PIE Portfolio Progress in Q3: Presidents, Presentations, Percentages and Chickens of Doom

How many more P’s can you get in the title of a blog post Mr. PIE?

With Q3, 2016 literally just behind us, it is that time again for a portfolio update. What is that I hear you cry?  Is Mr. PIE rehashing old (pie) charts and figures yet again? Are we destined for more bad puns involving baking the family PIE. Let’s see if he can get the Q3 update out without boring the crap out of the readers.

In Q3, we navigated the post-Brexit blues and had the first presidential debacle / debate – call it what you may but it was far from “presidential”. Even the post-debate follow-up focused on the life story of a former Miss Universe where the GOP nominee continued to throw his weight by weighing in on the weight of the aforementioned former beauty queen. Stirring stuff indeed! Mr. and Mrs. PIE were just reflecting over a slice of fruit-cake and a pot of Earl Grey tea that there may be one or two topics of greater national importance that deserve the close attention of the voting public, Twitter and even our little blog. The munching of “fruit-cake” also conjured up more musings on the behavioral attributes of the GOP nominee but let’s leave opinions aside for now.

The Ryder cup was in full swing where the USA went to bat swing against the might of UK & Europe (still includes the UK I hasten to add) with golf sticks. NFL season got underway with the New England Patriots starting the season by ensuring there was insane drama around every single quarterback on their roster. It is rather amusing to see the desire of the New England Patriots to shove it right up Roger by threatening to line up Humpty Dumpty under center and still begin the season a quite remarkable 3-1. Mrs. Yellen and the plethora of economic whizz-kids at her disposal at the FED elected not to increase interest rates and most sectors were fairly flat like a pancake despite a few ups and downs over the quarter. Despite such riveting political, sporting and financial drama, life rumbled on.

In short, very little of any importance happened that was going to dramatically move the needle either way on the size of our swag-bag of investments. Please divert your browser to another web-site if you don’t feel the urge to read on.

As a reminder, our overall goal is to achieve FIRE in July 2018.

Overall, Q3 2016 was a reasonable quarter for us despite the shenanigans described above.

Our portfolio of investments (Tax deferred + Taxable + Cash + Primary home equity) increased in size by 4.2% in Q3, 2016. That is a figure we certainly can’t complain about. In fact, in true Boston vernacular, it is “wicked awesome”. A more detailed breakdown will follow, but first, a picture of a rather ‘Wicked’ awesome cake that was baked and exquisitely decorated by Mrs. PIE not so long ago for a friend. Fine and dandy skills, I think you would agree! A side hustle down the line if Mrs. PIE is so inclined.


Performance over the Last Two Quarters

The figure below captures the change in various buckets over the last three quarters of 2016


A few salient points can be taken away from it:

  • The taxable account continues to be the major focus of our investments as we dollar cost average on a monthly basis into our Vanguard account.
  • Our cash position was reduced during Q3 when we took advantage of one of the dips in the market to buy some international funds with Vanguard. Mr. ERN will be a happy man with this sort of behavior from one of his readers.
  • In terms of tax-deferred accounts, we continue to max out both of our 401K’s and also max out the Health Savings Account, fund both kids 529 plans and Mr. PIE’s deferred compensation plan. Within our IRA’s we also own REIT’s.
  • The equity in our primary home also rose slightly thanks to favorable real estate dynamics in our area and the monthly reduction in principal as we pay off what remains on the 15-year mortgage. Still, you only ever gain what somebody is prepared to pay and the concept of buyers/sellers market is not lost on the inhabitants of the house of PIE.
  • Overall, the portfolio of investments increased by 4.2% by the end of the quarter in terms of actual dollar amounts.

Note, we have not captured the equity in our secondary home (which we don’t carry a mortgage on), Mr. PIE’s company pension or additional…ahem….”assets” we own (two cars, art, multiple aged single malts, endless number of mixing bowls…..blah, blah…).

Taxable Account

Our taxable account is held at Vanguard and consists of a mixture of stock and balanced (stock/bond) funds, representing primarily US and to a lesser extent international markets. The table below summarizes the various funds we own within the brokerage account at Vanguard.


