Personal Finance

This section of my site is a large collection of Personal Finance resources. To see the detail listing, use the pull-down navigation bar in the upper left-hand corner of this page. Then click on any item to open up that web page.

by Tim Isbell (posted 3/2013, last revised 1/2016)

Personal finance is one of my hobbies. Another was playing golf. In earlier seasons I enjoyed other athletic hobbies.

Hobbies provide benefits: enjoyment and diversion from school, work, and other responsibilities. Many hobbies provide friendships. Some encourage strenuous exercise. Some cost very little; others are quite expensive.

My Personal Finance hobby is different. It is my only "paying hobby." I enjoy the process, and it pays me!

Why add Personal Finance to this site? For me, this season is about resourcing others with the things I've picked up over decades. I've learned some things about Personal Finance that will help you whether you are 20 years old or 20 years into retirement.

My hobby began early in married life when we monitored every dime we spent (literally, you can ask my wife). My interest expanded into stock market investments when National Semiconductor offered me a job with a stock option as part of the compensation. My personal finance hobby added a life-planning dimension when we were deciding if we had sufficient financial resources to leave the relative security of National Semiconductor to join the start-up team that became Cadence Design Systems. Then, in 1990, we refined our skills as we decided to leave Cadence and respond to God's invitation to enter Christian pastoral ministry. Not only did Personal Finance contribute to having sufficient funds to make that career change, subsequently it enabled us to do ministry without needing much income from the church. In recent years, this hobby guided us through numerous up-and-down business cycles.

Now, in retirement, I finally decided to share what I've learned about managing money. I'm not a Certified Financial Planner or anything close to it, though I meet monthly with a group of them. I'm not an extremely sophisticated investor by the world's standards. But I am pretty competent

So, here goes.

After several years to pay an investment advisor to manage our funds, we decided to manage them ourselves. So, in 2006, we transferred our funds to Vanguard and put them in a more conservative asset allocation that fit our risk tolerance: about 55% stocks.

Then came the economic collapse of 2008. The S&P 500 fell 34% within the calendar year, larger from peak to trough. Heading into that year our portfolio was a mix of low-cost stock and bond index funds. Stocks crashed, and bonds did pretty well (due primarily to Federal Reserve intervention). That year our investment portfolio lost 19%, which was unsettling. But we trusted the strategy, rebalanced our asset allocation, which meant selling bonds to buy stocks. In 2009, we experienced an 18% gain. As you'll discover reading through the Investment section of Personal Finance, that's the way evidence-based, asset allocation using low fee (mostly index) mutual funds is supposed to work.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to manage money. Most readers can do this quite well. If you do it yourself, you can enjoy the benefits of having your finances under control. And there's a good chance that you'll enjoy the process!

So, unless you are satisfied with your current Personal Finance strategy, why not look through this Personal Finance section as I unpack our approach to investing - and many other dimensions of personal finance? It's all free, and you can choose for yourself "what to keep and what to throw away." I'll point you to resources that I trust. These will save you a lot of time, and give you the confidence that your strategy is in line with best practices. I'll be as transparent about how we manage our money as is prudent.

I have no affiliate relationships with any of the products or companies mentioned anywhere on this site, including this Personal Finance section. This means I receive no money from them through any channel.

Feel free to use the Contact Tim function on the left-hand navigation panel of any page.

All the best, Tim Isbell