Picking up Nickels

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 2016 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on May 10th, 2016:


Asset Apr
2016
May
2016
Change
Checking 958 1,741 783
Money Market 64,743 72,039 7,296
Savings Bonds 105,857 108,962 3,105
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 48,904 39,009 -10,015
Brokerage 126,655 127,140 485
401k 124,248 126,434 2,186
Roth IRA 105,503 107,257 1,754
SEP IRA 515,709 526,309 10,600
529 Savings 133,187 135,538 2,351



Total Assets $1,225,884 $1,244,429 $18,545
   
 
1.51%


The S&P 500 has continued to rise since the last update, rising 2.08% over that period:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for April remained flat at 5.0%, with an apparently sluggish 160,000 jobs added. Oil prices have continued to rise to the $44 level (up from $41), with local gasoline prices touching the $2.20 price point.

On the financial front, my asset level has reached a new all time high, besting the previous high from May 2015. After a little drama, I was pleased to see that the entire Series I Savings Bond portion of my 2015 Federal tax refund had finally arrived. For some reason the ten bonds arrived in separate batches over a two week period, where in past years they have all arrived on the same day. I also had my Penfed 1.31% APY 1 year CD mature since the last update, and have the cash sitting in a money market account for now with no compelling place to put it. Finally, I need to break down and make an initial 2016 SEP IRA contribution since we're already a third of the way through 2016.

On the non-financial front, it's nice to have the chilly April weather and last week's rain behind us and see 70° temperatures outside again. Not so crazy about the accompanying pollen though...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

March CPI-U numbers released: Pass on I Bonds until November 2016

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March 2016 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data this morning, which increased by 0.43% 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 2016 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 2015 (237.945) and March 2016 (238.132) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for April 2016 issue I Bonds.


That means these bonds would earn a rate of 1.64% (using 0.10% fixed & 1.48 variable) for the first 6 months and 0.26% (using 0.10% fixed & 0.08% variable) for the second 6 months. Based on this, April 2016 issue I Bonds are obviously not a very competitive investment when compared to something like the 12 month CD @ 1.31% APY currently being offered by Air Force FCU. Similarly, May 2016 issue I Bonds are even less attractive since they will have a 0.26% composite rate for the first 6 months of ownership.

Basically, I think we're having a repeat of 2015 where it makes sense to hold off on any I Bond purchases until the next rate reset in November 2016 to avoid six months of 0.26% interest.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 2016 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on April 11th, 2016:


Asset Mar
2016
Apr
2016
Change
Checking 1,669 958 -711
Money Market 65,104 64,743 -361
Savings Bonds 105,825 105,857 32
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 48,904 49,024 120
Brokerage 121,099 126,655 5,556
401k 121,438 124,248 2,810
Roth IRA 102,918 105,503 2,585
SEP IRA 501,546 515,709 14,163
529 Savings 129,986 133,187 3,201



Total Assets $1,198,489 $1,225,884 $27,395
   
 
2.29%


The S&P 500 has continued to trend upward since the last update, rising 2.29% over that period:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for March rose slightly to 5.0%, while the 215,000 jobs added exceeded expectations. Oil prices have edged up to the $41 level (up from $38), and I've been seeing local gasoline prices above the $2 threshold again.

On the financial front, all of my 2015 personal and business tax returns are finally complete. I did get a modest refund on my Federal return and will be getting a portion of it in paper Series I Savings Bonds. On a related note, the March CPI-U numbers are due out later this week so that a Series I Savings Bond purchase can be properly evaluated. I'm anticipating a situation like last year where we had a six month period of 0% interest, but we'll know for sure on Thursday. Finally, I have a Penfed 1.31% APY 1 year CD maturing early next month with the usual dilemma of no concrete landing spot for the proceeds.

On the non-financial front, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of some warm Spring weather and the flowers and green grass that should accompany it. :D

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 2016 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on March 10th, 2016:


Asset Feb
2016
Mar
2016
Change
Checking 2,064 1,669 -395
Money Market 62,817 65,104 2,287
Savings Bonds 105,798 105,825 27
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 48,792 48,904 112
Brokerage 112,511 121,099 8,588
401k 112,632 121,438 8,806
Roth IRA 96,110 102,918 6,808
SEP IRA 461,365 501,546 40,181
529 Savings 125,774 129,986 4,212



Total Assets $1,127,863 $1,198,489 $70,626
   
 
6.26%


The S&P 500 has recovered nicely since the last update, rising 7.44% over the past month:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for February remained flat at 4.9%, with a strong 242,000 jobs added. Oil prices have climbed back up to the $38 level (up from $26), although the prices I've been paying at the gasoline pump have been pretty stable during that time.

