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Weekend reading: A poll about your portfolio checking habits

Weekend reading: A poll about your portfolio checking habits post image

What caught my eye this week.

How often do you check your portfolio, or even calculate your net worth? And how do you do it? Inquiring minds want to know. By which I mean your fellow Monevator readers!

The topic came up in a recent comment thread about end-of-year reviews. We decided a reader poll might be of interest.

Of course in theory I agree with my blogging buddy Nick Magguilli, who warned this week that most people’s time is better spent working for an income rather than fiddling with their investments:

Assume someone with $10,000 invested spends 10 hours a week doing stock research looking for the best investments. Let’s also assume that their research is good and they are able to beat the market by 10% a year as a result.

While this is impressive, unfortunately, their 520 hours of work (10 hours per week * 52 weeks per year) only netted them an additional $1,000 (10% alpha * $10,000). This means that our star analyst was doing stock research for under $2 an hour ($1,000/520 hours).

If the analyst’s ultimate goal was to build wealth, you can see how they would’ve been far better off by picking up a part-time job instead of analyzing 10-Ks.

Even if we were to increase the analyst’s portfolio size to $100,000, their 10% alpha (i.e. $10,000) is roughly equivalent to what they could have made driving for Uber in the same amount of time.

Guilty as charged Nick, at least for the past nine years.

Also, I suspect ten hours spent on investing matters a week is a big underestimate for active investors. It certainly is in my case.

On the other hand it’s good to have a hobby – even a passion.

For my part, my interest was what made saving and investing as much as 50% of my income more like an exciting prospect than a sacrifice. I was simply buying more firepower to do what I loved – the way somebody else might buy new golf clubs.

On the other hand, I don’t really any career to speak of. And given my passion, it might well have been better to get a job as a junior analyst while I still could and then to work my way into running money. (But… wearing a tie. The horror!)

Anyway, I can see both sides.

The poll tax

Hopefully my musings haven’t queered the pitch too badly. Please answer the polls based on what you do – not what you think you should do!

Below you’ll find two questions. Select the answer that’s closest to your own habits.

Yes, I understand some responses aren’t mutually exclusive, or that the poll does not reflect your unique and special experience.

Mine neither. That’s the nature of broad brush polls! We’re just after a sense of how Monevator readers mind what’s theirs, in aggregate.

For instance, I check my portfolio more-than daily via a real-time spreadsheet, but I also do occasional reviews in a text document. Clearly the first best describes how I keep tabs on my portfolio, right?

Two questions, no wrong answers

Firstly, let’s hear how often you check in on your portfolio.

I don’t mean attending to administrative matters (say an email from the platform) or adding money (automatic or manually) but rather keeping tabs on the (hopefully) growing value of your stash.

Secondly, readers and I were curious how you do it.

Again – there’ll be crossover. For example I run a massive real-time spreadsheet, but of course I sometimes see elements of my portfolio on a platform’s web page. Who doesn’t? So the spreadsheet answer I’d give here.

Thanks in advance! The poll will run until Friday and I’ll either recap the final results next weekend or riff them into a future article.

Have a great weekend.

p.s. The new Netflix documentary Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street is worth getting in the supermarket popcorn for. The first episode in particular offers a potted history of 20th Century Wall Street. As for the story, it’s completely unbelievable. Which is crazy, considering it’s true.

From Monevator

The Slow & Steady Passive Portfolio update: Q4 2022 – Monevator

Unlocking a cheaper mortgage rate by tweaking your loan-to-value ratio – Monevator

From the archive-ator: How to stick to your savings goals – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.

The inventor of the US yield curve recession signal reckons its wrong this time – Bloomberg via YF

Blackrock and M&G defer [i.e. effectively block] withdrawals from UK property funds – Reuters

UK house prices fall by more than £4,100 in a month as cost-of-living tightens… – Yahoo Finance

…while mortgage approvals are at their lowest level since June 2020 [Search result]FT

Thousands of Britons expelled from EU since Brexit transition ended – Guardian

3,275 people filed their tax return on Christmas Day – GOV.UK

Historically, 60/40 portfolios have soared after terrible years [US but relevant]Humble Dollar

Products and services

Top instance-access savings rate vanishes before customers can grab it – Which

TSB and Nationwide latest lenders to slash mortgage rates… [Search result]FT

…while average five-year fix rate across the market now down to 5.62% – This Is Money

Hargreaves Lansdown is offering £100 to £1,500 cashback if you transfer your pension to its SIPP. Terms apply – Hargreaves Lansdown

Royal Mail urges people to use or swap non-barcoded stamps before deadline – Guardian

Savers look to pension annuities as rates soar [Search result]FT

Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

English homes for hybrid working, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

