the last month, thank goodness. However, last week I decided to jump back in, when Apple was rounding $113 and GoPro sunk to $55 per share. WOW, I thought - that's the lowest I've seen them, time to buy in!

    You probably know the story from there - two record days, worst stock market days since 2007 and all that. I lost crazy amounts - over $6150 until selling out yesterday.

    This is a big hit - from being up 30.6% at my peak, to now 18.30%. I should've sold out on 7/20 and never looked back - instead I've given back most of the gains from my best week, 7/13, and it's like the last 5 weeks never happened. Ugh. I almost want to take things out and put them to better use - pay off credit cards, housing, etc.

    Since 3/20:
    Play money up 15.43% (I'm taking some out for expenses, that's it)

    Since 6/5:
    Retirement IRAs up 8.98%. Yeah the big Apple and GoPro hits were here, and they just kept coming. 9% is still solid for a yearly return, especially when achieved largely in a few months, but ugh the market drags me down.

    My dreams of being able to retire at 34 and just manage assets, making $1500 or so weekly to live on, is a thing of the past.

  9. #9
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    that makes me sad
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  10. #10
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Well its been a crappy few months, especially for biotech, and the AMBA/GoPro markets specifically. I sold AMBA at what, $125 at one point - today it closed around $55. GoPro was in the $60 range - today it is $28. Apple was at $130, and nowadays I'm happy when it is over $110. Ugh.

    So I took the last two months and dumped a lot of investments, after taking some pretty massive losses. At my peak on 7/20, I was up to $105k in all self-directed funds. Starting with $75k or so back in March, that was stellar. It had me thinking I could just trade stocks full time!

    After hard losses and little gains to bite back, I am just barely over $93k again - $12k down from my peak. It's been a slow climb - I was at $88k on 9/11 as my low point. Let's do the numbers:

    Since 3/20:
    Play money is basically flat. My gains were eaten up by sad moves, and aside form taking a few grand out, the rest is sitting as cash. Bad idea, but nothing seems safe.

    Since 6/5:
    Retirement IRAs up around 5.6%. I lost a percent on Verizon and GE today, after GE getting my back into the 90s at least, ugh.

    This is a combination of my poor moves, and a bad market. For the first time I am considering just doing an index fund, and letting other people do the work. I had some great luck, but I had some bad luck as well, and with things being flat for play money, and under 8% for retirement, this year is suddenly looking less positive.

    I have still managed to make good money even on down days…and I am not paying ANY management fees right now. But direct stock exposure is a dangerous thing - its great when things are good, but holy hell when its bad, it's bad. August and September were bad months and a lot of people lost their lunch.

  11. #11
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    I've been watching this for awhile, while it's a bummer that you've lost money recently, I think you've come to the right conclusion. Index funds (not-cap-size weighted), are very good options, and take considerably less of your time. As you hit on, there's just so much randomness in the market, very few (if any) can consistently pick winners and losers.

  12. #12
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Well, I didn't give up. I just refined my approach. Short-term bursts - buy stuff, hold it 2-5 days, and sell when it is up. Don't chase oddball stocks - stick with the ones I know and am familiar with, so I can easily eyeball value - and am familiar with future prospects. Finally, I've resisted the urges to sell when things are crashing, or buy when they are rising - I have learned to take a deep breath, do something else, and then come back. Or, to put in a limit order and let automation do the worrying.

    By letting my assets sit outside the market (in cash) on a lot of bad days and weeks, I've greatly minimized the downturns. I've lost out on some good days, but missing the bad ones - even with some of my

    I am on the way to becoming a stock jedi.

    Here's the result: if I average out my monthly gains since I started doing this seriously on May 1st, I have made $1770 a month (on $85k total). So I've made around 15% on my money, even with massive missteps and a terrible 3-month stretch in the market. I don't know many people that would say no to an extra $1700 a month, right?

    Since 3/20:
    Play money is up 3%. Most of my gambles have been with my retirement funds, since a) those have more time, b) there's less (or no, for the Roth portion) tax implications, and c) I might need my emergency cash for a credit card payoff in Jan.

    Since 6/5:
    Retirement IRAs up 20.4%. I think something is funky with my Excel math - or was - because now it looks more like i was still up 13.99% on 10/14, not the 5% I posted above. I think I had a bad formula is all.

    I definitely made 20% on my IRAs since 6/5…I started with $65k, and I have $78.5k now..net gain of 13.5k, 13.5k divided by $65k to start is over 20%. Combining play money and IRAs gives me almost $99k in self-directed assets, and that was $85.5k in March.

