Hello again, Mina the domestic shorthair cat; and Alki Beach Park in Seattle, Washington

Last month, I met Mina, a domestic shorthair cat. Before heading out of the Seattle Metropolitan Area to continue my transcontinental road trip, I had a fi­nal opportunity to visit and play with her one last time.

Earlier that day, a few friends and I went exploring at Alki Point, an area near the West Seattle neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. One of the friends I went with was Doug Wreden. We took another “typical Doug and Parkzer”-style photo in front of the Seattle skyline.

I wore long pants because I brought my point-and-shoot camera and I wanted sturdier pockets to hold it, but it was perfect shorts weather. The sun was shining but not too uncomfortably hot, and there was a light breeze coming from the water. The views were great, and we went on a weekend so there were a lot of other people out and it was fun people-watching.

We got some lunch from Marination Ma Kai. I ordered an entrée of four miso chicken tacos and a can of strawberry-lilikoi-flavored Hawaiian Sun. The food was great—the chicken was high-quality, the tacos weren’t excessively seasoned, and the garnish perfectly complemented the meat without being too sour.

After eating, we walked along the coastline to the Alki Point Lighthouse (which we later discovered was closed, as the tours only operate until La­bor Day), then we found some rental scooters and rode them all the way back to our parking spot. The last time I had used one of these scooters was way back in 2019 when I went to St. Paul, Minnesota, and I hadn’t ridden a scooter, bicycle, or anything of the sort since then. It was fun riding one again, especially because Alki had a separate, designated bike lane that I was able to use.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip.

 

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Investment allocation breakdown for 2022 Q3

Disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor, nor do I have the intent or proper qualifications to become one. The information contained in this blog post is strictly anecdotal and should not be construed as financial advice. Everyone’s situation is uniquely different, so if you need guidance with your own financial strategy, consult a certified professional.

 
Last quarter, I published a comprehensive breakdown and explanation of my investment allocation as of 2022 Q2. If you want the proper context to this blog post, you should review that post first as prerequisite reading.

Cash

Literal days after publishing my previous investment allocation breakdown, I dumped a majority of my cash back into the stock mar­ket. In essence, I was doing the precise thing that like to tell everyone not to do, and that is, timing the market. Thus, I am down to a mi­nus­cule amount of cash left in my checking and savings accounts.

  1.57%

Domestic broad market index funds

Building on what I just mentioned about dumping cash back into the stock market…

At first, I thought my timing was great—I held cash throughout a majority of 2022 Q2 when the S&P 500 peaked at about $4,582.64 and generally stayed above $4,000 throughout the whole quarter. Right as it dropped to ~$3,800 towards the beginning of July, I bought back in aggressively. The S&P 500 continued to rise to a high of a closing price of $4,305.20 on August 16, and I was satisfied.

Then, of course, the market started falling again. I did not pull my money back out into cash and continued holding. As of market close on September 30, the S&P 500 is at $3,585.62, lower than my aggressive buy-back price.

For now, I’m still satisfied with the fact that I bought back in at ~$3,800 and not between $4,000-4,500. I have absolutely no sub­stan­tive idea what’s going to happen to the stock market from now on, so unless I pick up on some obvious clues, I’m going to hold stead­y and con­tinue dollar-cost averaging until I have a better plan.

 43.20%

International total market index funds

The international market hasn’t been doing very well, and with China’s current economic crisis, it may be worth it to try and do a bit of optimization by withdrawing from the international market temporarily. This would be a great opportunity for some tax loss har­vesting, so I may be doing some calculations and putting in some transactions soon.

  4.53%

Target date funds

Like usual, there is going to be next to no change in target date funds in Q3 and Q4, as I usually contribute a maximum amount as soon as possible in the beginning of the year in Q1, and then again during tax due date season in Q2 when I know my new SEP-IRA contribution limit.

Consequently, the percentage will remain fairly consistent and decline slowly, caused by the rest of my net worth increasing but me be­ing unable to contribute more to retirement funds until the following calendar year.

 18.39%

Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

With the real estate market stabilizing again after the post-pandemic surge, and with my home city of Las Vegas being one of the top fastest-cooling real estate markets in the United States of America, I’m keeping an eye out on physical real estate to make sure I don’t miss out on some great opportunities. However, until I find one, I will be keeping my real estate investments in REITs.

 15.60%

Bonds

Usually, bonds are pretty boring, but now that interest rates are rising, bonds are becoming a lot more interesting because of how they tell a story about interest rates and exemplify a core principle of investing. Regardless, I haven’t made any changes with regards to my bond holdings.