Why investing is hard – Young Money

Costs matter – The Financial Bodyguard

The 16 best countries for retirement abroad – Think Advisor

How will investors behave in 2022? – Behavioural Investment

Five reasons you’ll blow up your retirement plan – Kiplinger

Five ideas to improve your finances in 2023 – Jason Butler

Achieve – Indeedably

Money and happiness, with William Green [Podcast]The Investor’s Podcast

Eight tips for finding a suitable financial advisorThe Evidence-based Investor

Venture capital’s reckoning looms closer [Search result]FT

Old age and money mini-special

A Mexican wrestler gets a taste of retirement at 50 – Humble Dollar

Talking to adult kids about money and inheritances – Kindness Financial Planning

Larry Swedroe: The elderly keep accumulating assets – Advisor Perspectives

Looking back over an ‘interesting’ year – Simple Living in Somerset

Naughty corner: Active antics

End of the sub-zero bond yield era [Search result]FT

Best of The Long View investing podcast of 2022 [Podcast]Morningstar

Great news! US consumer sentiment is awful! – Alhambra Investments

New Year bargains – Fire V London

Hedge funds have their ‘hedge’ back – Validea

The inflation outlook in five charts – Morningstar

Dylan Grice: building resilient portfolios with alternatives [Podcast]Allocators

UK stock picker portfolio reviews

A 2022 portfolio review from a veteran UK small cap stockpicker… – Maynard Paton

…and the same from a long-time UK dividend share investor – John Kingham

An annual review of a portfolio of UK closed-ended funds – IT Investor

How to survive a bad year in the stock market – Richard Beddard

Kindle book bargains

The Investment Trusts Handbook 2023 by Jonathan Davis et alFree on Kindle

Stuffocation: Living More With Less by James Wallman – £0.99 on Kindle

Factfulness: Ten Reasons…Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling – £0.99 on Kindle

Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by Jacob Goldstein – £1.19 on Kindle

Dead in the Water: Murder and Fraud in the World’s Most Secretive Industry by Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel – £1.29 on Kindle

Environmental factors

Where have all the A-rated fridges and freezers gone? – Which

The dolphins dying in the Ukraine war – BBC

UK’s record hot 2022 made 160 times more likely by climate crisis – Guardian

Flying boats and other technology for cleaner shipping – BBC

The doomsday glacier – Hakai

Off our beat

[US] inequality might have peaked – Noahopion

The company purging meetings from its calendars – Guardian

How David Beckham made $500m in MLS – Huddle Up [h/t Abnormal Returns]

Freudenschaude – Barry Ritholtz

The world as it is – Seth’s Blog

And finally…

“In the abstract, life is a mixture of chance and choice. Chance can be thought of as the cards you are dealt in life. Choice is how you play them.”
– Edward Thorpe, A Man for All Markets

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday! Note this article includes affiliate links, such as from Amazon and Interactive Investor. We may be compensated if you pursue these offers, but that will not affect the price you pay.

{ 56 comments… add one }
  • 1 JDW January 7, 2023, 12:39 pm

    Happy New Year all and team Monevator. Thanks again for all the links and learnings.

    I check my portfolios daily, against knowing I shouldn’t, but update monthly manually on a sheet. I did delete the broker apps for a while with a ‘leave it alone you plonker approach, just check it every month on a laptop’ but have had to make a few (temporary) changes to my saving rate recently due to job hunting which has seen me slip back into bad habits, especially during market downturns.

    The positive (coming from learning and education) however is I’m not tinkering or trading as a result of easier access or checking accounts more often, and sticking to the plan of roughly 80% passive in Lifestrategy 80%, mostly in my S&S ISA, with monthly regular investments and reinvested dividends from investment trusts. Repeat. Repeat.

    Interested to see the results!

  • 2 mjcross January 7, 2023, 12:45 pm

    In my experience, spending time researching and fiddling with your portfolio is most cost-effectively done while being paid to do something else…

  • 3 far_wide January 7, 2023, 12:47 pm

    I don’t bother actually checking my portfolio more than monthly, but have a list of all the main indices on yahoo finance which I check frequently as I’m interested in it all and that obviously gives me a rough idea of how well/badly things are going.
    So I’m not sure whether that makes me an hourly or a monthly checker, and either an eyeballer or perhaps an ‘other’ – ?

  • 4 Bob January 7, 2023, 12:56 pm

    As always, on the passive investing, nail. I really don’t bother checking more than monthly. More for records than anything else. My sin is that I almost never rebalance or do any of the other things passive investors are supposed to do.

  • 5 Chris January 7, 2023, 1:11 pm

    A 1960s investment manual I came across offered figures to show that even the cost of a daily Financial Times and a weekly investment magazine seriously eroded the returns of the average investor. It may be – I forget, and I gave the book away it was so dismal – the author was a City pro who just wanted his readers to give him their money, he would look after it…

  • 6 Whettam January 7, 2023, 1:12 pm

    I only update my unitised spreadsheet monthly (I’d be interested whether others have unitised their portfolio tracking?). This is a bit of a “cheat” because unit price for new contributions (which are different for wife and my 7/8 different accounts) is only calculated once per month.

    I put once a week for portfolio checking, this is just a quick sign on to two main brokers, but I confess I have stocks app on my phone / desktop and keep an eye on this throughout most days.

