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Wednesday 4 January 2017

2016 In Numbers

2016 - soooo last year
Happy New Year everybody! I trust you had a fantastic festive season and are ready for 2017!

This is a bit of an "off topic" post - before looking forward to the new year, I thought I would be fun to first look back at the now "old year" and present some interesting 2016 numbers from the blog (well interesting to me anyways). All the numbers below are as at 31 December 2016.

The Blog

The blog "officially" launched on 1 May 2016 (even though the first post is dated in April - this was because I started working on the first post before the official launch date, and I did not know how to "future date" blog posts. Man I have learnt a lot since then!)

I have since published 28 blog posts which have generated 173 comments - although around half of these comments are probably from me! :)

When I started this blog, I was a little concerned that in the beginning it would be easy to generate content, but then as time went on ideas would be harder to come by. I was worried because I was planning on keeping this up for 15 years.

Well I am very pleased to announce that this has not been the case! I currently have 62 posts in various stages of draft format (some of them are only a title, but hey that still counts!) That's enough ammo for around another 3 years worth of blog posts, excluding the many other ideas still bouncing around in my head.

The top 5 most read read blog posts of 2016 were:
1. What is the 4% Rule for Retirement?
2. 10 Steps To Financial Freedom
3. Interview With A Very Stealthy Bloke
4. My Plan To Retire At 45
5. Using Your Home Loan To Pay Off Your Car

The Readers

The blog had 12 914 visits during 2016.

The blog has 184 confirmed subscribers on the mailing list (to join them click here and sign up) and there are 404 followers on Twitter (to follow me click here). I get the feeling that there is a bit of a FIRE (financial independence, early retirement) community brewing here in South Africa as more and more people seem to be wanting to take control of their finances and reach the ultimate goal of being financially free - this is fantastic!

So where is everybody from? 

The top 6 cities of blog readers were as follows (it's a top 6 not a top 5 to make sure that my home town gets on the list :) Of course half the visits from Centurion are probably from yours truly making sure everything on the website is up to standard. For this reason I will mention that Pietemaritzburg, home of Comrades up run finish, should probably be in 6th place):

1. Cape Town (the moooooooowwwwwntain)
2. Sandton (home of the JSE)
3. Johannesburg (worst drivers in SA?)
4. Pretoria (turn left at the Jacaranda)
5. Durban (not a bad spot to retire?)
6. Centurion (shout out!)

I was also surprised to see the blog had a visit all the way from Dakar (one of you guys go for the rally?) and one from Bangkok (you really shouldn't be reading blog posts whilst on holiday ;))

So in conclusion - looking at the top read blog posts and the top cities, it is obvious to see that Cape Townians really believe in the 4% Rule, and Durbanites like to use their home loans to pay off their cars ;)

The Markets

What did the markets do in 2016?

You should be seeing a ton of articles in the media about the 2016 returns of the JSE and best and worst performing shares etc etc.... Most of these articles will quote the All Share Index, or the Top 40 Index. Fair enough. But I like to rather look at the JSE Total Return Index (TRI).

Why do I prefer this index?

The problem is that the All Share Index and the Top 40 Index do not incorporate dividends. Using them is a good approximation of returns, however they are probably a percent or 2 shy of the actual returns. The TRI incorporates dividends into the numbers.

The kind people over at the JSE release the monthly returns of the various indices every month - you can check it out at this link..One of the indices they release is the J203 - Alsi TRI - which is the fancy name for "The All Share Index Which Incorporates Dividends".

I calculate the 2016 market return at a whopping 2.63%
(Hey at least it is positive - could have been worse!)

Whilst this is a long way off from the long term average equity return of 15.28% I am not in the least bit concerned. I am in this for the long haul (as anyone who is investing for equities should be). In fact I shouldn't even be considering one year returns - but since this is year 1 of a 15 year plan, it is all I got for now...

In terms of the foreign markets, the measure I like to use is the DBX Tracker ETF's, since they are products we can all invest in. A graph of the returns for the various DBX Tracker ETF's is shown below (pulled from Google finance). If your vision is not 20/20 you can click to enlarge it.

Colourful lines

All the DBX Trackers were negative for the year with the US being the best of the bad (like winning first prize in an Ugly Contest?) returning -4.8%. Last place went to the UK after their "let's all pretend we want to stay but then actually vote to leave the EU" Brexit referendum. The above graph also shows why choosing the DBX Worldwide is probably the best bet for foreign exposure- you will never get the best return, but you will never get the worst either - second princess in the Ugly Contest! Mom will be proud!

Well that was 2016....done and dusted.... 2017 is already up and running. Let's all hope for some lekker returns!

Till next time, Stay Stealthy!

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