Thursday, November 27, 2008

Personal Finance Blogger Falls off the Map

One of the PF (personal finance) blogs I've read regularly for the past few years is PF Blog, which detailed "MM's" (the author) quest to reach $1 million net worth by the age of 40 in the year 2016. When he was roughly 27 years old at the end of 2003, the author's net worth was approximately $132,000 (details here) and this had grown to about $885,000 as of the end of May 2008 (details) at the age of 32. If I'm following his story right, he is a Microsoft employee who was sent over to Asia to work overseas. He is pretty well paid and has a side business he used to generate extra income.

At the end of May, his portfolio was worth about $900,000. 30% of this was in 12 stocks he selected himself, with roughly $20k in AIG, $20k in American Express and other positions, with a heavy concentration in financials, which he felt were becoming undervalued. Another 12% was in US mutual funds, 30% in international mutual funds, and the remaining 30% was in cash, divided between the US Dollar and the Chinese Yuan.

Unfortunately, May 2008 is the last time he posted a net worth update. Since then, the S&P 500 Index has fallen from about 1400 to about 750, a decline of almost 50%, and his blog has been relatively silent, except for some irate comments made by readers. Some of my favorites are "Even though he seems to have abandoned his blog I hope he wasn't ignoring the market and sold out of his AIG position with at least a little something. He bought it at $62 and its now essentially worthless." and "I made a copy of his portfolio with where it stood in May and since then it has lost about $148,000 from those May prices."

I have enjoyed reading his posts over the past few years and I have to say he was much more diligent that I've been in terms of posting frequency. Some months he made 30+ posts. He also kept meticulous records of his net worth and updated them monthly for five years. That required an incredible amount of discipline and was an extremely valuable case study for everyone reading his blog. I didn't agree with everything he's written (for example I am not a fan of taking short-term zero interest credit card loans and putting the money into a bank account, which I believe he does to earn extra income), but I've been a fan of the site. His English and writing skills aren't fantastic, but they were good enough to get his points across.

So why has he stopped posting? I can think of a few reasons. I know that many people find it hard to look at a stock portfolio that has fallen in value. During down markets, I always hear the phrase "I don't even open my 401(k) statement anymore." Looking at your 401(k) statement is hard enough, but going through the detailed analysis that "MM" goes through each month probably gets pretty grueling when your net worth, which is heavily exposed to the stock market, is taking 30% hits.

Also, if he is like me and every other working person, he is probably facing increasing demands and stress at work lately. With layoff announcements in the news every day, it can be hard to focus on the work you have to do, and companies often cut back on staff without cutting back on work, placing increasing demands on those who remain behind. This would not leave much free time for him to devote to his blog, which is most likely not a priority in his life.

I don't think the reason he has stopped posting is embarassment about recent net worth declines, as some of the commenters on his site seem to suggest. For example, I think this comment was a bit harsh: "MM was very quick to post his net worth updates when things were going well, now he's essentially abandoned the blog. And I guess I do see what you mean by that certain "hubris" and "ego" he used to display. I just shrugged it off though as another finance blogger who thought he was some sort of pro stock picker. They are a dime a dozen."

Some other commenters also talked about another blog - "Millionaire Mommy Next Door" and suggested it had fallen off the map as well, but a simple google search would have answered that question - her account was hacked and she moved to a different domain.

I do think we will hear from MM again when he gets more time on his hands, but for now, wish him the best as he copes with the financial crisis.

(Fear not readers, my next post will be one of my long-anticipated net worth updates, a special "financial crisis" edition. I am sure you are all waiting with baited breath.)


Anonymous said...

I am the commenter on who first talked about MMND. I did not say her blog was offline, I referred to the fact that she stopped bragging about her asset level as well as her momentum strategy. Not a Google search but a visit to MMND's posts on is needed here.

MoneyMan said...

Thanks for the clarification. I misread your comment and stand corrected. There seems to be some controversy around MMND that I'm actually curious to read more about. I'll have to check out