July 2020 Financial Samurai Recap: Dada!

Here's my July 2020 recap. From now until the end of the year. I've decided to focus mainly on the positives. It's too easy to get caught up in the negatives, which is why I've significantly reduced my consumption of news and time spent on social media.

In March 2020, I was hopeful that by August 1, 2020, we'd all have a lot more freedom. Unfortunately, the virus is still everywhere.

The good thing is that every day that passes is one day closer to a potential vaccine. Each day that passes is also one day closer to organizations figuring out how to operate safely in a new environment.

Progress is happening. People are figuring out how to get on with their lives.

Here's my July 2020 recap so I don't forget what happened when this is all over. I'd love to hear about how your month went as well.

July 2020 Financial Samurai Recap

July 2020 Family (4.8/5)

The greatest win for July was my 7-month-old daughter saying her first words: dada!

I hear the reason why it's common for babies to say dada first instead of mama is due to evolution. By saying the words dada first, the father increases his belief that the child is his. With a stronger bond, the father is less likely to abandon the child.

Having a daughter is amazing. Every time I see her on my phone screensaver, I get a little pick-me-up.

I've been spending a lot of time with my son at the playground when it's warm and in the hot tub whenever it's cold. He's developing well at 3 years 3 months old. The loving moments are increasing.

However, he still rebuffs me every so often, which always hurts. But now that I have a daughter, I can just redirect my love towards her when he's grouchy, whoo hoo!

I realized I have heard screams, cries, and whining every day for 3.3 years. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. On the one hand, my nerves are frayed. On the other hand, I have developed some immunity from the noise.

July 2020 Finances (4.2/5)

It was a tough month because a reader pointed out that I lost out on making $655,000 by selling my rental home via a pocket listing. At least I was able to write a post about it and help other would-be home-sellers potentially not make the same mistake.

Despite missing out on so much money, I decided to make some lemonade. Perhaps my net worth might be undervalued by several million dollars given I still own several pieces of property. Therefore, I had fun with my Personal Capital net worth tracker by boosting my property values.

July 2020 Financial Samurai Recap - Net worth performance

After making myself feel better about my missed gains, I came back to reality. It's always better to stay conservative with your net worth calculations.

Overall, my net worth is up 9.6% for the year thanks to a tremendous rebound in the stock market. Even more importantly for my portfolio, bonds continued to do well.

Given I'm almost at my annual net worth growth target of 10% a year, I continue to remain conservative with my net worth allocation. The last thing I want to do is give up all my gains after going through such a tumultuous 1Q.

Plan For The Rest Of The Year

My main focus is on rebuilding my cash hoard from one year to two years of living expenses. The cash will be used to buy another ocean view home in San Francisco and invest in distressed commercial real estate opportunities. It's hard to find a lot of value in the S&P 500 at 3,200+. I'll continue to ride the tech stock wave, but I won't be investing more.

My advice to you is to calculate how much your net worth has grown from the March 2020 S&P 500 bottom. Now ask yourself how you would feel if you lost all those gains. Finally, calculate your net worth YTD performance and compare it to your annual net worth growth targets.

Only you can decide how much risk is appropriate.

July 2020 Financial Samurai (4.5/5)

Thanks to the pandemic, I was able to change my operational ways. In the past, I spent 85% of my time writing because that's what I love to do. With more uncertainty on the horizon, I finally focused on improving the guts of the site. I also did more business development, which I had largely ignored for years.

Some things I worked on this month:

  • Reviewed, updated, and improved posts I had written during the previous financial crisis. Many of the issues then are similar today. It's been great to add 11 more years of wisdom to these posts and help readers during this time. Experience is definitely a valuable attribute.
  • Fixed over 500 post errors in my Google Search Console that I didn't realize I had. It's kinda hilarious that I never bothered to look if anything was wrong with FS for over a year.
  • Hired someone to speed up the site. I had been wanting to do this for years. Hopefully, most of you notice a positive difference on your laptop, mobile, and tablet.
  • Researched dozens of potential new business partners to highlight the ones I think are the most interesting. My goal is to highlight the best products that can save us money, has the potential to make us money, and solves financial pain points.
  • Wrote a couple posts for CNBC and was featured in People for the first time. That was cool since I've been a fan of People magazine since I was a kid. Note: I do not choose the titles.

Overall, July was a good month for Financial Samurai. I'm still a one-man-band, which can sometimes feel unfair. But it's by choice. However, my wife has been helping me much more since our daughter turned six months old. I'm going to write more posts about the entrepreneurial aspect of blogging if there's any interest.

It is funny how a crisis forces you to do different things to improve. It was precisely because of the 2008-2009 crisis that I finally stopped putting off starting Financial Samurai.

If I didn't have kids, I absolutely would start another site. Looking back, there have been so many opportunities that have popped out of the blue due to Financial Samurai. I'm sure there will be unforeseen opportunities that will happen for you too if you start a site as well.

