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I put $46,000 in an IRA 10 years ago. I have never made any additional deposits. The value is now $58,000. I feel it should be worth more. All of it is in mutual funds.

  • What else would you have done with the money? What are the odds (not the history, the odds ass seen the) that you'd have done better? – keshlam Mar 22 '16 at 21:20
  • Would you mind providing a more concrete date for the initial $46,000 investment. – quid Mar 22 '16 at 22:15
  • Disappointed with who? The fund, for not making you more money? Or yourself, with making an unsatisfactory investment decision? What were your goals when investing the 46k? Simply maximum gains, with no regard for risk? – Superbest Mar 23 '16 at 3:14
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    What kind of mutual funds were these? Money market mutual funds would have very different returns from say a total stock market fund. – JB King Mar 23 '16 at 5:23
  • I would be disappointed. You might wish to review your investments, and think about why you chose what you did. – Joe Strazzere Mar 24 '16 at 10:22
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Unfortunately, yes, I think I would be disappointed.

For an investment that grows from $46,000 to $58,000 in 10 years, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is 2.35%.

The CAGR of the S&P 500 from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2015, including dividends, was 7.29%. If you had invested in an S&P 500 index fund, your $46,000 investment would be worth about $92,000.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but it is difficult for a managed, high-expense mutual fund to consistently beat the S&P 500 index.

  • One would imagine an "aggressive" stock fund to not lag the S&P by 75% over a 10 year period. Even with expenses, from 7.3%, anything less than 5 counts as disappointing. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Mar 23 '16 at 20:56
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Disappointment in performance is certainly a normal feeling and no one is going to say you shouldn't be disappointed. The question is whether something has gone awry. Certainly the market has outperformed your portfolio by a good bit. But was your portfolio set up to track the market? If you put all your money in super safe investments, then you bore very little risk and it is therefore expected that you would have every little return.

The fact that the market did much better than you indicates that you didn't hold much market exposure. If your investments weren't in safe assets, then you bought some things that did poorly. Either the asset classes did poorly or your funds did poorly because of expenses and relative performance. In either of these cases, you should feel a bit bad because you didn't set up your portfolio initially in a fully diversified and low-cost manner. In that case, it's probably a good idea to change it now.

Ultimately performance is what it is regardless of our feelings. If you took the safe road and didn't make much, that's expected. If you gambled and lost, that should also be expected to some degree. If you feel disappointed in the sense that you thought you could expect better results, then you might need to revisit your assumptions about the risks/rewards available in the market.

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Well 10 years ago would be 2006, since then we did experience one of the largest financial crises humanity has ever seen.

It looks like you've done worse than the market has but I wouldn't be "disappointed." Going forward you may want to choose a solid index fund or at least choose funds with lesser fees.

Edit: Since @Chad has indicated his initial investment date

It may be a good time to adjust your holdings. The very aggressive funds typically do not fair well in down markets. As has been illustrated by Ben, over roughly your time period you would have nearly doubled your money in a more plain vanilla S&P index fund. If nothing else this should teach you the virtues of diversification.

If, for whatever reason, you'd still like to keep an aggressive position at a minimum you should allocate a majority of your holdings to to an index fund or better still, a retirement target date fund. Doing so will help you diversify your risk. Be sure to look at and understand all of your fund's expense rates. Paying a few percent off your account in expenses every year will eat in to gains. Remember expense rates are not taken from gains, they're taken from your account balance in good years and bad.

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    See ben's answer. Sorry, I don't call 25% "slightly worse" than 100%. And there's a part of me that cheers for the fact that a 10 span contained that disaster and still, the S&P doubled my money. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Mar 22 '16 at 21:48
  • I don't cheer losses ever. You can spend all your life looking back with shoulda, coulda, woulda; but he's still at a positive return and things could be worse. Going forward he may want to adjust his fund choices, but I disagree with calling what the S&P did over the last decade 7.29% returns. I understand the math, but what if you needed that money in 2009 and you just experienced a -37% year? – quid Mar 22 '16 at 22:00
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    I understand your point, but struggle with the implication. The bad double-my-money decade actually was better for a dollar cost average investor. That would be anyone saving every month. And the single deposit buy and holder doesn't care. I agree, things have to change for the near retiree. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Mar 22 '16 at 22:17
  • It's more so that, in the 10 year measurement period, one of the years was minus 37%. We don't know the initial deposit date which I'm assuming was not 1/1/2006. "10 years ago" could mean a lot of different things. Until a deposit date is divulged making up numbers doesn't really help anyone, which is why I chose not to with my answer. – quid Mar 22 '16 at 22:26
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    Aggressive stock funds – chad Mar 23 '16 at 15:34

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