  • 7 xxd09 January 7, 2023, 1:19 pm

    I suspect most investors inspect their portfolios very regularly as the market rises-true of most of the last 20 years-and do it less so during downturns
    The boost to feeling good caused by a rising portfolio is real but downturns produce a proportionally greater feeling of loss and pain
    Our brains are hard wired this way for Darwinian reasons ie in the game of life a win is great but a loss and you are very possibly dead!
    This has some practical consequences
    For instance ignoring your portfolio over Christmas and New Year probably meant that you had a much more enjoyable time
    I know I did !

  • 8 John Kingham January 7, 2023, 1:24 pm

    “Even if we were to increase the analyst’s portfolio size to $100,000, their 10% alpha (i.e. $10,000) is roughly equivalent to what they could have made driving for Uber in the same amount of time”

    Ah yes, but this ignores the magic of compounding. I don’t think driving for Uber has a lot of compounding potential, but if you can compound 10% faster than the market for a decade or three, that sort of (mildly unrealistic) advantage snowballs very dramatically.

    For example, £100k compounded at the market average return of 7% for 20 years gives you about £390k to retire on. Nice. But compound that £100k by 17% per year for 20 years and you end up with £2.3 million. That’s a gain from your active investing efforts of £1.9 million or about £96k per year. Try earning that working 10 hours per week for Uber!

  • 9 PC January 7, 2023, 1:28 pm

    “how often you check in on your portfolio.
    I don’t mean attending to administrative matters ”

    but it’s when I’m attending to admin – that is re-investing dividends – that I check my portfolio .. anything more than that and I would be tempted to do something, rather than just leaving it alone.

    I confess to keeping an eye on VWRL though .. it’s a pretty good proxy for the total value of my SIPP

  • 10 Tom-Baker Dr Who January 7, 2023, 1:30 pm

    Happy New Year to everyone!

    I’ve just voted in your poll. I’d just like to add that, as a scientist, I am compelled to constantly look for evidence and gather data. Ideally, I would like to be able to check my portfolio every second, but I’ve got more interesting things to do. So I compromise and check it once a week. It only takes me a few minutes and then I have the data I need to check if it is behaving as I expected and designed to. I only need to think about it and spend more time on it, if I ever discover something in the data that is evidence I’ve got a blind spot and was mistaken in my initial design. So far, all I ever needed to do was to rebalance.

    BTW, I have checked the 2022 nominal return of my largest and most risk averse portfolio and found it was small but positive: +0.41% (in case you are thinking it’s mostly cash, you’ll be surprised to know that only 0.30% of it is cash that will soon be invested when a good bargain arises). The rest of my portfolio is not so risk averse but now in the first week of 2023 my total portfolio is just 1.90% (nominal) below my previous peek at the end of summer 2022 without any contributions or withdrawals.

  • 11 The Investor January 7, 2023, 1:37 pm

    @xxd09 — I think that’s actually logical/rational. If we know it is going to hurt 2-3 times as badly when the market is down, then checking 2-3 times less frequently makes sense from an emotional perspective. (This is presuming you weren’t deriving any useful/actionable information from your portfolio checking, of course, which would certainly be true for passive folk)

    @John Kingham — Well, yes. But if we could beat the market by 10% a year then the should-be-working dictate would probably still hold, given you could be paid gazillions for your Buffett-y prowess, or certainly more than $10 an hour!

    Even in my pomp I wasn’t beating the market by 10% a year, sadly. But though I was doing well enough to wonder if I should be running money professionally, and vaguely mused about setting something up, I legitimately worried that doing it for a living would destroy any edge that was present, given my portfolio was small and I was doing it with zero pressure in my spare bedroom. (Leaving aside other factors, such as the wearing-a-tie issue. Let’s take that as a symbol, I know I’d just need to sport a Patagonia gilet these days 😉 )

    @all — Thanks for the comments and votes everyone!

  • 12 ballard January 7, 2023, 1:56 pm

    far_wide’s description would be about right for me, which does mean I look at VWRL and the US indices a bit too often.

    Then again, doing that with VGOV recently has been informative/ educational.

  • 13 Gentleman's Family Finances January 7, 2023, 2:13 pm

    I’ve thought about my own time wasting, navel gazing portfolio checking habits.
    It’s not good and doesn’t either make you feel that good (a rush of cortisol with every 0.5% drop) nor any richer.
    But check I do – every month for a comprehensive review and weekly or so for individual pots (mostly with one broker and I have regular investments, dividends…)
    Is that about right? Probably, it takes me maybe 30 mins to record everything and another hour or so to analyse and plan.
    All in all, probably less than your average football fan spends looking at league tables, results and fixtures, so it’s a hobby and a choice.
    I don’t think I could do with missing a month’s figures – even though the world won’t end and it makes times like Xmas and holidays difficult, who wants to be on excel on NYE?
    (JANUARY’S numbers will be calculated on Monday when I’m back in “work”

  • 14 cttw January 7, 2023, 2:33 pm

    I revalue my portfolio once a year, in Jan, then reset my direct debits to take effect from the new tax year. I think this partly stems from when I started investing in 1990, there were no computers or internet, you just got an annual statement and I used to write everything down by hand in the back of my filofax which was too much of a faff to do on a regular basis.
    Also, I have found from experience that I don’t have the brain to pick individual shares or time purchases/sales or anything like that – I just do direct debits into funds or investment trusts. Vanguards global trackers were like ‘manna from heaven’ for me as they enabled me to simplify my portfolio greatly.
    I do admit to fairly regularly looking up such funds because I know that if they are up or down 10%, roughly my equity portfolio will have changed by the same amount.

