Picking up Nickels

Friday, November 10, 2017

November 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on November 9th, 2017:


Asset Oct
2017
Nov
2017
Change
Checking 491 810 319
Money Market 66,489 65,141 -1,348
Savings Bonds 137,015 137,283 268
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,671 41,788 117
Brokerage 153,160 156,473 3,313
401k 161,984 163,693 1,709
Roth IRA 139,904 141,324 1,420
SEP IRA 685,532 691,824 6,292
529 Savings 166,232 167,918 1,686



Total Assets $1,552,478 $1,566,254 $13,776
   
 
0.89%


The S&P 500 has once again continued to hit all time highs since the last update, rising 1.33% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for October dropped to 4.1%, the lowest it has been since December 2000. Oil prices have risen to the $57 level (up from $51), while local gas prices have settled somewhat ($2.41 at my last fill-up). In other news, the Republican-controlled congress has finally announced their tax reform plans. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much for someone like me to get excited about. I'm at least pleased that they have apparently dropped the idea of raiding people's tax-deferred retirement savings to help offset the costs of tax cuts.

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the TWELFTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from October 2017. I don't have any immediate money moves planned and don't anticipate any surprises like the last great Penfed CD rate deal (Penfed 3.04% APY 5 year CD) from four years ago. Lets just say that I'm not holding my breath.

As for the non-financial, the eldest of the young Frugalsons has been hitting the college application process pretty hard. SAT stores are a done deal, the FAFSA application is done, and the first round of applications have been submitted. Based on the FAFSA estimates for the Expected Family Contribution (~$70k per year), I'm not anticipating lots of help in that department. Thank goodness for our 529 savings plan balances!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

September 2017 CPI-U numbers released: November 2016 I Bonds are a buy!

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the September 2017 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data last week, which increased by 0.53% 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 2017 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 2017 (243.801) and September 2017 (246.819) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for October 2017 issue I Bonds.


That means these bonds would earn the current rate of 1.96% (using 0% fixed & 0.98% variable) for the first 6 months and 2.48% (combined 0% fixed & 1.24% variable) for the second 6 months. IMO, the current 1.96% rate makes it a toss up when it comes to deciding on an October vs. November purchase. You can either buy now and lock in the known attractive rates for twelve months, or you can hold off until November and hope that the fixed portion rises from the 0% currently offered. Either option is attractive when compared to short term investments like the 1 year CD @ 1.65% APY currently being offered at The First State Bank.

I already maxed out my 2017 purchase limit in January, so I'm only an observer at the moment. However, I will likely be buying in January 2018 due to the 2.48% (minimum) rate that will be available to me next year.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on October 10th, 2017:


Asset Sep
2017
Oct
2017
Change
Checking 832 491 -341
Money Market 69,541 66,489 -3,052
Savings Bonds 136,721 137,015 294
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,558 41,671 113
Brokerage 160,442 153,160 -7,282
401k 159,792 161,984 2,192
Roth IRA 136,948 139,904 2,956
SEP IRA 661,119 685,532 24,413
529 Savings 164,194 166,232 2,038



Total Assets $1,531,147 $1,552,478 $21,331
   
 
1.39%


The S&P 500 has continued to hit all time highs since the last update, rising 2.51% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for September dropped to 4.2%, although 33,000 jobs were lost courtesy of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Oil prices are up slightly to the $51 level, while hurricane-inflated gas prices have started to fall locally ($2.52 at my last fillup).

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the ELEVENTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from September 2017. I don't foresee any money moves, although I will be keeping an eye on the September CPI-U numbers when they are released on Friday even though I have already maxed out my 2017 I Bond limit.

As for the non-financial, I've spent most of my time tinkering on various small projects around the house. I've been enjoying the seasonably warm weather, but am not looking forward to the cold weather that will follow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

DIY "Golden Striper" Lawn Striper Build

I've spent quite a bit of time over the past couple of months trying to get my lawn looking like it used to, which has included watching several videos on the Grass Daddy YouTube channel. I was particularly impressed by the heavy duty boat roller-based lawn striper he reviewed here, but I was surprised to learn that the starting price for an appropriate-sized unit for a lawn tractor like mine was nearly $300! I found some info online about people building their own boat roller-based stripers (see here, here, and here at lawnsite.com for inspiration), but there wasn't really a single source that had detailed info about sizing, sourcing parts, measurements, problems encountered, helpful tips, detailed cost breakdown, build steps, etc. At that point, I decided it might be fun to build one and share my experience to hopefully help others and minimize the experimentation and guesswork a project like this typically ends up causing people like me.