July 2020 Health (4/5)

Ever since we pulled our son from preschool in mid-March, none of us have gotten sick. One or all of us were sick at some point between December 1, 2019 – March 10, 2020. At one point I had forgotten what feeling 100% healthy felt like! It's been a blessing to allow our bodies to heal.

Hitting a softball

I played tennis two times a week on average all month. Further, softball is back baby! Up to 12 of us participate in batting practice and fielding. Playing sports has always been a part of my life. I'm very glad to regularly play and banter with friends again. Of course, we are staying at least 6-feet away from each other.

Without sports, my mental health would have suffered. The days and evenings are so long now with two kids. I'm sure I would have gained more weight as well. That's a vicious cycle.

Thankfully, my mind is still OK. I think I've only gained a couple pounds since the pandemic began. But I'm not sure because I don't know where the scale went.

On the negatives, I sprained my left ankle stepping into a sidewalk crack recently. I also have the occassional shortness of breathe due to asthma and allergies.

To keep my mind healthy, I'm focusing on the positives of the pandemic.

The main positives are:

  • More time with family
  • NASDAQ at all-time highs
  • More real estate opportunities if we upgrade our existing primary residence
  • Having something mentally stimulating to do thanks to FS
  • A really supportive and intelligent FS community
  • A wonderful life partner who recently recorded an FS podcast episode with me about homeschooling
  • The entire family is back to good health
  • Healthy parents who get to eat hundreds of mangos from their own mango trees
  • Less traffic and crowds

I know things can go bad in a hurry. I also know bad things will continue to happen. However, I want to appreciate the positives during these difficult times.

Side Projects (4.7/5)

Finally, one goal during the pandemic is to do something new. This way, I can look back and associate a really difficult time with a really positive event. For example, the first thing that comes to mind when I'm asked to recall the 2008-2009 financial crisis is my small wedding on a beach in Oahu.

I'm driven by the desire to make my kids proud. It would be a dream if they read this post 15 years from now and think, Go dad! Thanks for keeping it together and not slacking off!

Therefore, I'm pleased to announce that I'm working on a new book that will either be self-published or traditionally published next year. But before I make a decision on which route to take, I will publish a post about the topic to get your feedback.

I've also started the construction of an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (ADU) on the ground floor level of my house. We demolished about 250 square feet of space downstairs last year to make it easier to update the electrical wiring of the whole house. But then my contractor disappeared for three months and then shelter-in-place began.

Our plan is to replace the 250 square feet lost (a room and crummy half bathroom) with 600 square feet of new space. The new space will have a living room, bedroom, full bathroom, closet, and laundry/kitchen room. When it comes to making money in real estate, expansion of living space is always your best bet.

Live Your Best Life Now

At the end of May, I stopped putting my life on hold for this pandemic. Once I adopted this defiant attitude, my life got better. I refuse to let this pandemic hurt the quality of my family's life.

As a result, I will no longer be saving as much money. Instead, I will be spending more money on housing, transportation, food, help, and entertainment.

The irony is that if the world is really going to end, saving more money is pointless. Instead, we might as well live it up more!

Readers, please share with me all your positive wins for July. I'd love to hear them! There's just way too much negativity in the world. To subscribe to my free newsletter, click here. Check out my Top Financial Products page to help you achieve financial freedom sooner as well.

21 thoughts on “July 2020 Financial Samurai Recap: Dada!”

  1. Good to read about all your progress during these uncertain times. Has your portfolio outperformed the S&P 500? I was wondering since I imagined your portfolio may be more on the conservative side.

    I’ve just started learning how to play the guitar. It’s slow but every day is just a little bit more progress. For the most part, it’s been a relaxing hobby.

    1. Overall, my stock portfolio is up 8.6% based on my latest Personal Capital weekly e-mail with the YouIndex figure. Some portfolios are up more (15%) due to individual tech holdings. Some less.

      Tech stocks have really helped my portfolio this year, and I don’t own that much. I can’t imagine what 10s of thousands of big tech employees are feeling right now with the NASDAQ up 25%!

      Remember though, bonds have been super strong this year.. +5%-15%.

      1. Sam, I follow your blog on a regular basis. I really cant thank you enough for all the free advice you provide. I am still working, so I increased my retirement allocations from my paycheck during the big drop in the market into equities and when it started going up, I changed the allocations over to Treasury bonds. Once equities started getting really strong, I traded them for more bonds. I finally have my allocation at approximately 45% equities and 55% bonds.

        I wish I had a crystal ball, If I did, I wouldn’t have to work anymore. I added what my account was at its peak in February with the amount that I’ve contributed this year and I just broke even this week. I wish I was like some of the others that post on your blog that said they transferred everything into bonds before the March crash, then traded them for equities at the bottom and made out like bandits, but I’m not as smart as them.

