Tag Archives: sharebuilder

Stock Investment Insights Part I: Dumb Moves

Using my handy dandy Google Spreadsheet account and Google Finance’s awesome tools that make it easy to see all of the stupid investment mistakes you’ve made, I’ve compiled a list of all my stock sells from my Sharebuilder account and compared them to the price they’d be worth today. I sold off AAPL because I was way overweight AAPL *AND* needed to buy a car (figured paying $17,000 cash was better than a loan) but here you can see that actually wasn’t the case. My worse sells according to this chart would be AAPL, INTC and XLF. Other than taking money out for my car on the AAPL transaction I did reinvest all of the proceeds from any sale here, so I need to somehow figure out how much the money made/lost in comparison to see if any of these sales were a smart move. The AAPL one kills me though. I should have just taken out a damn loan. Oh well, you live, you learn, right? (goes to cry in the corner.) (*ps I didn’t sell CBOU that was something that happened automatically as they went private or something.)

Continue reading

Project: Determining Annual Interest Value of Investment Accounts

While I’ve been invested haphazardly since 2007, I still am pretty clueless when it comes to smart investment choices. OK, so the only real smart investment choices, one can argue, is diversification and low-fee ETFs (shout out @Vanguard.) However, my little investing hobby has led me to put my money into some – somewhat – riskier individual stocks and non-standard ETFs. And to be honest I have no idea how they are performing because my investment brokerage (Sharebuilder) only shows me the total % increase on my account (not annual) and doesn’t take into account any losses or gains from sales. So I’m at a loss for what is going on.

Thus, as a project of unemployment, I’m trying to dig through all my investing records and put together a clean google spreadsheet where I can at least see what the hell happened each year. Sharebuilder lets you see all your past history but doesn’t make it easy before 2012. It’s a PITA before 2012 as you have to manually go back to each month and can’t skip over the years, both for starting month and end month. I wish they made this feature easier to use! Continue reading

Investing Basics: ie don’t do anything stupid

I’m no data maven, nor am I a psychic, so my investment decisions are largely based on what the limited research I can gather tells me to do. That pretty much leads to a relatively boring portfolio, but I lost chunks of my “early 20s” portfolio thanks to buying small cap cleantech stocks inspired by my reporting days as soon as I bid adieu to the journalism field altogether.

But investing in these small cap stocks taught me a valuable lesson — just because a business seems like it has a good model and plan, that business may very well not be appreciated by the stock market (and usually for good reason.) Meanwhile, yawn-inducing stocks (like MCD and KO) are much more likely to have longer-term growth. Even more importantly, investing in index funds tends to be a lot cheaper when you don’t have a ton of cash to move around on a whim. At smaller investment sums trading fees can take a huge bite out of any potential long-term profit. Continue reading

Sharebuilder: How Much Did I Spend?

In my ongoing attempt to better understand my annual rate of return on my taxable Sharebuilder portfolio, my readers have noted that I need to look at how much was actually invested annually to solve this. So here we go. More math to follow.

Total Dollars Invested & Withdrew Per Year (*not counting taxes & fees)

Year Invested Withdrawal
2008 $2350 0
2009 $6300 -$300
2010 $24270.72 -$1261.74
2011 $28350 -$51.8
2012 $19944.68 -$2947.87
2013 $7308 -$24896.98

Taxes Each Year

Year ST gain/loss LT gain/loss Total Gain/Loss Qualified Dividends Ordinary Dividends FT Withheld
2011 -$3226.97 -$1894.53 -$5121.5 $483.7 $0 -$12.39
2012 -$1108 -$767.85 -$1875.85 $1278.64 $63.29 -$7.5
2013 -$1254.74 $8122.4 $6867.66 TBD TBD TBD
Total -$129.69  $1762

Withdrawal Details

11/10/2011 MTW ING DIRECT INSTANT WITHDRAWAL XXXX6243 -$51.8
2/6/2012 MTW ING DIRECT INSTANT WITHDRAWAL XXXX6243 -$70.07
9/14/2009 ACD ELECTRONIC FUNDS WITHDRAWAL -$300
9/24/2010 ACD ELECTRONIC FUNDS WITHDRAWAL -$1621.74
8/30/2012 ACD ELECTRONIC FUNDS WITHDRAWAL -$2427.8
2/19/2013 ACD ELECTRONIC FUNDS WITHDRAWAL -$2982.14
6/10/2013 ACD ELECTRONIC FUNDS WITHDRAWAL -$6914.84
7/8/2013 ACD ELECTRONIC FUNDS WITHDRAWAL -$15000

