Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on August 10th, 2015:


Asset Jul
2015
Aug
2015
Change
Checking 3,163 1,945 -1,218
Money Market 66,871 61,531 -5,340
Savings Bonds 95,244 95,380 136
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 46,154 46,267 113
Brokerage 130,751 130,725 -26
401k 137,616 138,307 691
Roth IRA 103,393 104,169 776
SEP IRA 513,714 517,202 3,488
529 Savings 123,553 125,639 2,086



Total Assets $1,220,459 $1,221,165 $706
   
 
0.06%


The S&P 500 has rebounded since the last update, rising 1.33% during that time:


(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

Nine years ago this month I started this blog! The growth of my assets over that time has been remarkable:


In hindsight, it's certainly interesting to see how the recession from December 2007 through June 2009 is represented by such a small blip on the graph.

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for July remained unchanged at 5.3%, with 215,000 new jobs added. Oil prices have continued to fall to the $43 level, with talk of gasoline below $2 per gallon when the switch is made to winter blend gasoline.

On the financial front, I decided to hold off on making an additional 2015 contribution to my SEP IRA until after I run my next payroll this month. I do wonder if we may see a surprise Penfed CD deal this fall since there has been talk about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates.

In spite of my efforts to focus on saving and investing, spending seems to be the current trend in the Frugalson household. Between a brief family vacation, getting our house painted, and the new refrigerator we will be buying during the Massachusetts sales tax holiday weekend, we seem to have started our own economic stimulus program. Hopefully we will be able to reverse that trend sooner rather than later.

Monday, July 13, 2015

July 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on July 10th, 2015:


Asset Jun
2015
Jul
2015
Change
Checking 1,358 3,163 1,805
Money Market 61,114 66,871 5,757
Savings Bonds 95,111 95,244 133
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 46,045 46,154 109
Brokerage 138,569 130,751 -7,818
401k 141,507 137,616 -3,891
Roth IRA 104,988 103,393 -1,595
SEP IRA 518,418 513,714 -4,704
529 Savings 123,125 123,553 428



Total Assets $1,230,235 $1,220,459 -$9,776
   
 
-0.79%


The S&P 500 has retreated, falling 1.36% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for June fell to 5.3%, the lowest level since April 2008. Oil prices also retreated to the $53 level. It also appears that the latest fiscal emergency in Greece has been averted, although it's not clear how long that will last.

On the financial front, my only move of note was taking a distribution from my S Corporation. I'll also be making an additional 2015 contribution to my SEP IRA after I run my next payroll this month.

As for the non-financial, the young Frugalsons are done with school for the summer and have been enjoying the nice weather. Other plans for the summer include a short vacation, getting the Frugalson compound painted, and hopefully replacing our tired 18 year old refrigerator.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on June 10th, 2015:


Asset May
2015
Jun
2015
Change
Checking 1,526 1,358 -168
Money Market 63,565 61,114 -2,451
Savings Bonds 94,969 95,111 142
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 45,933 46,045 112
Brokerage 138,232 138,569 337
401k 143,888 141,507 -2,381
Roth IRA 105,245 104,988 -257
SEP IRA 516,345 518,418 2,073
529 Savings 122,599 123,125 526



Total Assets $1,232,302 $1,230,235 -$2,067
   
 
-0.17%


The S&P 500 continued to be relatively unchanged, falling 0.01% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for May rose slightly to 5.5% with 280,000 new jobs created for the month and more than 1 million created so far in 2015. Oil prices were also flat as they hovered around the $60 level.

On the financial front, I have made no significant moves of note over the past month. I will likely be taking an additional distribution from my S Corporation before the next monthly update, but those funds will likely be used to offset the cost of having my house painted at some point this summer.

As for the non-financial, the next major event will be the young Frugalsons finishing their current school year in a couple of weeks. Hopefully they will make good use of their free time and enjoy themselves, because the real world will be upon them before they know it. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on May 11th, 2015:


Asset Apr
2015
May
2015
Change
Checking 2,131 1,526 -605
Money Market 66,492 63,565 -2,927
Savings Bonds 94,826 94,969 143
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 35,836 45,933 10,097
Brokerage 136,752 138,232 1,480
401k 142,051 143,888 1,837
Roth IRA 105,070 105,245 175
SEP IRA 512,800 516,345 3,545
529 Savings 122,183 122,599 416



Total Assets $1,218,141 $1,232,302 $14,161
   
 
1.16%


The S&P 500 was nearly flat, rising 0.16% since the last update and continuing to stay near all time highs:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for April fell to 5.4% with 223,000 new jobs created. Oil prices rose from about $53 to almost $60, a fairly significant increase given recent price trends.

