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Archive for March, 2015

Half-interesting end of month post

March 31st, 2015 at 03:55 pm

It's already April 1 in Japan, Australia, and everywhere east of Sweden.

Despite putting $200 in stocks this month, I am behind the beginning of March for that category. Overall assets gained $403.18 from beginning of March. Cash assets increased by $1869.79. Debt went down by $1138.07.

Money Market Account up $453.53. I have a hidden cache of reserve funds for mortgage and car payments (monthly), car insurance (semiannual) and motorcycle (annual), so tomorrow, on the West Coast's 1 April, my Money Market Account will look like it's up by $1502.51.

As an aside, I would really like it if agencies and entities, entreating people to enter dates like "02-02-2015", would use a clarifying example such as either "02-24-2015" (obviously mm/dd/yyyy) or "mm/dd/yyyy". "02-02-2015" does not help people like me distinguish between dd/mm/yyyy and mm/dd/yyyy styles of entry.

My Car Loan principal balance, tomorrow, will be less than half of the original loan. It'll be the halfway point of the end of the loan, if I don't pay it all off beforehand, and I do plan to pay it all off beforehand. This $282.21 monthly expense is messing our tight budget over, especially when DH's employer wants him to pay for gas and coffee and lunch. Having him work at home was so much cheaper.

My mortgage interest paid since September 2011 will be half of the total amortized interest over the twelve-year term. The total interest I pay from April 2015 to September 2023 will equal the amount of interest I paid from September 2011 to March 2015. Isn't that crusty?

GnuCash 2.6.6 was released March 30. Minutes after I asked on Twitter how to configure reports for printing, I read documentation on how to configure budget reports for printing. That is how I roll, along with the tumbleweeds.

Oh yes, sending an echo of gratitude to the SA blog commentator who shared the Roast Chicken with Lemon Halves and Rosemary Crammed Under the Skin and Up the Cavity recipe. I prepared it again on Sunday and we love how tender the chicken meat is.

Out of budget bounds by $358 and the month's not done yet.

March 27th, 2015 at 03:33 pm

Budget:

Good
thirteen cents under for Animals.
thirty-three cents under for clothes.
fifty-eight cents under for Hobbies.
eighty-one cents under for Gifts.
$117 under for Entertainment. Attributed to free movie tickets my son either won or earned, YouTube, and heaps of DVD box set library holds coming to us.
$30 under for Supplies.

Money market account finally back above $10000, so we now earn the penultimate weakest interest rate. Progress.

Bad
$28 over for dining, which I upped already for the dinner out earlier in the month.
forty-five cents over for phone service.
$15 over for gifts: postage for overseas correspondence and domestic stamps, before learning we still have over a dozen domestic staps.
$163.42 over for auto. Did not budget for license renewal and car tabs renewal, together summing to $191.75 when they took me by surprise.

Indifferent
Mortgage payment processed a few days ahead of schedule. Fine. Good to know I can wait in excess of five weeks, and three pay periods, before paying mortgage for May. That will redirect $1000 to our Islands Getaway.

$279.49 over for interest (mortgage)
$288.11 over for taxes (real estate)
$201.60 invested in stocks that have since depreciated in value.

My budget for April will be different. It won't have $1356.82 going toward real estate tax, mortgage interest, house insurance, and principal payment.

I have eighty dollars remaining in the food budget until March 31. I average $17/day for groceries for three people, and our frozen animal protein takes up most of our freezer space so I anticipate half of the eighty dollars going to dairy, grains and vegetables.

I have paid over thirty dollars in excess principal to reduce monthly interest on our HELOC and car loans.

True confession: I struggle with my budget because my family and I never plan weekly meetings, never chart in the open our budget, and frankly I don't know how to markedly increase cash flow without spending more money or stealing outright (which I will not do, surveillance is everywhere and my conscience, although selective, is cruel and unrelenting) or disposing of household members. Our budget parameters are strict as they are. I don't know where to look online for meaningful savings. I mostly see "deals" for consumer or processed food items I don't buy.

Hodgepodge Equinox

March 21st, 2015 at 02:26 pm

I nearly forgot my password. Eight attempts, then attending to some other tab on my browser I notice the caps lock is on. I toggle caps lock off, type by finger memory on the qwerty keys rather than the number pad keys, and I am in!

The etymology of the word equinox is not related to horses. Discuss.

The meaning of the word discuss is somewhat related to the word discus in that there is tossing around going on. Discuss.

