Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

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Jesteroftheswamp
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Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Jesteroftheswamp » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:11 pm

When I log into Vanguard and check Performance, it usually says I have a 7-9% return. Today I noticed it is only 3.2%. Why would it suddenly be so low?

I currently hold most of my shares in Total stock market index, I also hold total international etf, small cap value fund, consumer staples etf, and total bond market index.

MittensMoney
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by MittensMoney » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:20 pm

They calculate your return on a rolling basis, and you can probably toggle Year-to-Date, past month, past year, since inception, etc., rates of return. If you invested money on September 15th, 2018 your rate of return on those assets would be 0%, so as you can see the time frame used to evaluate return makes a big difference.

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Jesteroftheswamp
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Jesteroftheswamp » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm

MittensMoney wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:20 pm
They calculate your return on a rolling basis, and you can probably toggle Year-to-Date, past month, past year, since inception, etc., rates of return. If you invested money on September 15th, 2018 your rate of return on those assets would be 0%, so as you can see the time frame used to evaluate return makes a big difference.
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!

Silk McCue
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm

What time period is being shown? Is that the same time period that you were looking at last time? If it is 1 year that may very well be lower than it was when you look last month.

Cheers

dbr
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by dbr » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:25 pm

Stock returns are highly variable over time.

ten2go
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by ten2go » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:27 pm

I think it is a 10-year return by default. So, if the stock market was rising in summer 2009, that appears as less of a gain than when you look back at winter of 2009.

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Jesteroftheswamp
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Jesteroftheswamp » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:32 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm
What time period is being shown? Is that the same time period that you were looking at last time? If it is 1 year that may very well be lower than it was when you look last month.

Cheers
It’s the entire time I’ve invested.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by an_asker » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:38 pm

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:32 pm
[...]
It’s the entire time I’ve invested.
That's kinda relative. And it is a top secret for readers of this thread ;-)

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Wiggums
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Wiggums » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:39 pm

Are you regularly adding or removing adding money to this account?

What period of time are you talking about?
Last edited by Wiggums on Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jesteroftheswamp
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Jesteroftheswamp » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:42 pm

Wiggums wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:39 pm
Are you regularly adding or removing adding money to this account?

What period of time are you talking about?
I am regularly adding, and period is about three years

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Kitty Telltales
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Kitty Telltales » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:43 pm

You're right, my returns % is about half what it was not so long ago--when viewing "from inception", yet the actual returns in dollars were not that far off of a all time high, as calculated on May 31st. Go figure!

barnaclebob
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by barnaclebob » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:45 pm

This type of post suggests you don't have the whole picture understood. Presumably you have invested in index funds like the total stock and bond markets. How have those performed lately. I've seen no such downward dips since the recovery after the late dec dip. What have your actual balances done over time?
Last edited by barnaclebob on Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

an_asker
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by an_asker » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:46 pm

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:42 pm
Wiggums wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:39 pm
Are you regularly adding or removing adding money to this account?

What period of time are you talking about?
I am regularly adding, and period is about three years
Well, if it three years that makes sense, especially with the markets seesawing here lately. Most of the money you have added recently are probably treading water. And I bet comparatively speaking, it is a chunk of change with respect to the overall money you've invested. So, it will be weighing the returns down.

But the flip side of the equation is that if and when the market takes off, all of the money currently in your account will participate :-)

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by z3r0c00l » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:47 pm

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm
MittensMoney wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:20 pm
They calculate your return on a rolling basis, and you can probably toggle Year-to-Date, past month, past year, since inception, etc., rates of return. If you invested money on September 15th, 2018 your rate of return on those assets would be 0%, so as you can see the time frame used to evaluate return makes a big difference.
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
My morning-to-date performance is -.3% but that figure is meaningless so it doesn't bother me.

fposte
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by fposte » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:01 pm

Are you by any chance talking about what you see on the phone app main screen? There the returns default to 1 year, at least on my iPhone interface. Those are going to be low because the market hasn't gone up a lot in that 1 year period. Have a look at the full site and check your returns at the different intervals. I think there's a reasonable chance that you'll find a different return rate over a longer time.

More to the point, as people are saying, there are times when the shorter-term results are going to be low or negative. That's part of the package.

Lextalionis
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Lextalionis » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:04 pm

Try 12/1/2018 to 01/01/2019 but sit down first.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by MrJones » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:11 pm

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
You didn't, as long as you didn't sell.

All investments involve risk. Not investing involves risks too. You'll have to determine which side of that risk equation works best for you.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:19 pm

You made me look. 1 year returns were 0.6% (raised a lot of cash for home purchase and renovation, so a lot in MM). 10 year returns were 8.9%. Life can be like that.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by KyleAAA » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:23 pm

Yeah, markets fluctuate. They don't go up every day.

dbr
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by dbr » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:36 pm

I'll repeat that you fail to appreciate that investment returns are variable. The standard deviation of annual returns for stocks in the US is probably around 20%. That means a reasonable chance the annual return could vary between -15% and +25%, in very approximate numbers. To talk about your 3% return for a short term being terrible is nonsense. The only surprise is in that number being as close to the middle of possible returns as it is.