Transfer In Details

 Date Type Type Details Total Transfer
1/18/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
1/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
1/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/25/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/28/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $250
3/18/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
3/25/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
4/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
6/24/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
7/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
8/25/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
9/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
10/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
11/25/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/23/2008 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
1/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/11/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $200
2/20/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
2/24/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
3/3/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $200
3/6/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
3/20/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
3/24/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
3/24/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
4/3/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
4/6/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $100
4/8/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $200
4/17/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
4/20/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
4/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/1/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
5/15/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
5/20/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $600
5/26/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/29/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
6/12/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
6/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
6/26/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
7/10/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
7/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
7/24/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
8/7/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
8/11/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
8/21/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
8/25/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
9/2/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
9/4/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $100
9/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
10/15/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
10/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
10/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
11/9/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $200
11/24/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $200
12/23/2009 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
1/5/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $200
1/25/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
3/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
4/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/4/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
5/25/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
6/2/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
6/9/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
6/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
7/6/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
7/13/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
7/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
8/24/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
8/31/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $3000
9/3/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $670.72
9/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
9/24/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $3000
10/12/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $3000
10/22/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $4000
10/25/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
11/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/7/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
12/23/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/29/2010 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
1/11/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $10000
1/25/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/16/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
2/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
3/8/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
3/9/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
3/22/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
3/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
3/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
4/11/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
4/26/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/3/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
5/19/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1500
5/24/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
6/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
7/25/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
8/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
9/7/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
9/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
10/18/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
10/25/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
11/1/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $300
11/10/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
11/17/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
11/23/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/14/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $3000
12/16/2011 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
12/28/2011 MTD ING DIRECT INSTANT DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $1000
1/3/2012 MTD ING DIRECT INSTANT DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $1000
1/17/2012 MTD ING DIRECT INSTANT DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $455
1/20/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
1/24/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/2/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
2/9/2012 MTD ING DIRECT INSTANT DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $269.52
2/23/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/28/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
3/19/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $500
3/23/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
4/2/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
4/17/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
4/24/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/3/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
5/8/2012 MTD ING DIRECT INSTANT DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $120.16
5/23/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
6/18/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
6/25/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
7/24/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
8/23/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
8/23/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
9/25/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
10/22/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $3000
10/23/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
11/6/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
11/26/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/6/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $1000
12/26/2012 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
1/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
2/25/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
3/25/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
4/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
5/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
6/25/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
7/22/2013 MTD CAPITAL ONE 360 DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $1300
7/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2000
7/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
8/2/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – ONE-TIME $2500
8/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
9/24/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
10/23/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
11/4/2013 MTD CAPITAL ONE 360 DEPOSIT XXXX6243 $908
11/25/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
12/24/2013 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50
1/23/2014 ACH ACH DEPOSIT – RECURRING $50

My Stock Portfolio as of June 5

Some of you have been asking what stocks I own in my portfolio (which is up 13.1% YTD compared to DJIA -0.7% and S&P +2.2%), so here is the grand reveal, in order of ownership size:

Taxable Account ($104,402, best performing, more active trading but mostly buy-and-hold, sell underperformers)

AAPL (97.64 shares, $55,905.61)
VZ
IHI
INTC
HAO
MCD
AMZN
VWO
JNJ
GE
CBOU
SBUX
WFM
KO
PG
BV
GOOG
T

Roth IRA ($4,673 – only negative account)
XRT
GLD
PEY
SPY
XLE

Traditional IRA ($11,235)
SDY
XRT
DVY
GLD
SLV
VNQ
EDIV
NLY

Vanguard Taxable ($6,981)
VMGIX

Vanguard Roth IRA ($17,488)
VTSMX
VFIFX

May Investing Highlights, Today Stocks Down $3000

I realize it’s bad practice to obsessively monitor your stocks, but it’s the only way I can learn about how the stock market really works. Boy, it hurts to watch a bright red $3236 (-2.5%) show up at the end of the day, capping off a week of losses on my investment accounts.