  • 15 WCTL Flashheart January 7, 2023, 2:36 pm

    I found running a portfolio really stressful. Have I made the right investing choice? Will I outperform the market? Even worse, will I underperform the market? Should I rebalance / take profits / cut my losses? What if…..

    It was simply FOMO that just resulted in f*ckwito. Unsurprisingly, it really got to me, causing poor sleep and way too much grief.

    So I sold all funds in my ISA and SIPP and bought 1 x passive multi-asset fund in each. Different fund house but chosen from the ‘best multi-asset funds – Monevator’.

    It’s made a huge difference. Can I control the market? Nope. Can I chuck in as much cash as I can each year. Yep. Crack on, son.

  • 16 FI-FireFighter January 7, 2023, 2:43 pm

    I used to check at least weekly and update my spread sheet on the 1st of every month.
    That has slowly slipped to occasionally checking i.e. 3 / 4 times a year and always updating the Net Worth spreadsheet at the end of year and maybe once or twice through the year.
    I am purely passive and not drawing down yet so, found the regular checking wasn’t actually achieving anything.
    I know its all there if I need it, so try to tune out the noise and get on with other stuff.

  • 17 Weenie January 7, 2023, 2:48 pm

    Happy New Year, all!

    I ‘casually’ check my spreadsheet daily to see if I’m up, down or same.

    I do a ‘proper’ check/analysis once a month.

  • 18 Jim McG January 7, 2023, 2:51 pm

    Just to comment that I’m pretty average in that I would check my portfolio weekly when the market was rising but have switched to monthly as the market sank (because that’s when I’d update my spreadsheet). Plus, as part of my retirement drawdown, I took out about three years worth of my annual budget in cash which I currently live off, so I’ve about 18 months to go before I need to sell any more equities.

  • 19 Financial Samurai January 7, 2023, 2:56 pm

    HNY! I look forward to kicking back in 2023. What a tough year for money in 2022, but I tread water.

    Let the east living begin!


  • 20 { in·deed·a·bly } January 7, 2023, 4:23 pm

    Happy 2023, I hope it is a good one for all the Monevatians!

    I check prices and values once a month while populating my tracker spreadsheet. All up I invest maybe half an hour per month thinking about investments.

    Long ago, when I used to actively invest, I would do a lot more. However, I gradually learned humility: my successes were unpredictable and inconsistent, luck rather than skill.

    As I drifted into a more passive investing approach, closely following the markets closely became unproductive. Busywork, like drying dishes or ironing, much activity for limited and shortlived benefit. It occurred to me that my closely monitoring individual share prices was little different to those old guys sitting in betting shops, interested only because they had money riding on the outcome, as they hoped an arbitrarily chosen horse would come in.

    Like any hobby, betting included, if it makes us happy then it is good. But only if it isn’t causing us anxiety or stress. Once that starts, time for a new hobby!

  • 21 Hariseldon January 7, 2023, 4:27 pm

    Perhaps the biggest danger from inspecting a portfolio frequently is the temptation to then do something…

    I am firmly in passive mode for 2023 having been alarmingly active in 2022, getting on for 300 trades to be £30k ahead (after costs) of where I would otherwise have been… not a good use of time.

    Very much “Perfect being the Enemy of Good”

  • 22 Kid Cocoa January 7, 2023, 4:32 pm

    For me, (detailed) portfolio checking is related to age. Gameplans change more often when you’re starting out and the various wealth milestones that you hit come thick and fast, and back then i certainly didn’t want to miss out on being able to ‘tick off ‘any of those momentous hurdles. Nowadays i’m a quarterly reviewer, and more than happy with that length of time gap. I just don’t see the necessity to monitor any more frequently.
    HNY all, and thanks for all of the great content and comments over the past year.

  • 23 MonkeysOnARock January 7, 2023, 4:37 pm

    My approach is a mixed bag (or perhaps internally inconsistent, depending how charitable you’re being).

    – check balances of ISAs/SIPPs quarterly when updating a master spreadsheet, and don’t peek at all in the interim (which I think makes sense given a 100% passive drip-feeding approach which has stayed the same for years – essentially just checking the money’s still there).

    – on the other hand, I still read Monevator and other personal finance forums on a very regular basis, mainly because I find the topics inherently interesting and because they help to steady the ship psychologically when the world and/or markets are looking scary.

  • 24 JABA January 7, 2023, 5:00 pm

    For me active investing is a hobby and source of entertainment, so spending time on research and related reading isn’t work, and even when I lose money sometimes, the total cost is less than a golfing hobby. It’s also a much more enjoyable hobby on a grey and rainy Saturday.

