2019 in Review: A year of Purpose, Passion, Drive, and Joy

2019 has been a great year for the books! Since we are at the end of an exciting and awesome year, I thought it was time to post a review of the year and recap the last 10 years. Here is a little trivia before I get started, is Year 2020 the start of a new decade? I will let you think about that for a few seconds and frame your conclusion… well the answer is nope! The new decade does not actually start till 2021. Now, you might say “how come?, is a decade not 10 calendar years?”. This is true, except we never had a “year 0.” Due to this weird occurrence of not being at the end of a decade, I will recap the last 10 years and not the last decade. I might recap the decade this time next year if I actually do remember that it is an end to a decade! In the last blog post, I spent a lot of time discussing the past 10 Years of Unwavering Commitment and Long-Lasting Success without spending much time discussing year 2019. Since we are at the end of the year, here are the key occurrences during the year in chronological order:
2019 Events Recap
January 7, 2019: Clemson defeats Alabama in the college football playoff national championship game.
January 25, 2019: The longest government shutdown in US history (35 days) ended. Parts of the federal government shut down December 22, 2018 after the White House and Congress failed to reach a spending deal in an impasse over money for a border wall.
February 24, 2019: Spike Lee wins his first Oscar ever.
March 14, 2019: Former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced that he would be running for president. Beto ended his campaign in November 2019.
April 14, 2019: Tiger Woods completes improbable comeback and wins the 2019 Masters championship. The comeback ended up winning the AP Sports story of the year.
May 24, 2019: British Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation in London.
June 13, 2019: Toronto Raptors win the NBA championship for the first time ever.
August 5, 2019: Mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
August 24, 2019: Hurricane Dorian hits the Bahamas.
September 6, 2019: Robert Mugabe, a Zimbabwean politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017, dies at the age of 95.
October 30, 2019: Nationals win first World Series title.
November 21, 2019: The Cybertruck was unveiled at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles.
November 24, 2019: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially enters the 2020 presidential race. In 2001, just weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mike Bloomberg was elected mayor of New York City in his first run for public office. He ended up serving as Mayor for three consecutive terms.
December 18, 2019: House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump.
2019 Personal Recap
Personally, 2019 will go down as arguably one of my best years so far. I was able to achieve a lot in all aspects of life. My mother finally fully migrated to the states and the family is stronger than ever. I was able to pursue passion projects that have been extremely stimulating and rewarding. I did a lot of interesting projects for NSQ-inc, a technology consulting start-up based in Atlanta, GA with tremendous potential. The plan of NSQ-inc is to disrupt the way business models are formed using modern day technological tools and advancements with the goal of making it incredibly efficient. I formed better and stronger relationships along the way. Physically, I am in the best shape of my life so far with no plans of slowing down in 2020. Career-wise, not only did I receive a promotion but more importantly, I was trusted and given more responsibilities which drives my passion to keep adding value and creating change. Since this is a financial blog, below is a summary of my savings rate in 2019. Being able to realize >90% savings rate throughout the year (except for April) was no small feat and speaks to the dedication and determination needed.
From an investment portfolio standpoint, I made major re-allocation changes in the 1st quarter of 2019 and they all turned out to be extremely sound investment decisions that have paid off tremendously. I decreased my holdings in traditional sectors as well as decreased the amount of cash on hand and significantly boosted my holdings in the tech, real estate, and financial sectors. I now have a 50% Stocks, 30% Alternatives, 5% Bonds, 10% Cash, 5% International allocation split. The Alternatives (both private equity and private debt investments) is split into 20% Commercial Real Estate, 70% Residential, 10% Restaurants and others. The allocations above exclude my primary home. Going forward, I will be looking to expand in the Commercial Real Estate and Hotel space with a lot of investments in Private Debt and Private Equity. From a performance standpoint, QQQ (ticker symbol for the Tech ETF) is up ~35% and IVV (ticker symbol for the S&P500) is up ~28%. My largest individual stock holding by a mile, Apple, is up 86% YTD. Microsoft, my second largest individual stock, is up 60% YTD. My overall investment portfolio, including cash on hand, is up ~30%. This year, I also shifted my attention towards tax-efficient vehicles that minimizes the amount of tax I am liable for such as maxing out both HSA and Roth 401k contributions, opportunity zone investing, long-term capital gains, and municipal bonds. Below is a snapshot of my YTD performance. The plot below was created using Personal Capital, which tracks your daily portfolio performance. You can read about my review of Personal Capital.
Finally, from a net worth standpoint, 2019 was the best year by a mile. Not only was I able to eclipse previous years but I was able to realize a 59% increase!
2019 Predictions – Grading
Earlier this year, I made my predictions for 2019. Going back and looking through each one I would grade myself a 3 out of a 5. To start off, I predicted another Fed Rate hike. We experienced the exact opposite in 2019. The federal funds rate which is the interest rate banks lend money to each other has been steadily increasing over the past three years till 2019. In 2018, we had 4 quarter point hikes and the Fed were expecting two hikes in 2019 in order to level off around 2.9% by year end. Looking at the chart below, it has been the exact opposite. The rate is currently sitting at 1.75%. The Fed typically lowers the fed funds rate to stimulate the economy by making it cheaper to borrow money. There were fears of the impact of the trade war on the economy and an economy slowdown which led the Fed to make the decision to lower the rate in 2019. I would rate my prediction a 0/1.
Federal Funds Rate in Year 2019
Next, I made a prediction of an economy slowdown based on the median US GDP growth rate decreasing from 2018 to 2019. I was indeed correct on this prediction. As you can see from the chart below, the GDP rate for the 3rd quarter of 2019 hovered around 2.1% with the average of the first 3 quarters in 2019 being lower than the same period over the previous year. I would rate my prediction a 1/1.
I also predicted a trade war resolution. The trade war has been ongoing since January 2018 when the first tariffs were imposed by Trump on foreign solar panels. On December 21, 2019, Trump said the United States and China would “very shortly” sign their so-called Phase One trade pact. The “phase one” is a partial resolution that is expected to see China boost imports of US agricultural and other goods, while the US has eased massive tariffs on Chinese imports. I would rate a 0.5/1 for my prediction based on this occurrence in 2019.
Finally, I predicted a slow down in corporate earnings. Corporate profits in the United States rose by $11.2 billion, or 0.6 percent, to $1,869 billion in the third quarter of 2019 as compared to the second quarter of 2019. If you take the average of the 3 quarters in 2018 and the 3 quarters in 2019, you do see a decrease but it is a very slight decrease so I would rate my prediction a 0.5/1 based on the information below.
In Summary..
Year 2019 might be one of those unicorn years but I am very pleased with how it turned out. Cheers to a great year!

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