After the end of each month, I take a closer look at my personal finances. Although I’ve moved away from tracking every cent I spend, I still look at most of my purchases and expenses to ensure I’m not doing anything I consider financially unreasonable. While my spending wasn’t excessive this month, my reports do feature one major non-discretionary purchase.
As I’ve written before, I’ve been learning more about photography. This month I picked up a used medium-format film camera in great condition. I won’t be developing the film myself, so it won’t exactly be a frugal hobby. The expense of film requires a photographer to give more thought into using the camera. With digital, it’s easy to get into the habit of shooting hundreds of photographs and reviewing them before moving onto the next step, like printing. With film, you don’t have immediate feedback, so if you’re not careful, you could end up spending more than you expect on development.
In terms of my finances, my overall “modified net worth” is down. This is attributable to poor stock market performance. I took advantage of stock market dips to invest in my retirement account, a process that will hopefully pay off more than investing by the calendar each year.
This is a modified approach to dollar-cost averaging where rather than investing at the same time each year (or month, etc.) insensitive to price, the investor chooses to invest in the face of public panic or other downturns, where the chance of seeing an increase is higher. While no one can fully predict the stock market, I believe that returns revert to the mean eventually, so worse-than-average performance will eventually be followed by better-than-average performance.
As of the end of May, this strategy hasn’t paid off, but I still have time.
Here are all the numbers followed by a quick analysis.
My major spending this month includes a used (but brand-new condition) Mamiya RZ67 medium format camera with some accessories as well as reservations for a vacation in August. Business income was at its lowest point since the same month last year; perhaps this is a cyclical lull.
While my investments performed poorly as they are mostly linked to the total stock market index, the balance in my bank accounts has increased.
I’ve been publishing these net worth reports on Consumerism Commentary for almost seven years. For most of that time, I’ve been tracking my finances with Intuit Quicken on my desktop or notebook computers. To create the reports I publish online, I export a custom net worth report to Excel and copy the spreadsheet into a graphics editing program.
Feel free to leave any questions about my finances.
Updated June 16, 2010 and originally published June 3, 2010.