Financial Samurai Predictions And Goals For 2013

The 2012 predictions turned out to be surprisingly on track with Obama's victory, a 13% increase in the S&P 500, and a collapse in the social media sector. If you want to know how to become a better negotiator, study how the Democrats decisively outmaneuvered the Republicans into accepting $1 of spending cuts for every $41 in tax increases to avoid the Fiscal Cliff. Here are my 2013 predictions.

Making predictions is an academic exercise that helps provide a framework for building wealth. It's important to put your biases aside and make reasonable predictions about the future in order to optimize your asset allocation.

Creating wealth becomes much easier if you can begin to consistently outperform even by a couple percent over the long run. Imagine being so against President Obama that you decided to keep all your wealth in 0.1% interest producing savings accounts rather than invest in stocks. You would have missed out on 10-15% gains!

For 2013, I'm keeping things simple because I really only care about the stock market, the real estate market, and interest rates as it pertains to lower risk investments. My net worth is still split quite evenly between the three. Furthermore, I'd like to offer up some thoughts on a couple popular stocks everybody likes to talk about, as well as highlight my own goals.


* The Stock Market Recovery Slows Down. If you analyze the budget proposals between Democrats and Republicans, you'll find they are actually quite similar. In other words, it's all been a bunch of political grandstanding. We know that raising taxes will do very little to reduce our budget deficit given we have a spending problem. That said, the new $400,000/$450,000 single/couple income threshold provides a nice moral boost for those living in high cost of living areas.

With the agreement, individuals, small business, big businesses, and notably banks will feel more confident about investing again. As a result, the S&P 500 climbs 8.8% to 1,551 in 2013 (vs. a 13% 2012 increase). 8.8% is a 5.5X return over the US risk-free rate. This is huge outperformance and puts us at the highs reached in July 2007.

For reference, the S&P 500 closed the year valued at around 16X FY2012 earnings, with a 2.25% index yield. Consensus has earnings growing by roughly 18% to put the S&P 500 at around 14X FY2013 earnings vs a historical average of around 14X-15X. I'm bullish on gold hitting $1,800/oz (7.3% increase) and oil hitting $103 (12% increase) by year-end or sometime during the year.

If your portfolio is up over 9% early on, take some profits. Congress still has to negotiate a debt ceiling and budget by late February/early March. There's also the sequester issue. If we can get through the first half unscathed by politics (grand agreements), then look for 1,600+ on the S&P.

S&P 500 Historical P/E Ratio

* The Bond Market Stays Strong. You'd think that with the 10-year Treasury only yielding ~1.7%, investors would move out of bonds and into riskier assets such as stocks. The S&P 500 dividend yield is roughly the same after all. The fact is there's been a 30 year bull run in the bond market which has entrenched investors for the rest of their lives. Financial attitudes are hard to change, and I do not foresee a cascade of selling to chase stocks which have burned investors multiple times in the past 15 years.

Central Banks around the world have committed to pumping as much liquidity into the system to keep rates low. There's no point in going against the omnipotence of the Federal Reserve. They aren't just providing moral suasion with their announcements, they are actually pumping $45 billion worth of new money every single month into the economy and won't stop until unemployment breaches 6.5% in the US. The 10-year yield end below 2%, and ends the year at 1.6% for a total return of only 5%. The obvious action is to refinance your mortgage if you haven't done so in the past 12 months.

10 Year Historical Treasury Yield

* Housing MANIA Ensues. There's been five years of pent up demand from renters who want to buy a home, but were either too afraid, too unsure, or just always a day late and a dollar short. Meanwhile, new housing construction figures have been below average, while population has continued to grow. With 30-year mortgage rates under 4%, and 5/1 ARMs under 3%, we're setting ourselves up for the return of housing mania. It's not a coincidence I received a free mortgage loan modification from Bank of America via FedEX after the stock climbed 100+% in 2012. We'll see whether this offer of a no-cost 1.625% rate cut is too good to be true in another post.

The San Francisco housing market is one of several leading indicator cities for the national housing market. I'm frequently attending open houses and tracking homesales to get a feel of what's going on. One house listed for $1.99 million this fall after the owner put $150,000 in remodeling. He got multiple offers with a final sale price of $2.4 million (bought for $1.1 million in 2004). The more amazing thing is the new owners gutted the place and are now spending $500,000 in new upgrades over the next six months!

Housing always overshoots on the downside and the upside. Just when you finally want to buy (which should have been in 2010, 2011, 2012), everybody else wants to buy. This is the rule of the herd and why you need to invest a little contrarian to outperform. Real estate and financials will continue to do well. If you've been thinking about buying, I'd run the numbers immediately and start hunting before competition gets out of control.