    I update my spreadsheet whenever making a change to the portfolio which is probably a couple times a month, but also keep an eye on the markets and the clowns on CNBC daily. That way I can also enjoy the piss taking and memes on Twitter.

    The 10% of $10k / $100k example seems spurious, not only because of the great point John made about compounding, but also for the simple reason that the numbers were cherry picked to support the author’s argument.

  • 25 never give up January 7, 2023, 5:03 pm

    I log my ISA quarterly and my pension six monthly so I voted quarterly in the poll. That feels like a good timeframe to remain engaged but without checking it too often and worrying myself. I can’t tell you how excited I get each quarter when I realise it’s that time to have fun in Excel again.

    I record my expenses monthly though which has suddenly revealed to me I have more focus on my expenses than my investments. As they are more in my control and I’m a LifeStrategy investor, that is probably the right emphasis.

    Have a great 2023 everyone.

  • 26 B. Lackdown January 7, 2023, 5:03 pm

    OK I can’t answer because:

    50% of my equities are in shareholding account with my everyday bank irstdirect, and 50% are in SIPPs elsewhere. So, for half my portfolio I involuntarily check it every day because the fd app shows me the balance every time I log in to pay a bill. This is a terrible state of affairs because 1. I don’t want to know and 2. if someone kidnaps and tortures me into opening the app, it will show them the minimum sum I am worth by way of ransom. I have asked fd to give the option of removing this information from the app, so far in vain.

    Otherwise, once or twice a year.

  • 27 Learner January 7, 2023, 5:17 pm

    Gosh, 80+% checking monthly or more frequently, didn’t expect that. (Does that include checking neighbourhood/home values on rightmove?)

    There isn’t much point checking more often here in the US. The 401k is automatic, has a crap UI and range of funds so why bother looking. The IRA has a $6k year contribution cap and a single fund so nothing to see there. The brokerage account is more interesting, but I’m trying to rebuild cash savings right now so nothing is going in there either. Boring! I copy the account totals into my budget sheet now and then, but that’s it.

    @TI, is there a trick to finding those pound shop kindle bargains? I’d like to poke around my local amazon listings.

  • 28 Grumpy Tortoise January 7, 2023, 6:32 pm

    My NHS pension is the majority of my nest egg although I’m using my VLS60 as a means of increasing this until I reach state retirement pension age. I check my VLS60 perhaps once a month.

  • 29 Jonathan B January 7, 2023, 6:53 pm

    Interesting to see the relative answers so far on your poll. I have a very simple Excel spreadsheets whose only formula function apart from simply adding things up is to calculate the relative contributions of shares, bonds and cash. (Although it includes property, the nominal values never get updated).

    And I only re-do it a couple of times a year, basically in January once annual statements arrive, and again in April to check that I have successfully kept within the thresholds for savings interest and dividends. (I am anticipating some tax payable on savings this tax year, and will do some bed&ISA to avoid problems with the new lower dividend allowance).

  • 30 The Bonce January 7, 2023, 7:11 pm

    For many years I used to religiously check my portfolio weekly and record the results in my all-singing, all-dancing tracking spreadsheet until purchasing the book ‘Living Off Your Money’ as suggested by @TA. I used the info from the book convert my random bunch of equities into a heavily diversified portfolio about 18 months ago, and I have just checked on its value for the first time (10% down over the period). Maybe an age thing (now in my sixth decade) but I don’t miss the rollercoaster ride and am just happy knowing that (assuming history doesn’t take an unexpected trajectory) everything is slowly growing over the long term. Thank you, @TA – you have saved me considerable time and a whole heap of cash!

  • 31 Rosario January 7, 2023, 9:58 pm

    I update an excel tracking / forecasting sheet monthly but half my ISA is held with the same bank as my current account and therefore appears on my internet banking app. I see that figure a couple of times a week and since I’m no longer contributing to that isa it does give me a good idea of market movements.

    Incidentally I found burying my head in the sand and not checking my balance during the covid dip remarkably easy. I’ve just as quickly fallen back to tracking my nett worth monthly and forecasting when I might reach FI since though.

    As mentioned on the other recent post I’m early middle age, a high ish earner in a job I’ve dwindling enthusiasm for and therefore in danger of focusing on a hypothetical finishing line. Which I know goes against all the advice. So I am actively trying to reduce the frequency of balance checking, but so far failing miserably!

  • 32 Fatbritabroad January 7, 2023, 9:58 pm

    Another one for daily.
    guilty your honour!

    Completely pointless as I never change anything being fully passive other than a couple of small satellite investments but for me it’s purely an interest thing of seeing how the main indices have moved and trying to guess what effect it has on my portfolio. Interesting the currency movements makes a big difference sometimes . I also now understand from sites like this and podcasts WHY there are huge crashes and how they work with large short and long bets being unwound so much less stressed than I was when I was new at this

    I’ve also found (so far at least) weirdly the more I have invested the less I worry. The numbers don’t seem real to me, either positive or negative, ( and i have a reasonably sizable investment portfolio now between pensions and isas where movements can outweigh annual contributions quite easily).

