Monday, March 05, 2007

Free Money™

For the past few months, I've been tracking the performance of my investments using Google's free spreadsheet-making program. Though I'm generally a fan of all things Google, I must admit I found the clumsiness and lack of functionality of the program annoying, and it wasn't really making it as easy as I'd hoped to track my portfolio in the manner I wanted to.

As such, I'd resolved to (gasp!) actually shell out money and buy some sort of basic financial software like Quicken or Microsoft Money, when I was cleaning out my junk drawer on the weekend and stumbled across a 2003 version of Microsoft Money I'd never bothered to install when I got my computer. Yay for me.

I spent some time goofing around on Sunday with the program and while I have yet to master all of the finer points, I'm pretty impressed and think it'll be a useful tool for me. Considering I paid $0 for it, I'd say it's a safe bet that it will pay for itself at the very least. :)

As far as I can tell, the program is actually capable of providing far more services that I'm really asking of it. One of the functions allows you to track checking and credit accounts, ensuring you stick to a budget. I don't really have problems balancing my checking account -- I already have an automatic savings program with ING -- so I don't really see myself spending my Sundays inputing every cent I spent on lattes during the week. Frankly, I just don't care enough. I already think I save too much sometimes and I need to live a little.

But from what I can see so far, the portfolio tracking tool will be an invaluable resource, letting me gauge how individual equities and the portfolio as a whole perform over time. I figure, if I can't manage to at least match the benchmark indices over a somewhat long time frame, I may as well bite the bullet and shell out for professional help because all the low-fee, do-it-yourself investing mojo in the world is worth squat if you're outthinking yourself and trying to get too cute.

Hopefully, Money will help me better see how I'm doing, and let me know if my overall strategy needs a tweak.


awardtour said...

any chance you have a template you can share? I'd be interested to see what how you use it.

I use google sheets to keep track of my month-to-month net worth but don't really use it for my portfolio as you can't access historical financial data.

growthinvalue said...

perhaps i should explain -- when I was using Google sheets, I was basically just using it to track from a giving starting point. Like you said, you can't input historical data, so I just started a spreadsheet in 2006, I inputted the book value and market value of teh securities I had at that time, and updated the market value every month. I then set benchmarks I was trying to meet and essentially just tried to gauge whether or not I was generally heading in the right direction.

It wasn't really scientific and kind of clunky in practice so I've pretty much scrapped it now that I have Money.

THe calculations were just done using simple Excel-era formulas like (SUM=C3:C10) to add up total values and (A3*A9) or whatever to multiply, say, unit holdings by market price, for example.