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Old 12-20-2010, 11:50 PM   #1
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Need your help

I have been very bad. Retired 4 + years ago and have not been managing my investments. I had created a very crude excel spreadsheet (I had to manually input stock or fund values) to determine updates. More than a year ago my computer crashed and I lost all data. Since then I have been asleep regarding the investments.

It is past time to start tracking and managing properly. Looking for help in acquiring good/decent software programs. Would like to have a program that with stock/fund symbols in place, it would automatically update the latest unit price. It would be a great benefit to have a spreadsheet that required minimal effort to instantly view your financial health. If would also be nice if it could be set up to track asset allocations and to raise a flag when a re-balance should be addressed. Also looking for programs for tracking other (pensions; SS; etc) income and expenditures.

Information on where to purchase/acquire such programs would be greatly appreciated. If there is available free-ware that is safe to use, that would be even nicer.
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Old 12-21-2010, 06:01 AM   #2
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Well, this should be interesting. I use Moneydance but... that may be way beyond what you are willing to do.

I do have some questions, however:

Quote:
Originally Posted by packrat44 View Post
I have been very bad. Retired 4 + years ago and have not been managing my investments. I had created a very crude excel spreadsheet (I had to manually input stock or fund values) to determine updates. More than a year ago my computer crashed and I lost all data. Since then I have been asleep regarding the investments.
That apparently produced some negative effect. What was it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by packrat44 View Post
It is past time to start tracking and managing properly.
What does that mean -- "managing properly"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by packrat44 View Post
It would be a great benefit to have a spreadsheet that required minimal effort to instantly view your financial health.
And by "minimal effort" you mean what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by packrat44 View Post
If would also be nice if it could be set up to track asset allocations and to raise a flag when a re-balance should be addressed. Also looking for programs for tracking other (pensions; SS; etc) income and expenditures.
Again, the "minimal effort" question.

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Originally Posted by packrat44 View Post
Information on where to purchase/acquire such programs would be greatly appreciated. If there is available free-ware that is safe to use, that would be even nicer.
Not a question but to explain my "interesting" comment and to give assurance that you came to the right place:

You are going to get many responses to your post. Most of them will contain very valuable advice... but it will be very conflicting because everyone does what you are asking in a different manner... some even do it your current way.
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Old 12-21-2010, 06:36 AM   #3
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I use Quicken Deluxe ($60 at Costco), mostly due to inertia since I have everything set up how I want. I use Vanguard exclusively and have our Vanguard accounts linked so they are updated automatically. My employer's 401k also updates automatically, but a bit more klunky.

Quicken is good for tracking but less effective for analysis. For that I use Vanguard's Portfolio Watch and Financial Engines.

Best $60 every other year that I spend. I would consider switching to something free but the hassle of switching everything to get back to the state that I have now would be high.

Good luck.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:37 AM   #4
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I use a Google Docs spreadsheet. I put the ticker symbol for each fund I own, manually entered the holdings in shares and multiply that number by the end of day price function Google supports*. I have to periodically update the numbers to include dividends and interest. I also review and update everything at the end of the year before running SWR numbers. It contains cells for what my actual withdrawal is, what it would have been using a straight 4% rule, and what it would have been using a Guyton modification. I can't loose this spreadsheet in a crash.

* The function I mentioned is: '=GoogleFinance(B8; "closeYest")' where B8 is the ticker symbol. I learned about this here a couple of years ago.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:49 AM   #5
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All of my investments are at Scottrade which allows you to export your positions into Excel format. I have developed a consolidated spreadsheet which I then import the columns from the Scottrade sheet and save monthly. My sheet also contains my planned budget and a number of formulas to calculate expected dividends and compare positions with the previous months. I add features to the spreadsheet fairly regularly so it becomes a work in progress. I then back it up to several different locations.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:54 AM   #6
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The OP's post suggests they have a computer with a web browser and an internet connection.