1. Project Goals:

  • Build a high quality striper for less than the ~$300 starting cost of the commercial unit
  • Use reasonably priced and readily available components that are easily acquired by the average person
  • Use only basic tools and construction techniques without resorting to specialized skills like metal fabrication, welding, etc.
  • Provide a detailed breakdown of parts used, where to get them, and what they cost
  • Be able to mount the striper to my tractor without drilling any additional holes in it
  • The striper should work with my tractor when either the mulching kit or the grass bagger is installed
  • Share specifics of my build to hopefully help others avoid guesswork and mistakes that I encountered

2. Build Materials:

Note: I’ve never seen a lawn striper like the one reviewed by Grass Daddy in person and have no idea about the specifics of their design and construction. This build is based on research I did at lawnsite.com followed by trial and experimentation with components that I was able to easily find locally and online.

This striper is primarily made out of strut channel (similar to pieces of a large heavy duty Erector Set) along with specialized strut brackets and mounting hardware. Oddly, I didn't find a good online source for strut-related parts, so I bought all of those materials at Lowe's and Home Depot. While the strut channel was the same price at both places, I did find that the strut brackets and mounting hardware were slightly cheaper at Home Depot for some reason. If you decide to order online from Lowe's or Home Depot, you can save a few bucks by using the ebates.com portal (1% at Lowe's) or the plenti.com portal (1% at Home Depot, 1% at Lowe's). Please note that the strut channel brackets have pre-drilled holes ready to accept standard 1/2" hex bolts, so they along with 1/2" nuts, bolts, and washers will be used extensively for this build.

The other main component used were Yates rocker/wobble rollers (typically used on boat trailers). These are the small rubber wheels that actually roll over the grass blades and bend them in the desired direction to create the striping effect. The wobble rollers are the most expensive components to source, and the best deal I found was from easternmarine.com, although I bought from their eBay store because the shipping and handling charges were more favorable for my zip code. As with Lowe's, you can also save a little by using the ebates.com portal (up to 2% at eBay). Another technique I often use to save money when buying on eBay is to wait for a targeted eBay Bucks promotional email. In this case I bought the rollers after I was offered 8% of my purchase in eBay Bucks. Please note that 5/8" inches is the smallest shaft size that the Yates wobble rollers use, so we will be using a 5/8" axle for this build.

I should also note that I also bought a few parts at my local Tractor Supply Co. I found that browsing through the hardware in their store helped me come up some good ideas for mounting the striper to my tractor.

3. Sizing:

The general rule of thumb is that the combined width of the rollers (the striper width) should be approximately the same as the distance between the centers of each rear tire since the rear tires will already be compressing the grass blades anyway. For my John Deere LX173 lawn tractor with a 38" mower deck, that distance is about 27". I will be using Yates 530R-5P wobble rollers for this build, which are 5" tall and 3" wide, so I decided to use 9 rollers (9 x 3" = 27") for my setup. Of course, there will also be additional space overhead on the axle for brackets, washers, and PVC spacers, so I would approximate that with the width of an additional 3" roller for a 30" striper width ((9 x 3") + 3" = 30").

To accommodate that 30" striper width, I know I will need an axle slightly longer than that to account for the 5/8" screw collars used on each end of the axle to keep all of the components in place. I would estimate that at ~1" for each end of the axle. Therefore, an axle approximately 32" long should handle a 30" striper with an extra 1" on each side (30" + 1" + 1" = 32"). This axle sizing estimate assumes that four strut brackets are used to attach the axle to the strut channel. If larger striper widths are desired, the use of four strut brackets should scale to configurations with additional wobble rollers without issue.

Similarly, the strut channel doesn't have to be as long as the 30" striper width because it only needs to hold the strut brackets in place (since the axle is directly connected to the strut brackets). I estimated that the strut should be one 3" roller width shorter than the 30" striper width so that the end of the strut channel would approximately line up with the center of each outer roller. In my case, that would be a 27" (30" - 3") strut channel length. However, the slots cut into the strut channel are 2" on center, so I rounded my strut channel length up to 28" so that I would be able to cut it centered between two slots.