US Housing Starts Historical


* The Return Of Google. Google is probably one of the most talked about companies in the online community given its monopoly-like power to make dreams come true for entrepreneurs everywhere. There are countless examples of web-owners who see massive drops in revenue due to a sudden 50-75% decline in search traffic on algorithmic changes. The opposite can be said for those who produce the best content. It is pretty scary if you rely on online income to survive!

Although Google's stock ended the year at $707, you'll be surprised to know the stock was only up 6.8% for 2012, underperforming the S&P500 by 6%. The stock has de-rated with a P/E ratio in the 30s several years ago to now roughly 22X as growth expectations slow. Behind the scenes, Google has been hard at work to make their search algorithms bring up the most relevant, high quality content as possible for its customers. I won't go into detail about all their changes, but believe a webmaster when I say they have de-emphasized thin content from content factories who employ freelancers and focused on thick, juicy content written by more authority figures. As a result, I expect Google to attract even higher advertising rates and more advertisers at the margin.

Google isn't a top stock pick due to potential other headwinds such as the rise of Yahoo, Bing, and potential anti-monopoly inquiries by governments around the world. That said, I do believe Google will outperform the S&P 500, which is currently predicted to rise by 8.8%.

Google Historical PE Ratio

* Apple Tastes Fine. People think the world is ending for Apple after falling from a high of $700 down to $532. If providing a 31% return in 2012 is bad, then I hope we can all have bad returns for the rest of our lives! The more pertinent question is whether Apple is a buy in the low $500s. Despite the almost 5% pop on the last day of trading, my answer is yes. At 12X trailing P/E, and under 10X if you strip out cash, it's hard to not see value in Apple as it ramps up its product cycle.

We know Android's penetration into lower end consumer markets is forcing Apple to follow suit and accept lower margins for lower priced products. There's been management uncertainly with Tim Cook and the firing of his chief lieutenants after the Google Maps debacle. We also realize that when you reach a $500 billion market cap, it becomes harder to grow at a 20%+ clip a year due to the law of large numbers. I think Apple will hit $600, a 12% rise in 2012. The consensus earnings growth rate of 13% for Sept 2013 and 18% for September 2014 look realistic and beatable.



Live More Free in 2013.

Although retiring from corporate America in the summer of 2012 allowed me to travel freely, I decided to take a moderate approach instead due to the unknown feeling of no longer having a paycheck.

I planned for two years before my leap, making sure my passive income from real estate, stocks, bonds, and CDs was enough to support my existing lifestyle.

My negotiated severance package equaling roughly six years of living expenses was also a fantastic kicker. That said, I'm risk averse when it comes to huge life changes.

Now that I've given myself six months to experience no day job income, I'm more confident than ever to relax a little more. Ever since the ninth grade when a senior told me not to mess around because grades accumulate in high school (unlike in middle school), I've been determined to become self-sufficient.

Now that I'm financially independent 21 years later, I've got to stop being so afraid to live it up.

Instead of traveling for seven weeks a year like in 2012, let's go for 10 weeks. Instead of only ordering water with a lemon for lunch, let's go for that $6 fresh coconut water please.

Part of living free is also detaching myself away from all the noise that goes along with having an online presence, namely social media.

Bring The Family Closer In 2013.

My immediate family all live 5+ hour flights away. Now that I'm free, I plan to visit all of them more regularly in 2013. My parent's two week visit this past December helped achieve my goal of seeing them four times a year.

Perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone by all taking a two week cruise somewhere nice. Finding harmony is difficult, but important. I plan to leverage my finances, the internet, and our shared interest for travel and writing to keep our relationships healthy.

Grow Net Worth Faster Than The S&P 500.

It's one thing to have the stock portion of your net worth outperform the S&P 500, it's another thing to have your total net worth outperform the index.

I can reach 8.8% overall growth if stocks and real estate (~70% of my net worth) grow faster than 11% to make up for my bonds and CDs (30% of net worth) which will only grow by around 4%.

The cash on cash return in real estate should do very well in 2013 as housing fever spreads. I'm also going to work on my X Factor, which is currently not part of my net worth.

See: Target Net Worth Amounts By Age And Income

Put My Finances On Autopilot In 2013

I started Financial Samurai because I deeply cared about my finances in 2009. It was disconcerting to see years of savings disappear so quickly, which is why I made it a goal to track my finances more carefully.

I've been using an Excel spreadsheet with over 50 line items to track all my expenses, assets, and liabilities manually for the past three years. I still enjoy keeping on top of my finances, but I want to spend less time focusing on the nitty gritty since my spending, saving, and investing patterns are pretty set.

