After reading this post, many of you will probably think I obsess about the personal finance component of our retirement planning. You are probably right. The fact that I blog about it may be evidence enough! Either way, I thought I would share what I typically do each day within our personal finance domain. It helps me. Maybe it will help some of you to read about what I do, how I do it and why I do it.
1. Check the markets in Asia and Europe. I do this on mornings days that the U.S. markets will be open. Large movements in the Asian and European markets usually give me some indication of what the U.S. markets will do that day so that I can be mentally prepared for it, and so I can adjust any of our stop loss positions. I visit the Bloomberg site to do this.
2. Scan and mark the headlines of business and personal finance stories and blog posts. I subscribe to RSS feeds from dozens of business, personal finance, and retirement blogs and news sources. I scan the headlines of all of them each morning and mark those that interest me for later reading. I do this to educate myself and to generate ideas for topics to write about here and at my other blogs. I use Google’s RSS feed reader this task.
3. View and update transactions in our primary checking account. Every day – usually during my lunch hour – I will log-in to our primary checking account. I do this to check for any unusual transactions that might be evidence of a billing error or fraud. I also update posted transactions by categorizing them for later reporting purposes since I am no longer using Quicken.
4. Monitor returns and daily changes in market indexes and our portfolio holdings. Our retirement investments are set-up as a custom portfolio in Google Finance. I use a customized iGoogle page as my browser home page. Our portfolio is constantly updated and displayed on that page. I like to observe and compare changes in our overall portfolio value to changes in the various market indices. This helps me understand the relative volatility and correlation of our portfolio assets. Over time, it may cause me to adjust our allocations.
5. Monitor our total net worth. At some point during almost every day I will check our net worth. This is probably the most over-the-top obsessive thing that I do. But I do it anyway so that I can appreciate on a very high level how daily spending and changes in the markets are affecting our overall financial position. It reassures me that we are doing the right things (or not.) This is actually very easy for me to do because I use a customized Google Docs spreadsheet with internal links (via Google Finance) to updated valuations of our portfolio holdings. At the end of each month I will update other account balances and real estate valuations in this spreadsheet.
6. Review incoming bills and schedule payments. Almost all of our recurring bills are now delivered by email. Each evening I will review these then schedule payments in our checking account. Except for our mortgage payment, I prefer scheduling payments over auto-pay because this forces me to understand exactly what everything is costing us and perhaps find errors. I also prefer to be in more direct control of our cash flow.
7. Read selected personal finance stories and posts. This is another lunch-time or evening educational activity, going back and reading what I’ve earlier marked. I’ve learned a lot from what others are writing and doing in the worlds of personal finance, retirement planning, and retirement living.
8. Write. At the end (or beginning) of the day, something that happened in our life or that I read will spur me to write about it on one of my blogs. In some cases, I will do more research on the topic before I write. The learning experts believe that writing about something helps us to remember it. I hope that’s true because I’ve written almost 1000 blog posts since I started blogging in July 2008.
That’s my daily personal finance and retirement planning routine. Does this sound completely crazy? What do you guys do?