inbox788 wrote:As far as how I've tracked, used a couple of methods. Google fiance lets you make portfolios, so I create a suitable tracking portfolio along with mine. You could put your portfolio in one and buy same amount of SPY in another and watch it going forward. An alternate is to short SPY in the same amount in the same portfolio and watch the net growth/loss of the combined portfolio as the amount you'd be beating/losing to. Potentially, you could backdate the transaction, but I haven't done this so I can't tell you whether dividends and other actions are properly accounted for.
Let me elaborate a little on this. I now follow several Google finance portfolios. About 2 years ago, I met with an "adviser" (i.e. sales guy) to discuss investment ideas. At the time, he seemed to be steering regular (retired?) folks into dividend paying stocks (probably taking their cash and fixed income), which in retrospect, turned out to be a decent idea (i.e. VHDYX). With me, for whatever reason (because we didn't really go into my specific situation - so he only had my middle age to work with and I might have mentioned I was interested in more aggressive investments), so we talked about going into commodities and materials. I looked at a sample portfolio, which consisted mainly of international/developing/emerging market/materials and some mid-caps. I've been following the virtual portfolio and right now, his portfolio is down 5%! I created a similar/comparable Vanguard portfolio (i.e. VWO FXI ILF) and that's down 3% in the same period. In the same time-frame, I compared my actual portfolio, to another recommended allocation (optimized with all low-cost Vanguard funds), and my portfolio return was 11.5% vs 12.5% for the optimized account. So, if I had optimized then, I would have gotten an extra % return, but if I'd changed investment strategy, would have lost over 15%. Now over the same period, the S&P500 went up about 20%!?! My portfolio was brought down by the international exposure (about half), which if you look at VT was only up about 2-5% over that time.