Instead, I've inputted all my accounts with Personal Capital, the free financial app, to track my net worth and tell me where I can be saving or investing more.

My goal is to spend less time on my finances so I can spend more time traveling and being with family. To care less about your finances, you first have to care a great deal about your finances. If you want to learn more, you can click this overview post I put together.

Smile Much More In 2013

When I was younger, a friend of mine nicknamed me, “Smiles” because I would always be smiling and not even know it. I'd walk by strangers on the street who would always weirdly smile back. I realized it was because I was beaming a huge smile at them that they would always reciprocate.

As I entered into the real world of work, bills, graduate school, and financial responsibility, I think my smiles have faded. I'd like to regain this natural disposition and spread some cheer. Ever notice how the Dalai Lama is always smiling, no matter how he's being photographed? I'd like to be more like him.


Yin yang is inescapable. We have the power of free will, which allows us to move towards something greater. I look forward to hearing about your predictions and your thoughts for 2013.

2013 turned out to be a great year. I became more confident about early retirement. As I update this post in 2021, I've got some new goals to consider. My plan is to re-retire by 2022 once we have herd immunity.

Recommendation For Building Wealth This Year

Manage Your Finances In One Place. The best way to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online software which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize.

Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.

The best feature is the 401K Fee Analyzer which has saved me over $1,000 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying. Personal Capital takes less than one minute to sign up and is the most valuable tool I’ve found to help people achieve financial independence.

Be your own boss: It’s been over six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic and revenue.

I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like mine with my step-by-step-tutorial.

Pro Blogging Income Statement
You can start your site for next to nothing and potentially make a lot of extra income. This is a real example.

You never know where the journey will take you. In 2015, I fulfilled a bucket list item by visiting the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, while stopping over at the DMZ in Korea, and attending a friends wedding in Malaysia. Starting this website is the best career/ lifestyle move I've ever made.

About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he first opened a Charles Schwab brokerage account online in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college on Wall Street. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 35 largely due to his investments that now generate over six figures a year in passive income. Sam now spends his time playing tennis, spending time with family, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.

Disclaimer: These predictions and thoughts are my own. Please make your own investment decisions or consult a financial advisor. The stock market is at a record high! Here are my 2017 outlook and goals. And here are my housing market predictions for beyond 2021.

53 thoughts on “Financial Samurai Predictions And Goals For 2013”

    1. Nah, just check back quarterly and see how the predictions are going!

      Apple is eating dirt! If I can convince every shareholder to sell down to $0, I’ll buy the company and have an instant $135 billion in cash.

  1. Apple is completely undervalued as it stands.

    I’m glad you focused on Google and Apple and not some of the other crazy tech stocks. Both are solid investments. Google is 100% a monopoly and in many ways owns the internet, and I doubt this changes anytime soon.

    Good luck with your goals in 2013.

  2. I’m all for competition and breaking down monopolies/oligopolies. All about the underdog! Housing is going to positively bleed into the entire economy. I’m pumped!

  3. Brett @ wstreetstocks

    I’m very bullish on apple and google. Apple could easily hit the 700 dollar mark if they launch the Apple tv in 2013. Google is now becoming a retailer, which should help them diversify.

  4. My bet is to ride an upswing, if there is an upswing until the debt ceiling debate really gets loud in late Feb and take profits. But, who really knows. All I know is that if my portfolio is up 9% in the year, I’m taking at least half my money off the table.

  5. Darwin's Money

    How’d you end up doing trading in and out of stocks this year? I recall you making moves when you felt the market was overvalued, I just let it ride and don’t try to time it. Anyway, you may well owe me for that bet on the 10 year breaching 2% within a year; it hit 1.92% today – don’t welch out on a bet buddy!

    1. Did very well :) Can eat an extra ramen noodle a day.

      What did we bet exactly? Don’t have a record. Are you saying now that the 10-yr touched 1.92% that you want to bet now on 2%? That’s gutsy man! And get out of that 30 year mortgage would ya already? I’m looking forward to reading your predictions for 2012. Can you send me your 2012 predictions recap post? Would love to check it out. Thx

  6. Hey, I was reading your post on the way to work yesterday and I forgot to comment when I got home :/

    Great post, I really like how you recap last years predictions and go into detail. I find things on the macro level very interesting and I appreciate how you’re usually on the right track (with varying degrees of correctness).

    I know you think housing will be hot this year but do you think things will remain under control? Meaning less speculation and “truer” values due to it being more difficult to get a mortgage?

