Finances, Projects, and Dogs – Update Q2 2021

Another quarter in the books! Every three months, I’ll be taking a look at my personal finances, recent news from The Best Interest, and more dog pictures.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.

Ben Franklin

If you missed my first quarterly update, it’s here.

Why share this info? To brag?!?! No, no, no.

I want to be transparent. I practice what I preach and want to show you the results—both good and bad. Many of you have said that seeing how it works for me helps you gain confidence in your financial life.

Also, I want to show you dog pictures.

My Personal Finances

Let’s start with a personal finance update.

Personal Budget

In April, May, and June, I spent $2,700, $4,375, and $2,650, respectively. That’s an average of $3,200 per month. That’s close to my historical average of ~$3100. No news is good news. Normal and boring is good in personal finance.

May was particularly expensive since Kelly and I took a trip to California. It was beautiful and fun and worthwhile. And we’d been diligently saving for months. The money was well spent!

On the whole, spending was normal this past quarter. Since current inflation is largely being driven by cars and homes, I’ve been largely unaffected.

Tax Return

I committed a personal finance faux pas. My 2020 tax return was pretty big—about $2,400. Why is that a problem?

In short, I loaned the Federal government my money for a whole year. Every month, I could have had another $200 going to my bank account (or my Fidelity account).

Instead, the Federal government was holding that money for me.

But there’s a silver lining. My tax return was big because I hired a local accountant (shoutout The Christopher Group!) to help me with my business taxes. The Best Interest is now an LLC, meaning I need to do personal and business taxes. The $100 I paid the CPA helped me recoup well over $1,000 in business taxes—what a great investment!

Investments

Speaking of investments, let’s check out my Q2 investing portfolio.

The S&P 500 is up ~6.7% in Q2 2021 (as of this writing). So I would expect that my stock-heavy investment portfolio would be up too. But I also own international stocks, bonds, and a tiny bit of bitcoin—and those have had worse performances.

The S&P 500 so far in 2021…

Curious? Here’s exactly how I invest.

Overall, my portfolio is up $18K this quarter. Now, about $7,000 of that is my own contribution (between my Roth IRA, 401k, and a brokerage account). Another $2,000 is free money from my company 401k match. The remaining $9K are all paper gains from assets (mainly stocks) appreciating.

The ~1% of my portfolio in Bitcoin is down 35% from where I bought it. Ouch. Two great lessons here:

  1. Anecdotally, it sure seems like I “bought the hype” 🙂 Perhaps it was a mistake! But I’m going to hold it for a loooooong time and see what happens. It’s not a “get rich quick” bet. It’s a “this thing could be huge in 20 years” bet.
  2. Risky bets should be small bets. Famous investor John Bogle suggested using less than 5% of your portfolio as “play money.” I’m using ~1%. This Bitcoin drop only affected by portfolio by 0.35%. It doesn’t hurt too badly!
The last 3 months of Bitcoin performance…ouch.

The Best Interest’s Financials

The Best Interest had total expenditures of $3,600 in the past three months.

“Holy sh**. How can a blog be that expensive?”

Well, it’s not just the blog itself. There are plenty of bells and whistles behind the scenes that help things run smoothly. Additionally, much of that $3,600 is for investments out in the future. For example, I’m going to FinCon in September. Conference tickets and flights and an Airbnb…that adds up quickly. But it’ll be worthwhile (and maybe I’ll see you there?!)

And many of these expenses will bring in future revenue. Example: check out The Best Interest t-shirts! They are super soft. Get yours here.

Snazzy!

I feel fine about spending money on this project because The Best Interest is now bringing in a steady income. The site earned $2,000 in May and June. That was all reinvested into the business. Our writing clients are happy, and our Advisors Monthly program is taking off!

Project Updates

There are exciting changes occurring here at The Best Interest.

First, the website has a new look. This landing page is helping our readers and customers navigate around the site.

Our new landing page! Snazzier!

New Services – Advisors Monthly, Tools, and ‘Work With Us’

The aforementioned Advisors Monthly program is off to a great start. The Best Interest is writing newsletters for financial advisors and financial planners. The advisors save time and ensure their clients receive great content. Win-win.

Are you an advisor? The first month of Advisors Monthly is free, cancel at any time. Sign up here.

After a few requests, I’ve also created a Tools page and a ‘Work with Us‘ page. The Tools page explains every financial tool I use and why (for budgeting, investing, etc). The Work with Us page explains both 1) the services that The Best Interest provides and 2) the ways that other content creators can collaborate with me.

More Articles, Best Articles

The 2nd quarter of 2021 was filled with fun writing. Our articles got published on a few “big” sites, such as:

And one of my favorite podcasts—Animal Spirits—used my article on their show. Co-host Ben Carlson even cited my work in his follow-up article.

Thanks, Ben and Michael!

Ben (l) and Michael (r) – nice guys, smart guys.

And not just because they like my work 🙂

And what about the writing around here? If you’ve missed the recent months of content, here are my top three favorite articles from the past three months.

The Best Interest Podcast

The podcast experiment started in February, and it continues to be great fun!

So many great guests have generously appeared on the show…it’s hard to pick only a couple to share! As of this writing, the project is about to pass 5,000 downloads in its first 20 episodes.

But if you’re going to catch up with old episodes, I’d recommend starting with these two:

You can find The Best Interest Podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, and Castbox.

Monkey Update!

Have you heard about The 2021 Monkey Dartboard Investing Invitational?

I’m tracking a portfolio of 30 randomly selected stocks throughout 2021. I wondered…will these random stocks—chosen like a monkey throwing darts at a board—perform as well as the professional stock pickers?

Spoiler alert: we’re six months in, and the monkeys are kicking ass! They are up over 20%, while the “professionals” are only up 8%. It’s bananas.

Here’s the live-updated spreadsheet of all the stocks and the overall performance.

Foster Dogs!

We only had one dog this quarter. She was a fierce little puppy name Katniss.

She cried a lot at first. She’d never slept alone before, so we move her crate into the bedroom with us.

But she quickly got used to Rochester life and became a fast friend/daughter to Sadie. Like most puppies, her favorite pastime was testing Sadie’s limits until she got her ass kicked, then starting over from square one.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

If you enjoy podcasts, check out the Best Interest Podcast! It’s getting some rave reviews!

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