Picking up Nickels

Friday, October 22, 2021

September 2021 CPI-U numbers released: Buy I Bonds Now!


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the September 2021 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data last week, which increased by 0.272% over the past month.

As always, now is one of the best times to consider purchasing I Bonds. The reason for this is that we now know what the rate of return for October 2021 I Bonds will be for both the first and second six month periods, which is important since I Bonds must be held for 12 months before they can be redeemed.

Using the CPI-U data from March 2021 (264.877) and September 2021 (274.310) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for October 2021 issue I Bonds.


That means these bonds would earn the current rate of 3.54% (using 0% fixed & 1.77% variable) for the first 6 months and 7.12% (combined 0% fixed & 3.56% variable) for the second 6 months. In the current interest rate environment, an October I Bond purchase is VERY attractive when compared to something like the 12 month CD @ 0.80% APY special currently being offered at Lafayette Federal Credit Union. And, of course, waiting until November to buy will basically double your initial rate with the 7.12% offering.

With such market-beating rates, I really wouldn't discourage anyone from purchasing I Bonds in October or November. For what it's worth, I would buy in October to lock in the great 3.54% rate for the first six months before grabbing 7.12% for the second six months.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

October 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on October 12th, 2021:

Asset Sep 2021 Oct 2021 Change




Checking 3,562 2,507 -1,055
Money Market 130,618 131,656 1,038
Savings Bonds 191,756 192,162 406
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 31,887 31,977 90
Brokerage 286,758 294,669 7,911
401k 410,343 401,936 -8,407
Roth IRA 252,951 246,470 -6,481
SEP IRA 1,170,929 1,152,133 -18,796
529 Savings 182,619 180,739 -1,880
Total Assets $2,661,423 $2,634,249 -$27,174
      -1.02%

The S&P 500 pulled back a bit, falling 2.42% (+15.83% YTD) since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for September fell to 4.8%, with a disappointing 194,000 jobs added. Oil prices rose to the $80 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $3.09 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, it was more "slow & steady": 401k transactions, a monthly Vanguard VTI brokerage purchase, and a pending distribution from my S Corp.

Once again, my monthly update is happening on the same day that the September 2021 CPI-U numbers came out. Stay tuned for a follow-up on of the impact for Series I savings bonds.

Monday, September 13, 2021

September 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on September 10th, 2021:

Asset Aug 2021 Sep 2021 Change




Checking 4,775 3,562 -1,213
Money Market 121,699 130,618 8,919
Savings Bonds 191,369 191,756 387
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 31,794 31,887 93
Brokerage 286,450 286,758 308
401k 403,577 410,343 6,766
Roth IRA 251,319 252,951 1,632
SEP IRA 1,160,677 1,170,929 10,252
529 Savings 181,892 182,619 727
Total Assets $2,633,552 $2,661,423 $27,871
      1.06%

The S&P 500 continues to hit all-time highs, rising 0.49% (18.70% YTD) since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for August fell to 5.2%, with a less-than-expected 235,000 jobs added. Oil prices rose to the $70 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $2.95 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from August 2021. All of my money moves over the past month were pretty typical things like 401k transactions, a monthly Vanguard VTI brokerage purchase, and a distribution from my S Corp.

For the non-financial, everyone is back to in-person school. The young Frugalsons are attending universities with mask and COVID vaccine mandates, so at least the school administrators are taking the pandemic seriously. It's also lawn season, so I've been working hard on my fall overseeding and fertilization program in between tropical storms. Hopefully the remnants of tropical storms Henri & Ida will be the last of it for the Northeast.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

August 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on August 10th, 2021:

Asset Jul 2021 Aug 2021 Change




Checking 3,798 4,775 977
Money Market 139,303 121,699 -17,604
Savings Bonds 191,019 191,369 350
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 31,701 31,794 93
Brokerage 276,066 286,450 10,384
401k 398,370 403,577 5,207
Roth IRA 250,073 251,319 1,246
SEP IRA 1,152,921 1,160,677 7,756
529 Savings 181,422 181,892 470
Total Assets $2,624,673 $2,633,552 $8,879
      0.34%

The S&P 500 continues to hit all-time highs, rising 1.19% (18.12% YTD) since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for July fell to 5.4%, with a strong 943,000 jobs added. Oil prices reversed course and fell to the $68 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $2.95 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from July 2021. I didn't have any significant money moves over the past month, but will likely take an additional distribution from my S Corp sometime in August.