The following estimates should give you a rough idea of what you need to buy for your particular setup. However, I would highly recommend doing a axle test build of all of the rollers, spacers, washers, and screw collars BEFORE cutting your axle or strut channel to size. Please be sure that you're satisfied with how everything fits on the axle and how the strut brackets line up on the strut channel before you cut anything:

Desired Striper Width # Rollers Approximate Axle Length Approximate Strut Length
30" 9 32" 28"
33" 10 35" 30"
36" 11 38" 34"
39" 12 41" 36"
42" 13 44" 40"
45" 14 47" 42"

With that in mind, here are the actual values from my build:

Actual Striper Width # Rollers Actual Axle Length Actual Strut Length
30 1/4" 9 31 7/16”" 28"


4. Parts Breakdown:

I will separate the parts list into two sections, Striper Body Parts (which everyone would need for the build) and Striper Mount Parts (which are mower-specific):

Striper Body Parts:


From Lowe's:

  • (1) 10' SUPERSTRUT 1-5/8-in x 13/16-in Gold-Galvanized Half Slot Channel Strut: (Item #20281) - $20.74
    The frame of the striper. I had to buy a 10' piece, and only ended up needing about half of it. Also available at the Home Depot (SKU #863322) for $20.74.
  • (1) Hillman 3-ft x 5/8-in Hot-RolLED Weldable Steel Metal Round: (Item # 216209) - $10.32
    The axle of the striper. If you need an axle larger than 36", something like the 8' 5/8" grounding rod at Lowe's (Item #70861) or Home Depot (SKU #676837) could be a possible solution.
  • (1) Charlotte Pipe 1/2-in x 10-ft 315 Sdr 13.5 PVC Pipe: (Item # 23987) - $2.02
    This pipe is used on the 5/8" axle as spacers between wheels and brackets. Standard 1/2" Sched 40 PVC pipe won't work since the inner dimension is smaller than the 5/8” axle. However, the inner dimension of the 1/2” SDR 13.5 PVC pipe will work just fine. To be 100% certain, verify that the 5/8” axle fits inside the 1/2” PVC pipe in the store when you buy it. Again, this is a 10' piece of pipe, so I had quite a bit left over.
  • (4) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 3/8" x 3/4": (Item # 61832) - $0.12
  • (4) Hillman 3/8-in Zinc-Plated Standard (SAE) Nylon Insert Lock Nut: (Item # 63405) - $0.18
  • (8) Hillman 0.375-in x 1-in Zinc-plated Standard (SAE) Flat Washer: (Item # 63308) - $0.14
  • (4) Hillman 3/8-in Standard (SAE) Split Lock Washer: (Item # 63410) - $0.20
    This common 3/8" hardware is used to fasten the top and bottom pieces of strut channel together.
  • (16) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 1/2" x 1": (Item # 61834) - $0.39
  • (16) Hillman 0.500-in x 1.37-in Zinc-plated Standard (SAE) Flat Washer: (Item # 63309) - $0.20
    This common 1/2" hardware is used to fasten the strut brackets to the strut channel.

Lowe's Striper Body Parts Total: $45.64

From Home Depot:

  • (8) Superstrut 3.5” x 4” 4-Hole 90 Degree Angle Strut Bracket - Gold Galvanized: (SKU #236244) - $2.58
    Used to connect the axle to the strut channel and to connect the mower to the striper. Also available at Lowe's (Item # 45685) for $3.26. Note: Always connect the shorter 3.5" end of the bracket to the strut channel! This will provide additional clearance for the wobble rollers as well as provide the mount hardware with a slightly longer reach to the mower.
  • (4) 1/2 in. Superstrut Channel Spring Nuts (5-Pack): (SKU #798602) - $5.03
    Used with the common 1/2" bolts and washers from Lowe's to fasten the strut brackets to the strut channel. Also available at Lowe's (Item # 598780) for $5.18.
  • (1) 5/8 in. Zinc-Plated Cut Washer (25 per Box): (SKU #330847) - $6.47
  • (3) Everbilt 5/8 in. Zinc-Plated Cut Washer: (SKU #668192) - $0.33
    These (28) 5/8" washers were used on the 5/8" axle between wheels, brackets, and PVC spacers.
  • (2) Climax 5/8 in. Bore Zinc-Plated Mild Steel Set Screw Collar: (Internet #203025026) - $1.45
    Used on each end of the 5/8" axle to hold everything together. These were only available as a ship to store item when I bought them, but I later found them sold in a two pack at Tractor Supply Co (SKU #119528099) for $4.99. Alternatively, something like these 5/8-Inch Axle Cap Nuts could be used instead.

