Ah, spring. The air gets warmer, the sun shines, the birds chirp... and the cash rolls in.
March is always a big month for me, as it's when my company pays out bonuses, and I usually do my taxes earlier enough to be getting my refunds.
- Bonus: after taxes and 401k contribution were taken out, my net was about $7,168.
- Tax refunds: I got $1,266 from New York State, and $2,307 Federal
So that was over $10,000 that went straight into my savings account. My savings account balance has been rather high lately anyway-- I've been transferring $4,000 a month to my checking account to cover all the bills I'm auto-paying, but my after-tax income is a little over $5,000 a month, so my savings keep building up. I do like to keep a good cushion of cash on hand as an emergency fund, but I also want to make sure I'm investing as much as possible rather than letting too much money sit there earning an infinitesimal amount of interest. So I transferred $25,000 from my savings account to E*Trade and went shopping for mutual funds!
Here's what I bought:
- 444 of SFSNX @ $11.25 $5,000.00
- 495 of SFLNX @ $10.10 $5,000.00
- 993 of BRLIX @ $7.55 $7,500.00
These 3 were new funds that I hadn't invested in before. I don't have a particularly sophisticated method for picking funds: I just use the screening tools they provide on E*Trade to narrow down a list of funds with high Morningstar ratings and low expense ratios.
I also added to my holdings of these two funds that have done pretty well for me over the years:
- 224 of ICENX @ $22.35 $5,000.00
- 163 of BRSIX @ $15.38 $2,500.00
We'll see if this ends up being a good choice-- ICENX was way up several years ago and then lost some ground. I'm not sure it now is the best time to be putting more money into an energy fund, but I decided to take a chance on it. And BRSIX did extremely well for me several years ago, and I sold some shares near its peak when I bought my apartment. It took a big hit in the recession, but has rebounded in the last year or so. Hopefully it will continue to do so!
I've always tried to vary my picks among large-cap, small-cap, bond funds, international funds, etc. so I wouldn't have all my eggs in one basket, and though I haven't been very scientific about it, I've ended up coming pretty close to the recommended asset allocation for someone my age, maybe a little more conservative than they suggest. And my performance over the last few years hasn't been too bad, sometimes a little ahead of the overall S&P 500 and never lagging too far behind, as you'd expect given I have a lot of index funds.
After all this, I now have an E*Trade portfolio with a market value of over $78,000 -- this is what I consider my "personal" investing portfolio, not including a separate Roth IRA portfolio or my 401k. When I first started using E*Trade over 10 years ago, I put a couple thousand dollars in and almost thought of it as "play money"-- it was real savings, but I felt like I was experimenting with investing in the stock market. I've tried various things over the years, like buying a few individual stocks and an ETF or two, but I've learned that I don't want to manage my account too actively or take any weird risks-- I just want to keep putting money in, reinvest the dividends and periodically check to make sure none of my funds are total dogs. There's no exciting get-rich-quick story here, but hopefully, the slow and steady approach will get me to my goals.