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Automatic tracking of investment balances
Old 07-02-2008, 02:45 PM   #1
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Automatic tracking of investment balances

Based on the posts here, it seems many folks know daily exactly what their investment balances and allocations are. I suppose I'm the last person alive who still does this manually. Present procedure: log into each web site (Vanguard, Fidelity, my bank) and write the numbers into a notebook. Go to the Traesury site and try to estimate what my I-Bonds might be worth. If I'm feeling industrious, take all this and enter it manually into my (always out-of-date) Morningstar portfolio tracker and run an X-ray on it and apply other tools to see how my allocation is going, then re-balance as necessary.

I guess it's clear why I only do this annually. Sometimes not even that often.

I've searched the archives here, went to the fatwallet site recommended CFB in a previous post, and poked around a little, and still haven't found any easy-to-use software or web site that will do everything for me. The biggest glitch seems to be the auto-download of info from the financial services companies.

Am I missing some simple, no-fuss approach to all of this? I'm subscribed to the Morningstar Premium service, so I might explore that route a little more. I don't need/want to know my account balances every day, but I think I'm too far at the other end of the spectrum now.
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:01 PM   #2
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Well, you're not the last one, I'm holding out too! We're still in the accumulation phase, so checking everything once or twice a year is fine for me.

I did try out Quicken for a couple months, and once it was set up it would auto-download everything from Vanguard, etc., although I don't know that it could do Treasury stuff. I hated using it, though, so I'm happily back to pencil and paper.
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:06 PM   #3
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with either Morningstar or Yahoo you can construct a portfolio listing all your mutual funds, which is updated every day. i simply take the $/share and copy it onto a spreadsheet which has the share information. for your i-bonds, you could easily estimate the value on your spreadsheet using the date functions as the interest rates are known.
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:07 PM   #4
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I signed up for yodlee.com recently, and it works pretty well. It's a free site, and it can track your balances for you. Pretty neat seeing your net worth easily updated.
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:09 PM   #5
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I dont want to check daily....I long used the yahoo portfolio for my taxable investments and can download the prices into my spreadsheet, but who would want to do that right now, anyway...
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:24 PM   #6
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.. and still haven't found any easy-to-use software or web site that will do everything for me. The biggest glitch seems to be the auto-download of info from the financial services companies.
It won't do "everything." However, if you also want FREE, login to your Vanguard account, then click "Go to Accounts & Activity" under balances on your home page. Next scroll to near the bottom where you will see "Outside Investments Linked Online Accounts" and use "Add Accounts" to add most, possibly all, of your non-Vanguard accounts.

It is certainly not perfect. For example it thinks the stock I have at ETrade is worth exactly $1/share every day, and that my balance fluctuates, while the truth is the price/share fluctuates. It also does not give any history, or any intelligence about my asset allocation.

However, it will let you go to a single page and see your "current" balance for all the accounts you register. That is not everything you wanted, but it is simple and might be good enough. It has been good enough that I have not bothered to re-purchase Quicken since my last copy's download support expired. It is also a lot less work than reconciling Quicken accounts. I do sometimes miss Quicken's bells and whistles, especially history. However, Vanguard's summary gives me a pretty good idea of how depressed I need to be each day, and that is generally sufficient for me.
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:29 PM   #7
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Not using pen and paper, but I do use a spreadsheet. Manually logging in to 5 investment accounts or so isn't that hard. I only do a full "financial statement" quarterly, and it might take an hour or two. Maybe 4 if I had a particularly exciting quarter with lots of activity. I've found the automated services to be lacking in some regard and they require more time to set up, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain than if I just do it manually. With automated programs, there is always the chance that I'm not getting the real numbers. With manual entry, I see exactly what the account custodian shows me w/o any intermediary potentially screwing something up.

I'm still accumulating, so it is helpful to see how I am doing from time to time, but I don't really need to know it day to day or even month to month. I have better things to do!
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Old 07-02-2008, 04:01 PM   #8
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In this market I wish Schwab, Morningstar, and Vanguard didn't automatically show me current liquid net worth.

It isn't fun to see red numbers most days.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:06 PM   #9
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My favorite part of the day (even this past week) is the first 10-15 minutes over coffee when I manually check Vanguard, the TSP, and my bank manually and enter the numbers into Excel to get my portfolio size and my net worth.

