It is important to track certain key metrics when working towards Financial Independence. Different types of metrics can be tracked including investment performance, personal goals and even macro-economic ones. Having an eye on key metrics is particularly useful in times such as today with ongoing events of civil unrest over social injustice, Coronavirus, trade wars and an uncertain economic outlook.
In this post I will outline the key metrics I have been tracking over the years. Without these, investing would feel like driving blind.
Stocks proportion rule
Historically stocks have been the best performing asset class for investors with a typical portfolio which also includes cash and bonds. It makes sense to maintain a minimum proportion of stocks in order to capture returns of the market in line with your personal risk level.
I prefer to set this level to 80%; this ensures that as long as I have this amount of stocks I do not have to worry about what is in the remaining 20%.
Other assets/ liabilities such as cars or real estate can also be included in this comparison.
Asset Liquidity Breakdown
Financial liquidity is the ease with which an asset, or security, can be converted into ready cash without affecting its market price. Knowing how much of your portfolio is liquid is critical; a lot of people claim to be wealthy because the house they live in appears to be worth a lot.
However, the house is highly illiquid, requires maintenance, has many fees and taxes attached, has a price of ultimately what the other party is willing to pay, and is just somewhere to live. If the person has very few or no other assets, or has negative equity they are a long way from financial independence.
Property such as real estate, business assets and pensions which are to be accessed after many years are regarded as illiquid. Liquid assets can be stocks, shares and bonds in an investment portfolio held in an ISA (Individual Savings Account) and cash. Usually, such assets can be converted within a matter of days for use towards Financial Independence purposes.
You can also further breakdown the liquid portion to specific asset classes. This way, you can identify if the liquid assets are geared appropriately for desired long term returns by determining if the portfolio is too aggressive or conservative.
Financial Independence Goals
Tracking the overall goal towards Financial Independence is another important metric. The chart below shows how I do this.
The black line is the ultimate portfolio size to enable Financial Independence at 25 times annual expenses. The red line shows historic progress. Current portfolio size is shown by the dotted line – once this crosses the black line the goal is achieved.
Achieving 75% (green line) of the goal is also a big milestone as one can easily find other ways to make additional income required or they can become more comfortable to transition to a different type of working such as self-employment.
The dashed grey line shows the current portfolio size plus property. If this crosses the grey line it shows that if the property is converted to the portfolio the goal can be achieved early.
Data and update frequency
To visualise these key metrics and others I regularly enter relevant data into a Google Sheets spreadsheet and have created charts which are updated automatically. This does not have to be an onerous process and only needs a few minutes of updating every month.
So far it has been incredibly helpful in keeping an eye on progress and providing much needed motivation. Definitely something for every series investor to consider.