Since I'm trial running "early retirement" I got the urge to program something mildly useful and entertaining for myself.
Since I have consistent income on the brain I thought I'd take a stab at seeing what cash flow various investments would yield in different periods of time. (for example, what if I just held a 100% bond fund for 15 years... what would my monthly cash flow look like?).
I'm a "total return" investor, but I also love the feeling of dividends/distributions coming in on a somewhat reliable basis. There's a sense that if the dividends cover my living expenses I don't have to "do anything" and because I didn't sell any shares I get a (perhaps false) sense of victory... especially when markets are down.
That said, I didn't find any tool out there that could easily tell me the quarterly and monthly cashflow of various investments over specific time periods. Mostly the calculators tell you how much something appreciated (with dividends reinvested) or they tell you without, but the monthly cash flow was hard to visualize.
So I threw this together over the course of a couple of days.
It's still super rough and not good at error handling. I have run through a bunch of different stocks, etfs and mutual funds and it SEEMs to work. I also sanity checked the returns by doing it manually (painful) so I THINK it's pretty accurate.
Throwing it out there to see if:
1) is this useful at all?
2) what could make it better (assuming yes to 1)?
3) Is there something that already does this that I missed (still had fun making it
What I would do Next.
-Be able to have 10 or so stocks with % allocation
-Do a forward looking monthly cashflow analysis (i.e. use dividends to go forward instead of just dividing by 12)
-include fees (fund expenses, taxes because of turnover, etc).
-pretty graphs (especially around the change in income flow).
I was pretty amazed, for example, that Wellsley (VWELX) had a pretty large drop in distributions in 2008... well I guess not amazed since that's expected... but it was REALLY big. So I can imagine if I had most of my money in that fund and suddenly have to sell shares to cover monthly costs... that could be psychologically tough.
VBFX (bond fund) on the other hand has a nice, smooth payout through the tough times... but you can see the monthly payments dropping quite a bit over time.
anyway... just thought I'd share.