Investing Trades in May

Sharebuilder Taxable Account “Gold”
$86,776.36 as of June 1

SELL

  • AND Global X FTSE ANDEAN 40 ETF. I needed some liquid capital and this account was in the dumps. It’s probably bad to off my small sum of international investments, but they aren’t performing well. Maybe I’m just investing in the wrong countries or ETFs on that front. In any case, so long South America.
  • CBOU — I got nervous about my investment in Caribou Coffee, which was down significantly. I don’t fully understand P/E but when I bought the stock, the P/E was 10 and it shot up to 20, so I decided to sell half of my ownership, bringing me down to 100 shares instead of 200. I put the money to work in the following purchases…

BUY 

  • AAPL (Apple) — about 3 shares. My goal is to have 100 shares of Apple, I have a little under 97 right now.
  • KO (Coca Cola) — on a Dividend investment kick. I haven’t purchased any KO before, but I like their diversity in products, and have been wanting to get in on PEP or KO for a while. It felt like a Coke day, so I went with the red can. (My investment decisions are so scientific.)
  • VZ (Verizon) — really good dividend stock, probably dumb to hold this in my taxable account. I don’t have enough funds in my tax advantaged accounts to trade individual stocks, however.
  • INTC (Intel) — Seems like a good buy right now. Technology is only getting more and more embedded in our lives, and Intel is the leading maker of chips to make this tech work. Plus P/E seems low, growth is high, and the company is pretty solid. But what do I know?
Sharebuilder IRA “Silver”
$10,998.34 as of June 1

No trades.

Sharebuilder Roth IRA “Platinum”
$4578.89 as of June 1

SELL
EDIV — this international dividend ETF was not performing well. I hate seeing an account with a limited $5000 investment lose money. I sold and changed strategies…

BUY
PEY — Powershares ETF High Yield Dividend… I want to put more dividends to work in my tax advantaged accounts, and this seemed like a good option. There are a lot of dividend ETFs out there, but few actually have high dividend yields compared to individual dividend stocks. This one is pretty high at 4.1% (The PowerShares High Yield Equity Dividend Achiever Portfolio (Fund) is based on the Dividend Achiever 50 Index (Index). The Fund will normally invest at least 90% of its total assets in dividend paying common stocks that comprise the Index. The Index is comprised of 50 stocks selected principally on the basis of dividend yield and consistent growth in dividends.)

Other Accounts

I formally opened my 401k this year, with a goal of maxing it out at $17,000 for the year. Of course I’m behind in contributing for the year, so we’ll see. I’m now contributing 15% of my income, or $1125 per month, to the 401k. That only brings me to $9008 for the year, quite short of the $17k. Still, I’m not ready to bump my contributions to $2125 per month, or about 30% of my monthly pay. Maybe I should, I really ought to max out my 401k, even though I have no “match” on any of it. There’s nothing wrong with saving aggressively for retirement, especially since this is only the second year in my 20s when I’ve had access to a 401k, and therefore have the ability to invest more than a measly $5000 in a tax-advantaged retirement account. What do you think?

Networth Up and Down and Up and Down

The majority of my networth today is tied up in the stock market. It is difficult to understand how much risk one should really take to reach their goals of wealth. It appears that the only way the 99% has a chance of achieving wealth and financial freedom, one must take great risk. Risk that leads to many days looking at your networth going down instead of in the positive direction.

A few months ago, my networth was $183,000, according to my Personal Capital accounts. Today, it’s $159,282, a 13% loss from the highs this year. Granted, I’ve also spent money this year and I started the year with $150,000, so I’m still “up.” But that includes all of the money I’ve put into my investment accounts so far this year as well.

Obsessing over becoming the next Warren Buffet isn’t healthy. But I also don’t believe that mutual fund advisors are better apt to succeed in the markets with my money versus investing in my own diversified strategy. The problem is that despite owning a lot of different stocks and ETFs, I’m not sure how diversified I am.

My idea for my Sharebuilder account, especially my taxable account, was that it would be my play money account vs my IRA and 401k programs, where I’d invest in time-based mutual funds. But now with over $100k in my Sharebuilder account, it doesn’t look like play money anymore.

