Disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor. The information found in this blog post is intended to be strictly anecdotal and should not be construed as financial advice. Everyone’s situation is uniquely different, so if you are seeking guidance, consult a licensed and certified professional for personalized assistance.
During 2021 and 2022, I used to write investment portfolio breakdowns almost quarterly to share where and how my liquid assets were allocated. After publishing a bunch of them, I realized that there aren’t frequent-enough changes to make them worth doing so often, so I stopped throughout a bulk of 2023. However, now that we’ve dinged a new year, I figured it would be worth putting together another up-to-date and comprehensive report for my newer readers.
If you’ve at all been keeping up with the state of the current financial climate, you know that interest rates in the United States are very high right now. Although I am a strong proponent of time in the market being better than timing the market, I haven’t been heeding my own advice and have instead been holding onto more cash than usual.
Of course, considering that it is the end of a calendar year and tax-advantaged account limitations reset on January 1, a large portion of my cash is already “accounted for” in its purpose. I have $7k ready to go for my personal IRA, more than $25k for my SEP-IRA, and just over $4k for my HSA—all of this is just sitting there as cash waiting for markets to open on January 2, 2024 after the holiday.
However, beyond the above, I am still holding even more cash on top of that just for the sake of farming reliable returns on my deposits. I think the economy is actually doing worse than it may appear on the surface, so instead of immediately dollar-cost averaging and dumping all my money directly into investments, I am balancing it out and keeping decently large chunks of cash in savings and money market accounts.
My primary savings account is with Discover Bank, which has an interest rate of 4.35% as of today—this is what I use for incoming ACH transfers and depositing checks. Excluding my emergency fund of three months’ worth of expenses, I keep the rest on Vanguard in my core position, the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX), currently with a 5.32% yield. Considering that my primary brokerage for investments is also Vanguard, having this money in VMFXX means I always have plenty of available balance to make short-notice trades, if needed. And finally, I have a less-frequently-utilized variant of this on Fidelity as well, the Fidelity Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX), currently with a 5.01% yield.
Domestic broad market index funds
I’m sure this is not surprising to anyone—the largest category in my portfolio is taken up by broad market index funds. Most of this is in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX), with Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund Admiral Shares (VHYAX) coming in at second.
When asked, I often talk about all the strange and interesting investment opportunities I’ve found, but it is very important to understand that those weird investments make up an exceedingly small percentage of my portfolio, and a bulk of it is in “boring” mutual funds. I purchased more shares of VHYAX during the pandemic when the stock market was volatile and I wanted some more stability, but my go-to investment is VTSAX.
As for the investments I hold in my Fidelity account, like my Health Savings Account or my Fidelity Charitable account, I will keep those funds in the Fidelity ZERO® Total Market Index Fund (FZROX).
International total market index funds
This is the category that has probably seen the biggest change in the past year. I do want to stay invested in the international stock market because I want exposure outside the United States to diversify my portfolio, but this segment is currently in a bit of a work-in-progress state.
I used to have a decent chunk of money invested in Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTIAX), but over the past year and a half, I ended up selling all of it for tax loss harvesting purposes.
After waiting out the wash sale period, I re-entered the international market by means of the Fidelity ZERO® International Index Fund (FZILX). If you compare my percentage here relative to some previous portfolio breakdowns, you’ll see that I didn’t buy back in as heavily as I used to own, but I’m going to continue working my way up here over time in this fund.
Target date funds
The money I have invested in my tax-advantaged retirement accounts is all in target date funds. The reason I separate this out as its own line item in my breakdown is because target date funds automatically reallocate their composition to be riskier when further away from the target date and safer when approaching the target date. Thus, due to how time-consuming it would be to go in and manually calculate this for my breakdowns, I decided years ago to just give them their own category.
I used to put most of my retirement money into the Vanguard Target Retirement 2060 Fund (VTTSX) but later started splitting it half-and-half with the Vanguard Target Retirement 2055 Fund (VFFVX) as well.
Recently, after realizing that I am doing much better financially now than I had ever imagined I would be when I was in my younger 20s, and foreseeing a sooner and sooner retirement, I kept my VTTSX and VFFVX as-is but have put everything new into the Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund (VFIFX) instead so my retirement accounts don’t tank in the event of an untimely stock market crash during the 40s or 50s. I don’t anticipate switching to a 2045 fund, though—there are tax penalties for withdrawing funds before turning 59½ years old, and that will happen for me in 2051.
Some people have asked me why I don’t just manage the compositions myself to save a little bit on the expense ratio. That is a good point, considering how active of an investor I am, but I already have plenty of money in individual brokerage accounts that I self-manage, and it gives me additional peace of mind to have my money spread out in different fund types. In the highly unlikely but non-zero chance that I become unable to manage my own investments in the future, e.g., through some acquired mental disability or incapacitating injury, and if my caretaker is financially illiterate… even if my other investments may go to chaos during stock market unrest, my retirement accounts will stay stable on their own thanks to Vanguard’s management.
Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
I’ve been exploring some options of investing in physical real estate for the past few years, but never got around to it because I never felt like it was the best time to do so considering all my circumstances at the time. I’m still keeping an eye out on good opportunities, but because the interest rates are so high on mortgages, I’m making sure I’m not acting too hastily.