  6.47%

Cryptocurrency

Since the beginning of the previous quarter, Bitcoin has been relatively even in price, but because I’m invested in broader crypto­cur­ren­cy indexes and not just a single coin, my overall cryptocurrency portfolio has actually gone up in value. Regardless, I’ve lost sig­nif­i­cant­ly more than two-thirds of my original investment, so overall, cryptocurrency has not been very kind to me.

  2.96%

Individual stocks and private companies

As a reminder, the $10,000 investing challenge with Doug Wreden (about which I will give an update at the end of this blog post) is not included in this section, as I didn’t want people to be able to have any clues to potentially reverse engineer my net worth based on these percentages.

  4.47%

Precious metals

I put a little bit of money into gold and other precious metals during market instability because I thought it would be a good way to diversify into something that has historically been a more reliable store of value during recessions, but apparently, either I was hor­ri­bly wrong or my timing was hor­ri­bly bad. I’ve lost over a third of my original investment, but because my commitment is such a small amount, I just plan on holding.

  1.00%

Fine art, and other collectibles

I sort of suffered the same fate in this category as many other investors.

Back when collecting in­vestment-grade Pokémon cards was the hype thing to do, many people obsessively bought packs and cleared store shelves of new releases, depriving actual children from buying them to play with for fun. After a while, that craze settled, and peo­ple slowly lost interest.

When I first started looking for fine art in­vestments, it consumed hours of my time because I was so intrinsically interested in and in­trigued by this concept that was new to me. However, after the dust settled, it ended up just being another form of diversification. I plan on keeping this class of investment in my portfolio for a long time, but as of this past quarter, I haven’t been actively trading or do­ing additional research.

  1.81%

 
And now, the part that, for some of you, is the only reason why you come to these quarterly investment breakdowns… here is the current state of my $10,000 investing challenge with Doug Wreden. If you’re not sure what this is, you can read the aforelinked blog post for a comprehensive explanation.

As of market close on September 30, 2022, my portfolio is worth $8,404.62 and Doug’s portfolio is worth $7,287.17. I’ve maintained my lead over the S&P 500, while Doug is avoiding last place only thanks to the crashed cryptocurrency market.

One notable change this quarter is that the bond market managed to just barely squeeze past me. I’ve only temporarily been behind the bond market during the harshest stock market dips, so it’s very possible that I’ll be winning again in a few more days, but if the market continues to decline, this can be a decent demonstration of the relative stability of bonds.

Because of this, I decided to add the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund to the chart.

Doug’s portfolio managed to reach a new all-time low, and compared to last quarter’s chart, I actually had to adjust the bottom of the y-axis from $7,800 to $7,200 to fit him in.

We’re 115 days away from the end of the 1-year mark, which means we have a little less than a third of the challenge duration remaining. Regardless, that’s still a long time, and if the current chart is any indication, anything can happen over the next four months.

 

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Eating a whole salmon in bunny costumes with Doug Wreden for charity

On August 26, 2022, my friend Doug Wreden ran a charity fundraising event for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in celebration of Rosa the sea otter‘s birth­day. The US$90,000.00 stretch goal was for Doug and me to eat a whole salmon while wearing bunny suits. The event ended up raising US$104,327.89.

With my stay in the Seattle Metropolitan Area soon coming to an end, we decided now would be a good time to fulfill our promise. Yesterday, we went to a local seafood store looking to purchase a whole salmon.

We asked the fishmonger what the smallest whole salmon would be, and he said it would be around 12 pounds (5-6 kilograms). He went to the back to grab one and came out with a 17.87 pound (8.11 kilogram) salmon, saying it was the smallest one they had available.

We brought it back to Doug’s house and stored it in the refrigerator. It barely fit.

This morning, we extracted the salmon from the refrigerator to prepare it for cooking. We were considering putting it on a tray, but then realized that would be completely pointless.

Here is a picture of Doug next to the salmon, for scale.

We covered the inside of the oven with tin foil and placed the fish inside. It was too big to comfortably fit in the oven, so we turned it diagonally and curved the head and tail upwards so it would fit.

After about an hour, the salmon was more-or-less done cooking, and it had a nice, golden brown crust.

We went into this knowing that it would be completely unrealistic to actually eat the entire fish, but we had our estimates—I thought I would be able to eat about 2 pounds, and if Doug does the same, we’d finish about a quarter of the fish.