They say don’t sell when a stock is down, but I don’t believe that either. If a stock has lost 50% it’s time to sell (it’s time to sell before that happens if you see it dropping) and put that money into something more stable. For instance, today my $4000 CBOU investment was down to under $2000. I sold 1/2 of that, giving myself $1000 in liquidity, and invested in AAPL, VZ, and KO (my first investment in Coke.) I’m concerned about investing in dividend stocks in my taxable accounts, but it seems these are the only stocks that have a shot at earning a decent interest income in the future.

I do need a better way to track my spending on investments (both in terms of principal investment and transaction fees) to understand my true gain or loss per year. None of the sites (Mint, PersonalCapital, Yodlee, etc) seem to offer this. Any ideas on how to do this more effectively? I’m sure all the information is stored in my many different accounts, but no one is surfacing to me. Sharebuilder is bad because they only show you how great you’re doing based on the account increases, removing any losses that you have sold off. So I’m “up” 33% this year, but that’s no where near true.

Selling GLD *Before* My Profits Are Too High

I’m not a day trader, or even a month trader. But I’ve started to realize if I want my portfolio to have any serious upside, I need to rebalance every now and again. I’ve sold off most of my cleantech investments including PBD, ENOC, and COMV, and put that money into a mix of large-cap tech companies (AAPL, CSCO), international funds (HAO, EWZ, EDIV), and food (MCD, CBOU, SBUX, WFM.)

Up until today, I’ve only sold small cap losses that seem to be destined for failure or, at best, growth after years of retreating even further, while that money could be in a large-cap dividend stock earning income. Today, however, I decided to sell one ETF where I have turned a profit.

So long GLD, at least from my taxable account. After making an early $500 investment in GLD I found out that gold, even in an ETF, is taxed at a collectors rate. That means 28% capital gains tax. Instead of letting my $500 sit in my taxable account (it is at about $900 now) I’ve decided to sell the 5 shares and move my investments into other funds that belong in my taxable accounts. And after today’s AAPL earnings news, I’m tempted to put the $900 into purchasing two more shares of the company that made the computer I’m currently writing on and the phone I’ll be making calls on in a few minutes. I only own 70-some odd shares of AAPL stock, my goal is to get to 100 shares before the company hits $500 a share. Since AAPL doesn’t pay dividends, this is the perfect company to hold in my taxable accounts.

Meanwhile, I invest regularly in GLD in my Roth IRA account. It seems GLD is fairly expensive right now (afterall, I nearly doubled my initial investment from just a few years ago) so I might hold on aggressively investing in it. My Roth account is my “play” account, since I can only put $5k in it per year. I put that mostly into high-dividend ETFs and rebalance by adding more funds in new sectors the following year. For instance, this year I’ve already invested about $2k into XLE (oil) and XRT (retail companies) as well as GLD. I only have $3k left for my Roth this year, but I plan to start contributing to my 401k (no match) soon, and trying to max that out this year. I’m hoping for a significant raise, which in the ideal world will be enough to cover maxing out my 401k without noticing those contributions too much, but I’m not sure yet if that’s actually going to happen. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I have $900 liquid that I can invest somewhere. Oh goody. I think it’s pretty crazy that I currently have $149339.25 in my investment accounts right now, not counting about $10k liquid (though taxes are going to eat some of that up I think.) Even though $150k doesn’t seem like a lot of money, I’m proud that in the last 6 years since I’ve graduated college I’ve been able to go from $5k in savings to over $160k. Still pushing for that $200k this year — if the economy decides to recover and I manage a sizable raise it will help lift me up there, otherwise I’ll probably end up at $180k for the year. Really would like to see that happen, I’m so set on entering my 30s with $250k in the bank, I’ll be pretty peeved at myself if I don’t make that goal.

To Sell or Not to Sell: COMV (Loss $4515)

One of my earliest mistakes investing was getting over excited about how easy it was to invest in stocks. I first invested in mutual funds and index funds, and then quickly got into buying a little of this and a little of that. As I detail in Monday’s upcoming post, my portfolio has been up (28%!) and down, but right now it has practically lost all its gains. So much for compound interest.

