2016 Annual Portfolio Return, from Cuba!

2016 Annual Portfolio Return, from Cuba!


I Traveled to Cuba to Celebrate the New Year!


Now I am back from colorful Cuba to share pictures and portfolio returns. It was my portfolio that provided the finances to visit Cuba.

A few friends and I rang in the New Year in Cuba (I’m on the left. A former Los Angeles Unified S. D. teacher and friend, Jeff Share, is in the middle with his wife and son on each side, his mom and father-in-law and our knowledgeable Havana tour guide on the right).  I had to rush around to find an internet cafe to download my portfolio during New Year weekend so I could report an accurate 2016 return for this blog post. My tour guide was kind enough to let me borrow her email and password. Wifi access is limited, and I would have had to purchase a card.

In 2016 my Vanguard investments funded this trip, my Copper Canyon Mexican trip, African adventure and my Tesla road trip back to my 50th high school reunion in Wisconsin earlier in the year. It’s been a traveling year, but I am happy to be back home.

In Cuba, we had a great time visiting a wonderful, music and a colorful, dance-filled country.


The food was good, the weather warm and sunny, and the accommodations excellent and close to the people. The old American made cars were everywhere.  We had the pleasure of riding in many of them as they are used as taxi’s.dsc_8063

My Portfolio Return

The data are in. 2016 returns are forever fixed and recorded in the stock and bond market history books. All of the core stock and bond market indices scored positive gains for 2016. My portfolio performed as expected.






To begin the analysis to evaluate my portfolio’s performance, the follow tables show the returns of the broad indexes of the domestic, international stock and bond indexes.

2016 Broad stock market returns

2016 Broad bond market return

Below are the primary investments that I picked from my portfolio to compare with the benchmarks. These investments came the closest to the similarities of the benchmarks. I compared just by a visual glance on the returns. I see that my Total Stock Market Index ETF (VEXAX, return of 12.8%) earned a similar return of the broad market DOW and the S&P 500 index 13.3% and 12.0% respectively. I am on track.

Since my portfolio is a mixture of stocks and bonds with 70% in cash and bonds, let’s take a look and see if my bond holdings are earning about the same as the benchmark. The Total International Bond Market Index exceeded the Barclays Aggregate Bond by over 2.0% and the Total Bond Market index (domestic bonds only) fell only .1% below the benchmark.

What if my portfolio earned more than the benchmarks? I vividly remember those days in the late 1990s when my portfolio shot up past the moon and well above the benchmarks. In 1999 my portfolio gained 59%! Yeah, it was real money but lost it all two years later when the technology mania came to a crashing end. I will never be so narrowly invested in the market again, and without any bonds.

My current portfolio is diversified among the core asset classes stocks and bonds with the crucial stock bond split that’s appropriate for my age.

2016 Investments I own for Benchmark comparison

My portfolio returned 5.9% for this past calendar year 2016. I am very satisfied because my portfolio is so simple that I believe most experienced investors would think that this report is a bit corny.

Is this report is written for a sixth grader? I hope so! That’s what is needed is financial information presented so simply that a 12-year-old could understand it. Much of the financial blogs and personal finance books are great but can be complicated, and start with the assumption that readers know what a stock is, for example. I didn’t know what a mutual fund was until I was in my 40’s. Don’t misunderstand me, I have learned a great deal reading many financial books written by Jack Bogle and his indexing followers: Rick Ferri, Larry Swedroe, Dan Otter, Bill Bernstein, Allan Roth, Bill Schultheis, Jason Zweig, to become an author myself and to be a successful do-it-yourselfer. You do not need a masters degree in math (I had a difficult time with Algebra) nor a MBA, Masters in Business Administration.

I hope you get something out of my blog. I don’t get a lot of traffic or discussions, but that’s fine. My audience may not be initially interested in learning to invest nor may erroneously think they don’t make enough money to get wealthy. Hopefully, those myths can be challenged as most millionaires started from nothing. Dan and I started with nothing and slowly over time, we became millionaires once, and then lost it in the tech bubble, only to earn it back when we straighten our portfolio out, worked hard and STILL managed to retire relatively early about 60 with plenty of money.

Happy New Year!


Further Reading and Video Broadcasts

  1. Hundreds of Asset classes total returns listed on Morningstar.com: http://news.morningstar.com/index/indexReturn.html

2. Kiplinger on retirement savings plans I was featured. About two weeks after Sammi, my doggie and I picture was taken, I had to put Sammi down. She was just short of her 15th birthday: http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T047-C000-S002-how-to-save-if-you-do-not-have-a-401-k.html#disqus_thread

3. CNBC conducted an excellent and lengthy interview of my favorite investing guru, Jack Bogle. Jack made comments about the next president and what he will do to affect the market both short-term and long-term: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/12/vanguard-founder-jack-bogle-says-near-term-trumps-agenda-good-for-stocks-but-bad-long-term.html








  1. Hi Steve, I thought I should finally comment on your site since I have been influenced by your work for years. It was your information that prompted me to get out of my insurance based annuity and put it into Vanguard.
    This was probably 17 years ago. Many thanks for your honest info.

  2. Thanks Carmen. Keep spreading the word.


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