    When covid struck I ‘lost’ more than my gross annual salary in a few days and all I did was increase what I was saving as much as I could.

    I think having a high savings rate helps. I knew I could replace the lost amounts in around 3 years of contributions so it didn’t feel too bad

  • 33 Hak January 7, 2023, 10:54 pm

    Very rarely. Once every couple of years. Just purchase more equities every month when I am paid.

  • 34 Bb January 8, 2023, 12:30 am

    Happy New Year to the Monevator team!

    I log total balances for all accounts once a month but I only do a full stocktake to see what’s going on under the covers at a stock/fund level a couple of times a year – once in early April to steer the new tax year allowances and once later in the year to check if anything has crept too dar out of whack.

  • 35 KeepOnKeepinOn January 8, 2023, 12:37 am

    December & June updates for the big spreadsheet – did try one them apps to link all the different accounts, but got tired of constantly re-validating the connections. So back to six monthly…!
    Happy new year to Monevator team and readers – hang in there, and so the bad times will pass….

  • 36 mr_jetlag January 8, 2023, 3:35 am

    Quarterly for me. I do think I need to get a better handle on my expenses this year as that side of the equation has really gotten out of control.

  • 37 Erico1875 January 8, 2023, 10:23 am

    I actually forgot about one portfolio for 32 years. My Serps.I only remembered I had it last year
    It had compounded at an amazing rate, no doubt because I had left it alone

  • 38 platformer January 8, 2023, 12:19 pm

    Taleb has a nice section on this in Fooled by Randomness:

    “A 15% return with a 10% volatility (or uncertainty) per annum translates into a 93% probability of success in any given year. But seen at a narrow time scale, this translates into a mere 50.02% probability of success over any given second [or 67% over a month]. Over the very narrow time increment, the observation will reveal close to nothing. Yet the dentist’s heart will not tell him that. Being emotional, he feels a pang with every loss, as it shows in red on his screen. He feels some pleasure when the performance is positive, but not in equivalent amount as the pain when the performance is negative …

    Over one month, we observe roughly 2.32 parts noise for every one part performance. Over one hour, 30 parts noise for every one part performance, and over a second 1,796 parts noise for every one part performance. Over a short time increment, one observes the variability of the portfolio, not the returns.”

  • 39 Tom-Baker Dr Who January 8, 2023, 1:55 pm

    @platformer (#38) – Thank you for this very relevant quote from Taleb. I would just add that for those close to or already drawing down from their portfolios, knowing in great detail the variability of their portfolios and properly monitoring this noise is extremely important. Sequence of returns risk is one of the top factors determining your financial success when the accumulation phase ends. You can keep SoR below dangerous levels by reducing portfolio variability and adopting a low withdrawal rate.

  • 40 Albert Steptoe January 8, 2023, 4:03 pm

    Here’s my thoughts on the subject. I thought the whole point of passive investing, which this site advocates for the majority of us financially inept beings (and which I agree with) was to do as little as possible and just leave it to do its own thing over time – so why would you need to keep checking every day/week/month (apart from now and then only to make sure your money is still there and not disappeared into the ether.)

    I just look at it online around every 6 months and also download a statement of the account for records. Why would you need to keep looking at your values for global index funds? You know they are going to be up and down from one day/month/year to the next so why keep needing to see a rise – only to be depressed when the next week they have fallen back again lower than, maybe, all the gains you’ve made in the last 6 months/year. Why put yourself through it, for what real purpose? The only values that matter is the one you bought at and the one you need/want to sell at – anything in between is just to make sure you’re account is still active and actually still there, as I have heard (rarely) of an account disappearing and just in case of (also rarely) that your funds have increased in value that much that you may feel you want to transfer some out to cash while you can for safety, particulary for us older investors who rely on it for income. Looking more often is just a waste of time as in-between it means nothing really as long term is the only way to passively grow index funds, as we all know, and you’re not going to do that anytime soon.

    Saying that – money is not my driving force – yes I want to see it grow (otherwise I would just stick it all in savings and lose out to inflation most of the time) but if it doesn’t grow for a year or two as at present, I’m not ever going to sit around crying about it. I think especially when you get into your mid life or later, you realise money is not the be all and end all (maybe unless you don’t have very much at all) but lack of time left on this earth is – that many things you still haven’t done and maybe don’t have time or health left to do as generally you do seem to start going downhill from your 50’s onwards with joints/memory and various health issues cropping up – your timer is fast running out.

    In fact as I’m very frugal and saved all my life since primary school in fact when I had my own school bank account (I never borrow – I even saved and bought my house in cash) – I’m more worried that “I’m” going to run out well before the money does but since I’ve lived my life this way for so long it will be difficult to change that mindset now – as I don’t think I’ll wake up one day and suddenly be a “lavish spender.” I mean I find it unbelievable that people don’t know what subscriptions they have drifting out of their bank accounts each month and somebody says to them ” you could save X by cancelling all these you’re not using” – I know every penny that is going out (I check all my statements rigorously) and none of it is on subscriptions. The first question I ask is “how much will it cost?” Scrooge would probably be considered profligate compared to me!

