Author Topic: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses  (Read 1765 times)

Tdub

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« on: October 27, 2016, 12:27:59 AM »
Hi all,

I can't figure out an easy way to view my actual investment gains/losses in my schwab funds, given that I reinvest my dividends.

Schwab presents gains and losses based on the cost basis.  The cost basis acts as if reinvested dividends are money that I put into the account.  I know that is technically true, since I could take the dividends and run.  I get why cost basis is relevant for tax purposes.  However, if I take $7,283 (or some random number) from my checking account and put it into a schwab fund with automatic dividend reinvestment, I want be able to look at it x months later and quickly know how much I made on that $7,283 from both dividends and growth.

I became frustrated with schwab telling me at a glance that I'm down $1,000s of dollars based on my cost basis, when I was actually up $1,000s of dollars if you look at how much money I actually put in originally.

My method right now is to invest in multiple of 10s so I know at a quick glance how much I'm up or down, and to manually track how much money I put in to date and what the current value is in an excel spreadsheet.

Why can't I just log into schwab and know how much I'm making on my investments?  Am I missing something?
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 12:30:32 AM by Tdub »

Guesl982374

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2016, 08:20:59 AM »
I don't use Schwab but why can't you just add the the growth plus dividends paid?

Tdub

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
Re: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2016, 09:04:17 AM »
I don't use Schwab but why can't you just add the the growth plus dividends paid?

I would have to go back into my transaction history to add up every time I put money in to find out what I've actually contributed, since the cost basis does not communicate this information.

The growth presented by Schwab is based on cost basis, not what I actually put in.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 09:10:13 AM by Tdub »

WildJager

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 439
  • Age: 34
    • Can't complain.
Re: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2016, 10:17:52 AM »
I don't use Schwab but why can't you just add the the growth plus dividends paid?

I would have to go back into my transaction history to add up every time I put money in to find out what I've actually contributed, since the cost basis does not communicate this information.

The growth presented by Schwab is based on cost basis, not what I actually put in.

I haven't seen any brokerage firm that does that, because they're not legally obligated to for tax purposes.  The only way I know is to manually track your deposits, and compare that to the current value.

Tdub

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 35
Re: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2016, 11:34:13 AM »
I don't use Schwab but why can't you just add the the growth plus dividends paid?

I would have to go back into my transaction history to add up every time I put money in to find out what I've actually contributed, since the cost basis does not communicate this information.

The growth presented by Schwab is based on cost basis, not what I actually put in.

I haven't seen any brokerage firm that does that, because they're not legally obligated to for tax purposes.  The only way I know is to manually track your deposits, and compare that to the current value.

Wow - I assumed I was missing something because I've had to calculate it manually. Not even mint shows me growth because the graph includes ongoing deposits, so it's always "going up." I'll just stick with what I'm doing in excel unless anyone else has recommendations!

Guesl982374

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2016, 12:22:30 PM »
I went back and double checked TD Ameritrade and realized they have the same issue.

Typically I just track overall account value in my NW excel sheet. Given that I am invested in VTI (with dividends reinvested) and am still in the accumulation phase, I don't track investment performance, especially because our savings rate is still more important than investment growth at this point.

gerardc

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 767
  • Age: 36
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: How to easily calculate actual investment gains/losses
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2016, 11:57:39 PM »
I find it annoying that most financial charts (e.g. searching VTI on Google) give stock price curves, not *total returns* (i.e. factoring dividends and growth).

Vanguard web site has this "Personal performance" section that does exactly that, though. They also show the internal rate of return of your portfolio monthly, which is the constant total return rate that would make your portfolio end with the same total value, considering all of your contributions and withdrawals (in time).