Oh, and also, my inflatable bunny suit was aggressively large.

I ended up underestimating ourselves, because we finished about half of the salmon. If we account for the head and tail that we did not consume, as well as the weight of the bone, I think we might have eaten about 3.5-4 pounds (1.5-1.8 kilograms) of salmon each.

This was the aftermath. We took the leftover salmon and stored it in containers to finish consuming another day.

By the end of it, I had eaten so much pro­tein and fat that my stomach was upset and I felt physically exhausted, but I ate some popsicles high in sugar, and that neutralized some of the weird feeling in my stomach and made me feel much more refreshed.

This is by far my favorite stream that I’ve been a part of. Not only was it just an absolutely absurd, ridiculous, and insane concept, but it was tied to a great charity event, the audience was very happy to watch and was looking forward to it for over a month now, and it went surprisingly smoothly from a logistical perspective.

I’m glad I got to participate, and now Doug’s community just needs to convince him to eat a bunny while wearing a salmon costume…

 

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Hello, PAX West 2022 in Seattle, Washington

Back during my esports and influencer marketing years, I would go to events and conventions pretty much once every month or two. However, since the pandemic, as well as since Tempo‘s pivot of its primary business focus into game design, I haven’t gone to any conventions.

I had an opportunity to attend PAX West last year with some friends, but I heard that a lot of companies were withdrawing from attendance due to con­tinuing surges of mutations of the coronavirus, so I decided not to go and instead just continued on my road trip. When the opportunity to attend PAX West arose again this year, I figured that, considering I was already in the Seattle Metropolitan Area, I would give it a shot and go to my first con­ven­tion since PAX East 2020, days before the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantines across the United States.

I’m staying in various different locations across the Seattle Metropolitan Area while I’m visiting, one of which is with my friend Doug Wreden. Doug lives in the suburban outskirts of the Seattle Metropolitan Area, so we decided to use public transportation to get to downtown Seattle. More on that lat­er.

Once we got to downtown Seattle, we first headed to the Seattle Convention Center for the main exhibit halls. This was one of the very few conventions I’ve been to where I was just a tourist and not working as an exhibitor, so I was able to roam around freely and explore. Unfortunately, I didn’t really find PAX to really be that exciting. It was congested with visitors, and every single booth had a very long line waiting to participate in whatever game or activity they had.

I’m thinking it might be because I’ve just been slowly losing interest in video games over the past handful of years, considering that I’ve been finding a lot of museums across the country to be very interesting, and museums are sort of like extremely small and static conventions. Regardless, the PAX ex­hib­it hall just ended up being a lot of walking and squeezing past people, looking at video games that I could be trying but couldn’t because there were al­read­y 10 people playing and another 20 waiting for their turn.

The convention was too large to fit in just the Seattle Convention Center, so they partnered with some of the neighboring hotels, including the Sheraton Grand Seattle. Pretty much the one and only main reason why I decided to attend PAX for a day is to watch some of my friends run a panel, which we used as an opportunity to also hold a larger meet-and-greet session.

Doug and I got first-row seats to watch the panel, but before it even began, we had people coming up to meet us and asking us to sign things. Here is a photo of Doug signing a “contract” that was partially generated by an AI scriptwriter that integrated a lot of inside jokes and memes from Doug’s Twitch stream and his community (I also signed it right after he did).

The panel that we watched was called “Fight Mii,” hosted by YouTubers from the channels Failboat and JayMoji.

The premise of the panel was for Jay to go into the audience and select two contestants to build a Mii (which, if you’re not familiar, is basically like a cus­tom 3D avatar) within five minutes based on prompts given to them by the hosts.

The room wasn’t completely full, but it was still one of the biggest crowds that I had seen from a PAX panel. Here’s a shot of audience members eagerly vol­un­teer­ing to compete in the Mii-building contest.

I thought the panel was great, and the hosts did a great job adding clever twists and turns to keep things exciting and comedic. For example, one of the prompts was to build a Mii that resembles Sonic the Hedgehog, but instead of just announcing it, Dan took off his gold jacket and ripped open his white button-up shirt to reveal a Sonic t-shirt underneath.

This particular prompt had a very interesting result—one contestant properly made a Mii of Sonic the Hedgehog, but one of them must have missed the “the Hedgehog” part, because instead, they built a hamburger from Sonic Drive-In…

Another hilarious thing they did was give out completely pointless and impractical prizes. This one was my favorite—a literal air-circulating box fan. I bet whomever won that had a great time trying to take it on their flight to bring it back home.

