Sunday, April 24, 2016

4th Mortgage Over-Payment Made (116 remaining)

This past week I made an over-payment of 0.51%.  This is an increase from the usual 0.20% over-payment due to my getting a tax refund.  

My goal for this year is a 3% over-payment.  I have zero idea how I calculated that 3% and now am not sure if it was to be a "stretch" goal for myself.  I calculated a specific dollar amount per month for over-payment including the month with a tax refund to get to paying off the mortgage by Dec 2025.  That annual amount of over-payments, however, does not equal 3%.

Oh well.  I put it out there so now I need to attempt to achieve it!

Also, my regular payment for the month is 0.26% marginally increased from 0.25% but definitely a good sign as the amount applied to principal increases while that applied to interest decreases :-)


Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekend reading!

A colleague sent me these articles and I have to say that my jaw dropped when I read the first one.  But it quickly shut because I totally get it. 

These are excellent reads.
(Read them in order since the last 3 will refer back to the first article.)

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans

Why Don't Americans Save More Money?

Not All Money Troubles Are Created Equal

Your Stories of Financial Struggle


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Living the lowbrow lifestyle

I would love to live a sumptuous, luxurious life.  But unless they are giving those lives away for free at the grocery store, it just isn't likely to happen.  While I know that hard work and smart savings/investments will help me achieve a better life, at the rate I'm going I'm not sure it's enough.  So I need to up the game wherever I can if I am going to achieve my goals.

Now I use the term "lowbrow" in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way.  Basically if it is cheap and simple, I'm there! :-)

This morning I bought some alcohol - namely wine and beer.  But no spending on a $7 bottle of wine for Pru, no way!  $5 works just fine.  And that $5 six-pack - yup, thank you!  

I am happy to head to a nice restaurant or wine bar with friends who know wine and have them order a very nice and expensive bottle of wine.  I'll pay my share.  But kicking back at home on a Friday or Saturday evening with some snacks, well I just want something.  And if that something can be satisfied on the cheap, then I need to lean in to that.  More money in my pocket means more money that I can save/invest.

The same goes for most aspects of my life (entertainment, food, fun).  If it's cheap, I need to try it.  If I like it, great-buy it again; if it doesn't work out for me, then move on.

I'm very hopeful that actively adopting this mindset will help me to put more money in the right places. Of course early days here so we shall see.  I plan to veer off this mindset occasionally and hopefully fully enjoy those spendy times :-)

Now this month I have the benefit of a tax refund that will be partially put towards overpaying my mortgage and towards investments.  (The rest has gone towards shoring up general savings accounts that are not part of this blog.)  I should write a check for the mortgage this weekend (yes I do write checks for this...).  I'll also schedule a transfer of funds from my bank to the brokerage account.  Decisions still need to be made on what to buy.  I'll post in a few days (hopefully) of some stock thoughts.

Below are a few links from Mary Hunt of Everyday Cheapskate:

Half-Price State of Mind
Mary's got the right idea here.

This Summer Vacation at Home
If anyone can pull this off, I think they are a star.  I'd love to try it this summer (a day here or there) and hopefully be able to avoid focusing on all the *stuff* that needs to be home.

How to Get Fiscally Fit
General, good reminders...

The High Cost of Clutter
This one should be a no-brainer for me but I still seem to be stuck in clutter's clutches.  It's a work in progress I suppose.

Have a great weekend!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

This week's trades and a small dividend

This week I made a few purchases.  Early in the week I invested an additional $200 into my Energy mutual fund and received 4.624 shares.

Then yesterday I purchased 4 shares each of my two high yield dividend ETFs (VYM and VYMI).

This past week I had a look under the hood of my ETFs and I really liked what I saw - especially on the international one which is a brand new ETF.  Highly recommend that if you own an ETF or a mutual fund to look at the underlying companies.  So far I have not been surprised.  But it's something to do before you buy and from time to time as the underlying companies can change and you may decide you are no longer comfortable with that fund. 

Also, my one Walmart share paid me a $0.50 dividend which equal to 0.007 shares.  This, like all my dividends, was reinvested.

(All pages have been updated to reflect the dividends and investments.)

My portfolio is generally down - well any increase is due to the new investments and not to the value.  However, I am not stressed about it as this is a 10 year plan (9.75 years remaining...).  The overall values will increase!  Okay they may not and that would really suck but most likely they will :-)


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Dividends, trades, and catching up

Oh my!  It is April already - not sure if I should smile or frown.  March 2016 was a bit of a whirlwind foggy month for me.  I didn't manage to buy any stocks although I had wanted to.  So that will definitely happen this month.

I have updated all my pages so the balances are as of Friday April 1st.  Although I am taking a long-term view (i.e. knowing the market goes up and down), it is fun to see how I've done.  Since the end of January 2016, I have made about $1,900 (pre-tax).  So the value of my investments has gone up about $3,800ish and then I've backed out the cash investments I made.  Of course I don't intend to sell right now so it's a moot point.

Lots of dividends came rolling in the last couple weeks of March.  Well not lots but something.  Everything was reinvested.  The biggest dividend came from my REIT mutual fund ($215) which almost doesn't feel fair to count (but I'm going to!).  Most of the funds in my mutual funds are from pre-blog days but for calculation purposes I will still include them since it just makes it easier on me and my record keeping.  

In addition to the REIT dividend, I also received $1.91 (VYM), $0.34 (VYMI), and $0.70 (PEP) - all were reinvested.  There was also a cash dividend of $1.73 from my money market settlement fund.  The money market settlement fund dividend is particularly large because I had transferred some non-blog related funds into it.  I don't expect to have a dividend this big coming from the settlement fund ever again!

Back to April!  I have schedule a trade for tomorrow as I realized that I completely forgot to purchase more of my Energy mutual fund in March and I believe February as well.  I want to slowly increase that balance.  I will post the details next week (or weekend).

The remaining monies in the settlement fund will either go towards purchasing 10 more shares of Unilever (UL), shares of a new stock, or purchasing more of my dividend ETFs (VYM and VYMI).  This will happen this week.

While I would like to increase my holdings of WMT, PEP and SBUX, the prices are a little rich.  Even INTC which is trading just above $32 feels a tad rich (since I bought the last shares at $29).  I am not sure that INTC will come down though but SBUX may.  

As for the new stock, I am actually looking at Ford (F).  Not sure on this though - need to do some more reading.  I may buy a few shares of Ford as well as my dividend ETFs and save Unilever for later in the month when I make my "April" trade.  (These current trades are using March monies.)

Wishing all a very happy and wealthy April 2016!


Friday, April 1, 2016

Personal finance, papers, accounts and death

Okay so that wasn't the snazziest title.  I suppose I could have just written, "I have a lot of work to do!"

The Wall Street Journal had two articles (or one article and one follow up) that freaked me out a bit.  Basically it discussed what can happen when someone you know (and hopefully love) - in this case a parent - needs to have you take over their finances.  This can be when they are alive or when they are dead.  It's often a huge mess as the links below point out.  

What would happen if someone stepped into your financial shoes - literally?  I thought about my own finances and various accounts and passwords as I read the articles.  It's a mess.  I need to clean it up and make it very clear for someone else.  I also need to figure out what my Darling Parent has in terms of accounts etc.  It's a huge project but once it is done everyone will feel better.

Please have a read.  The Wall Street Journal has a lot of articles that require a subscription.  If this is the case please do an online search of the title of the article in the hopes it was posted somewhere else for free.  They have fab info in them so definitely worth the read!

The Difficult, Delicate Untangling of Our Parents' Financial Lives

Reader Tips on Dealing with Aging Parents' Finances

Happy April to all!