On the financial front, my CPA finalized my 2015 S Corp tax returns and I was able to make my final 2015 SEP IRA contribution. Unless an unexpected opportunity presents itself before the next update, it should be a quiet month with regard to financial moves.

On the non-financial front, the usual tasks of finishing up my 2015 personal tax returns and working on a contract extension with my largest client are on the docket. As an added plus, that start of Spring is only nine days away. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 2016 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on February 10th, 2016:


Asset Jan
2016
Feb
2016
Change
Checking 1,444 2,064 620
Money Market 74,188 62,817 -11,371
Savings Bonds 105,784 105,798 14
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 36,681 48,792 12,111
Brokerage 113,049 112,511 -538
401k 117,223 112,632 -4,591
Roth IRA 99,546 96,110 -3,436
SEP IRA 479,569 461,365 -18,204
529 Savings 125,796 125,774 -22



Total Assets $1,153,280 $1,127,863 -$25,417
   
 
-2.20%


The S&P 500 is down for the third update in a row, falling 3.73% over the past month:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for January fell to 4.9% (the lowest since February 2008), with "only" 151,000 jobs added. Oil prices have continued to slide to the $26 level, which is remarkable considering that the prices has fallen by half over each of the past two years (remember $100 oil in February 2014?).

On the financial front, I opened a Penfed 1.51% APY 15 month CD during the seven day window that Penfed offered them in January. I don't recall Penfed ever taking an attractive CD offer off the table so quickly before, so I would guess that the demand for it was quite high. I'm also about ready to wrap up my 2015 my business tax returns so that I can get that final 2015 SEP IRA contribution taken care of.

On the non-financial front, we've actually hit the point of the winter where it's still light outside at 5 PM. It'll be time to change the clocks next month when DST kicks in, so hopefully the cold and snowy Northeast winter will be behind us soon enough.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 2016 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on January 11th, 2016:


Asset Dec
2015
Jan
2016
Change
Checking 3,362 1,444 -1,918
Money Market 64,463 74,188 9,725
Savings Bonds 105,741 105,784 43
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 36,577 36,681 104
Brokerage 120,377 113,049 -7,328
401k 122,712 117,223 -5,489
Roth IRA 103,834 99,546 -4,288
SEP IRA 500,462 479,569 -20,893
529 Savings 126,771 125,796 -975



Total Assets $1,184,299 $1,153,280 -$31,019
   
 
-2.62%


The S&P 500 has continued a downward trend, falling 4.86% since the last update as worry over a global slowdown took center stage:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for December remained at 5.0%, with a strong 292,000 jobs added. It's interesting that the US economy is currently in a position of strength considering the economic worry overseas. Oil prices have continued to fall to the $31 level, which translated to me paying $1.60 per gallon for heating oil last week (the lowest since April 2004).

On the financial front, I took a final 2015 distribution from my S Corporation and shifted that cash into savings for the time being. I also need to get rolling on 2015 my business tax returns so that I can make my final 2015 SEP IRA contribution.

On the non-financial front, it's time to start gathering information for my 2015 personal and business tax returns as we hunker down during a chilly January in New England. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on December 14th, 2015:


Asset Nov
2015
Dec
2015
Change
Checking 2,915 3,362 447
Money Market 74,257 64,463 -9,794
Savings Bonds 95,684 105,741 10,057
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 36,477 36,577 100
Brokerage 125,754 120,377 -5,377
401k 128,192 122,712 -5,480
Roth IRA 107,018 103,834 -3,184
SEP IRA 515,079 500,462 -14,617
529 Savings 127,196 126,771 -425



Total Assets $1,212,572 $1,184,299 -$28,273
   
 
-2.33%


The S&P 500 has been a bit volatile of late, down 2.87% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for November remained at 5.0%, with 211,000 jobs added. Oil prices have fallen quite a bit to the $36 level, with fears of an increasing oil glut driving prices down. We're also potentially going to see the Federal Reserve raise interest rates for the first time since the Great Recession began, which is hopefully a sign that our financial system will finally begin getting back to "normal".

On the financial front, my only move of note was to make a maximum purchase of November 2015 Series I savings Bonds. I'll also need to make a final 2015 SEP IRA contribution early next year when my CPA finishes my S Corp tax returns and the final numbers are in.

On the non-financial front, my main goals are to wrap up the 2015 year for my S Corp and try to get everything Christmas-related done by the end of next week. Ho Ho Ho!