OK, I know.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:14 PM   #10
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My favorite part of the day (even this past week) is the first 10-15 minutes over coffee when I manually check Vanguard, the TSP, and my bank manually and enter the numbers into Excel to get my portfolio size and my net worth.
And then your monitor runs out of red pixels...
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:16 PM   #11
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I write down my balances on Dec 31 into a spreadsheet, and then the spreadsheet calculates my annual return for each account and total portfolio.

Other than that, I only look at account balanced and allocations two other times during year (June and December) when I rebalance.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:21 PM   #12
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"Bless me father for I have....."

I update every day and I know it's wrong, wrong, wrong. It elevates my blood pressure and gives me useless angst.

I wish I would only check every month, quarter, year or longer. Quicken needs to go.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:44 PM   #13
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I update every day and I know it's wrong, wrong, wrong. It elevates my blood pressure and gives me useless angst.
I enter every transaction manually in Quicken. At the end of the month I also enter every dividend/interest/cap gain number in a tax-tracking spreadsheet. After nearly 16 years it's hard to stop.

Yeah, it's fun to cackle like Montgomery Burns when it's going up. But it's a PITA whether the market's going up or down.

If there's a benefit to the process, it's that occasionally I'll look at a number, wonder about it, and come up with a new financial idea. It's the same way that changing the oil on your car gives you a chance to look the vehicle over and think about what other maintenance needs doing.
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:00 PM   #14
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And then your monitor runs out of red pixels...
Hey, there was a green one in there this morning! VTSAX sitting there all by its little lonesome and up 11 cents... Tomorrow morning I will try to just be philosophical.

I think it's probably harder to do this every day after ER, but I am still working and spending less than half. That helps.
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:44 PM   #15
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I use Quicken and auto-download all transactions from the web daily. But I don't like the asset allocation tool on Quicken (too few asset classes for my taste), so I plug in my portfolio manually into Morningstar and run X-ray on it to determine my AA, and I use my own XL spreadsheet to rebalance my portfolio.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:10 PM   #16
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I enter every transaction manually in Quicken.
... and I thought I was the only one that did this ...
Do it for all expenses, also.

It will bring you closer to your data -- whether you like it or not.
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:31 PM   #17
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I update in Quicken weekly. I downlad that data into a spreadsheet to track week-to-date gains/losses. Hopefully I'll get bored with this soon. I'm almost all in funds now, so at least I'm not watching stock prices all day! I may get to the point where weekly or monthly works for me. I don't think I could do yearly.
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Old 07-03-2008, 06:31 AM   #18
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And then your monitor runs out of red pixels...
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Hey, there was a green one in there this morning! VTSMX sitting there all by its little lonesome and up 11 cents... Tomorrow morning I will try to just be philosophical.

I think it's probably harder to do this every day after ER, but I am still working and spending less than half. That helps.
Even this morning there was a green pixel in there - - VFSTX (short term investment grade bond fund) went up a penny. The rest look a little dismal so I try to remember that the equity funds are only there to combat long term inflation. Besides, I got through childbirth thirty years ago with no bad aftereffects, so I can certainly withstand the pain of a down market now that I am older and (supposedly) wiser.

Weeks like this do tend to shake one's faith in the market. When that has happened in the past, later I usually wish I had bought. If the market is down another 100+ points by noon today I just might give in to my market-timer impulses and buy some more VTSAX and VFWIX.
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:19 AM   #19
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It won't do "everything." However, if you also want FREE, login to your Vanguard account, then click "Go to Accounts & Activity" under balances on your home page. Next scroll to near the bottom where you will see "Outside Investments Linked Online Accounts" and use "Add Accounts" to add most, possibly all, of your non-Vanguard accounts.
That's what I do with my Fidelity account. Simply download all your other outside accounts and walla! All summarized for you on one page. Easy way to get a quick summary of your entire portfolio along with pie charts and the rest. Only problem is my laptop is not holding up very well to all the tears seeping through the keyboard.
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:44 AM   #20
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Just wondering, do most of you guys calculate your house equity as part of your net worth, and if you do, where do you get the information on how much the house is/should be worth? Zillow? I think it would be cool to braek down your entire net worth including net worth into the various "investments" you have, but was just wondering if anyone else ever does that.
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