Our financial situation as of August 31st is utterly mafungulated.

Yes. Mafungulated. In a state of drekitude. Gone guacapoopie.

I’m transferring all our money from Morgan Stanley to Vanguard, which means I have money scattered thither and yon, in the high countries and the low, to the heavens and on earth, in the deep and on land, hence and whence…

Leaving MS is a smart $$$ move, but being in mid-transfer means I can’t accurately review our spending vs. targets at the moment. Root of the trouble is that I had to shut down two managed funds and transfer their component stocks–of which there are roughly 150–to my Vanguard brokerage account. Some are gas companies, some are tech stocks, some are grocery chains, etc.

And so Personal Capital‘s monthly reports are as useful as a soup sandwich. Check this out:

This is no fault of Personal Capital’s, of course, but rather the labeling of our transfers. I can say without fear of contradiction that we didn’t spend $73,532 on “other”…what happened was that I sent $73,532 in post-tax “other”-categoried stocks from Morgan Stanley to Vanguard. And while Morgan Stanley’s reporting its side of the transfer as spending, Vanguard’s  reporting its end as a transfer and not income.

I could, I guess, roll up my sleeves and work through our numbers line-by-line.

But screw that noise, because if your spending habits are truly well-established, you oughtta be able to navigate for a month or two without a map…especially if you maintain an annual withdrawal rate of less than 4%. Your financial situation will be relatively stable.

So I won’t be presenting an accurate “here’s how we did” this month. But I can say the probability is high that we came in at or near our spending target of $4,100, and that our net worth is roughly $2.275 million.

I’m cool with that.

Note: complicating that net worth number is that Zillow continues to be the font of all bastardy. As I’ve said, I like to include the–well, for the sake of argument let’s call it “mark-to-market”–value of our home in our net worth. Which is all well and good, except that I rely on Zillow’s “Zestimate” for that number.

I don’t know what the hell happened, but in August Zillow cut the supposed value of our home from its July valuation of $379,632 to its current valuation of $362,825–roughly $17,000.

Why? Who the hell knows. I guess the shaman who flung the magic elk knucklebones against the cave wall must’ve interpreted the results differently this time around. So be it.

So there you have our current situation. All this will be smoothed out by September, so ya’ll stay tuned.

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit http://EarlyRetirementDude.com or email EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com.

11 thoughts

    1. >What are the estimated savings for switching from MS to Vanguard?

      It’s tough to answer with a number, but here are a few factors:

      1) I shut down a couple of managed funds with high expense ratios.
      2) Much cheaper commissions on individual stock sales.
      3) No “management” fees on IRA money held in index funds (this was a new thing.)

      I worked with great people at MS, but all of the above = see ya.

      1. “No “management” fees on IRA money held in index funds (this was a new thing.)”

        You can thank our new Fiduciary rules for this. You previously could have bought something, paid a single fee and hung on to it forever (reducing your overall expenses) but now that’s not in your best interest. “I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help!”

  1. Wow, you actually took the fund assets in kind? I’ve never actually heard of anyone doing that. Why on earth did you? 🙂 Unwinding all those holdings (eventually) might be painful. What were the funds? I know MS loves their Blackrock funds, but I’m generally not a fan.

    1. >Why on earth did you?

      I did it for the sake of tax loss harvesting. No choice, really. I’ve been harvesting losses out of our accounts for ordinary living expenses for the past twelve years now, and I have so much paper gain built up that having a galaxy of small holdings I can pull from a thousand bucks or so at a time is a big advantage. I’m in the Vanguard service bracket where individual trades are, I think, $2, so it’s not painful at all.

  2. Yeah, I had a problem last year when I transferred a chunk from Vanguard to Fido to get some AA miles. I just happened to do this at the same time as converting my mutual funds to ETFs in the Vanguard brokerage account. Personal Capital was a mess until the transactions settled a few days later – it still shows a spike in my net worth for that week!

  3. Taking a break from the numbers for a moment, I just want say that I really enjoy the simian themed images you find for the articles.

    1. Thanks! It’s a Tom Waits quote: “We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley’s dog made $12 million last year… and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio, made $30,000. It’s just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.”

  4. One sentence in your article is something Im always thinking about. “But screw that noise, because if your spending habits are truly well-established, you oughtta be able to navigate for a month or two without a map”

    I”m not a person that tracks every single line item. I’m frugal, I save, and I invest. My wife and I have an established lifestyle where I know that we are always considering the best financial option. I am confident we don’t need the map each month to have a high savings rate. Establishing the habit wasn’t easy, but it is something we practice every day.

    How much are you going to save in expenses switching from MS to Vanguard? Best of luck making it through the muddied times.


    1. Notionally $5K-ish, although doing business there carried benefits that Vanguard doesn’t offer; two of which were substantial. One: the ability to loss harvest, and two: access to a very large low-interest signature loan.

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