The vast majority of our investments in the taxable account are with the first two funds VTSAX and VWIAX. International funds have been trashed by US based funds over the last 10 years. It has not always been like that and the three international funds add a little more diversification to our holdings. International funds are perhaps due their day in the Cayman Islands sun rather than languishing in sub-zero temperatures you will find in the dark Northern Siberian forests. However, we continue to believe that sufficient international exposure within funds like VTSAX and VWIAX can be provided by major US companies  that operate in global markets. With all the funds we own, including those in our 401K’s, expenses are low with the goal of not being a drag on growth. Yep, those voracious mice that scurry in the basement of high expense mutual funds out there are not going to nibble away at our cheese.

Overall Summary

The figure below wraps it all up for you in a visual you may only find by sifting through presentations from business analysts and venture investors for too long. Allow me to digress a little- Mr. PIE was afforded the wonderful opportunity to take in a couple of these presentations at an off-site this week where more expertise in PowerPoint skills were on display than practical, actionable substance. On top of that, he and his colleagues were advised by these geniuses to take a close hard look at a number of smaller biotech companies to help grow our own business through acquisition or partnering. We chuckled heartily since we had already analyzed said biotech companies up the wazoo and came to the conclusion that their portfolios consisted of assets that were barely an upgrade from snake-oil. To be fair, the off-site meeting afforded Mr. PIE the chance to add some weight to his own portfolio with endless servings of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and lashings of fine wine to accompany the rare nuggets of information provided by the invited speakers.


The percentages reflect the increase relative to the amounts in that bucket at the end of June. In terms of real dollar amounts within each bucket, our taxable account increased the most. Our tax-deferred accounts continues to grow just fine based on each 401K being maxed out, corresponding company matches and market growth.  In addition, the boys 529 plans get funded heavily.

Based on a solid Q3 layered on top of a stellar Q2 and mixed Q1, 2016 is shaping up to be pretty darn good. Not even the FIRE breathing Chickens of Doom can make the markets plunge. Mr. 1500, you appreciate hearing the wisdom of those chickens, don’t you….?


How was Q3 for you guys and gals? Did post-Brexit stability in the market surprise you? Have you ever encountered a Chicken of Doom? Let’s hear all about it in the comments.


  1. Yay! It’s earnings season again!

    First off, that cake is wicked awesome, definitely a side hustle in sight.

    Looks like a great quarter – I was surprised how quickly everything bounced back after the Brexit – was actually hoping for more of a dip personally.

    1. Thanks for the compliments on the cake. Mrs. PIE has some mad baking and decorating skills for sure.

      There were a few bumps and dips along the quarter and we took advantage of one small dip to buy some international funds.

      Q4 will be interesting with election season clouding the market sentiment.

  2. Definitely agree with AE about the cake – amazing! We don’t do the whole net worth tracking thing all that much since we have the pensions in the future. We do it about once a year but never with nice charts or graphs! Sorry about the Patriots debacle today – we’re over here near Bills country, so we’ll take a win when we can. There aren’t many going around these days! And as for the debates – and aftermath, it’s just plain – embarrassing. We had a better one – more focused on issues with 4th and 5th graders this week for student government president.

    1. Thanks Vicki. It sure must be an interesting ride being a Bills fan. Rex is something else! But a good win for sure, even if Pats were sans Brady.

      It is unfortunate that we are unable to get down to some quality debate and discussion. So many topics need quality air time and we have not seen one iota of good debate yet.

      I am a bit of a graph /PowerPoint hound so enjoy the creation of figures. As long as the readers understand them that is!

  3. Love the cake Mrs PIE. Definitely a future side hustle opportunity there. And the financials are looking pretty sweet too. Nice work there guys.

    And the less said about the candidates for your upcoming election the better. Believe it or not, we do get a lot of US election coverage here in Australia. I guess it’s because our economy, like many others, are tied to yours whether we like it or not.

    I think most of the world is bewildered that, out of a population of over 300 million, you will be electing your next president from a selection of candidates that make the cast of the Muppet Show seem like learned intellectuals.

