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In my spreadsheet we don't care what the portfolio is invested in. It could all be in cash, all in equities, all in bonds, or more realistically, be in a combination of assets. We just look at the portfolio value at the beginning of the period and at the end of the period, adjusting any change in the total portfolio value for new assets added in or subtracted out, so that we are only measuring investment \ returns.

Although I label it a net addition or subtraction of cash, don't get too tied to the "cash" label. It could be a net addition or subtraction of any asset. Say a relative died and left you 1,000 shares of Exxon-Mobil. You wouldn't say you had a $77,000 gain on investments for that period. Instead you had an influx of new assets.

For most people though, especially people still working for a living, they are only adding assets to their portfolio, and that is mostly in the form of a cash deposit from a paycheck, so I labeled it "cash."

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