Frugal Honey

Investing & Retirement

Monitor My Funds

In order to track the performance of my mutual funds, I have an email in draft mode where I write down the date I bought in, the number of shares and the NAVPS at that time. I would then check out the current NAVPS over at Sun Life or FAMI and then compute the value of my shares. It’s a very low-tech system but it gets the job done. However, The Thrifty Chick showed me a much better and more efficient way to monitor my funds, through a website aptly named: Monitor My Funds.

The premise is very simple and upfront:

Monitor My Funds allows you to keep track of the values of mutual funds and UITFs. You can see the past performances of funds in graphs. You can create an account and track all your funds in a single page. Check out the demo here

Registration is also easy and takes all of 30 seconds.
 To start, click the Add Fund to Portfolio link and input the necessary information.
I have made several investments in my Sun Life Balanced Fund for the past 2 years and you can see the corresponding gains/loss per investment made as well as the total gains.
 I’ve only made one investment with First Metro Save and Learn Equity Fund, so that row is basically it.
Monitor My Funds also has a compare funds feature so you can see the past performance of the different funds.
And that’s that. Nothing like technology to make life a little easier.

Investing in Luxury

An investment is simply defined as putting in money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value. That’s why I always wondered about women who buy expensive bags and shoes and declare them as “investments”. Do these really appreciate in value? 


How do I choose stocks to invest in?

To date, I pick stocks based on Bo Sanchez’ recommendations and tips from my financial adviser. But from what I’ve been reading online, it seems as if there really is no guarantee when it comes to buying stocks. So in order to minimize risks, it pays to study the company, history, financial statements etc. etc., or sign up with the Truly Rich Club and have everything spoonfed to you:p says: Buy what you know. Start with an industry or a company that’s familiar to you. 
That’s precisely the reason why among all the recommended stocks in the Truly Rich Club, I gravitated towards Cebu Air, Inc. (CEB). Even if I only stayed a few months with Cebu Pacific, I was still impressed with Lance Gokongwei’s vision for the company and the map they plotted to get there. Sadly though, despite this vision, my CEB stocks have been consistently in the red since I bought in last April. Let’s go Papa Lance!
Another company that intrigues me is Manny Villar’s Vista Land and Lifescapes (VLL). It’s not part of the Truly Rich Club stock list, but there was a time in my professional life that I desperately wanted to be affiliated with Manny Villar (yes, I voted for him). When I was still with my old law firm, we handled one of Manny Villar’s land cases and I got to chat with his accountant who had nothing but good things to say about his work ethics and how he treated his employees. I guess I just needed to be inspired at that time (still do actually), and he seemed to be the real deal for me.
Anyway, I will probably buy some VLL stocks soon because Manny Villar’s in his last term as a senator, so of course he’ll be focusing on his business and making money after that.
I know that there’s a more scientific way of picking stocks, but as it is at the moment, I seem to veer towards stocks with charismatic leaders, essentially bringing out my fangirl side.

Cash Dividends

I received my very first cash dividend last week from my hero stock Megaworld (MEG).

The cash dividend was Php0.03322 / share and with my 4,000 MEG shares, I received a cool Php119 after taxes! Woohoo!
That might not seem a lot to others, but think of it this way, if I deposited Php10,000 in a savings account (SA) that earns 2% p.a., I would have earned Php160 after taxes [(Php10,000 x 0.02) – (Php10,000 x 0.02 x 0.20)]. With stocks, I earned a little lower than my SA but at a shorter period of 2 months (Ex date was June 26, 2012). So 2 months of investments yielded dividends almost equal to one year of earnings with my SA.
And take note that we’re only talking about the dividends here, the profits that my stock earned are another thing altogether. Any way you look at it, stocks easily trump any SA.
My other stocks are also scheduled to release dividends soon. Again, the dividends I’ll be receiving are practically inconsequential, but considering that I only started investing last April, I think it’s a good start. Here’s to baby steps!

Investing in Mutual Funds

I don’t remember when and why I started to become curious about mutual funds, but what I do remember was that I saw it as a middle ground between the snooze worthy interests of a time deposit or a savings account, and the roller coaster ride that is trading in stocks.

I knew that the interest offered by my savings account was a joke, but I didn’t know how to start investing in stocks and the idea of disturbing a broker to place my pitiful investment left me anxious (Broker: Whut?! You want me to invest this?! I don’t get out of bed for less than Php100k sister!).

So enter mutual funds.

I did a little research and Sun Life appealed to me because (1) I was already aware of its life insurance products; (2) I wanted to work for Sun Life before because it had an Alabang office,* and the idea of taking a trike to work made me happy; and (3) I knew Teeyah worked there.

The fact that I only needed to shell out Php5,000 for my initial placement was also mighty attractive to me. Thus I opened a bond fund, shifted to balanced fund after a few months and then promptly forgot about it for the next year or so. Fail.

In fairness to me though, I was busy paying off my credit card bills and had no spare cash to drop in mutual funds. But when I finally managed to wipe out my credit card bills, I opened a whole life insurance with VUL with Sun Life and reactivated my sleeping balanced fund account.

I’m happy with the performance of my balanced fund (15% YTD growth), but it appears that I could have been happier if I plunked down my cash with FAMI-SALEF instead. Check out this table of mutual funds performance from Randell Tiongson:

It’s sad that Sun Life didn’t even rank in the stock and balanced funds. However, Randell Tiongson says that performance is not the only thing to consider when choosing a fund, to wit:

xxx When investing in a Mutual Funds, there are many things to consider other than performance. I’d pay close attention to fee structures as one company differs from another. Other concerns should be investment track record, experience of fund manager, shareholder servicing, among others. In my experience, after sales servicing is a big must and not all Mutual Fund providers give the same effort in servicing.

Be careful on just looking at yields. Aggressive fund managers will have better performance during a bullish market but will have also have performed worse during a down turn.

I have no plans of pulling out my Sun Life investments and intend to ride it out for the long haul, but in the meantime, I’ll be setting up an account with FAMI-SALEF as well to take advantage of its consistently top-notch performance.

When it comes to mutual funds, the question isn’t “What fund are you investing in?”, rather, it’s “Why aren’t you investing in mutual funds?”

*Although I soon found out that the Alabang office was merely a branch and all the corporate staff report to the Makati, now Taguig, main office.

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