Home Depot Striper Body Parts Total: $51.12

From easternmarine.com (via eBay store):

  • (9) Yates 530R-5P wobble rollers: (Stock # 5272021) - ~$7.72 with s/h

easternmarine.com Striper Body Parts Total: $69.45


Final Striper Body Parts Total: $166.21


Striper Mount Parts:

As stated earlier, one of my goals was to be able to mount the striper to my tractor without drilling any additional holes in it. As luck would have it, my tractor has two 1/2" mounting holes on the rear of the machine that are 18 1/2” high with a distance of 12 1/2” between them.


From Lowe's:

  • (8) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 1/2" x 1": (Item # 61834) - $0.39
  • (12) Hillman 1/2-in Zinc-Plated Standard (SAE) Nylon Insert Lock Nut (Item # 63406) - $0.24
  • (12) Hillman 0.500-in x 1.37-in Zinc-plated Standard (SAE) Flat Washer: (Item # 63309) - $0.20
  • (12) Hillman 1/2-in Standard (SAE) Split Lock Washer: (Item # 63411) - $0.22
  • (4) Hillman Standard (SAE) Hex Bolt 1/2" x 1 1/2": (Item # 61832) - $0.12
    This common 1/2" hardware is used to fasten the various strut brackets together.

Lowe's Striper Mount Parts Total: $12.96

From Home Depot:

  • (6) 7.25" Superstrut 4-Hole Flat Straight Bracket, Gold Galvanized: (SKU #236504) - $2.02
  • (1) Everbilt 1/2 in. Yellow Zinc Grade 8 Flat Washer (3-Piece): (SKU #368555) - $0.94
    I also used one additional 1/2" washer from my spare parts stash. Since the mount hardware is pretty mower-specific, I didn't worry about accounting for the cost of this part.
  • Optional: (2) Climax 1/2 in. Bore Zinc-Plated Mild Steel Set Screw Collar: (Internet #203025022) - $1.21
    Originally intended to be used with the Arnold wheel bolts from Tractor Supply Co mentioned below. As with the 5/8" screw collars, these were also only available as a ship to store item when I bought them. They are also sold in a two pack at Tractor Supply Co (SKU #119529899) for $4.99.

Home Depot Striper Mount Parts Total: $15.48

From Tractor Supply Co:

  • (2) CountyLine Adjustable Clevis Pin, 1/2 in. x 2 in., S175007TSC: (SKU #183333399) - $2.29
  • (2) CountyLine Hairpin Cotter Pins, 1/2 in. - 5/8 in., Pack of 2: (SKU #183341499) - $1.29
  • Optional: (1) Arnold ASB-150 Universal Wheel Bolts: (SKU #444118599) - $2.99
    Originally intended to be used to mount the strut bracket to the mower. I ended up going with the clevis pins since I thought they were a better solution.

Tractor Supply Co Mount Parts Total: $7.16

Final Striper Mount Parts Total: $35.60


Total Striper Cost = $166.21 (striper body) + $35.60 (striper mount) = $201.81

The numerous combinations of potential mount hardware configurations make that part of the cost a bit fuzzy. The mount holes on my tractor were at a height and distance away from the striper that required quite a few strut brackets and the 1/2" hardware to fasten them together. Because of that, I would imagine my particular mount configuration would tend to be on the expensive side. Cost-wise, ~$200 does still seem a bit pricey for a DIY build, but it is roughly $100 cheaper than the commercial solution.

5. Assemble the Golden Striper:

FWIW, I call this the "Golden Striper" due to the gold-colored galvanizing coating on the strut channel and brackets. :)

Tools Required:

  • Hacksaw to cut strut channel and 5/8" axle
  • File/sandpaper to clean up burrs on cut metal edges
  • PVC cutter/saw for 1/2" PVC spacers (I have a BrassCraft T438)
  • Drill and 5/8" step drill bit (I have this Neiko 10193A set) to enlarge 1/2" strut bracket holes to 5/8"
  • Hex keys: 4mm and 1/8" hex keys to fasten set screw collars
  • (2) 3/4" sockets/wrenches to assemble 1/2" strut hardware
  • (2) 9/16" sockets/wrenches to assmeble 3/8" hardware connecting strut channel pieces together
  • Optional: WD-40. Each piece of the strut channel and brackets had hard to remove UPC decals. WD-40 does a great job of removing them and any adhesive residue left behind.