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BL
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by BL » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:19 pm

We are close to dividend distribution time, and that messes up balances for a day or so. Not sure if that is what you are seeing or not.

Pigeye Brewster
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Pigeye Brewster » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:53 pm

BL wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:19 pm
We are close to dividend distribution time, and that messes up balances for a day or so. Not sure if that is what you are seeing or not.
I was wondering the same thing. VTSAX went ex-dividend today.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Rus In Urbe » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:10 pm

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
Note the operative word here----feel. Yes, for the beginning or emotional investor, a downturn (or in this case just misunderstanding the % returns) FEELS like they "suddenly lost a huge amount of money."

MrJones to the rescue with sane, sage, rational advice!
MrJones wrote:
You didn't, as long as you didn't sell.
All investments involve risk. Not investing involves risks too. You'll have to determine which side of that risk equation works best for you.
It never fails to astonish me how many people on this board talk about how they "lost money" in the stock market today, or "made money" in the market today. Bla Bla Bla. Well, only if you sold and locked in either your losses or your gains.

The market goes up and down and all that is happening is that your stock valuations are going up and down. You potentially lost or gained. It's not translated into "money" until you sell. Seems like a minor point, but it's a really essential one in order to operate as a rational investor.

I know, it's like a "thing" with me. Ignore this is you've read me on this subject previously....
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by dbr » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:45 pm

Pigeye Brewster wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:53 pm
BL wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:19 pm
We are close to dividend distribution time, and that messes up balances for a day or so. Not sure if that is what you are seeing or not.
I was wondering the same thing. VTSAX went ex-dividend today.
Returns include value of dividends. For a price chart you might be right.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by dbr » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:46 pm

Rus In Urbe wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:10 pm
Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
Note the operative word here----feel. Yes, for the beginning or emotional investor, a downturn (or in this case just misunderstanding the % returns) FEELS like they "suddenly lost a huge amount of money."

MrJones to the rescue with sane, sage, rational advice!
MrJones wrote:
You didn't, as long as you didn't sell.
All investments involve risk. Not investing involves risks too. You'll have to determine which side of that risk equation works best for you.
It never fails to astonish me how many people on this board talk about how they "lost money" in the stock market today, or "made money" in the market today. Bla Bla Bla. Well, only if you sold and locked in either your losses or your gains.

The market goes up and down and all that is happening is that your stock valuations are going up and down. You potentially lost or gained. It's not translated into "money" until you sell. Seems like a minor point, but it's a really essential one in order to operate as a rational investor.

I know, it's like a "thing" with me. Ignore this is you've read me on this subject previously....
Exactly. I like to take the view that stocks are not money and the investor lost all their money when they bought the stocks. When you sell you find out how much of your money you have back.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by venkman » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:04 pm

dbr wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:45 pm
Returns include value of dividends. For a price chart you might be right.
With Vanguard, I would not be at all surprised if there were some lag time between the price of the fund going down and the dividend payout actually showing up in the account.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by MotoTrojan » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:43 pm

Rus In Urbe wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:10 pm
Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
Note the operative word here----feel. Yes, for the beginning or emotional investor, a downturn (or in this case just misunderstanding the % returns) FEELS like they "suddenly lost a huge amount of money."

MrJones to the rescue with sane, sage, rational advice!
MrJones wrote:
You didn't, as long as you didn't sell.
All investments involve risk. Not investing involves risks too. You'll have to determine which side of that risk equation works best for you.
It never fails to astonish me how many people on this board talk about how they "lost money" in the stock market today, or "made money" in the market today. Bla Bla Bla. Well, only if you sold and locked in either your losses or your gains.

The market goes up and down and all that is happening is that your stock valuations are going up and down. You potentially lost or gained. It's not translated into "money" until you sell. Seems like a minor point, but it's a really essential one in order to operate as a rational investor.

I know, it's like a "thing" with me. Ignore this is you've read me on this subject previously....
You’re actually the one that astonishes me and many others. Of course they’re real gains or losses. A retiree with $2M but only $500K in contributions only has $500K? And if they sell then immediately buy back in, then they have $2M?