- 10 Smart Ways to Save $ on Clothes http://lifehacker.com/top-10-smart-ways-to-save-money-on-clothes-1692775219 Yes, I was surprised that "buy sweatshop-made clothes with midrange or budget-class department store or chain fashion stores for 16-25 y.o. females tags from a thrift or consignment store" was not one of the smart ways to save money on clothes.

- Negotiate Your Bills with the Silent Treatment http://twocents.lifehacker.com/effectively-negotiate-your-bills-with-the-silent-treatm-1691608228 Has this worked for you? If yes, how?

I received a Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offer. Does anyone have experience with this card? According to one review on NerdWallet
this doesn't have foreign transaction fees.



Midmonth narrative

March 15th, 2015 at 02:27 pm

I am "racing"/"recording" my debt elsewhere, but in keeping with the suspiciously drab narratives of "auto lending"/"auto insurance"/"email marketing" crap blogs festering here, I present my narrative to go with my numbers, as debt support group was too chaotic/crowded today, and Women in Red Racers updates are succinct.

Tax refund arrived.

I put most of it in the money market account. I can stop crashsaving now and start dividing nonemergency funds into investment (long term), debt repayment, and emergency funds/planned expenditures (medium term). I did take the family out to a sitdown, let them come with the menus, cloth napkins on the table type of meal, and even had a cocktail and dessert, because that is too infrequent. We used a coupon which probably covered one cocktail. $100 went into each of two Direct Purchase Plan stocks, both with Dividend Yields above 3%, General Electric and Procter & Gamble.

Cat vaccinations and utility payments are next. Both of these are less than I budgeted for, but my son's shoes and auto fuel and my breakfast out, today's expenses, are more than what I budgeted for. It's too easy to fritter away the refund. I'd like to get the scooter properly maintained, buy some Canadian dollars and some silver, buy the new phone. I used to be able to use Twitter and Gmail on our phone, now I can't. And yes, the 20th anniversary jaunt to western Vancouver Island is still being funded and planned.

Warble of the pinheaded Springtime Cuckoo

March 6th, 2015 at 11:28 am

So glad the market is correcting.

Made dumb mistake of issuing trailing stops on Google and Apple. Google went up $40 beyond my trailing stop price after I sold it. I had the stock for three years. Apple I still kept some of. How was I supposed to know where the bottom is? Wonder if this ever happens to professional/institutional investment managers.

Stock prices were buoyant last week. I couldn't see anything worth buying. Then I found my written-down screen and found Google, MasterCard, and Gilead Systems as worthy buys. I bought Google and MasterCard today because:
1. the prices fell;
2. their Standard & Poor "Intelligence Quotients" are 157 and 154, respectively;
3. they are both undervalued according to S&P;
4. they have wide economic moats according to Morningstar;
5. both the Value Line Investment Surveys grades for Earnings Predictability, Price Stability, and Growth Persistence sum to 260 out of a possible 300;
6. low short float ratios.

Waiting to see if Gilead will fall below $101. It has a high float ratio and the greatest growth potential and it is a weaker and more volatile company. I bought in September 2012 and took profits when it dipped below $105 earlier this year. I wanted Monster Beverage and Visa but they were too expensive and of the six companies I tested my screen on, those two were the most richly valued and least rated by Morningstar. Snafu introduced me to insider selling indicators, and I see that Gilead, Apple, and Monster have negative transaction percentages ranging from -23.83% to -38.36%. Google and Mastercard had the smallest percentage of insider selling.


Today is payday. I usually log on three times on payday morning and stare at the balances of my credit card, HELOC, and car loan. I did log on three times this morning, but paid off the credit card (hold the applause, please, I had enough $ before payday to pay it off and I don't carry finance charges on it) and left the HELOC and car loan alone. Anticipating cat vaccination boosters expense and registration expense for my wee one's spring athletics, I need a better system for finances, like putting money to savings first. I stash close to half the salary in the emergency fund for paydays from 16th to first of next month, and (half - $200) from the 2nd to the 14th of the next month. Now that the Money Market Account is over $10,000, I can expect the 0.025% monthly interest instead of 0.00417% monthly interest and put some $ to savings. I don't have much money left over, now that the spouse drives to work and gas prices have gone up eighty cents a gallon since this time last month.

