10 year review

Wahoop! I have made it through ten years.

In fact, I’ve had a trackable portfolio for over 20 years. But 10 years ago I started tracking my portfolio in a consistent, monthly way – unitising its performance so I could measure its return. It wasn’t until 2015 that I started this blog, but since then I have been reporting monthly on the progress / setbacks I’ve made/encountered.

I have taken a Bogleheads performance tracking spreadsheet as the template for my own portfolio returns tracker, and that template has had a ’10 year’ row staring at me with a #N/A for the last 10 years. No longer!

In any case, I will loosely follow the format I’ve used for the last couple of years. I’m looking at seven generic questions that I think all prudent investors should ask themselves at least annually.

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Half my deathbed’s ISA has disappeared

This post is late.

More than six months late.

The UK’s tax-free savings accounts (ISAs) operate on an annual cycle. Each tax year, starting 6 April, a UK tax payer gets another £20k annual allowance. ISAs are the tax wrappers that administer this allowance. Any account in an ISA wrapper sees all its gains and income become tax free – not even disclosable on a tax return. You can put most type of investment into ISA accounts, certainly including UK/US/EU listed securities. That makes a “stocks & shares” ISA account the number one fundamental of UK taxpayers’ investing, aside from (in some cases) a pension.

£20k might not sound like that much, but if you have £20k to play with as a 20 year old, and you invest it in equities under an ISA, and always reinvest returns, you can expect your investment to appreciate very significantly. At 7% average return it will double every ten years. So by the age of 60, four doubles later, that original sum would be worth £320k (before taking into account inflation). Now imagine that at age 21 you have a fresh £20k to play with. And at age 22. And so on.

I only realised how imperative ISAs were about 15 years ago. But since then I have made topping up my ISA accounts for both myself and Mrs FvL an annual imperative. I try to do this as early in the tax year as I can – in fact I usually start hoarding cash a few months before the start of the tax year in April. And I typically publish a blog post when I achieve it. This tax year, this is that blog post. It has taken me until December to scrape up the £40k readies.

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ISA $millionaire

What an amazing twelve months it has been.  And what an amazing month March 2020 was.

March 2020 saw global equities down 25% on peak, just a few weeks earlier.  VWRL dropped to £57, a level it hadn’t been at since 2016.  That left my ISAs feeling very down in the dumps.

Since March 2020, VWRL has climbed to £83, almost 14% above its previous cycle’s peak. My ISAs are looking very plump indeed.

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