Despite the COVID-19 delta variant stressing hospital ICU bed availability in US hot spots, we actually had a somewhat "normal" family vacation at our New England cabin rental. We were cautious and had a nice time, but there seemed to be very little mask usage and social distancing among our fellow vacationers as the latest COVID wave continues to spread. School starts next month, which adds another variable to the mix as unvaccinated children start spending time together in close quarters. I also had to cut some large checks for house painting and college tuition, but fortunately we have planned for those expenses.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

July 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on July 12th, 2021:

Asset Jun 2021 Jul 2021 Change




Checking 4,168 3,798 -370
Money Market 116,827 139,303 22,476
Savings Bonds 190,730 191,019 289
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 31,612 31,701 89
Brokerage 262,522 276,066 13,544
401k 392,884 398,370 5,486
Roth IRA 247,517 250,073 2,556
SEP IRA 1,129,412 1,152,921 23,509
529 Savings 182,029 181,422 -607
Total Assets $2,557,701 $2,624,673 $66,972
      2.62%

The S&P 500 has continued to approach all-time highs, rising 3.43% (16.73% YTD) since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for June rose to 5.9%, with 850,000 jobs added (the largest monthly gain since August 2020). Oil prices continued to climb to the $74 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $2.92 at my last fill-up. Inflation is also currently running a bit hot, with the CPI-U up 0.93% in June (the largest monthly gain in thirteen years).

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from June 2021. My only money move of note was taking a distribution from my S Corp in early July.

As for the non-financial, COVID-19 cases in the New England region continue to look good due to strong vaccination rates and we're actually on track to have a somewhat normal summer vacation this year, which is quite a change from 2020. I also have an agreement in place to get our house painted, which will hopefully happen soon once it finally stops raining around here. Good times.

Friday, June 11, 2021

June 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on June 10th, 2021:

Asset May 2021 Jun 2021 Change




Checking 6,671 4,168 -2,503
Money Market 117,899 116,827 -1,072
Savings Bonds 180,445 190,730 10,285
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 31,519 31,612 93
Brokerage 249,615 262,522 12,907
401k 376,449 392,884 16,435
Roth IRA 240,628 247,517 6,889
SEP IRA 1,103,963 1,129,412 25,449
529 Savings 180,124 182,029 1,905
Total Assets $2,487,313 $2,557,701 $70,388
      2.83%

The S&P 500 has been climbing steadily over the past month, rising 2.10% (14.48% YTD) since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for May fell to 5.8%, with a lower-than-expected 559,000 jobs added. Oil prices continued to climb to the $70 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $2.81 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from May 2021. My only money move of note was maxing out an I bond purchase (3.54% composite rate) late last month at treasurydirect.gov.

As for the non-financial, we continue to see COVID-19 infection rates in our area decline as vaccinations increase and restrictions continue to be lifted. It's certainly quite a change to see unmasked people at grocery stores and restaurants as things continue to trend toward "normal". I'm also starting to work on finding a contractor to paint Casa de Frugalson this year. One contractor we've used before is already booked through the end of 2021 and another that painted a family member's house a few years ago doesn't seem to want or need the work due to the shockingly high quote we received. I'm sure that people all over the country are finding themselves in a similar position.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

May 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on May 11th, 2021:

Asset Apr 2021 May 2021 Change




Checking 2,908 6,671 3,763
Money Market 115,494 117,899 2,405
Savings Bonds 175,188 180,445 5,257
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 31,430 31,519 89
Brokerage 245,828 249,615 3,787
401k 368,669 376,449 7,780
Roth IRA 238,934 240,628 1,694
SEP IRA 1,100,369 1,103,963 3,594
529 Savings 181,902 180,124 -1,778
Total Assets $2,460,722 $2,487,313 $26,591
      1.08%

The S&P 500 has been a bit choppy of late, rising 0.58% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for April rose to 6.1%, with a disappointing 266,000 jobs added. Oil prices climbed to the $66 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $2.69 at my last fill-up. Of course, gasoline prices are already heading higher due to supply issues from the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from April 2021. The only money move of note was receiving our 2021 federal tax refund (cash and April 2021 issue paper Series I savings bonds) along with an American Rescue Plan Act stimulus payment that we qualified for due to reduced income in 2020. I'm also planning on maxing out an I bond purchase at treasurydirect.gov by the end of the month to take advantage of the attractive 3.54% rate.

As for the non-financial, I'm still on a high since everyone in the Frugalson household is fully vaccinated. The COVID-19 infection rates in our area are improving weekly and it seems like we're begging to see some light at the end of the tunnel. :)