After the panel was over, we held a meet-and-greet in a nearby conference room—Dan and Jay had one line on one side of the room, while Doug and I had a line on the other side.

People brought some very interesting things for me to sign, such as a broken blender, toy drill, miniature rubber chicken, catnip mouse, issue of National Geographic magazine, and computer science homework. One person mentioned that they tried to bring in a shovel for me to sign, but it had gotten con­fiscated by security because it was a metal shovel and could be used as a weapon.

However, my favorite thing that I signed, simply due to the sheer absurdity of it, was a mold of somebody’s teeth.

After a successful day at the convention, we stopped by The Cheesecake Factory, where I ate the driest and most shriveled chicken I had ever tasted in my entire life.

After dinner, we started making our way back to the train station to head back to Doug’s house.

I looked up the Westlake light rail station on Google Maps and led the way. Unfortunately, I led us straight to the coordinates on Google Maps, which were underground… and I couldn’t remember where the entrance was. Doug really didn’t want to miss the next train and have to wait an additional 15 or so minutes for the next one, so we started running around trying to find the entrance to the underground.

We eventually found the entrance right near the infamously dangerous McDonald’s at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Pine Street, and we made it to the light rail stop with a few minutes to spare. My stomach was very unhappy with the fact that we ran, considering that I had just eaten a bunch of really dry chicken, then consequently drank a lot of strawberry lemonade and water to make the chicken easier to swallow.

We got on the light rail, and I continued having an upset stomach, but I just kept my mind off the stomach pain and tried to take a nap (which was pret­ty much impossible, because I am always conscious of how, on public transportation, dangerous situations in a confined space can unexpectedly e­rupt without warning, so I always impulsively keep my head on a swivel). However, once we got about halfway to our destination stop, there was an an­nounce­ment that said that it was the final stop and everyone had to exit the train.

Apparently, there had been an emergency on the train tracks, so they froze train transport beyond a certain point and replaced light rail service with bus shuttle service. This was not ideal, as my stomach had gone from upset to infuriated, and now we had to go find the bus stop and basically take a layover.

After several minutes, the bus arrived, but it was obviously nowhere near as large as the train, so we all sardined on board, probably exceeded the ca­pac­i­ty of the bus, and made our way to our final destination.

… That is, the final destination for the public transportation portion of the trip. After we got to the station, we got into Doug’s car, which we had parked in the commuter lot, and drove the rest of the way back to his house.

We took public transportation because we didn’t want to bother finding parking in downtown Seattle, but it seems like the hassle of finding parking would’ve been worth it—a drive that would’ve only taken a little over 20 minutes in a personal vehicle took almost 2 hours on public transportation due to the obstacles faced throughout the whole process.

We finally got back to Doug’s house at almost 2 AM.

Needless to say, my sleep schedule is broken again.

 

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Investment allocation breakdown for 2022 Q2, comprehensive edition

Disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor, nor do I have the proper qualifications to become one. The information contained in this blog post is intended to be strictly anecdotal as a means of personal storytelling, and it should not be construed as financial advice. Everyone’s situation is uniquely different, so do not blindly copy my strategy; instead, consult with a certified professional if you have any questions or need proper guidance.

 
After doing these investment breakdowns quarterly for over a year now, and each quarter, building upon the previous quarter’s breakdown, I realized that it’s not very realistic to ask people to go down the entire rabbit hole of all of my past investment allocation breakdowns in order to understand the full context of anything new that I’m sharing. Because of this, I have decided to do a “comprehensive edition” of my investment breakdown at least once a year in order to “reset” the trail of breadcrumbs and provide a new standalone anchor point from which readers can start.

Because of this, this particular comprehensive edition of 2022 Q2’s investment allocation breakdown is going to be a lot more detailed and will contain lots of repeated information from previous posts—which is the entire idea here, as the main point of me doing this is to be able to compact everything im­por­tant into a single article so readers won’t have to navigate back in time.

Now, with that having been just said, I think this may seem pretty silly, but I direct you to a blog post that I published in the past titled “Investing US$10,000.00 in the stock market – Parkzer vs. DougDoug’s Twitch chat.” In that post, I discuss my current outlook on the market; it will give a general explanation as to why I seem to be so focused lately (within the past half a year or so) with portfolio diversification and alternative investment classes.