Of all the losers in my portfolio, the biggest loser of all is Comverge. They seemed to be doing reasonably well when I bought it, knowing it was a risky small cap stock. I started out with a small amount of investment, a few hundred dollars, and somehow dollar-cost averaged down to the point where I invested $6252 in it. I was pretty adamant about not putting more than $2k into any one individual stock unless it was clearly an out performer, but I must have gotten caught up into the excitement of getting a “deal” on the stock as it went down and down and down.

The first time I bought Comverge, it was at $18 per share. I didn’t buy all of the stock at that price (luckily?) but today it’s a whopping $1.56 per share. All that’s left is $1836 of that stock. So right now I’m wondering if I should cut my losses and sell, or wait until the stock (maybe) bounces back a bit before selling (though that might just be asking to lose another $2000!)

Of course, the other option is to keep dollar cost averaging down. That is seeming more and more foolish at this point. It could have worked for some larger companies that just got hit in the recession (ie I wish I put all that money into Whole Foods at the time!) — in any case, right now I’m baffled by investing, and afraid that my minimal gains over the past five years will be completely washed out with a few bad stock choices. Besides, there has to be a better place to put $2,000 to perform than a stock that has lost so much of its value in the last four years, right?

 

My highly unscientific stock investing method

A few years ago, I opened a Sharebuilder account to test the waters on buying ETFs and individual stocks with my $50 or so a month of leftover savings once I maxed out my Roth IRA. Investing $50 here or there into stocks like MCD and GOOG gave me a little rush… as they were riskier than the index funds the remaining $5k went into every year.

Since I opened the account in 2008, that account has amassed $53.6k in investments. I’ve watched the account lose 30% of its value during the great recession, kept investing at the market lows in stocks that seemed cheap, watched my account hit 25% profit, and return to 7%. Needless to say, my “for fun” stock and ETF account really has way too much money in it now to be “for fun,” but I’m not sure what to do about it.

For what it’s worth, many of my investments are in ETFs or very large companies that tend to be stable investments. I have 24 different ETFs and stocks in the account, including AAPL, AMZN, AND, COMV, CSCO, ENOC, EPI, EWZ, FTR (this was a split from VZ and I own like $3 of it), GE, GLD, GOOG, IHI, JNJ, KOL, MCD, OSTK, PBD, PG, T, VWO, VZ, WFMI, and XLF. (Recognize any of those?)

The worst performing by far is COMV, which is a small cap cleantech stock that has been all over the map. It’s doing really poorly right now so part of me is tempted to sell and part of me is tempted to wait and another part of me wants to buy more because based on my limited knowledge of the company, their history and potential, it seems like it’s cheap at the moment… and even short term it will probably move up again from where it’s at now. I don’t base this on any stock charts so really I don’t know. Shares are about $4.50 right now, my avg purchase price was $6.50, and I own around 700 shares.

On the other end of the spectrum, AAPL has performed very well, but it is SO expensive. I started investing when it was $250 a share, and now it’s around $340 a share. Along the way I’ve accumulated 70 shares of the stock, which really isn’t a lot given stocks don’t just keep going up and up once they’re so far up (do they?)

I’m probably most excited about AND, IHI, VWO and XLF. I wish I bought more WFMI for the long time it was doing poorly and my stock in it was down something like 60%.

I really don’t own a lot of shares of any one stock… COMV with 667 shares is my largest ownership from a sheer number perspective. Next up in my list, XLF, with 281.7 shares. Then VZ at only 119.59 shares. Needless to say, since this is just my Sharebuilder account (not including my Sharebuilder IRA, my Roth IRA and Vanguard accounts, or 401k from my last company) I’m likely over diversified and making poor investing decisions.

The way I look at it, though, is that at least I’m investing. It would be so easy to take that money and throw it away on a nicer apartment or other things I don’t need. At least in the stock market there’s a chance I’ll have some compound interest value on it over time. Then again, it’s extremely risky to put my money in the market this way… even though I am “buy and holding” I’m riding the same market that everyone else who is shorting and buying options and doing all those complicated investing things that I don’t understand in. So it’s hard for a novice like me to even understand what it all means, other than to put my money on as many spots on the roulette wheel as possible, and sit back as it spins.

Is this a terrible investing strategy? Do you have any advice for me?