Picking up Nickels

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 2014 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on July 10th, 2014:


Asset Jun
2014
Jul
2014
Change
Checking 770 3,272 2,502
Money Market 46,651 45,359 -1,292
Savings Bonds 92,271 92,381 110
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 62,825 62,998 173
Brokerage 131,017 126,614 -4,403
401k 144,521 143,923 -598
Roth IRA 92,659 93,123 464
SEP IRA 462,102 465,187 3,085
529 Savings 107,645 108,996 1,351



Total Assets $1,140,461 $1,141,853 $1,392
   
 
0.12%


The S&P 500 has continued to hover near all time highs over the past month, rising 0.71% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for June fell to 6.1% with 288,000 jobs added. I think the best thing about this number was that people weren't saying, "Yeah unemployment went down, BUT..." for a change. :) To add to the positivity, oil prices are actually down somewhat to about $101 over the past month.

On the financial front, my assets have surpassed their previous all time high from June by a whisker and continue to march toward the $1.2M threshold. My next money move will likely be to make an additional 2014 SEP IRA contribution after my August payroll. I'll also be keeping an eye on Penfed for decent CD deals, but I'm not holding my breath on that front.

For the non-financial, I just ordered a new mountain bike to replace the fossil that I have been riding for a looooong time. I look forward to using it when we head up to Vermont for a brief vacation later this month:


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 2014 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on June 10th, 2014:


Asset May
2014
Jun
2014
Change
Checking 3,783 770 -3,013
Money Market 47,499 46,651 -848
Savings Bonds 92,177 92,271 94
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 62,648 62,825 177
Brokerage 123,884 131,017 7,133
401k 140,026 144,521 4,495
Roth IRA 89,526 92,659 3,133
SEP IRA 445,471 462,102 16,631
529 Savings 104,960 107,645 2,685



Total Assets $1,109,974 $1,140,461 $30,487
   
 
2.75%


The S&P 500 has to near all time highs over the past month, rising 3.85% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for May remained flat at 6.3% while all of the jobs lost during the recession have finally been recovered. Oil prices remained fairly flat at about $104 over the past month.

On the financial front, my assets have once again surpassed their previous all time high from May and are closing in on the $1.2M threshold. I don't have any pending money moves at the moment, but it will be interesting to see what the stock market will do throughout 2014. Right now the S&P 500 is up about 5.5% for the year and I imagine we'd need some very positive economic news for the index to move much higher.

For the non-financial, I'm currently suffering through the green pollen season we're having in the Northeast (achoo!). Also, the next big event on the horizon is the young Frugalsons being done with the school year in a couple of weeks. I'm sure they'll miss school very much as they enjoy 2+ months of fun in the sun. ;)

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 2014 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on May 9th, 2014:


Asset Apr
2014
May
2014
Change
Checking 6,585 3,783 -2,802
Money Market 50,456 47,499 -2,957
Savings Bonds 82,067 92,177 10,110
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 62,477 62,648 171
Brokerage 120,249 123,884 3,635
401k 137,834 140,026 2,192
Roth IRA 87,884 89,526 1,642
SEP IRA 433,380 445,471 12,091
529 Savings 102,812 104,960 2,148



Total Assets $1,083,744 $1,109,974 $26,230
   
 
2.42%


The S&P 500 has rebounded over the past month, rising 2.48% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for April fell to 6.3% from 6.7% with 288k new jobs added. Oil prices fell slightly from $104 to about $100 over the past month.

On the financial front, my assets have once again surpassed their previous all time high from March, breaking the $1.1M threshold for the first time. I also bought my annual allocation of April 2014 issue Series I savings bonds at treasurydirect.gov and had enough surplus cash in my S Corp to make an initial 2014 SEP IRA contribution.

As for the other stuff, I am pleased to have signed on with my largest customer for another year. They're a great bunch of people who are a pleasure to work with. :) And now that the nice weather is here, it looks like we will be performing some additional upgrades to the Frugalson homestead over the next few months. A new Weber gas grill and a Bosch dishwasher are already on hand and it appears that some new kitchen counter tops are next. Hopefully the upgrades this year will be less painful than the swimming pool/new car/air conditioning fiascoes of 2013.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

March CPI-U numbers released: April 2014 issue I Bonds are a compelling buy

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March 2014 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data this morning, which increased by 0.64% last month.

As always, now (along with the release of the September CPI-U) 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 April 2014 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 September 2013 (234.149) and March 2014 (236.293) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for April 2014 issue I Bonds:



That means these bonds would earn a rate of 1.38% (using 0.2% fixed & 1.18 variable) for the first 6 months and 2.04% (using 0.2% fixed & 1.84% variable) for the second 6 months. Based on this, April 2014 issue I Bonds are a competitive investment when compared to something like the 13 month CD @ 1.25% APY currently being offered by Quorum Federal Credit Union.