    On behalf of the ‘Rest of the World’ we wish you luck and will watch the remainder of the pre-election car-wreck play out through clenched teeth and with grimaced faces. Or am I being too harsh?

    1. Hey Martin,

      You are not being too rash. You hit the nail firmly on the head with your muppet analogy. I can tell you I am grimacing also and may well be emigrating to Australia if things play out a certain way.

      I will pass on the plaudits to Mrs. PIE on her cake skills.


  4. Awesome! Thanks for that shout out! If you could put that extra cash to use during the Brexit drawdown you did really well!
    Our Q3 was pretty much in line with the index, probably similar to yours. We achieved our calendar year return target in July. So the sideways move in August and September doesn’t bother us too much. Amazing how a year that started so badly (remember January 7 and 8?) still turned out pretty well.

    1. Good day Mr. ERN.

      If only we did buy at the bottom of Q3. Alas, not to be. But we still bought on a dip so all good. And I absolutely still remember the panic in January which is never a great start to any year.

      Buy and hold, buy and hold…..the old mantra never gets old. Hey, that kinda rhymes. I am a poet and I know it….

  5. Mrs PIE is Mrs CAKE! She has some skills in baking, should be a contestant in Great American Bakeoff if that ever happens

    You guys are firing on all cylinders, I’m really, really impressed. So far, the ‘sell everything’ call was been a dud. Good luck with your final quarter, you’re getting closer and closer to FI 🙂

    I’m proud of you for taking advantage of some discount stock prices too! We’ll see how much more volatility there is after the election.


    1. Hey Tristan.

      Mrs. PIE will love this comment as she is a huge fan of the British baking show that just recently moved across to channel 4 from the Beeb.

      “Sell everything ” reminds me of our former financial advisor who would have us stuffing pillowcases with dollar bills if he could.

      The march to pulling the plug goes on and you are right, we are getting closer. It is kinda strange feeling to know we are FI yet still doing another stint at the coalface to ensure our numbers are very robust for the next phase.

  6. Wow, very impressive cake Mrs Pie!!! It looks too good to cut into and eat…

    Glad you folks had such a good 3Q, that is impressive growth. Nice to see the markets having such a good quarter. We’ll see what the election will have to say about 4Q performance. Hopefully not much, but hard to see the 4Q performing as well as 3Q.

    Also, interesting you had the opportunity to dig into a number of small biotech acquisition targets. I know biotechs have been beaten down earlier this year but it seems like many have bounced back ok. An article in the WSJ today was interesting with how Gilead is looking for their next growth driver.

    Thanks for the update!

    1. Oh, Mrs. PIE ego is rising higher than a well cooked puff pastry topping. I will pass along the message of praise. By all accounts the cake was as yummy as the decorations.

      Our saving rate continues to be high and with our salaries, it is hard to mess up. For that we are thankful.

      Nice to see you are abreast of Biopharma land news. Yup, Gilead needs to do something. They have rested on the HCV/HIV franchise for too long. Will be interesting to see who they go after, for sure and what premium they have to pay.

  7. Solid statistics and one very cool pie!!
    No chickens of doom here, but the 8 roosters that are living in our yard are getting annoying 😉 (No, they are not ours, they just roam the area and like our hedge to sleep in, just hate that they start to make noise at 3am…….).

    1. Thanks for checking us out Team CF. I have this image of roosters squawking away and telling you to FIRE, FiRE, FIRE from the bowels of the hedge. Too funny!

      Unfortunately, I did not get to taste the awesomeness of the cool cake. But I am assured by those who did that it was rather tasty.

  8. I absolutely love how you include various charts/graphs and the expense ratios of the various investments. It is crazy how many people fail to take into account the expense ratios, in regards to their various investments accounts. These can truly impact your investments. I preach this to everyone. To go along with this, I always tell people to tax-diversify their investments. You never know what life is going to be like in 10, 20, 30, 40 years. You might as well be diversified, and hope for the best. Thanks for sharing your breakdown!

    1. Hey Piggybanknomics,

      Love the name! Better than genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, blah blah blah…

      Watching the expense fees is one of the easiest things an investor can do and why anybody would pay into a fund with expenses north of 0.5% is beyond me.