Income tax refund still hasn't come. Refund allocation looking like: $355 for cat vaccinations, $100 for spring athletics, $45 for driver's license renewal, $333 for new phone and SIM card; $600 for 20th anniversary trip (probably the cost of a ferry, fuel, one night's hotel, phone card vouchers and meals), $150 for debt repayment, $150 for savings.

We ate at a drive-in last night. Excellent to see vintage sports cars in neighbouring stalls. We ate out because I was failing at mastering GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) within a short time frame for a project I badgered my kid about all this past week, offering help, asking for status daily, suggesting starting points like rough drafts, and yeah he and I cram it all in the last few hours. I'm not a happy camper when I'm hungry and failing at resizing images and pasting them into selections on canvases. Proof I am still not ready for work. Working women are always up to the challenge with energy and smiles galore!! "Oh let me support you gladly and competently oh struggling coworker for we are teammates! In for a penny, in for a pound!" He and I need to work on our time management. I was going to have cross-rib roast beef but didn't read until the day of planned prep about salting it 18-24 hours ahead of time. Today though, it's beef day. Even going to start Yorkshire pudding batter as soon as this posts.

Two financial educ. websites - 1 poor, 1 great

March 4th, 2015 at 09:50 am

This Motley Fool just ain't what it used to be.

Slightly better than having one simple question unanswered is having a question answered incorrectly, because at least that shows people are logging on and looking at the boards. However, when I ask a HOW question I don't expect a WHY answer. If I report a broken link on the Fool site I don't need a link to another site the Fool doesn't own. Plus, after I registered, I had three teaser junk emails: "Here's Your Free Book! - Attached" (no attachment); "Here's Your Free Stock Pick!" (no company listed, no date of the release, they could be sharing something that was all the rage of 2004) and "you nearly entered something good" (clicked by accident a link for premium subscribers) -- no substance, merely clickbait. I read on the boards a tale of a newly registered person, who subscribed to a premium newsletter service of the Motley Fool, who fell for the clickbait and received an outdated stock pick. I suspect the Motley Fool's two-tier service policy is "answer only the questions of people who've paid, on premium boards so freeloaders can't leech information; send registered Fools who have poor reading comprehension to 'pretend' answer questions of people who haven't paid." I don't yet have a friendly way to correct responders so I'm staying mum there.

I think maybe a website more my speed would be Jubak's Picks, with three model portfolios for dividend achievers, momentum investors, and blue chip buy and hold people, and recent, as in 24-48 hours, announcements of buys and sells. But don't follow Jubak on Twitter: four out of for the links of stories I clicked go to dead pages. I mentioned this twice on Twitter, and whoever posts to Jim Jubak's account doesn't read any replies.

I feel like the narrator in the Suicidal Tendencies classic song "Institutionalized" -- "all I wanted was a Pepsi, and SHE WOULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME." All I asked was a question that could have been answered with links to perhaps the Momentum Investing information, or the Day traders' Den board; and another question that should have, if read by the appropriate staff, led to corrective action but so far has not.

Link du Jour: Six Benefits of Dumping a Losing Stock

I dumped a stock two weeks ago - I'd held it for three years. It's risen $30 beyond when I dumped it. Because I suck at seeing the future.

I liked #2 of this article: "Value the Company -- Sell Overvalued Stocks"

Before you dump a stock, check its Price Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). The PE Ratio will reveal investor confidence in a company's stock and what they are willing to pay relative to the company's actual earnings. To calculate the PE Ratio — divide the company's stock price by its earnings per share. The standard PE Ratio is anywhere from 15-30. Over 30 is an indicator the company might be overvalued. The PE ratio can be found on websites like Morningstar and Marketwatch.

Another way to value a stock is by calculating the company's Cash Flow Ratio. To do this, simply divide the cash flow from operations by its current liabilities. The cash flow should be consistent with that of similar companies. If it's higher, it's probably overvalued. Some say this is a better performance measure. This information usually can also be found on the aforementioned financial websites."

February budget report

March 3rd, 2015 at 09:36 am

$12.99 interest income, whee.

Principal Reductions
Car: 8190.86: 3.4% difference
House: 89435.4: 0.84% difference
Heloc: 10226: 0.08034% difference

Bad
Spent $55.17 on books, budgeted for $20.
Spent $71.18 on clothes, budgeted for $40.
Spent $145.01 on Miscellaneous, budgeted $76.90

Indifferent
Spent $46.84 on interest, budgeted for $330.61 -- carried over to March.