The above average rates offered by April 2014 I Bonds over the next 12 months make them a compelling buy in my opinion, and I plan to max out my 2014 $10,000 annual limit at treasurydirect.gov by the end of April.  While I could get a better rate of return for the first six month period by deferring my purchase until May, I am unconvinced that the modest 0.2% fixed rate portion currently available (the first above 0% offered since May 2010!) will remain when rates are reset in May. If you have some cash that you're looking to put in a safe place where it can earn a competitive yield over the next year, then April 2014 issue I Bonds are worth considering.  They continue to be a pretty good deal for a government-backed security that can never lose money and is not subject to state and local income tax.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 2014 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on April 10th, 2014:


Asset Mar
2014
Apr
2014
Change
Checking 2,680 6,585 3,905
Money Market 52,883 50,456 -2,427
Savings Bonds 81,945 82,067 122
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 62,300 62,477 177
Brokerage 118,830 120,249 1,419
401k 136,735 137,834 1,099
Roth IRA 89,245 87,884 -1,361
SEP IRA 444,793 433,380 -11,413
529 Savings 102,349 102,812 463



Total Assets $1,091,760 $1,083,744 -$8,016
   
 
-0.73%


After a volatile ride over the past month, the S&P 500 is down 2.35% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for March was flat at 6.7% with 192k new jobs added. Oil prices are up a bit, rising from $101 to $104over the past month. The big news of the week has been the Heartbleed security vulnerability that has compromised the OpenSSL open source implementation of the SSL and TLS encryption protocols used by many web sites for secure http (https) communications. It's been difficult to know what sites may have been compromised, but mashable.com has a nice list of popular sites and their status. Interestingly, many financial institutions (Vanguard, Fidelity, Bank of America, etc.) claim that they are not affected by this security hole. That is somewhat comforting I suppose...

On the financial front, my only pending move at the moment is to watch the March CPI-U numbers due for release next week to help evaluate a potential Series I Savings Bond purchase. I'm currently leaning toward an April 2014 I Bond purchase due to the 0.2% fixed rate portion (it had been 0% for three years!), but I'll be able to make a more informed decision when the March numbers come out on Tuesday, April 15th. I also took a distribution from my S Corp's profits that currently accounts for the inflated balance in my checking account (more on that below).

Unfortunately, a large portion of my checking account balance will be used to pay my 2013 Federal and state personal income taxes. Mrs. Frugalson has already adjusted the withholding on her W-4 form, so I'm hoping that we won't be caught off guard (or subject to an underpayment penalty!) when our 2014 personal tax returns are due next year.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 2014 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on March 10th, 2014:


Asset Feb
2014
Mar
2014
Change
Checking 1,558 2,680 1,122
Money Market 51,657 52,883 1,226
Savings Bonds 81,833 81,945 112
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 62,142 62,300 158
Brokerage 113,865 118,830 4,965
401k 132,566 136,735 4,169
Roth IRA 85,903 89,245 3,342
SEP IRA 422,228 444,793 22,565
529 Savings 99,250 102,349 3,099



Total Assets $1,051,002 $1,091,760 $40,758
   
 
3.88%


The S&P 500 has recovered nicely, rising 4.30% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for February rose slightly from 6.6% to 6.7%. Oddly enough, the report was actually stronger than expected due to the number of new jobs being created. Oil prices were somewhat flat, rising slightly to around $101 over the past month.

On the financial front, the very cooperative stock market has helped boost my asset levels to a new all-time high. I've also made my final 2013 SEP IRA contribution for my S Corp and am awaiting the March CPI-U numbers due next month to help me evaluate a potential Series I Savings Bond purchase.

As for the rest, my 2013 business and personal tax returns are finally complete. Unfortunately the number of exemptions on Mrs. Frugalson's W-4 form were a bit on the high side and she ended up underpaying her Federal income tax by a good amount last year. The 2013 tax year was her first full year on the job since rejoining the workforce, so we ended up being caught a bit off guard. As a result, we owe a pretty good amount of Federal income tax for 2013. :( So, we'll write the Feds a nice check next month and I've already had her fill out a new W-4 form to prevent this from happening again next year (and help us avoid paying an underpayment penalty!). I'll also probably end up taking a distribution from my S Corp to help cover the cost. Good times. :p

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 2014 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on February 10th, 2014:


Asset Jan
2014
Feb
2014
Change
Checking 3,032 1,558 -1,474
Money Market 47,747 51,657 3,910
Savings Bonds 81,745 81,833 88
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 61,966 62,142 176
Brokerage 116,254 113,865 -2,389
401k 135,832 132,566 -3,266
Roth IRA 87,627 85,903 -1,724
SEP IRA 430,055 422,228 -7,827
529 Savings 98,669 99,250 581



Total Assets $1,062,927 $1,051,002 -$11,925
   
 
-1.12%


The S&P 500 has pulled back 2.31% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for January fell one again from 6.7% to 6.6%, which is the lowest number in more than five years. Unfortunately, this has once again been characterized as a disappointing number due to the amount of people dropping out of the workforce. Oil prices rose to around the $100 level over the past month, which helped contribute to my $3.75 per gallon heating oil delivery a couple of weeks ago.

On the financial front, I'm moving into a quiet period as I work on my S Corp and personal 2013 income tax returns. I'll be making my final 2013 SEP IRA contribution soon since my S Corp returns are due next month, and I'll also be keeping an eye on the monthly CPI-U numbers when an eye toward a Series I Savings Bond purchase.

As for the non-financial, I'm getting quite sick of the cold and snowy weather during this fine winter season. I'm certainly tired of ruining the impeller belt on my trusty Ariens snow blower that I bought for a nicely discounted price nearly seven years ago. I've burned up four of them over the past few years during slushy conditions despite trying to be diligent about keeping the snow blower chute clear and unclogged. While annoying, fortunately it's a cheap fix (less than $10). :(