    Also, in with your finances on auto pilot and Personal Capital. Have you used their financial advisor service at all? Even for a free consult? What were your experiences there, generally knowledgeable or is their too worth more than their advice?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I absolutely think housing will be more under control given how stringent it is to refinance or get a loan. Average rejected mortgage applicant had a credit score of around 720, vs anybody with a pulse 10 years ago.

      I’ll write about my Personal Capital consult in a future post. Check out this post if not yet already:

      What are your predictions for 2013?


      1. Thanks Sam, that would be awesome. I signed up with them and while I do think the service has a lot of growth to go, it’s definitely well put together and I was informed of my high 401k fees though it. I’m just curious how helpful they would be.

        As for predictions, I’m pretty in line with what you suggested. I think AAPL is set for a major bounce back, their earnings are cheaper than microsoft’s and when was the last time you were impressed with anything they did?

        The only thing I think you missed is gold. People have been hot and heavy about it and there was a lot of money made but I think that ship has sailed. Time to get out before you’re caught holding the hot potato ;)

      1. I’ve really started to make it a priority over the past year and a half or so, if only because its the first time my employment outlook has been really stable.

        I agree with your calls on Apple and Google btw…any plans to load up on shares of one or both this year?

        1. Sounds good. I already loaded up on both stocks last week and went all in 100% equities last month. I hope we can have a good rally before the debt ceiling debacle. I’d love to sell before then and just coast for the rest of the year.

    1. Rajeev Kumar (@Mirketa)

      Hi again..yes, my parents are right outside Agra. I am glad that you liked the Taj. It is such surprise once you see the Taj as you dont really anticipate it to be that big and beautiful. The fountains are always OFF. They turn them on only for special days I guess.

      I love your posts..thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom with us.

      1. Good to know the fountains are always off! I always seem them on in books so I was kinda disappointed when there wasn’t water in the pools when I visited.

        How much would a 200sqm 3 bedroom, 2 bath house or luxury apartment cost near Agra now?

  7. Saving 50% of your income is an EXCELLENT goal towards financial freedom. It all starts w/ that. Spend some time reading my real estate category and take your time. Although I think now is a better time to buy than five years from now.

  8. I’ve always admired your bullishness. With how accomodative our monetary policy is, it’s hard not to be (short-term). Is it weird that I think of Financial Samurai whenever I walk into a crowded mall?

    1. Tell that to Zynga, Groupon, and Facebook last year!

      I definitely have a bullish mindset, and I wonder when it will start to fade. I don’t think this year’s stock market performance will be as good as last year’s, but I do believe positive housing headlines will dominate.

  9. Those are some great 2013 goals Sam. I like Personal Capital for tracking and admire your focus on family and freedom. You set a great bar for us to follow.

  10. Good luck with your goals Sam. That part about living free really surprises me, since it looks like this is what you have been dreaming about for years and now that you have reached the point where you can actually live your dream life, you still worry. It is great in that you are still striving to achieve big goals and reaching for success but you seem to still put a lot of pressure on yourself. PS fresh coconuts are under $1 in Guatemala :)

    1. Hi Pauline – I’m really afraid of kicking for prolonged periods of time since I haven’t done so since perhaps after finals in college. But, I’m doing my best to work less than 4 hours a day. Today was a good example where I worked for a couple hours, played tennis for a couple hours, spent lunch with the parents, and now I’m going to take a nap. Kicking back takes effort!

  11. I think 2013 will be the last positive trend for the stock market. As rates are set to go up in 2014 it doesn’t look good for the markets. I’m very cautious going into the market in 2013 and will be highly selective in the stocks I purchase. After that I will be saving up huge mountains of cash in order to buy in at the bottom of the next collapse.

  12. Investor Junkie

    I agree with most of your assetments, except for stock market returns. I think positive %5-6% return, BUT a VERY bumpy ride to get to this point.

      1. Investor Junkie

        No as mentioned before, I rather bet on the market, than with an individual. Either returns should always include dividends.

  13. Happy New Year! I like your analysis – I’m long APPL! Will also be closing on new construction this year – agent says demand is strong and home value may have increase 5% since contract signing early last year. Though I’m a bit worried that the payroll tax increase will slow discretionary spending. 4k less income for wife and I is significant.

    1. I wouldn’t worry about the 2% payroll tax hike. I don’t think most people thought it would be permanent, so there shouldn’t be a let down. Good luck with apple and your new construction!