    No matter what happens the last two weeks of the year, this has to be the biggest single-year retirement return I've ever seen.

    What's sad is, just two months in, on 7/20 I hit my yearly high….I had $105k in self-directed. I lost so much from 7/20 through October that I won't get back there by EOY most likely. Too bad!

  13. #13
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Its been 15 months of playing with stocks. Hmm.

    Sine 3/20/15:
    Play money up 28%. Bought in big on AMBA a month ago, rode the earnings report hype but sold out too early, ugh. I love focusing on this chunk as just one investment, because I can wait as long as needed - a month, if I am trying to take advantage of news or earnings...or just a week, if I want to ride a biotech wave.

    Since 6/5/15:
    Retirement is only up 15%-ish. I took some big losses in January, and more in March...15% is still great, for 15 months of negative market total...but mainly this was me making dumb moves, giving up on Tesla at the wrong time, buying into Apple at the wrong time...I am no stock jedi.

    Still, I don't see many retirement options offering 1% a month, so I'm doing something right. Having no fees, no 'fund manager' picking my pocket, no per-trade charge...it's very liberating. I am a happy camper, and if I do this another 10 years, I might erase my post-employment worries altogether.

  14. #14
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    I haven’t hung out around here much since the Reds suck the last couple of years.

    I’ve read and tried to follow what your overall percent of gain or loss has been since day one to what it is currently. It is hard to figure exactly your gain in the early stages of serious investing as you are adding new money each month.

    It sounds like you are using Mutual Funds for the bulk of your portfolio and just a small portion for “Play Money”.

    Here is what works for me. Use Vanguard’s S&P500 Index Fund, as it is a true No Load Mutual fund. It has no fund manager and the lowest possible management fee. Or you can use a similar No Load fund with a BETA of 1.00 but that fund will most likely have a fund manager and a slightly higher fee.

    You most likely have noticed that almost all Fund prospectus compare their results to the S&P500. Fact is on average only 25 percent of Mutual Funds are able to beat the S&P500 each year and none can do it consistently. So, by putting your retirement into VFINX (S&P500 fund) you will beat out 75 percent of all other manager run funds on average.

    Also if you are charting the market the last 2 and half years you will see a pattern. The market has hit 2000 to 2100 and then made significant pull backs. Since Jan 2014 the market is up only about 11 percent for 2.5 years.

    My college major was Finance.

    I have tried several other types of investments during my early investment years (the first ten years or so). This no load fund, VFINX, is by far the best overall strategy to building wealth.

    You are on the right track. I just wanted to let you know what worked great for me and save you some research time.

    Regards,
    Pete4256
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  15. #15
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    Re: Stocks/Investments log

    Thanks Pete, any financial discussion is good discussion. Kind of off-limits for a lot of folks, so I appreciate any input.

    I am very aware of the Vanguard fund - one I am looking at for dumping half my "safe" long-term IRA money in, as a kind of counterbalance to my smaller-cap, scarier moves. Vanguard is great for having low fees and management costs - most people are in funds that do the same, but charge a higher % to manage, and then take cuts on top of that (as 401K managers do, like Principal, who sucks butthole). My advice to anyone that doesn't have time to personally manage retirement is to go to Vanguard or one of the other bottom-5 index funds in terms of costs/fees.

    However, to correct you, I am
    1) not using ANY mutual funds today (aside from that annuity experiment that sucked)
    2) not putting new money in (to these self-managed accounts). I actually take money OUT of my play money account - I've made $5k or so on my $21k play money this year, which I just threw in my checking account to pay off all my debts.

    The only place I am putting more money in is my work's 401k plan, which is tiny and charges crap fees (Principal Life, ugh). I would be contributing to IRAs or Roth IRAs, but my high income actually prevents me from being able to contribute (from what I understand).

    So out of $95k, $21k is play money, $74k or so is long-term IRA/Roth IRA money. So I go nuts with the play money, in biotech and processors and whatever is hot, while the long-term stuff I aim for safer things (apple, google) with some oddball tech (netflix, tesla). By the end of the summer I'll have that $74k split, half into safe indexes like Vanguard, and half into stocks that I like long-term, with maybe a little exposure to GM/power/oil companies that give dividends.

    It's scary because at 35, I should have way more than ($74k in IRAs +$13k in 401k + $21k in annuity = ) $108k in pure retirement funds. I like that my social security estimate is very high ($2700 per month), and that we are on track to pay off all debts and mortgages way before retirement, but I'd still rather have a million in retirement than $108k. That 2006/2007 crash really ate up my savings nugget.

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