        I’m bummed that my accounts haven’t increased like your +8.6% portfolio and some of the commenters on your blog, but I suppose I should follow your July 2020 Recap and just focus on the positive that my retirement accounts are no longer in the hole and I have a pretty safe allocation to weather the storm.

        I hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy and I hope that you continue to provide good solid advice, since I rely on it heavily. Besides, it’s great reading material to keep my brain stimulated.

  2. Looks like you had a pretty damned good July, all things considered. I ended up spending it all either working or at the baseball fields where my son played travel baseball. School is starting back in August, so I am hoping to keep things on track but I have my doubts.

  3. Thanks Sam! Very happy for you and your family.

    Question: what’s your thesis for buying a second home in SF now?

    1. Financial Samuria

      Demand under $2M for SFHs is strong. If you can look in the $2.5-$4 M range, there’s more value.

      I am also focused on buying single-family homes on the last dance, western part of San Francisco. My goal is to build a portfolio of panoramic ocean view single-family homes because I think they have the most upside and they are the most undervalued.

      The more people who leave San Francisco, the more desirable I find San Francisco to be. Congestion is always a top three complaint. Several of my friends are buying multiple properties right now.


  4. > My goal is to highlight the best products that can save us money, has the potential to make us money, and solves financial pain points.

    This is great. We’re building a tool that solves a huge financial pain point, namely, how to track our spending and making it easy to search all our past transactions.

    For some reason, a lot of personal finance blogs and tools out there seem to advocate for extreme frugality or a strict budgeting methodology. However, we’ve found when we simply understand where our money is going, we automatically make better decisions about our spending.

    It’s probably a bit too early to open up our personal finance search engine to the FS community, but seeing as how your readers are highly intelligent people, we’d definitely love to get your advice and explore a future partnership.

    Congratulations on all the awesome milestones in July!

    1. Err, have you heard of Personal Capital and Mint? They already do exactly what you are describing, with powerful search features and tagging/ categorization of every transaction across all credit/debit cards, checking/saving/trading accounts etc.

      1. I use both of those. Kind of a near-term/long-term thing. Both are good, but have some awkwardness. I think there could be room for a competitor, especially if they could combine both into one tool.

      2. Happy to explain a bit more! Our experience with budget / net worth trackers you mentioned is, among other issues, they can be too much work to set up and maintain. We’ve found it’s really convenient to be able to search for a transaction from several months ago without having to create a detailed budget or specify our financial goals like some other apps.

        We ended up building a tool for ourselves to be able to search our past transactions and see how we’re spending money, without a budget. We’re already making better spending decisions with it!

      1. I own Tesla. Enough said. I really, really want analysts to stop writing. They are dangerous. They bash Tesla. People decided not to buy the stock because an analyst bashed the stock. It is dangerous reading what an analyst writes.
        If I make investment decisions based on what an analyst writes, I deserve what happens to me.

      2. I own the stocks you mention. I remember how difficult it was for me to put my money down when many analysts where so critical of these companies. I wish analysts wrote letters to their parents instead of writing what they know nothing about.
        I decided to call myself an analyst and I suggest “worm ranches” stocks are a solid value play as worms are expected to increase production of more baby worms. Good luck.

        1. Remember Charles, analysts can be right on the company but wrong on the stock price direction. Is Tesla really worth more than Ford, GM, Honda, and Fiat combined? With Tesla your buying a story. Right now people are willing to pay up for the story. That won’t always be the case. Enjoy the Ride!!!

  5. Refugee from Academia

    Sam: Glad to hear that you are focusing on the positive and enjoying your family. I know your kids will be proud of you (tho it may take a few decades to see this!)

  6. Love the positivity! That’s a really great list. How exciting your daughters first words were dads too! The pandemic has been hard but I’ve gotten pretty used to it now. It’s great you have Financial Samurai to keep going. We love reading your articles so a big thanks for keeping all of the publications and speeding up the site!

  7. Sam, I’ve enjoyed your site for many years. I was feeling down this morning reading about COVID and glancing through Twitter. Saw your tweet, thought, and knew I would enjoy your positive outlook. Thanks. I am tuning out of bad news for the rest of the day and doing something more productive with my time (which, really, is just about anything).

  8. Nice work! You have to keep a positive attitude.
    We took 2 road trips and I did a bunch of DIY projects in July. I put in a new sink & vanity, installed new top-down bottom-up shades, added new balcony tiles, and a few other projects.
    It felt great to unplug and get away for a few days. Also, felt good accomplishing something concrete. Our net worth turned positive for the year so I’m happy about that.
    Lastly, I’m not stressed out about all the stuff in the news anymore. I think I reached the IDGAF stage of 2020 in July.
    Oh yeah, school will be online for the first quarter. That removed a lot of uncertainties.

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