In the meantime, my portfolio still has real estate exposure through real estate investment trusts. My REIT of choice is Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund Admiral Shares (VGSLX). I may sell some of these off in the future for tax loss harvesting or to free up cash for a down payment to purchase physical real estate, but until then, I’ve just been holding onto what I have and automatically reinvesting dividends.
As I mentioned previously in the section about target date funds, I trust Vanguard to manage my retirement funds and allocate an appropriate percentage of my money into bonds automatically. For my self-managed funds, I’m still young and still have reliable net-positive cash flow, so I’m investing in stocks and generally avoiding bonds.
With that being said, I’m still holding onto the United States Department of the Treasury‘s Series I Savings Bonds that I purchased over the past few years when inflation skyrocketed during and shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m not interested in purchasing more in 2024 due to the new 5.27% interest rate not being much better than my savings and money market accounts, at the further detriment of having to sacrifice a few months’ worth of interest if I want to liquify it prior to the five-year mark.
Everything else here that isn’t directly with the Treasury is in Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VBTLX).
It’s been quite a wild ride being a cryptocurrency owner. I originally bought in as a way to learn hands-on about blockchain technology and more effectively perform my job duties at Tempo, but that resulted in me being down multiple tens of thousands of unrealized losses at one point. Luckily, I didn’t panic sell—I more-or-less dismissed it as “gambling losses” and kept holding in case it went back up.
I held onto the shares of Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund (GDLC) and Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund (BITW) I already had, as well as some random coins I had in my self-custodied hardware wallet. In early 2023 during the United States banking crisis and the following panic, even after saying I wouldn’t invest more in cryptocurrency, I made a discretionary purchase of some Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO).
Cryptocurrency has bounced back a substantial amount, which is good news for me, and I am now hovering around break-even. I’m still not selling, though—I’m not too worried about the money, and cryptocurrency is a good way to diversify my portfolio anyway, so I’ll be keeping this as a hedge against further instances of financial crises, unrest, or failure.
Individual stocks and private companies
I haven’t been too active in trading individual stocks, so most of what I own here has been under the buy-and-hold strategy. I still own a few to several thousands of dollars’ worth each of some of my favorite companies: Marriott International, Inc. (MAR), Cloudflare, Inc. (NET), T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS), and Stellantis, N.V. (STLA).
In September 2023, I bought several thousand dollars’ worth of shares of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (TKO) after the merger between World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship. I used to watch a ton of WWE when I was a kid, and I currently train casually with the UFC, so I figured this would be a fun and meaningful purchase.
A few years ago, I invested in Atlis Motor Vehicles, Inc., which turned out to be a comical failure. I bought 50 shares privately at a little over $8 each, and their initial public offering was at $27.50 (which garnered enough hype to peak at over $82 that day). Not long after, the stock price plummeted. They rebranded to NXU, Inc., which continued to be a clown show—the stock price kept falling until it was at a point where it barely broke two cents. In order to not be delisted, NXU performed a 1-to-150 reverse stock split. My 50 shares disappeared from my brokerage account, and I imagine it is soon to be replaced by ⅓rd of one share.
And finally, I am now the owner of $2,000 worth (cost basis) of unsponsored American depository receipts of Nexon Co., Ltd. (NEXOY). For a little bit of context, when I live stream on Twitch, viewers can accrue “points” on the platform to redeem for prizes, and one of my prizes is to spend $2k of my money to invest in any security listed on the NYSE, NASDAQ, OTCQX, or OTCQB. I gave my childhood best friend Ed Lam a free redemption of this while we were playing MapleStory together; he told me to “invest in MapleStory,” so I bought NEXOY as the closest available solution.
I went on an “alternative investments” binge during the COVID-19 pandemic to diversify my portfolio, dipping my toes into things without having much knowledge about them or doing sufficient research. One of those areas was precious metals, which I bought after learning about the historical stability of gold.
I wasn’t in a position to buy the physical metals and keep them myself, so I was seeking an investment vehicle via a custodian. However, the lack of research meant that, although my intent was to purchase gold itself, I ended up buying a fund that has only indirect exposure to gold—the Fidelity® Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX).
I don’t have any plans for this at the moment—I’ll just be leaving this in my Fidelity account until something prompts or forces me to take further action.
Fine art, and other collectibles
Just like precious metals, investing in fine art was part of my extreme diversification efforts. I obviously don’t have the net worth to straight-up buy physical fine art, so instead, I participated in StartEngine Collectibles Fund I, LLC’s Regulation A+ as a next-best option.
Unfortunately, some of my investment was refunded to me because minimum funding goals weren’t met, and StartEngine has had horrid proactive communication throughout the process. The amount of money I put into this experiment was so little that I ended up just losing interest, so if this does end up going anywhere useful, it will be an unexpectedly pleasant surprise later.
To wrap up, I want to reiterate that you should not blindly copy my investment portfolio. This chart is intended for entertainment purposes so you can learn more about me, not to teach you how to invest. The percentages I’ve provided reflect my personal reality and should in no way be taken as an ideal distribution. I decide how to invest my money based on a mixture of empirical data, personal speculation, and what I think would be fun—which is not a good formula for optimizing results.