Ask Colin

What is the best way to create records that track my investing progress?

The detailed question was:

I am trying to set up a method to be able to analyse my own investing failures and successes and I wondered if you have any templates or actual copies of how you do this kind of analysis. I have been trying to set up an Excel Spreadsheet but not sure where to begin, or how to enter details in order to see a more clearer picture of my progress. I do Journaling of the details of the stock before I decide to buy - but not always after I have sold out of the stock. I will make some notes and include all paperwork in my file, but I have no simple quick graph or page to give me a picture of my progress.


This question arose out of one of the strategies I provide in my book Think Like the Great Investors:


It is essential to keep good records of our investing. All the great investors know that good records are essential and they put a lot of effort into it. At any time our records should tell us what our return is for the year to date and for past years. Beyond that, we should summarise our investments in a way that gives us a good grounding into the reality of our investment performance. Keeping a tally of the number of profitable and unprofitable investments is important. However, far more valuable will be to also know the total profit from the successful investments and the total profit from the unsuccessful investments. This is because it is a basic rule in investing to let profits build in successful investments, but quickly close out the investments that do not work out. Therefore, it is likely that there will be more losing investments than winning ones, but the gains made in the smaller number of winners should greatly outweigh the total loss from the ones that did not work out and were quickly sold.


How you keep  your records is going to depend on you investment plan.

Also, there is no perfect way to do it. Each of us has to think through how to do it in a useful way.

As a starting point, you have my model, which I keep trying to improve as new thoughts emerge in my thinking:

  • My long term picture at About Colin
  • My Portfolio workbook at Portfolio Details
  • My stock Journals

The stock journals include an evaluation against my investment plan when I close out a position.

I continue to try to improve this aspect of my investing, but it requires a great deal of thought and experiment to get it right. I will publish the improvements on the members website as I do so.

I have recently expanded the information in the recent files on the Portfolio Details page on the members website.