      Thanks for checking out our post.

    1. Hello ATL

      By all accounts the cake was scrumptious. Still, my waistline is a tad narrower for not partaking of a slice or two.

      Brexit may (no pun intended) rear its ugly head with more plans coming to the fore from Theresa May. Buy and hold, is what I say….buy and hold…. This storm too shall pass.

  9. Wicked awesome, for sure! Lots of tasty returns this quarter definitely should have y’all feeling satisfied. And those int’l funds seem to be due for some Caribbean sun, so even if Washington implodes in the next few months there ought to still be some bright spots in the portfolio.

    Similar experience here this quarter. That Brexit thing was a nice buying opportunity all right. Lots of price appreciation and juicy dividend yields… Mmm-mmm!

    But most importantly: What’re the Pats gonna be like now that Brady’s back?! I pity Cleveland. No wins. Facing NE the week of Brady’s return, and right after a Pats loss… It’ll be like watching a swarm of mutant hornets go after a sleeping tree slug. Patriots to win by 84…?

    1. Greetings Mr.FL,

      I have a sense Washington / Trump Tower is about to implode with its own blustering. My, my – we live in interesting times, don’t we?

      I honestly don’t think the ex-US markets can stand another extended period of poor returns, barren wastelands with poor opportunity and customers screaming for better performance. Oh, hang on a minute – that sounds a lot like Gillette stadium on Sunday……

      On that note, I do like the reference to buzzing insects. However, I have to make you aware that each of Mr and Mrs PIE have not come off the better based on our previous interactions with hornets. Some wicked bad stories with those bandits. I will however raise a glass to Tommy boy coming back and applying some sting to those dudes from Cleveland. Methinks a lot of “brown stuff” is going to come down on top of those Browns. I just hope extended weekends sunning himself in Capri and throwing balls at Gisele (ahem, that’s rather rude, Mr.PIE) on his manicured lawn at the Brookline hacienda has not taken too much sting out of Tom.

      It sounds like your quarter was overflowing with economic goodness also. Nice one.

  10. Wow that’s an awesome cake. I need to show Mrs. T to give her idea!

    4.2% increase in Q3 is really solid. We saw a similar increase from our end too.

    1. Hello Tawcan,

      Yes, please share the cakey goodness with your good wife and others North of the border. Much appreciated. Mrs. PIE is brimming with smiles with all the compliments on her handy work.

      Glad you saw solid returns also. I was worried I would get a band of readers come swinging at me with cries of sub-optimal returns. 4.2% is not to be sniffed at in terms of growth in one quarter.

      Here’s to Q4 behaving itself and we can see the year out with more good news.

  11. A Perfectly Precise and Proudly Presented Performance Portfolio review, done to Perfection. I’m accepting your alliteration challenge, and Proudly Produced the Previously Penned Pronouns with Precious time Permitted to Performance of such Protocols. Great update. I track my networth % increase annually, but don’t worry about the quarters. Please Protect the Penguins …. (hey, it’s alliteration….what other animal starts with P?).

    1. Fritz,

      A Hall of Fame comment on this blog for sure! Love it.
      Pure Pristine Prose to Populate the Personal Perspective Place on PIE blog.
      Phew! That took me twenty minutes to conjure up!
      But can’t touch your genius! Thanks.

    1. Hi Kalie,

      Now that is fine praise on many fronts. Thank you. Glad you could enjoy my ramblings. But sorry there is no cake left or I would send some immediately your way!!

  12. That cake is everything I could have hoped for and more! Fergus, on the other hand, had this to say: “I don’t understand these PIE people. Why is there cake?!”

    One of these days we ought to swap some culinary knowledge. 😀

    1. Ha! ha!
      Cake, pie, pie, cake. ….All sugar, fat and calories. What’s not to love!?
      Mrs. PIE suggests Delia Smith or Jamie Oliver for classic and modern British cuisine respectively. If in doubt, Joanne Chang at Flour is always a good investment.