Cash

I subscribe to many safe-investing principles, including the idea that time in the market is better than timing the market, and how you should always hold minimal cash—only enough to cover your emergency fund. If anything makes you heed my disclaimer above a­bout how I’m not an investment advisor, it should be this—I am at an all-time high in cash holdings, and I am being a hypocrite and not following my own advice.

I didn’t recently sell investments in preparation for making a major purchase or anything—I just don’t feel comfortable dumping a bunch of money into the stock market right now until I see some modicum of stability return to the charts. I am losing a substantial amount of value from my money due to high inflation by just holding it in cash, but that is a trade-off I’m wiling to accept to avoid losing even more to a crashing market.

My bank account of choice is the Discover Online Savings Account. I’ve been a Discover customer ever since I was 18 years old and got my first credit card; Discover has always been reliable for me, and because it is an online bank, even though the interest rate on the savings account is tiny, it is still astronomical compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks that may offer less than a tenth (or even a hundredth) of a percentage point.

 27.19%

Domestic broad market index funds

For the money that I do still have in the stock market, a large portion of it is in domestic broad market index funds, namely Vanguard To­tal Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX) and Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund Admiral Shares (VHYAX).

I use Vanguard as my primary brokerage, but I also have a Fidelity account for account types that Vanguard doesn’t offer—namely a Health Savings Account and a regular brokerage account that supports incoming transactions of over-the-counter securities (which Van­guard recently stopped supporting in late April) (I also hold my 529 College Savings Plan with Fidelity because the sign-up proc­ess was much easier than Vanguard’s). Within my Fidelity HSA, I hold my money in the form of the Fidelity ZERO® Total Market In­dex Fund (FZROX).

Although I’m hesitant in current market conditions, domestic broad market index funds are my favorite category of investment. Each calendar year when limits reset, I max out my tax-advantaged accounts, and all other investments into the stock market generally go into brokerage accounts in the form of broad market index funds.

 17.84%

International total market index funds

For the purpose of diversifying outside of the United States of America, I also own Vanguard To­tal International Stock Index Fund Ad­mi­ral Shares (VTIAX).

I don’t know much about countries outside the United States, and I am probably grossly uneducated about international matters, but I know for a fact that the United States is not the only successful country in the world, and I want to make sure that I have exposure to outside markets in case something horrible happens to the United States and/or something incredible happens to a foreign country.

Beyond that, I don’t really have much further insight here; I just picked out a broad market index fund specifically focusing on non-US companies (as opposed to worldwide index funds) such that I don’t have any overlap with domestic index funds I already own, and can control and proportion my exposure to global markets.

  5.29%

Target date funds

In my retirement accounts, specifically my Roth IRA and SEP-IRA, I like to purchase target-date broad-market index funds. Spe­cif­i­cal­ly, I have my money split fairly evenly between Vanguard Target Re­tire­ment 2055 Fund (VFFVX) and Vanguard Target Re­tire­ment 2060 Fund (VTTSX).

The premise of a target date fund is to pick out a year in the future for when you think you are going to need to start making with­drawals, and the index fund manager automatically adjusts the holdings of the fund to optimize growth up until that point. For ex­am­ple, if you are expecting to retire in 2060, these funds will invest heavily in high-risk, high-return stocks for now, but as it gets closer to 2060, the fund will progressively shift holdings into low-risk, low-return bonds such that your money won’t suddenly plum­met if a stock market crash were to happen close to your retirement year when you need to start making withdrawals.

Due to annual contribution limits set by the government on these tax-advantaged retirement accounts, a majority of my investments are in regular brokerage accounts. Thus, by putting all my tax-advantaged retirement savings into target date funds, I’m only putting a relatively small percentage of my investment into these automatically-adjusting portfolios, and I am manually managing everything else outside of these retirement accounts.

A reasonable question I often get is why I don’t manually self-manage all of my investments (including retirement savings), instead of en­trusting my IRA contributions to Vanguard’s fund manager, considering how involved I already am with investing and wealth man­age­ment. The main reason is so it can act as a safeguard in case something happens to me in the future where I am no longer able to ac­tive­ly manage my own money. Of course, I imagine that the likelihood of that actually happening (and then my caretaker also not being able to actively manage my money) is inconceivably low. However, for my personal risk tolerance, I feel like I already have plen­ty of other investments such that I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of money on an automatically-managed target date fund with a slight­ly higher expense ratio so it acts like a makeshift insurance policy for my retirement, in case the market crashes right when I need the money.