-Cut PVC Axle Spacers:

I used three different size spacers in my 9 roller/30" striper configuration:

  • (4) 1 1/2” spacers between wobble rollers
  • (8) 5/8” spacers next to 90 Degree Angle strut brackets
  • (2) 1/2" spacers next to each of the outside wobble rollers


Please note that each additional wobble roller added will require a corresponding 1 1/2" spacer (9 rollers requires 4 spacers, 10 require 5 spacers, 11 require 12 spacers, etc.).

-Enlarge a 1/2" hole in four 90 Degree Angle Strut Bracket brackets to accommodate 5/8" axle size:

Use a drill and the 5/8" step on the step drill bit to enlarge the 1/2" hole closest to the end of the longer (4”) arm on four of the 90 Degree Angle Strut Brackets. Once completed, the 5/8" axle should fit through this hole and rotate cleanly on all four brackets.


-Build the Axle:

I recommend a test build of the 5/8" axle before cutting it to size.

This is what the parts placement for my 9 roller/30" striper configuration looked like:

R = Yates 530R-5P wobble roller (9x)
W = 5/8 cut washer (28x)
B = 3.5” x 4” 90 Degree Angle strut brackets (4X)
1.5 = 1 1/2” PVC spacer (4X)
5/8 = 5/8” PVC spacer (8X)
1/2 = 1/2" PVC spacer (2X)
C = 5/8” collar (2X)

C,W,1/2,W,R,W,5/8,W,B,W,5/8,W,R,W,1.5,W,R,W,5/8,W,B,W,5/8,W,R,W, 1.5,W,R,W,1.5,W,R,W,5/8,W,B,W,5/8,W,R,W,1.5,W,R,W,5/8,W,B,W,5/8, W,R,W,1/2,W,C

5/8" PVC Spacer Next to a Strut Bracket:


1 1/2" PVC Spacer in Between Wobble Rollers:


When you are comfortable with your axle layout, cut the axle to size with the hacksaw and cleanup burrs with a file and/or sandpaper. As mentioned earlier, I cut my axle to 31 7/16” for a 9 roller/30" striper.

-Cut the Strut Channel to Size:

Assuming you have an assembled axle at this point, I would put the built axle next to the strut channel to verify that the estimated length from step #3 above still makes sense. When you've decided on the appropriate strut channel length, use the hacksaw and cut two pieces to the same length (centered between two of adjacent slots) and cleanup burrs with a file and/or sandpaper. As mentioned earlier, I cut my strut channel to 28” for a 9 roller/30" striper.

When the strut channel is cut to size, assemble the two pieces back-to-back with the four sets of 3/8" x 3/4" bolts, flat washers, lock washers, and lock nuts. For maximum adjustability, I fastened them on the two outermost and two innermost slots of the strut channel since they act as stops for the strut channel nuts we will be installing later.



-Attach the 90 Degree Angle Strut Brackets to the Strut Channel:

Use eight sets of 1/2" x 1" bolts, flat washers, and strut channel spring nuts to attach the axle strut brackets to the strut channel. To ease assembly and help the strut brackets slide smoothly in the channel, I used a pair of pliers to remove the spring from the spring nuts.


Similarly, use eight sets of 1/2" x 1" bolts, flat washers, and ("despringed") strut channel spring nuts to attach the shorter (3.5") end of the remaining four 90 Degree Angle Strut Brackets to the opposite side of the strut channel as pictured. These brackets are used to attach the striper to your mower and should slide smoothly through the channel so that you can adjust them to fit your particular equipment. FWIW, my roller as pictured below (displaying the range of mount bracket positions) weighs in at 34.6 LB:


-Assemble the Mount Hardware:

To attach the (6) 7.25" 4-Hole Flat Straight Brackets to the striper, I used eight sets of 1/2" x 1" bolts, flat washers, lock washers, and lock nuts for the two strut bracket connections and four sets of 1/2" x 1 1/2" bolts, flat washers, lock washers, and lock nuts for the three strut bracket connections. This hardware added an additional 6 LB of weight to the striper, for a total weight of 40.6 LB.

