Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

January 2021 Financial Asset Roundup

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

Asset Dec 2020 Jan 2021 Change




Checking 2,525 2,810 285
Money Market 69,578 84,054 14,476
Savings Bonds 174,358 174,552 194
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 66,546 66,745 199
Brokerage 200,843 210,563 9,720
401k 318,490 337,566 19,076
Roth IRA 211,625 220,206 8,581
SEP IRA 1,021,649 1,058,036 36,387
529 Savings 186,000 186,824 824
Total Assets $2,251,614 $2,341,356 $89,742
      3.99%

Despite insurrection at the US Capitol and record Covid-19 deaths, the S&P 500 has continued to rise, up 3.59% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for December remained flat at 6.9%, with a troubling 140,000 jobs lost last month. Oil prices continued rising to the $53 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $2.13 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from December 2020. My Penfed 5% APY 10 year CD will be maturing shortly, and sadly it may take ten more years to find a such a high yield fixed income investment again. I'll also need to start thinking about making the final 2020 contributions to my Roth IRA and solo 401k retirement plans.

As for the non-financial, we should be focusing on the frightening COVID-19 death rates we're seeing in our country, but we also have to worry about violent assaults on US democracy. These are incredibly sad times for the freedoms we enjoy in the USA.

Friday, December 11, 2020

December 2020 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on December 10th, 2020:

Asset Nov 2020 Dec 2020 Change




Checking 2,880 2,525 -355
Money Market 71,375 69,578 -1,797
Savings Bonds 174,153 174,358 205
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 66,355 66,546 191
Brokerage 193,465 200,843 7,378
401k 297,298 318,490 21,192
Roth IRA 201,311 211,625 10,314
SEP IRA 977,149 1,021,649 44,500
529 Savings 183,454 186,000 2,546
Total Assets $2,167,440 $2,251,614 $84,174
      3.88%

Despite continuing Presidential election shenanigans and boosted by the pending authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine, the S&P 500 has done well of late, up 3.46% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for November fell to 6.9%, with a disappointing 245,000 new jobs created as the recovery grows more sluggish. Oil prices are up again to the $47 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $1.79 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from November 2020. I'm disappointed to report that I received notice that my Penfed 5% APY 10 year CD is due to mature next month. That was an incredible deal at the time that nothing else came close to beating within the past decade, and unfortunately that will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. I'm also planning on one more distribution from my S Corp as I wrap up my 2020 financials.

As for the non-financial, we endured our COVID-19 Thanksgiving and will be having our COVID-19 Christmas in a couple of weeks. Although we are looking at a few dark months ahead of us, I'm more than ready to move on to 2021 at this point. :(

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

November 2020 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on November 10th, 2020:

Asset Oct 2020 Nov 2020 Change




Checking 1,517 2,880 1,363
Money Market 71,658 71,375 -283
Savings Bonds 163,935 174,153 10,218
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 66,158 66,355 197
Brokerage 203,879 193,465 -10,414
401k 287,330 297,298 9,968
Roth IRA 198,548 201,311 2,763
SEP IRA 975,437 977,149 1,712
529 Savings 183,258 183,454 196
Total Assets $2,151,720 $2,167,440 $15,720
      0.73%

Despite the surging COVID-19 pandemic and a potentially dangerous "contested" Presidential election, the S&P 500 has been relatively flat, up 0.32% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for October fell to 6.9%, with 638,000 new jobs created. Unfortunately, we're still down ~10 million jobs since February. Oil prices are up slightly to the $42 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $1.79 at my last fill-up.

On the financial front, my assets have once again hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous high from October 2020. To cap things off, I took another distribution from my S Corp and also made my 2020 Series I savings bond purchase.

As for the non-financial, it's all COVID, COVID, COVID from where I sit. We're seeing an all-time high in hospitalizations, which means we have an ugly winter ahead of us. Hopefully a new POTUS that will take this pandemic more seriously and the promise of an effective vaccine will help put this behind us sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

September 2020 CPI-U numbers released: November 2020 I Bonds are a buy


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the September 2020 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data last week, which increased by 0.139% 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 2020 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 2020 (258.115) and September 2020 (260.280) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for October 2020 issue I Bonds.


That means these bonds would earn the current rate of 1.06% (using 0% fixed & 0.53% variable) for the first 6 months and 1.68% (combined 0% fixed & 0.84% variable) for the second 6 months. Based on the unprecedented decline in deposit rates since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I believe an October I Bond purchase is pretty compelling when compared to something like the 12 month CD @ 1.05% APY special currently being offered at USALLIANCE Financial.