    I can understand active investors, who are often hobbyists/gamblers, are totally different (although it is said this site is not really aimed at those) but if that’s you’re bag then it’s fine to maybe look 24 times a day but I personally couldn’t be bothered to spend all my time reading/learning/observing it as I think if you want some life (as it is a very “short” one after all) then I think just best to leave it alone and do better things with your limited time on this planet – unless your enjoyment in life is mainly from share trading – but each to their own – we all have our individual quirks!

  • 41 BillD January 8, 2023, 5:27 pm

    I’ll admit to being a bit of a spreadsheet nerd and I automated valuation of pretty much my whole overall portfolio in Google sheets using either Google Finance functions or scraping the FT funds site for valuations. Then I have some Google script automation that records daily / weekly / monthly valuations of accounts or the whole portfolio as desired so I can see historical trends. The spreadsheets are useful to see and model high level asset allocations, model dividend income etc. I probably do check the numbers more often than I need to – maybe several times a week – because I don’t have to log into all the accounts, but I do like to check actual accounts at least once a quarter (you never know!). Happy New Year!

  • 42 Naeclue January 8, 2023, 5:35 pm

    I have a big spreadsheet which I keep up to date with the positions we have across all our accounts. We are in decumulation and the only trades I do are ones to liberate cash from ISAs/SIPPs by selling unsheltered investments and buying back inside ISAs/SIPPs and to annually rebalance from equities to cash (we don’t rebalance the other way). I have in the past tried real time price updates, but I cannot get prices for some of the investments, so what I do now is download a Hargreaves Lansdown watchlist which has prices for all the securities I need and paste it into my spreadsheet. A useful feature is that it provides prices in sterling for everything, so I don’t need to do anything extra for the dollar denominated ETFs.

    I usually update the prices and review at this time of year, but have not done that yet. The main reason to do it now is for the annual rebalancing. However, this year I already know that I will not be rebalancing due to the fall in VWRL over the last year, and there is not much incentive to do it just to put a precise figure on how much we have lost! I reckon the portfolio is about 20% down in real terms, excluding dividends.

    I am more interested in working out what to do with accumulated cash in our tax shelters. We cannot sell any more ETFs from our unsheltered accounts this financial year without having to pay CGT, so I need to think through whether we should take the CGT hit in order to shelter more equities in tax shelters or to reinvest the accumulated cash into short dated gilts. I am loathed to pay CGT, but in the long run doing that might be the least worse option. It would be a bit galling though if I decided to sell and pay CGT, only to see share prices halve shortly after I sold!

    You are of course going to get a very biased view from the survey as only those interested in finance will see it! My children never look at their SIPPs/pensions and rarely at their ISAs.

  • 43 The Bonce January 8, 2023, 5:43 pm

    Bravo Albert Steptoe – what a great post and one that I am sure we can all learn something from….

  • 44 Peter January 8, 2023, 8:15 pm

    I check every day. No emotions. I eliminated them by repeating to myself this magical sentence: “I’ts just money.”

  • 45 Snowman January 9, 2023, 9:40 am

    I use 3 linked custom spreadsheets (the three are overall finances, investments and pensions) to track my finances. Via the same spreadsheets I also track my regular spending (insurance, utilities etc) but I don’t track day to day variable expenditure such as food, directly, just by deduction can work out an overall annual figure for these variable items.

    I’ve got a morningstar portfolio set up to get investment prices for any fund I’ve ever held. I log in, highlight the column of prices and copy and paste it into my spreadsheet and the spreadsheet does the rest automatically. I keep a column of investment prices in my spreadsheet from each time I do this. Takes no more than 90 seconds to update prices for investments this way. Probably update prices on average about once a week although it varies and is at arbitrary times (although I do record things at the end of the calendar year and end of the tax year). I don’t really look at the change in figures when I do update, it’s just out of habit.

    The main spreadsheet maintenance is tracking transfers between savings accounts and interest from savings accounts etc. Very rarely touch investments, and just make a single SIPP contribution each year, and my investments are all in an ISA or SIPP, and most investments are in accumulation tracker funds with the exception of 3 distributing ETFs, so not much maintenance required.

    I’m a member of a share club with some friends, but amounts are relatively small and I don’t try to keep track of that other than perhaps a once a year update; it’s money I expect to achieve a poor return on and don’t rely on.

  • 46 Al Cam January 9, 2023, 10:08 am

    @Naclue (#42):
    Re: “I am more interested in working out what to do with accumulated cash in our tax shelters….”

    Why not reinvest the cash in equities and covert any dividend units to accumulation units in the tax shelters. What am I missing?

  • 47 Getting Minted January 9, 2023, 10:37 am

    I mostly use an online custom spreadsheet at TrustNet that updates share prices automatically for a quick overview of my net worth. I don’t look at that every day or even every week but at least once every month, and more often in volatile markets. I also look at my various broker accounts at least monthly. I also manually input to an excel spreadsheet and to a desktop application at each month end. My monthly review is the main time I consider my portfolio.