-Attach the Striper to the Mower:

Finally, I used the 1/2" clevis pins, flat washers, cotter pins, and optional set screw collars to attach the completed striper to my tractor. I had originally bought the set screw collars to use with the Arnold wheel bolts I found at Tractor Supply Co, but I ended up using them as spacers since I had them on hand. The mock up in the picture below uses the 1/2" hole in my tine dethatcher to stand in for the mount hole on my tractor and the 1/2" hole in the piece of cardboard to stand in for the hole in the strut bracket:


The installed mount hardware:


The installed striper (with mount brackets centered on the striper and all bolts tightened):



-Striper Performance:

This varies greatly due to type of grass, mow height, sun angle, etc., but here are some pictures of how this striper has performed for me with some early tests on my cool season lawn:



All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed working on this project and have been pleased with the initial results on my lawn. The $201.81 total cost is nothing to sneeze at, but this is a very solidly built heavy duty piece of equipment that weighs in at nearly 41 LBS. I don't even notice it's on there when mowing, which includes turning, backing up, and going up and down hills with no issues or damage to the grass.

I hope people find this helpful and welcome all comments, questions, and suggestions. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

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


Asset Aug
2017
Sep
2017
Change
Checking 5,632 832 -4,800
Money Market 69,456 69,541 85
Savings Bonds 136,420 136,721 301
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,442 41,558 116
Brokerage 153,181 160,442 7,261
401k 156,497 159,792 3,295
Roth IRA 135,335 136,948 1,613
SEP IRA 654,407 661,119 6,712
529 Savings 162,075 164,194 2,119



Total Assets $1,514,445 $1,531,147 $16,702
   
 
1.10%


The S&P 500 has continued to climb since the last update, rising 0.57% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for August inched up to 4.4%, as "only" 156,000 new jobs created. Oil prices have actually fallen a bit to the $48 level, although gas prices around here spiked about 40¢ per gallon last week due to several Houston-area oil refineries being knocked offline by Hurricane Harvey.

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the TENTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from August 2017. As for money moves, I intend to make an additional 2017 SEP IRA employer contribution later this month after some of my client invoices have been paid.

As for the non-financial, my kids have returned to school and my oldest will start the college application process shortly. One year from now we should see a bit of shrinkage in that 529 Plan balance that's been growing since I started this blog. I've also been working on a small side project to build a lawn striper similar to a commercial one I saw reviewed in a YouTube video. I've been toying with the idea of writing up a detailed build here with the hope that it may help someone else. Hopefully I'll be able to get to that soon. :D

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on August 9th, 2017:


Asset Jul
2017
Aug
2017
Change
Checking 6,256 5,632 -624
Money Market 63,323 69,456 6,133
Savings Bonds 136,107 136,420 313
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,327 41,442 115
Brokerage 152,782 153,181 399
401k 150,478 156,497 6,019
Roth IRA 132,402 135,335 2,933
SEP IRA 644,800 654,407 9,607
529 Savings 159,098 162,075 2,977



Total Assets $1,486,573 $1,514,445 $27,872
   
 
1.87%


The S&P 500 has been on a steady climb since the last update, rising 1.92% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for July fell to 4.3%, with a higher than expected 209,000 new jobs created. Oddly, all of these strong economic indicators are coming at a time when President Trump has dismal approval ratings. Oil prices have had a bit of a bump from $44 to the current $50 level, which corresponds to several local gas stations selling regular unleaded for $2.25.

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the NINTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from July 2017 while reaching the $1.5m asset level. As for money moves, I did take an S Corp distribution earlier this month and I will likely be making an additional 2017 SEP IRA employer contribution at some point next month.

As for the non-financial, I've been doing some work to try to get my lawn back into decent shape. My turf used to be the envy of the neighborhood, but it declined a bit over the years due to spending less time and using fewer potentially toxic products once I became a parent. On that note, it's hard to believe my kids will be returning to school in less than a month!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on July 10th, 2017:


Asset Jun
2017
Jul
2017
Change
Checking 2,606 6,256 3,650
Money Market 63,105 63,323 218
Savings Bonds 135,847 136,107 260
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,215 41,327 112
Brokerage 143,285 152,782 9,497
401k 150,536 150,478 -58
Roth IRA 132,389 132,402 13
SEP IRA 645,805 644,800 -1,005
529 Savings 158,384 159,098 714



Total Assets $1,473,172 $1,486,573 $13,401
   
 
0.91
%


The S&P 500 has been relatively flat since the last update, down slightly 0.08% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for June rose to 4.4%, with a strong number of jobs (222,000) created. Oil prices have continued to fall to the current $44 level, which corresponds to several local gas stations selling regular unleaded for $2.09.

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the EIGHTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from June 2017. As for money moves, the only potential transaction on my radar screen is a possible S Corp distribution later this month.

As for the non-financial, we're enjoying the warm summer weather and are planning a brief vacation later this month. We're also at the point where my eldest child has started looking at colleges. Where does the time go?