Paper losses and the only lost if you sold phrase are just ways to deal with your emotions. It’s absolutely a loss.
Last edited by MotoTrojan on Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by MotoTrojan » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:44 pm

venkman wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:04 pm
dbr wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:45 pm
Returns include value of dividends. For a price chart you might be right.
With Vanguard, I would not be at all surprised if there were some lag time between the price of the fund going down and the dividend payout actually showing up in the account.
Has nothing to do with Vanguard. All brokerages go ex-div before the payout.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by ThisJustIn » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:51 pm

It's totally Vanguard's fault. Stock market volatility has nothing to do with it at all.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by fposte » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:30 pm

venkman wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:04 pm
dbr wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:45 pm
Returns include value of dividends. For a price chart you might be right.
With Vanguard, I would not be at all surprised if there were some lag time between the price of the fund going down and the dividend payout actually showing up in the account.
That wouldn't be enough to take the OP from 7% to 3% for a three-year return, though. I'm still thinking he looked at the 1 year return and thought it was since inception.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by chevca » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:03 am

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm
MittensMoney wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:20 pm
They calculate your return on a rolling basis, and you can probably toggle Year-to-Date, past month, past year, since inception, etc., rates of return. If you invested money on September 15th, 2018 your rate of return on those assets would be 0%, so as you can see the time frame used to evaluate return makes a big difference.
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
Terrible?? Anything in the positive, I wouldn't call terrible. It could be much, much worse.

OP, you seem to be under the impression the market only goes up and at rates of about 7% a year. That isn't the case. If you feel like you have had a huge loss by this, you may want to rethink your AA. Doesn't sound like you handle volitility too well.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by whodidntante » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:05 am

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
Try -50% on for size. A lot of us here have invested through a drawdown of that size.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by pkcrafter » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:27 am

ThisJustIn wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:51 pm
It's totally Vanguard's fault. Stock market volatility has nothing to do with it at all.
??

You gotta be joking. Doesn't help, the OP is already misinformed.
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by tibbitts » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:52 am

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 pm
MittensMoney wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:20 pm
They calculate your return on a rolling basis, and you can probably toggle Year-to-Date, past month, past year, since inception, etc., rates of return. If you invested money on September 15th, 2018 your rate of return on those assets would be 0%, so as you can see the time frame used to evaluate return makes a big difference.
It feels like I suddenly lost a huge amount of money, 3% return is TERRIBLE!
3% nominal may be toward the low end of predictions for a typical boglehead portfolio going forward, but it's certain in-range. So if you look back in ten years and see that, you shouldn't be surprised.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by livesoft » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:04 am

Jesteroftheswamp wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:11 pm
When I log into Vanguard and check Performance, it usually says I have a 7-9% return. Today I noticed it is only 3.2%. Why would it suddenly be so low?

I currently hold most of my shares in Total stock market index, I also hold total international etf, small cap value fund, consumer staples etf, and total bond market index.
Have you compared to a LifeStrategy or Target fund that has about the same asset allocation over the same time range? Is it very very easy to do this to a first approximation by charting a fund at Mornginstar.com or using the Performance tab at the same web site. One year returns of a LifeStrategy Moderate Growth (a 60/40 fund) are about 3% even though year-to-date is over 10%. If you contributed a significant fraction of money to your funds in the past year, then 3% is probably typical.

And since the 3% appears to be legit, I suspect the "usually says I have a 7-9% return" is what you should be questioning. :twisted:
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by ThisJustIn » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:16 pm

pkcrafter wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:27 am
ThisJustIn wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:51 pm
It's totally Vanguard's fault. Stock market volatility has nothing to do with it at all.
??

You gotta be joking. Doesn't help, the OP is already misinformed.
I thought the fact that it was a joke was clear.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by pkcrafter » Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:40 pm

ThisJustIn wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 4:16 pm
pkcrafter wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:27 am
ThisJustIn wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:51 pm
It's totally Vanguard's fault. Stock market volatility has nothing to do with it at all.
??

You gotta be joking. Doesn't help, the OP is already misinformed.
I thought the fact that it was a joke was clear.
Phew, thanks, but we can never be sure. :happy Some posters do take shots at Vanguard.

Paul
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by Wakefield1 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:09 pm

If you had a certain amount in the accounts showing a certain return,and suddenly added a large amount to it,say doubling the total in the account,the return shown would probably be cut in half because of the dilution,at least until the additional amount had time to fluctuate.

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by celia » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:32 pm

ten2go wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:27 pm
I think it is a 10-year return by default. So, if the stock market was rising in summer 2009, that appears as less of a gain than when you look back at winter of 2009.
The 10-year return used to take the 2008 stock market crash time period into account, but now we are moving away from that date.

If you bought in October 2008 or March 2009 and have held, you would have very high growth rates because you were buying things "on sale". If you bought the exact same things one year later and have held onto them, the gains would be high but nowhere as high as when everything was "on sale".
:sharebeer

aristotelian
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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by aristotelian » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:33 pm

Has anyone asked what you are invested in?

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Re: Why are my Vanguard returns suddenly so low?

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Sat Jun 22, 2019 8:40 pm

there was a post from May which talks about what celia mentioned that starting a return calculation in one month vs. the next month can show a huge difference in returns over a certain period of time. here it is: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=280919

also look at this:
http://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes. ... aphic.html
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