  13. I love the way you take all the numbers and turn them into visuals.

    I’m quite fond of Wellesley Income as well, and would not be surprised to find myself owning it later in life should it be managed similar to the way it is now.

    1. TJ,

      Thanks for the compliment on the visuals. I perhaps spend too long with PowerPoint in the day job and it spills over.

      VWIAX has been a strong performing fund for a while and no doubt helped by strong bond performance tail winds.

  14. I want that cake. It looks amazing. MRS. PIE has some serious talent.

    It looks like you had a great Q3 which is awesome to hear. We had a great Q3 as well and are slightly ahead of schedule with our retirement goals. Hopefully when/if the bull market ends that it won’t affect our investments too much but we’ll see.

    Congrats again on the awesome quarter.

    1. Thank you MSM. Glad you also had a good quarter and again, Mrs.PIE is so excited to see her work being appreciated by others. If not the real cake in your hands….

  15. Whoa, that cake is spectacular! Easy side hustle opportunity there indeed.

    Sounds lke you guys had an awesome quarter and I like the Chickens of Doom shirt as well. Possible Etsy marketing opportunity? 🙂

    At least NE has a winning record, even being Brady-less, unlike my poor defenseless Saints. Sigh… At least we’re not 0-4 though, right, right? (insert sad whimpering crazy laughing) 🙂 Still a lot of football to play out, and hey, as sad as our defense looks, we stil look better than the Panthers. Yipe, how they’ve fallen from glory.

    1. Thank you. Mrs. PIE will seriously consider you as the Texas distributor branch as long as inventory is not siphoned off for munching by family SSC…….?

      I found the pic of the Chickens T-shirt when doing an interwebs search and may have to get one made up for my trip to FinCon. Yes, I am coming to Dallas and if you are in town would love to meet up and say hello, drink an adult beverage …etc.

      Did not know you were a Saints fan. I like Brees. Classy guy. As you say, needs a defense. Jeez, we are so use to winning up here it is scary. One bad performance against Rex and crew and local media sound like those Chickens of Doom.

      1. Definitely will have to meet up for an adult beverage and some conversation! It will even be during football season, so we can always talk about something “not finance” if we are getting burnt out on that subject. 🙂

        I kept telling my family, “Just wait, you’ll all be laughing when the Saints win a Superbowl…” Fortunately, they actually did win one, while I was still alive even! You can see I’ve been a “realistic” fan for a while, hahahaha

  16. Ahhh, the Doom Chickens! That always cracks me up! And fire breathing ones? Scary.

    And Mrs. PIE has talent! Mrs. 1500s birthday is coming up and I could use some birthday cake inspiration. It must involve dinosaurs* though…

    *Dinosaurs are pretty scary and if you’re a man of science, you know that chickens are the evolutionary descendants of them. I’m trying to tie in dinosaurs to the Chickens of Doom, but am failing. I’ve got nothing. Time for bed. Move along now.

    1. Mrs. PIE would offer to make a dinosaur themed cake for “blogger friends” and only charge cost. But shipping it across the US may result in a calamity to the cake worse than the dinosaur extinction itself…..

  17. I’m still stuck on the cake. I think every quarterly report should have cake photos. Maybe more cake photos every where. I’ll admit in trying to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight, I am slightly fixated on everything pastry or confection. But I still vote more cake pictures, please. =)

    1. It is so easy to get stuck on such yumminess!

      We certainly have plenty of stored photos of cakes Mrs. PIE has crafted in last few years and I am sure she has plans to produce many more. It will require her approval to use them of course!

      And I can understand why you would rather not see even more temptations of such cakey goodness. Staying away from the cakes requires more discipline than a well executed investment strategy.

      Thanks for checking us out, Ms. Montana.

  18. Chickens are fantastic creatures.

    Anywho, nice! It seems that you are climbing and chugging along very well. I’ve been contemplating getting my net worth out there but I don’t think I’m ready to do so just yet, I’m planning on an EOY Net Worth progress update though so we shall see if that is going on.

    Here’s to your continued success!

    1. Thanks for the support! Favorable market tail winds help for sure. Net worth sharing is absolutely very personal so good luck thinking through whether to release such information or not.

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