Good
Spent $158.52 on dining, budgeted for $210.
Spent $51.91 on entertainment, budgeted for $72.
Spent $15.46 on gifts, budgeted for $40.
Spent $484.32 on groceries, budgeted for $650.
Spent $47.95 on Auto (fuel and parking), budgeted $55

Cash growth from February 1: $1000.17
Taxable assets difference from February 1: $665.65
Total over budget: $2.52

March budgeted expenditures: $3623.03


On Sunday, March 1, I drove to the Safeway gas station, where we had two gas rewards, arriving there with a fuel range of 7 miles before the tank would be officially empty. Just so I could be under my fuel budget for February.

I reregistered for the Motley Fool website and...
not much is happening. Some boards for stocks I bought recently have been inactive for over six years. I read some Fool articles today, like "the six stocks we'd hold for ten years" and ran the ticker symbols through some valuation metrics, including insider buying, and I see more red than green for all those metrics on Finviz.com, and no 10+% distance between current price and target price. I posted my question about how high PE stocks should be evaluated in a frothy market and so far I've had as little response as I've had at the SavingAdvice forum.

What, ho! Some curiosity and nonsense from Paulette

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am

"Your tax refund is scheduled to be mailed by March 6, 2015. If you do not receive the refund by April 3, 2015, please contact us again. We are unable to take any action until then."

First and second mortgage balances sum to under $100,000.

I may re-register for the Motley Fool website. I had an account long ago but forgot my password and no longer have the email account I used for registering. I ask questions that are not in scope, I guess, for the Investing Forum here on SavingAdvice.com. Imagine anyone wanting to know how to evaluate stocks and time their purchases based on value and projected value!

Some of my brain is no longer accessible due to repeat head trauma, so I think wrong things like a stock price is determined on buyer and seller. So when stocks go up, that's due to higher demand, and less supply, and because sellers bid up the price. So when stock prices rise, it's due to transactions, more accurately, more buyers than sellers, more demand than supply. Someone must be bidding these stocks past fair value. Someone must be buying stock that appears overvalued and thinking that is not the case. How are they evaluating those purchases? How do they determine how much growth there is for a stock? I know people were buying $400K houses in Stockton, California in the mid 2000s, so I know there's a market for overvalued properties and assets. You will never convince me nobody on SavingAdvice.com ever bought anything overvalued without thinking the values were going to rise and coming up with a reason other than "buy now or be priced out forever." Heck, I've done it a few times with stocks. How do people know when or decide when they're going to buy something expensive? How do people determine condos in Manhattan or San Francisco or Vancouver or Hong Kong are a good deal? Or $400K houses in Stockton, California?

Visa and Monster have still gone up today, which suggests to me (remember, I am brain-damaged) that demand is still high. These companies' stock prices must come down sometime. Juniper Networks, Lucent, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM all went down from high-flying PE multiples at some point. All I know is my fear that if I buy Visa now it'll tank 10% one week after I buy it, because I missed some timing signals. If I buy Monster now it'll tank 30% in a month because only after the buy transaction comes through will there be major announcements about how people with hypertension shouldn't touch it.

I'd had my eye on some stocks but they're overvalued to me. I keep thinking Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, VISA, Monster Beverage are overvalued, but lots of people don't feel that way. Look at the volumes from Friday February 27 2015: 4,311,727; 2,458,964 (58.6% of volume); 3,030,124; 1,982,831 (actually under average volume); 6,210,450 (6.3x normal volume for MNST). Even though I suspect Monster Beverages, and 5-Hour Performance Energy shots contributed to my brother's untimely demise, and the demise of young people, its ubiquity suggests lots of people have as great a death wish or the belief that as long as the beverage ingredients are listed and they include vitamins, no blood clots could ever show up in the lungs nor would cardiac arrest ever happen, because energy drinks are for active people. Every time I see Monster cans or tiny bottles of 5 Hour Performance at the drug store or supermarket I think of my grey-faced brother in his casket, the little altar of Asahi beer and Monster Beverage, his grieving widow, and his four-year-old boy. Everyone sees something different I suppose. Cancer deaths make sense to me, heart attacks from a half-century of smoking make sense to me, pulmonary thromboembolism deaths for non-smoking people who run, bicycle, do yoga, lift weights dropping dead at 44 do not make sense to me if energy drink consumption is not a risk factor. It must be my head trauma preventing me from making sense of this death, like it prevents me from figuring out the right time to buy high-PE stocks. Yeah, that's the ticket.