  • 48 Ben January 9, 2023, 8:15 pm

    @TI you never, ever wear a tie in a buy- side company, as I was told on my first day as an analyst. It’s beneath our dignity to look like a banker

  • 49 The Investor January 9, 2023, 11:34 pm

    Thanks for all the comments and votes everyone! Far too many interesting points for me to respond to individually, but I’ll digest them all when I do my tally-up article.

    Nearly 2,500 votes! If I was as good at monetization as certain other websites I’d slap the results into a plastic folder or a PDF with some ChatGPT text wrapped around it and sell it as my “2023 Private Investor Activity Attitude Report” 😉

    @Ben — Now you tell me! (Hah, yes of course you’re right. What about shorts? I wore those half the year from my second job onwards… 😉 )

  • 50 JimJim January 10, 2023, 7:43 am

    I feel way too busy now reading all these comments.
    I check my share portfolio daily in a rough and dirty way with a free spreadsheet on the Yahoo! finance site. (It only gets updated by me two or three times a year with additions and dividends re-invested.) I used to use Google finance but that was more painful than accurate for some of my holdings, then Morningstar on a free account, again painful. I check U.K. Morningstar for market data against my portfolio at the same time as the Yahoo! account to see if there is any obvious under-performance to markets and I also check for shifts in the £ against the dollar and euro.
    I do this for fun and knowledge as I rarely trade, perhaps four times a year now. Even then, I look to balance and diversify between holdings I have kept, mostly, from the start of the portfolio. ( I have some small interest in individual shares, these are a small minority of the portfolio but I feel the need to monitor these more closely)
    I check the actual portfolio twice a year out of habit and after any significant deposit (no significant withdrawals yet but I that will change soon).
    The cash/bonds side I check perhaps once a quarter, the value of property – only when someone in our village of 35 houses sells one. (Rarely) And my DB pension twice a year.
    I like knowing what the markets are doing. It is a hobby of mine. It fascinates me and after many years of watching it, my involvement in it produces less emotional response to large movements as they are just noise on the wider time scale. My mantra when seeing this “noise” is simple. “If people lost money on investing over time, no one in their right mind would do it”
    Happy New Year everybody

  • 51 Ben January 10, 2023, 11:25 am

    No shorts. I got told to go home and trim my beard once. You probably wouldn’t have liked it. And you may have even started hating investing.

  • 52 The Rhino January 10, 2023, 2:21 pm

    @Naeclue – top tip on the HL watchlist download as .csv. I was having same issue, using a google drive sheet to look up prices dynamically, but only worked for those with tickers, i.e. not funds – so I was having to fat finger those in separately. Your approach is much better and I have an HL account already so super easy to set up.
    Will shave a few minutes off the monthly accounts, many thanks..

  • 53 Naeclue January 10, 2023, 6:00 pm

    @Al Cam, We don’t want to invest the ISA/SIPP dividends back into equities. The plan is to add these to the cash pot that we live off. I don’t want to withdraw the dividends either. We have unshelterd ETFs, so the idea is to sell some ETF shares and buy them back with the cash sitting in the ISAs and SIPPs.

    Impossible this financial year without paying CGT, but the CGT problem is only going to get worse with share price growth (I hope!) and the planned cut to the CGT allowance.

    The way I see it the options are 1) Pay the CGT; 2) invest the cash into gilts.

    At some point we are likely to need the cash, so option 2 is just delaying the inevitable. But delay is good as we would still be generating a return on the cash that would otherwise be lost to CGT. On the other hand, getting more of our investments into ISAs and SIPPs means that those investments will not incur future CGT and income tax on dividends.

  • 54 Al Cam January 11, 2023, 6:25 am

    @Naeclue (#53):
    Thanks for the further details.
    Re 1) tax shelters are good, but not without limits and constraints and of course their effectiveness is related to market movements and they are subject to change too – i.e. tricky and situational;
    Re 2) held to maturity [and non-callable] I assume. IIRC, Vanguard are paying interest on S&S ISA cash holdings.

  • 55 Onedrew January 11, 2023, 4:18 pm

    A lazy way to keep an eye on things is to use the wonderful and free Investing.com’s salerts service. I can set alerts for nominal prices and/or daily percentage price moves for ETFs and funds. I only need react when an email from the site warns me that a rebalancing threshold might be close. However, out of habit I still paste in the downloaded numbers from investing.com and the FT (occasionally they differ and I verify via BarChart and London Stock Exchange feeds) every night. If I am nearing a threshold, I might set a tradeplan on iWeb — which has been a more frequent event in 2022. Of course, it wastes a minute during which I could be doing something useful, but as the actual trades are automatic I am not watching my screen all day ready to strike like a cobra.

  • 56 Ran Away January 15, 2023, 1:19 pm

    I am afraid as a naughty active investor I update daily using google sheets to scrape prices, I would automate, but you can’t trust google to not have a performance problem which means the data is incomplete. I review the information to greater depth once a week. I am trying to remain invested and not fiddle. Though some investments have turned out to be the kind you are watching closely for an acceptable out!

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