Picking up Nickels

Friday, May 11, 2018

May 2018 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on May 10th, 2018:


Asset Apr
2018
May
2018
Change
Checking 216 954 738
Money Market 60,664 59,351 -1,313
Savings Bonds 153,537 153,860 323
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 42,363 42,478 115
Brokerage 151,373 155,277 3,904
401k 174,174 176,709 2,535
Roth IRA 151,064 153,890 2,826
SEP IRA 724,160 743,198 19,038
529 Savings 174,147 175,463 1,316



Total Assets $1,631,698 $1,661,180 $29,482
   
 
1.81%


We've had a bit of an uptick since the last update, with the S&P 500 rising 2.49% during that time:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for April fell to 3.9% with 164,000 jobs created (the lowest rate since December 2000). Oil prices have continued to rise to the $71 level (up from $66), with prices potentially headed considerably higher courtesy of the POTUS opting out of the Iran nuclear deal.

On the financial front, May has been a slow month. I've been pleased with my recently-opened Fidelity solo 401k plan, although I am a bit surprised that I have to actually mail in my contributions instead of doing so electronically. I do like the ability to be able to make both employee and employer profit-sharing contributions, which was not possible with the my longtime Vanguard SEP IRA.

As for the non-financial, the big thing on the agenda is that my oldest child will be graduating from high school in less than a month! It's amazing how quickly the first eighteen years have passed.

Friday, April 13, 2018

March CPI-U numbers released: April 2018 issue I Bonds are compelling

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March 2018 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data yesterday, which increased by 0.23% 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 2018 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 2017 (246.819) and March 2018 (249.554) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for April 2018 issue I Bonds.


That means these bonds would earn a composite rate of 2.58% (using 0.1% fixed & 1.24 variable) for the first 6 months and 2.32% (using 0.1% fixed & 1.11% variable) for the second 6 months. Based on this, April 2018 issue I Bonds are worth considering when compared to something like the 12 month CD @ 2.25% APY currently being offered by My eBanc.

I personally maxed out my 2018 annual I Bond allotment in January and have elected to take the bulk of my 2017 Federal tax refund in the form of April 2018 issue paper I Bonds, so I'm personally out of ammo at this point.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April 2018 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on April 10th, 2018:


Asset Mar
2018
Apr
2018
Change
Checking 366 216 -150
Money Market 53,626 60,664 7,038
Savings Bonds 148,363 153,537 5,174
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 42,244 42,363 119
Brokerage 168,360 151,373 -16,987
401k 170,799 174,174 3,375
Roth IRA 155,871 151,064 -4,807
SEP IRA 751,588 724,160 -27,428
529 Savings 174,121 174,147 26



Total Assets $1,665,338 $1,631,698 -$33,640
   
 
-2.02%


And down we go. As the POTUS decided it was a good idea to start a trade war with China and threaten Russia with a missile attack, the S&P 500 has dropped 4.53% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for March remained at 4.1% for the sixth month in a row, with a much weaker than expected 103,000 jobs created. Oil prices have continued to rise to the $66 level (up from $61).

On the financial front, I've had a busy month. I bit the bullet and changed my S Corp retirement plan from a Vanguard SEP IRA to a Fidelity Solo 401k, which will allow me to increase my retirement savings since I will be able to make employee contributions and employer profit-sharing contributions. I also finished my 2017 personal tax returns and received the majority of my Federal refund in the form of paper Series I savings bonds. Another large task has been helping my Mom (Grandma Frugalson) deal with the financial fallout of my father's death, which covers investments, pensions, taxes, Social Security, estate planning, and more. Grandma Frugalson's financial situation has also motivated me to further simplify and consolidate my own finances, which includes closing and combining accounts, simplifying investments, and making sure things like account beneficiaries are all in order. Finally, the March 2018 CPI-U number is out this morning, which is a useful measure for evaluating Series I savings bond purchases (post coming).

As for the non-financial, I've been looking forward to putting the winter snow behind us and getting going on lawn season. I'm also going to be having a child graduating from high school soon, which is a whole other ball of wax. :p

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 2018 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on March 12th, 2018:


Asset Feb
2018
Mar
2018
Change
Checking 576 366 -210
Money Market 61,208 53,626 -7,582
Savings Bonds 148,086 148,363 277
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 42,137 42,244 107
Brokerage 156,823 168,360 11,537
401k 166,226 170,799 4,573
Roth IRA 144,552 155,871 11,319
SEP IRA 713,238 751,588 38,350
529 Savings 171,017 174,121 3,104



Total Assets $1,603,863 $1,665,338 $61,475
   
 
3.83%


Last month was apparently an outlier, with the S&P 500 once again approaching new highs since the last update, rising 4.78% during that time:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for February remained steady at 4.1% for the fifth month in a row, with a stronger than expected 313,000 jobs created. Oil prices were up slightly to the $61 level (up from $59).

