Before getting into my monthly financial reports, I wanted to take a moment to mention that The Second Annual Plutus Awards are now underway. The purpose of the Plutus Awards is to bring more public attention to personal finance blogs. While the community of blogs and their authors help move the industry forward by commenting on and sometimes providing direct feedback to the financial industry when developing new products. The personal finance blogosphere is the only place to go to get unbiased, informed opinions on the day’s financial news. The Plutus Awards focus on the best blogs as determined by the community, as well as the best consumer financial products and services as judged by experts within the community.
Every phase of the Plutus Awards involves the entire community, and the first phase depends on feedback from all financial bloggers and their audiences. Before the winners can be announced at the Financial Blogger Conference in October, and before the first vote can be cast, the community will determine the categories on which they will vote. Select this year’s Plutus Awards categories here.
Those who have been following my progress recently might have noticed that my net worth has seemed to shrink considerably from just a few months ago. Based on suggestions from readers, I’ve decided to eliminate my business accounts from this report. Last month was the first time I used this new approach.
It’s not a perfect solution. I can basically pay myself any salary I want (limited only by my business income), so my personal net worth is easy to “manipulate.” I never thought I would be in a position like this. I take the approach that this won’t last forever, so I’m just trying to save a good portion of my income for the future while figuring out what I’d like to do with my life in the meantime.
Keep reading to see the numbers for July.
|-1 year||-1 month||current||Δ||Δ||Δ|
|ASSETS||Jul 2010||Jun 2011||Jul 2011||Prior Mo||YTD||Prior Yr|
|Cash in Banks||62,957||59,922||66,472||10.9%||7.5%||5.6%|
|2004 Honda Civic||5,273||4,173||4,173||0.0%||-12.6%||-20.9%|
|PERSONAL NET WORTH||259,430||379,409||380,209||0.2%||30.3%||46.6%|
|Change Over Prior Month||5.8%||1.4%||0.2%|
|Change Over Prior Year||24.0%||54.7%||46.6%|
Let me know if this new report format, text rather than a graphic, is less legible. I prefer using text when possible, but if it’s difficult to see the numbers, I can try different options. The report was created using Quicken. I update Quicken often, but I don’t sweat the details as much as I did ten years ago. Early on, I was concerned about earning enough to pay for my monthly bills, and every cent was important. Now that I’m more financially established, I focus more on the bigger issues.
Cash in banks
The cash in banks line includes my personal savings and checking accounts. I keep the balance in my checking accounts — one at a national bank with a convenient branch (Wells Fargo), one at a regional bank that is also convenient (TD Bank), and one online (ING Direct) — as low as possible while my savings accounts (mostly at ING Direct) are more optimized with higher interest rates.
Investments and retirement
The battle in Congress over the debt ceiling helped turn the stock market against investors who invest primarily in S&P or broad stock market index funds this month. The decrease in this category is due in full to the value of my investments decreasing. I did not add or remove any non-retirement investments this month.
Despite several thousands of dollars of additions to retirement investments, the overall value of my retirement nest egg decreased. Overall, as I invest more during the downturn, my hope is that I’m getting a better price for my investments than when I paid a higher price. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been moving investments in my IRAs from money market funds to a total stock market index fund. This is in addition to adding to my Individual 401(k) on a monthly basis, usually around the 8th of the month.
2004 Honda Civic
It looks like I didn’t approve my monthly entry to reduce my car’s book value by $100 this month. I’ve been decreasing the car’s value by that amount every month. As my car passed 133,000 miles this month, it is still getting good mileage — even better when I drive on the highway for long distances and take advantage of cruise control. I’ve been tracking mileage for a few years with the help of Fuelly. Here’s my car’s profile.
July was a big month for credit card usage. Big expenses included vacation in Lake Placid — though I still worked while I was away — and a new camera lens from my digital SLR. This is my second new lens in two months, but this should complete my digital SLR kit. I’d like to spend more time with film rather than digital, however, but for film I’ll make do with the equipment I have. I started out hoping to have time each month for a few photography shoots, but business has been busier than I expected. It’s been difficult to find the time.
I traveled more this summer than I usually do, so the last few months have been more expensive than usual. I don’t have any major traveling planned for August, though I will be beginning to think about visiting family for Thanksgiving. August will be a very busy month for working. July was by far the biggest month for Consumerism Commentary in terms of visitors and revenue, and it will be difficult to keep this pace for August.
Including the business accounts, but not counting the business itself as an asset, my net worth would be $1,210,896. That would be my net worth if I had been following the same calculation as I had been using prior to June 2011.
What are your plans for the rest of the summer (or winter, if you’re in the southern hemisphere)? Do you spend more during the months of the summer than during months of the remainder of the year?
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published August 2, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.