As a side note, I also recently started taking advantage of another tax-advantaged account, the UNIQUE 529 College Investing Plan. I set one up with Fidelity, and again, for the sake of convenience, and because of how small of a fraction of my total portfolio this ac­counts for, I was comfortable just putting the money into a target date fund. Based on the fact that I may use this money myself for further education (as opposed to passing it onto my children), Fidelity selected the NH College Portfolio (Fidelity Index) as my fund.

 20.53%

Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

If you ask people how to best diversify your investment portfolio, the go-to answer from most people is usually going to be real estate. Unfortunately, traditional real estate has a relatively high barrier of entry—not only do you have to go out and find a physical prop­er­ty at a rea­son­a­ble price with good potential for positive cash flow, but you also need to put a chunk of capital down to purchase the property, even if you’re loaning money from a lender.

Luckily, there are some alternatives for real estate investment that don’t involve purchasing an actual building, facility, or plot of land. The real estate investment trust is an investment vehicle that allows you to invest in a company that, to put it simply, acts like a land­lord on your behalf and shares their real estate profits with you. A vast majority of taxable revenue from income-driving activities, such as collecting rent payments from leasees, are distributed to REIT shareholders in the form of dividends.

Because I personally am not at a point where I feel ready to commit to purchasing physical real estate, 100% of my real estate investment exposure is through Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund Admiral Shares (VGSLX).

 11.72%

Bonds

I have been relatively fickle with bond holdings because of how young I am and how much opportunity cost there is to investing in bonds instead of in stocks, considering the amount of runway I have prior to needing to withdraw from my investments. With that being said, upon the full onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the relief efforts the United States government took to print an absurd amount of money out of nowhere, it was fairly obvious that inflation was going to skyrocket.

This was less well-known before, but I’m glad that this information is much more commonplace now—the United States Department of the Treasury offers a special bond called the Series I Savings Bonds that acts as a hedge against inflation. As of this writing, the in­ter­est rate on these bonds is 9.62%, which is earth-shatteringly high considering that many people are losing double-digit per­cent­ages on their portfolios by investing their money elsewhere.

An overwhelming majority of my bond holdings are in the form of Series I Savings Bonds. It’s a great way for me to retain as much of my money’s existing value as possible for now, and then once the market stabilizes, I can sell the bonds and reallocate them back into higher-risk stocks.

  6.77%

Cryptocurrency

I started investing in cryptocurrency primarily as a way to diversify my portfolio, but part of my interest also came from the fact that I saw many other people getting rich off buying into cryptocurrency early, and I wanted to join in on the gamble.

Tempo Games is going to be integrating blockchain technology into one of its upcoming game releases. Even though I oversee cor­po­rate operations and am not directly involved in game design or technical en­gi­neer­ing, I still felt like it would be important for me to be familiar with the concept. One of the best ways to learn is to accrue experience through first-hand, hands-on exposure and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, so I have been making active cryptocurrency investments a lot more in the past few years.

I own a decent chunk of Bitcoin and a little bit of Dogecoin and Shiba Inu token, but a majority of my holdings are actually in the form of the Grayscale® Digital Large Cap Fund (GDLC) and the Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund (BITW). These are over-the-counter securities that represent underlying cryptocurrency holdings held by the firms and packaged into a single share, the convenience of which is paid for via a 2.5% annual management fee.

There are three distinct reasons why I own most of my cryptocurrency in this form:

  1. This is less applicable now, but when I first started purchasing cryptocurrency, I was not confident in my ability to manage my own wallet, and I had a mild concern that I would make a mistake that could render all my cryptocurrency useless or gone.
  2. At various times throughout the life of these funds, the market price per share was lower than the actual value of the underlying holdings. For example, on December 31, 2021, GDLC was trading OTC at US$24.25, but the cryptocurrency that each share rep­resented was valued at US$32.18, which means I got a nearly 25% discount on the cryptocurrency I purchased that day.
  3. If there were to be a situation where I suddenly die, my estate would then be distributed amongst my survivors. Because I have no spouse and no children, my parents are next in line to receive my assets. Considering my past experiences with watching them try to use emerging technology, I do not want tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of my assets to be locked behind a mo­bile app that they are going to have to figure out how to swap for United States dollars through a cryptocurrency exchange.
  2.87%

Individual stocks and private companies

I went through a phase when I was younger when I was very interested in researching companies and picking out stocks. In the past few years, I was also a participant of the retail investor movement and buying meme stocks. Since then, I’ve waned down my in­di­vid­u­al company holdings substantially, and instead just stick with companies that are meaningful to me.