    2. If you’re earning enough that you’re seeing your payroll taxes go up by $4k, I can’t feel sorry for you. My wife and I are at about 75% of where you are and I don’t see it as a huge issue for us. I made the appropriate changes to our budget spreadsheet this morning, and it didn’t affect much overall. I can’t help but agree with you re: slowing discretionary spending, however. MANY (most?) people live paycheck-to-paycheck and this will be a hit to them.

  14. Happy New Year! I think you’re right on about housing. I checked last week and the condo supply is sharply down. Last year we had 10-15 condos for sale nearby. Now it’s down to only 2-3. The price only went up a little bit, but I’m sure once people catch on, it will go up pretty quickly. I’ll keep the 9% number in mind. You’ve been right on over the past 2 years.

    1. Nobody should be selling property now, unless they absolutely have to. I think sellers and renters who could have bought now are going to be kicking themselves in five years.

  15. I’m so glad to see the fiscal cliff drama is over. Bummer the reduction in payroll taxes were not also extended but it could have been a lot worse. I like your predictions and hope to see the markets climb. Sounds like you are on track to have another successful year and that’s cool you plan to travel more and see your family. Happy New Year!

      1. People here at work were livid about this issue this morning (we got our paychecks/stubs), but I not-so-gently reminded them that it was called a payroll tax “holiday” from the get-go, thus underscoring its temporary nature. If you didn’t see this one coming, it’s your own fault and I don’t feel sorry for you.

  16. Very interesting predictions! I would prefer that real estate not grow too quickly. It will bring back a housing bubble which is not good for anyone. Interest rates will increase eventually and that will slow down real estate. I definitely would like a more reasonable stock market growth rate, but that is unlikely with the government deficit issue. Will the Republicans and democrats work together to solve the problem?

    1. I don’t see another housing bubble for a long time b/c so much of the country is depressed. If the market is down 30%, it takes a 43% climb to get back to even. Also, banks have been SUPER stringent on refinances and new loans, so the creditworthiness of mortgages should be much stronger in the future.

  17. The market is moving on emotion and knows the eventual collapse of the country to a European type collapse . In four years total debt will approach 25B. Unfunded liabilities are incalculable . Trade carefully.

  18. From your lips to god’s ears on RE. It’s all local, but we’re seeing serious bounce back in Florida in the areas that were the hardest hit in the crash, which is great (especially for us since we did all our RE buying in 2009-2011). Additionally, housing developments are back in build mode, which they haven’t been in since 2006. I’m hoping this bodes well for our undeveloped land investment and that we’re ready to sell that in 3-5 years, rather than having to wait 10 or so.

  19. you seem pretty bullish on almost everything. All the best to your prediction coming true. I’d wait for another year before buying home and see the fiscal cliff issue more closely this year.

  20. Ah the brightness of the Democrats to choose to get $41 more in taxes for every dollar that they didn’t spend is what’s gotten our economy in this “stale” mode. That’s something I’d wish they wouldn’t have gotten through, but they’ll make it look good somehow. ;-)

    I thought I saw the S&P up 13.41%, not 10% (at least from Jan 3, 2012 – Dec 31, 2012). Oh, Your first paragraph referenced 10% for the S&P 500 but later mentioned 13%.

    I have my predictions for 2013 in the waiting area myself that I have to tweak slightly and then I’ll see how close they come to reality.

    Since you mentioned Personal Goals for 2013, what kind of financial goals did you have, such as where is your target to achieve ROI for your investments? Granted, you’ve been living well below your means for quite some time and that’s something you should be very proud of. I just wanted you to put down a number to check with yourself and your “Personal Capital” account, not to mention any other investments outside of that.

    Here’s to having another great year in 2013 Sam! :-)

    1. Rich, the goal is for my net worth to outperform the S&P 500 index performance for the year, not just my stock portion. If I can do that at this stage of my wealth, and do it in a passive ways, I’m happy!

  21. I 100% agree that Apple tastes pretty good right now. I just picked some up in December at about this price. I prefer to trade it though because it does have a tendency for wild swings and I think now is a nice entry point with a solid base. (I usually do not trade, but this one is just too sweet. I am also ready to cut my losses below $500 though and I am also prepared take my profits early)

    Love your “Live Free” goal – I did that before I did anything else and just started travelling the world in my early twenties – best thing I ever did. The interesting thing is I don’t think I would be so financially and mentally free now if I didn’t travel. A really cool thing happens when you let go – a whole new world of opportunity opens up to you. Somehow new horizons appear and challenges seem easier. I suspect that when you do travel more you become even better at making passive money online.

    Cheers to your Goals in 2013!


    1. Sounds good Quinn. Traveling young really does open the mind. I hope more Americans can travel instead of have the world come to us. Better understanding, better communications, better diversity.

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