Try using the Morningstar Portfolio Manager and X-ray tools as described in the Asset allocation tutorial? They are all free to use.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:46 AM   #7
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If you have an account with Vanguard they have a "My Portfolio" tool that also allows you to input non-Vanguard assets. This software will keep track of your investments and also provide asset allocation information. Simple, easy to set-up, requires little maintenance, and the price is right - free.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:25 AM   #8
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and have not been managing my investments
That sounds like a good thing, not a bad thing. You've probably outperformed the majority of investors.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:28 AM   #9
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I should add that there are a number of Finacial Magazines that have really good Financial Tools -- some totally free. I have, for many years, used Smart Money Magazine's Portfolio Tracker. I have investments in 22 stocks, MFs, and ETFs spead across three brokerages. SM Porfolio Tracker lets me see it all as a single package (outside of my Moneydance file -- for cross-check purposes). In addition to all the usual Portfolio Tools, I get an e-mail every business day (after closing) with a comprehensive report showing overall performance plus a quite detailed report of each individual investment. I believe this is Free but I also subscribe to their Select product so I may be mistaken about that.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:35 AM   #10
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I use Quicken Deluxe
+1
This is what I use (actually, I use the Premier version), and it will do everything you say you want, once you set it up.
One click to update all prices, allocation and many other types of pre-built reports, etc., etc.
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Old 12-21-2010, 10:45 AM   #11
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I'm a pretty active investor. I pay for "Market Tracker" from yahoo (abou $10/month) although lately there are free tools that do similar things, so I'm not sure I still need it. Once you set up the portfolio in yahoo you can see the current trades, prices, etc. Setting up the portfolio is FREE, it's the Market Tracker that costs $. It will show you slightly delayed quotes. You can download the portfolio into a spreadsheet.

I also use Quicken Deluxe to track finances and net worth - just recently switched from MS Money which is no longer available. I update the stock prices daily or when I think of it just by clicking a button. That way I have a saveable record of all the transactions. I do it manually (the transactions) due to paranoia about having my investment account and password info out there.

I tried MoneyDance but it seemed too complicated to import from MS Money - Quicken won because of the importing capability. I was concerned that I would have data I couldn't access if my PC running XP Pro crashed and I couldn't load MS Money data on it. Quicken would load and pick up the file.

I enjoy this - a lot of people do not enjoy it. The free tools are out there, and the tools you pay for aren't that expensive (like Quicken).
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:49 AM   #12
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Well, I think you have plenty of suggestions re:software tracking tools. I just want to suggest doing backups! Simple to do a CD/DVD burn onto disk, buy (if you don't have one already) and store on an external hard drive (they're very cheap now) and/or using an online backup facility, I've used Norton online since it was free and included w/my antivirus security package.
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:00 PM   #13
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+1
This is what I use (actually, I use the Premier version), and it will do everything you say you want, once you set it up.
One click to update all prices, allocation and many other types of pre-built reports, etc., etc.
Braumeister, I was mistaken, I use Premier 2009, not Deluxe. I usually only update every other year or so.
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:41 PM   #14
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. ......Would like to have a program that with stock/fund symbols in place, it would automatically update the latest unit price.

Even AOL has a free portofolio service that can do this much (and I'm sure most of the other free portal services do as well). From there, you could then download to various generic or commercial spreadsheet programs to make analysis easier if that's what you prefer. Additional benefit is thatt need to worry about data crashes. Does require occaisonal manual input of dividend distributions, etc. as someone else mentioned.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:23 PM   #15
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I think you are making it too hard. Sell everything and buy 50/50 Wellesley and Wellington.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:38 PM   #16
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Braumeister, I was mistaken, I use Premier 2009, not Deluxe. I usually only update every other year or so.
Oops, me too - Premier Quicken 2010... I said Deluxe.
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:11 PM   #17
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I think you are making it too hard. Sell everything and buy 50/50 Wellesley and Wellington.
See. What did I tell you?

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... some even do it your current way.
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Old 12-21-2010, 04:00 PM   #18
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Why not just use your brokerage website? I have two accounts, each with a good website. I use Yahoo finance to make portfolios for other things I want to follow. I aggregate all my CDs, I bond values etc there, and upsdate it about the 12th of each month when I have the prior months statements from banks.

Otherwise, I prefer to make Excel sheets to aggregate this data exactly as I want it, rather than be locked into some other system, paid or free.

Ha
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Old 12-21-2010, 04:09 PM   #19
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I use Quicken Premier. I know a lot of people hate Quicken, so I must be doing something wrong because I like it.
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Old 12-21-2010, 04:55 PM   #20
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If you have an account with Vanguard they have a "My Portfolio" tool that also allows you to input non-Vanguard assets. This software will keep track of your investments and also provide asset allocation information. Simple, easy to set-up, requires little maintenance, and the price is right - free.
I use the Vanguard tool for an overall snapshot of my portfolio. If you want to keep it simple it's ideal. Sometimes its a little slow -over a day, to update some prices , but it's very user friendly.
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