I own Marriott International, Inc. (MAR) because they have functionally been my landlord for over a year now after I transferred out the lease to my condo in Las Vegas and traveled across the United States and Canada. I am an Ambassador Elite in their loyalty pro­gram, which is the highest tier achievable through their Bonvoy system; throughout this incredible volume of travel, as well as ad­di­tion­al research I’ve done on other hotel chains, I believe Marriott takes the best approach to lodging out of all the major brands.

I also own Cloudflare, Inc. (NET) and T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS) because they are two of my favorite companies to work with. I use almost all of Cloudflare’s available services to support my website, and also used them for Tempo’s corporate needs as well, up until we hired a new IT team and they took over that aspect of the company. I’ve been with T-Mobile ever since I left my parents’ AT&T family plan. I have never faced a single problem with either of these companies. In my opinion, both of these companies take an un­com­mon approach to business, in that they prioritize quality products and high customer satisfaction above anything else, and de­pend on those two aspects to naturally improve cash flow.

Finally, I purchased a nice batch of Stellantis, NV (STLA), the company behind my favorite auto brand and pickup truck, the Ram 1500 Rebel, as well as some other auto companies I’m a fan of, like Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Jeep. Stellantis has shown great acumen towards advancing vehicle technology and implementing it in previously unestablished ways. I’m looking forward to seeing the Ram all-electric pickup truck, and there is a high chance that it is the next pickup truck that I’m going to end up purchasing.

Note that my holdings for the $10,000 investing challenge with DougDoug are not included in this line item (or in this investment al­lo­cation percentage breakdown at all), as I consider that more of a special project, and also want to avoid people trying to reverse en­gi­neer numbers to calculate my net worth. Instead, I have a brief section about the investment challenge at the end of this blog post.

  4.71%

Precious metals

As a way to even further diversify my portfolio, I took the recently-falling stock market trend as an opportunity to buy into some gold. I’m not really in a position right now to purchase solid gold bars and store them safely with me as a physical hedge against the market, but I found the Fidelity® Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX) that I can buy from my existing Fidelity brokerage account, which comes close enough.

One thing to note here is that I’m not investing in gold because I’m particularly passionate about it or know what I’m doing; this is mostly a “why not” scenario where I am putting in a tiny fraction of my portfolio into something that I’ve always heard could be use­ful to have during market turbulence.

  1.20%

Fine art, and other collectibles

And finally, as a way to really diversify my portfolio, I began investing in fine art and other collectibles this quarter, and will continue doing so in increments in the future.

There were three factors that set me over the “tipping point” to begin investing in fine art:

  1. I always knew that fine art was something that only rich people invested in, and because of how I believe in the concept of “the rich get richer” (i.e., don’t work for your money, make your money work for you), I wanted to get in on this investment vehicle.
  2. With how “abstract” money has felt in the past few years, primarily caused by the United States government just printing a ton of money out of nowhere during the pandemic and making me question the core principle of the value of money (and, to some extent, how a radical move by the government could theoretically bring the value of my paper money down to zero), I realized that possessing “stuff” is more useful in the long-run than hoarding dollars.
  3. Although I can’t outright purchase fine art at my current level of wealth, I found StartEngine Collectibles Fund I, LLC’s Reg­u­la­tion A+, in which StartEngine has securitized fine art and is selling them as shares. This massively lowers the barrier of entry in­to fine art investing, even if the fees are fairly high. (To be clear, this is not a paid endorsement, which is why I linked to the SEC filing instead of their website; if you’re also interested in this type of investment, you should do your own research and con­sid­er all the options, rather than just blindly using the same company I did.)
  1.88%

 
As promised, to wrap up, here is a breakdown of how my $10,000 stock investing challenge with Doug Wreden is going:

My portfolio is weathering the stock market decline relatively well with a balance of $9,137.88, managing not only to beat Doug and his Twitch chat’s port­fo­li­o, but also the S&P 500 and even the bond market. Doug’s portfolio is at $7,944.67, rapidly re-approaching its all-time low. However, if it’s any con­so­la­tion, I guess he and his community can at least be happy that they didn’t go all-in on cryptocurrency, which would be down to $3,805.97 by now.

 

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Four-month update: Investing $10k in the stock market – Parkzer vs. DougDoug and Twitch chat

Disclaimer: I am not an investment advisor, and the information contained in this post is not intended to be construed as financial advice. This is simply an anecdotal report of a personal project and does not imply that you should copy my strategy. Past performance is not a guarantee of future re­sults. Con­sult a certified professional if you need guidance with your own financial strategy.
 

