Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Importance of Reviewing Statements

I am pretty good at paying attention to the documents that arrive by U.S. Mail.  While I do most of the management of our personal finances by electronic means, I prefer to receive paper bills for review and tracking purposes.

Last night I was sitting on the couch opening mail, and we get quite a bit from day to day, and I started reviewing our joint Fidelity statement.  Fidelity is where we keep our individual IRAs and also where I have an old 401k and Mr. Sam has his current 401k and a roll over IRA.

The statement that we receive in paper form just covers our individual IRAs (traditional and Roth) but not any of our work related retirement accounts.  I spent some time pondering how each of our investments is doing (or not doing).  Since we utilize our individual IRAs for stock investing, reviewing individual stock performance is more exciting than following fund performance.  For example, I've done really well with Apple since I bought it in early 2009, up over $8000.  But, when I was looking at my performance for 2011 I was surprised to see that I have $3000+ (out of $5000 contributed) just sitting in cash and not invested in anything.

I was stunned that I had this chunk of cash just sitting in cash.  I really have no idea what happened.  Did I forget to invest it? Was I researching stocks and never circled back around to effectuate a buy?  Did I put in a limit order that expired and I forgot to put in another order??

Ugh, I am mad at myself, since the market is up 9% from January 1st of this year and up 17% from this time last year.  As such, I have likely missed out on a positive return by letting this money sit in cash.

The morale of the story, I should be paying more attention to the statements we receive from Fidelity.

1 comment:

Justin@thefrugalpath said...

I know how you feel. When we first signed up for my wife's 401k they would add the match at some random time throughout the year.
If that wasn't bad enough they would give it to as company stock. It all seemed pretty shady to me. I think it was there a few months before we found out about it and sold it immediately.
I was pretty upset because:
1.) If the company had went bust we would have lost most of the match and her job.
2.) I prefer dollar cost averaging for her 401k.
Live and learn. I check that account every week to make sure we didn't get a bonus match.