On the financial front, my assets have hit an all time high once again, rising above the previous high from April. That was in spite of a relatively flat S&P 500 however, since my SEP IRA balance was bolstered by my first 2015 SEP IRA contribution. However, I also put some cash to work in a Penfed 1.31% APY 1 year CD, mainly as a placeholder due to a lack of better options. The current 0% fixed rate I Bonds earning a 0% composite rate for the first six months certainly aren't an appealing "investment", that's for sure.

As for the non-financial, I am very pleased to be working under a new contract extension with my largest client! Hopefully everyone will continue to be happy and healthy and the current taste of Summer weather we're experiencing will carry us over until the young Frugalsons finish their current school year.

Friday, April 17, 2015

March CPI-U numbers released: Pass on I Bonds until November 2015

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March 2015 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data this morning, which increased by 0.60% 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 2015 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 2014 (238.031) and March 2015 (236.119) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for April 2015 issue I Bonds:



That means these bonds would earn a rate of 1.48% (using 0% fixed & 1.48 variable) for the first 6 months and 0% (using 0% fixed & -1.60% variable) for the second 6 months since the composite rate can never fall below zero. Based on this, April 2015 issue I Bonds are not a very competitive investment when compared to something like the 12 month CD @ 1.30% APY currently being offered by Connexus Credit Union. Similarly, May 2015 issue I Bonds are even less attractive since they will have a 0% composite rate for the first 6 months of ownership.

Simply put, I believe the smart money is on deferring any I Bond purchases until the next rate reset in November 2015 to avoid six months of 0% interest. Since the poor inflation number was primarily driven by oil prices falling to about half of the $100 level they were at a year ago, I expect that the next inflation adjustment will be a more typical (and attractive) number for I Bond buyers.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on April 10th, 2015:


Asset Mar
2015
Apr
2015
Change
Checking 1,309 2,131 822
Money Market 52,851 66,492 13,641
Savings Bonds 93,507 94,826 1,319
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 49,966 35,836 -14,130
Brokerage 132,175 136,752 4,577
401k 132,922 142,051 9,129
Roth IRA 101,211 105,070 3,859
SEP IRA 497,510 512,800 15,290
529 Savings 118,643 122,183 3,540



Total Assets $1,180,094 $1,218,141 $38,047
   
 
3.22%


The S&P 500 is up 2.83% since the last update and once again is close to all time highs:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for March stayed flat at 5.5% with "only" 126,000 new jobs created (apparently a disappointing number). Oil prices rise slightly from about $48 to almost $53.

On the financial front, my assets have hit an all time high once again, rising above the previous high from March along with the S&P 500. However, I unfortunately had to bid adieu to my remaining Penfed 3.5% APY 5 year CD from March 2010 without having a good landing spot for the newly freed up cash. I also took an equity distribution from my S Corp and used a portion of it to make another mortgage prepayment due to a lack of better options for the money. Finally, I'm waiting for the March CPI-U numbers due for release next week to help evaluate a potential Series I Savings Bond purchase. Right now, I'd say that holding off on an I Bond purchase until November is looking like the most logical move, but we'll see...

As for the non-financial, I am finally done with my 2014 personal tax returns! The state has already cashed my check and the Feds have already sent me my cash/paper I Bond refund. One odd thing of note is that the Treasury sent my I Bonds in NINE separate envelopes! With decisions like that, it's no wonder that the US Savings Bond program has been so expensive to administer!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 2015 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on March 10th, 2015:


Asset Feb
2015
Mar
2015
Change
Checking 2,164 1,309 -855
Money Market 48,693 52,851 4,158
Savings Bonds 93,340 93,507 167
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 49,838 49,966 128
Brokerage 137,206 132,175 -5,031
401k 134,184 132,922 -1,262
Roth IRA 102,110 101,211 -899
SEP IRA 493,787 497,510 3,723
529 Savings 118,059 118,643 584



Total Assets $1,179,381 $1,180,094 $713
   
 
0.06%


The S&P 500 has been volatile since the last update, falling 1.18% (despite hitting all time highs) during that time:

(chart courtesy of yahoo.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for February fell to 5.5% with strong hiring as 295,000 new jobs were created. Oil prices fell slightly from about $50 to almost $48.

On the financial front, my assets have once again reached a new all time high, barely surpassing the previous high from February despite the dip in the stock market. That was helped somewhat with my final 2014 SEP IRA contribution, which I took care of before my 2014 S Corp tax returns were filed. I also have a Penfed 3.5% APY 5 year CD from March 2010 maturing soon and may once again make a mortgage prepayment due to a lack of better options for the money. To compound matters, I also have some profit in my S Corp that I can use to take a distribution, so I have to find a home for that cash also (a nice problem to have).

As for the non-financial, I won a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet via a winning game piece in a box of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and it just arrived!