Today marks the exact four-month point since starting the US$10,000.00 stock market investment challenge with Doug Wreden and his Twitch chat.

If you’re not up-to-date and don’t feel like reading the previous blog post for all the details, here’s a summary:

  • Doug and I each put $10,000 of our own money into the stock market by individually picking ten companies in which to invest.
  • Because Doug is not an experienced investor, he solicited for help from his DougDoug community on Twitch to contribute to the decision-making process.
  • I have low faith in the success of the stock market over the next year, so I took a more conservative route and bought into sectors that perform well during a recession; on the other hand, Doug’s Twitch chat seems to have not really stuck with an overarching plan, and instead just picked stocks that they generally liked or thought were good companies.
  • Whichever portfolio has a higher balance after market close on January 23, 2023 wins. All profits get donated to charity, and the person with the low­er portfolio balance has to do a punishment as voted on by Doug’s Twitch chat.

With all that out of the way, here is how our portfolios are doing:

Table containing 27 rows and 9 columns of stock market data

As of today, my portfolio is beating Doug’s with a lead of $1,016.31.

My portfolio is generally hanging in there, with Pfizer and Waste Management being the biggest winners. Walmart had also been doing ex­treme­ly well, but as you can see from the sparkline, it recently tanked after they (and Target Corp.) announced that their first-quarter earnings were worse than ex­pected.

Doug, on the other hand, is going through a very rough patch in his portfolio. He had actually been doing well at first, but with Netflix committing com­mer­cial suicide and the general sell-off of technology stocks, things are not looking good for him.

I’m also tracking a few benchmarks to see how our portfolios would have been doing had we invested them in the broad stock market instead of picking our own individual stocks. My hedge-against-recession portfolio has actually been doing pretty well com­pared to the S&P 500, having consistently been higher than it over the past two months and beating it by $258.05 as of today. However, Doug is falling fairly far behind, at $758.26 in the negative com­pared to if he had just bought the S&P 500.

Bonds are generally considered a safe investment, but even bonds are dropping in price. I personally use Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Ad­mi­ral Shares (VBTLX) in my main investment portfolio, so I decided to use the ETF version BND as the benchmark. If Doug and I had invested in bonds instead of companies, Doug would have $1,078.37 more in his portfolio, while I would have only $62.06 more.

Investing internationally is another common way to diversify a portfolio, and I personally own a large chunk of Vanguard Total International Stock In­dex Fund Ad­mi­ral Shares (VTIAX) in my investment portfolio, so I used the ETF version VXUS as our benchmark. If Doug and I had decided to go broad market international instead of investing domestically, Doug would have $849.49 more in his portfolio, while I would be down $166.82.

And finally, to keep things interesting, I also decided to do a benchmark with cryptocurrency. I selected the Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund (GDLC), not only because I already personally own it in my regular investment portfolio, but also because it is a way to be able to track the health of the broader cryp­to market, as opposed to looking at just a single coin. As of today, the holdings of GDLC include about 65% Bitcoin; about 27% Ethereum; less than 2% each of Solana, Cardano, and Polakdot; and less than 1% each of Uniswap, Chainlink, Avalanche, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. If Doug and I had taken a risk and put that $10k into crypto instead, Doug would be down $1,984.69 more, while I would be down $3,001.00 more.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I switched the platform I use to track our stocks—I wasn’t fully satisfied with the features of my previous platform, so I de­cid­ed to make my own using Google Sheets and Google Finance instead. Quotes from Google Finance can be up to 20 minutes behind, so it’s not vi­a­ble to use for active trading, but for my purposes of wanting full customizability and the non-urgency of price updates, it works perfectly due to its in­te­gra­tion with Google Sheets.

One of the features I was hoping for previously was to be able to chart our actual portfolio values over time, as opposed to only being able to chart per­cent changes; I made my own chart that sources from a table of the entire daily history of our portfolios, so now you can see the actual dollar a­mounts as the days progress.

My portfolio actually hadn’t been that stellar for a decent chunk of time, but you can see the point in early April at which I pull ahead and everything starts plummeting. Just like how it suddenly changed then, there is just as likely of a chance that it can suddenly change again in the future in the op­po­site direction. We’re still 8 months away from the end of the competition, and that’s a long time for unexpected things to happen, so I’m not getting too complacent.

In the meantime, I still think it’s pretty fun to keep tabs on our progress so we can will a higher power to move the stock market towards the favor of our own portfolio.

 

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