Since I didn't see rates dropping as quickly as they have, I didn't follow my own advice and decided not to max out my 2020 I Bond purchase limit in April. I intend to remedy that next week, which will cost me the 0.2% fixed interest rate portion I would have if I had been more proactive.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

October 2020 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on October 12th, 2020:

Asset Sep 2020 Oct 2020 Change




Checking 6,927 1,517 -5,410
Money Market 97,556 71,658 -25,898
Savings Bonds 163,679 163,935 256
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 65,968 66,158 190
Brokerage 191,091 203,879 12,788
401k 270,350 287,330 16,980
Roth IRA 189,107 198,548 9,441
SEP IRA 928,891 975,437 46,546
529 Savings 182,285 183,258 973
Total Assets $2,095,854 $2,151,720 $55,866
      2.67%

Despite more terrible COVID-19 news like a superspreader event at the White House and a pause in a vaccine trial, the S&P 500 continues to perform, rising a strong 5.84% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for September fell to 7.9%, with 661,000 new jobs created. While that sounds like a strong number, we're still down 10+ million jobs since February. Oil prices are up a bit to the $40 level, which translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $1.97 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 2020. I also took a distribution from my S Corp and added that to the funds Mrs. Frugalson and I funneled toward our remaining mortgage and auto loan debt. With that cash we were able to pay off our outstanding loans and are now debt free! We have no mortgage, no car loans, no student loans, no nothing. Nada, zip, zilch! While our remaining debt was modest, it is certainly a nice milestone on our path to retirement.

I'd also like to note that the September 2020 CPI-U numbers came out today, so I'd like to add a follow-up post of the impact on Series I savings bond purchases. Yet one more thing to do in a busy week...

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 2020 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on September 10th, 2020:

Asset Aug 2020 Sep 2020 Change




Checking 6,607 6,927 320
Money Market 88,213 97,556 9,343
Savings Bonds 163,424 163,679 255
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 81,101 65,968 -15,133
Brokerage 186,864 191,091 4,227
401k 266,693 270,350 3,657
Roth IRA 189,556 189,107 -449
SEP IRA 934,202 928,891 -5,311
529 Savings 191,482 182,285 -9,197
Total Assets $2,108,142 $2,095,854 -$12,288
      -0.58%

It's been nineteen years since the 9/11 attacks, but that terrible day seems like a distant memory when compared to the nearly 200k people dead due to COVID-19. Sometimes it's hard to believe this is really happening.

On a more mundane note, the S&P 500 is down 0.63% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for August continued to improve, falling from 10.2% to 8.4%. Sadly, we're still down about 11+ million jobs due to the pandemic recession. Oil prices have dropped ~13% to the $37 level, which seems to have had a minimal impact on the local regular unleaded gasoline prices around $1.99 that I've been seeing in my neck of the woods for several weeks now.

On the financial front, my Alliant 2.35% APY 12 month CD matured last week and rates have dropped so quickly this year that the current APY for the same CD is now 0.55%. With CD rates in the toilet and Alliant's savings account at 0.65% APY, Mrs. Frugalson and I have decided to retire the modest amount of mortgage and auto loan debt that we still have on the books over the next few months. I remember thinking how low the interest rates were on our 3.125% mortgage and 1.99% auto loan when we borrowed that money years ago, but now it seems silly to keep them in the current rate environment when we have the ability to eliminate that debt completely.

As for the non-financial, both of the Frugalson offspring started their college year last week. It's an odd experience with most of the work being remote due to the pandemic, but that is the world we currently live in. *sigh*

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

August 2020 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on August 10th, 2020:

Asset Jul 2020 Aug 2020 Change




Checking 3,315 6,607 3,292
Money Market 101,241 88,213 -13,028
Savings Bonds 163,135 163,424 289
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 80,876 81,101 225
Brokerage 188,536 186,864 -1,672
401k 253,244 266,693 13,449
Roth IRA 182,151 189,556 7,405
SEP IRA 895,345 934,202 38,857
529 Savings 189,646 191,482 1,836




Total Assets $2,057,489 $2,108,142 $50,653
      2.46%

In spite of the daily bad news about the COVID-19 pandemic and stalled stimulus negotiations, the S&P 500 just keeps going up, rising 5.51% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for July improved a bit, falling from 11.1% to 10.2%. While that sounds like a positive development, it still translates to about 13 million jobs lost due to the pandemic. Oil prices have continued to creep up to the $43 level (from $40), which continues to translate to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $1.99 at my last fill up.

On the financial front, my assets have hit an all-time high for the second month, surpassing the previous high from July 2020. My Alliant 2.35% APY 12 month CD will also be maturing soon, with no good options for that cash with interest rates circling the drain. With current interest rates and an uncertain economy, I just keep chuggin along as I make my montly contribution to my Solo 401k plan.

As for the non-financial, I finally got the oil-fired boiler at our house replaced and we bought a commuter car for the youngest Frugalson to take to college next month. We'll be defraying the cost of the car with the 529 scholarship exception, so at least that'll help a bit. We'll owe income tax on the earnings of course, but at least we won't also have to pony up the 10% penalty.