On the financial front, my assets once again reached an all-time high, breaking the previous high from January 2018. I also made my final 2017 SEP IRA contribution and a Roth IRA contribution, but still need to finalize my 2017 personal tax returns. I've also been looking into changing my S Corp SEP IRA retirement plan to a Fidelity Solo 401k, but haven't made a final decision at this point.

As for the non-financial, we've recently suffered a great loss in the family as Grandpa Frugalson (my Dad) passed away unexpectedly. I suppose it would make sense to do a "Considerations when a parent dies" post at some point, but I'm just not there yet. :(

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

February 2018 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on February 12th, 2018:


Asset Jan
2018
Feb
2018
Change
Checking 404 576 172
Money Market 79,939 61,208 -18,731
Savings Bonds 137,823 148,086 10,263
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 42,019 42,137 118
Brokerage 159,943 156,823 -3,120
401k 173,848 166,226 -7,622
Roth IRA 150,431 144,552 -5,879
SEP IRA 742,200 713,238 -28,962
529 Savings 173,166 171,017 -2,149



Total Assets $1,659,773 $1,603,863 -$55,910
   
 
-3.37%


A bit of reality finally set in and the S&P 500 actually went down since the last update (the first time since October 2016!), falling 4.03% during that time:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for January remained flat for the fourth month in a row at 4.1%, with a strong 200,000 jobs created. The stock market has been a bit volatile of late, with worries that the strong job market and the tax cut passed last year could start to drive inflation and rising interest rates. Oil prices fell a bit to the $59 level (down from $63).

On the financial front, my only move of note was to max out my 2018 I Bond purchase in late January. I'm also due to make my final 2017 SEP IRA contribution before my S Corp tax returns are due next month. One cool milestone is that my oldest child had a part time job in 2018 and will be able to make a modest 2017 Roth IRA contribution. He's looking at 40+ years of tax-free compound interest when all is said and done.

As for the non-financial, the next piece of the puzzle is finishing up 2017 business and personal tax returns and waiting for the warmer weather to arrive.

Friday, January 12, 2018

January 2018 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on January 11th, 2018:


Asset Dec
2017
Jan
2018
Change
Checking 862 404 -458
Money Market 64,358 79,939 15,581
Savings Bonds 137,560 137,823 263
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,901 42,019 118
Brokerage 160,799 159,943 -856
401k 164,119 173,848 9,729
Roth IRA 144,239 150,431 6,192
SEP IRA 715,362 742,200 26,838
529 Savings 170,066 173,166 3,100



Total Assets $1,599,266 $1,659,773 $60,507
   
 
3.78%


As was the case throughout 2017, the S&P 500 started 2018 continuing to hit all time highs since the last update, rising a strong 4.04% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for December once again remained at 4.1%, with an additional 148,000 jobs created. Oil prices continued their rise and hit the $63 level (up from $58). This was particularly noticeable with my latest heating oil delivery to the tune of $2.60 per gallon, which is 30ยข higher than my previous fill up a month and a half ago.

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the FOURTEENTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from December 2017. I did take a distribution from my S Corp since the last update and will likely be maxing out my 2018 I Bond purchase later this month.

As for the non-financial, college acceptances for my eldest child continue to come in and it appears that the hit to our 529 college savings may be less than I figured courtesy of financial aid. Next up will be work on 2017 business and personal tax returns.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on December 11th, 2017:


Asset Nov
2017
Dec
2017
Change
Checking 810 862 52
Money Market 65,141 64,358 -783
Savings Bonds 137,283 137,560 277
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,788 41,901 113
Brokerage 156,473 160,799 4,326
401k 163,693 164,119 426
Roth IRA 141,324 144,239 2,915
SEP IRA 691,824 715,362 23,538
529 Savings 167,918 170,066 2,148



Total Assets $1,566,254 $1,599,266 $33,012
   
 
2.11%


As is the recent norm, the S&P 500 continues to hit all time highs since the last update, rising 2.92% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for November remained at 4.1%, with a strong 220,000 jobs created. Oil prices are up slightly to the $58 level (up from $57), while local gas prices continue to be pretty stable ($2.39 at my last fillup). One thing that I find interesting about stock market performance in 2017: it's global. While the S&P 500 index is up 18.81% YTD, the bulk of my international equity exposure (recently moved to Vanguard Institutional Total International Stock Market Index Trust courtesy of a former employer's 401k) is up 24.6% YTD. My international equities have seemed somewhat stagnant as compared to US equities over the past few years, so IMO it is a good sign that the rest of the world seems to be joining the party.

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the THIRTEENTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from November 2017. I did make an additional 2017 SEP IRA contribution since the last update and I will likely take a final distribution from my S Corp now that my 2017 revenue numbers are pretty much finalized. And if anyone hasn't done so already, this month would be a great time to max out a 2017 I Bond purchase. :)

As for the non-financial, my eldest child has already received a college acceptance (hopefully the first of many)! It's hard to believe that little baby I could hold in one hand almost eighteen years ago is on the cusp of becoming an adult and starting college. I can't believe how quickly that time seemed to pass. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!