November 2011 Financial Asset Roundup
|Asset||Oct 2011||Nov 2011||Change|
The S&P 500 has once again shown some upside since the last update, rising 3.75% during that time:
(chart courtesy of msn.com)
On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for October dropped to 9.0% while initial unemployment claims also dropped to 7 month low. Oil prices have spiked a bit, rising from about $85 per barrel to almost $98 per barrel. We've also finally had some positive news about the European debt crisis as Greece and Italy have taken some steps toward addressing their debt issues.
On the financial front, I closed on a 15 year mortgage refinance @ 3.125% a couple of weeks ago with a small regional credit union. What I find particularly interesting is that we went from a 5.375% 30 year mortgage to a 3.125% 15 year mortgage and our monthly payment actually dropped by about $20! I'd also like to note that this was the best mortgage refinance experience I've ever had, with a 29 day turnaround from my initial application to closing and no requisite body cavity search because I happen to be self employed. I'm also planning to move a bit of my local cash that I currently have at Bank of America (the current home of my primary checking account) to the credit union since they have far better deposit rates and a branch that is a reasonable driving distance from home. While I certainly wouldn't mind completely freeing myself from BOA's clutches like the Bank Transfer Day crowd, they are worth sticking with for now just for their excellent bill pay service and many convenient locations (particularly the branch right next to my P.O. Box). While my new credit union has some decent rates and products, their web site and bill pay services are quite spartan and need a lot of improvement before I would consider using them as my primary checking account.
One upcoming financial event that I'm dreading is the death of the 5 year Penfed CD @ 6.25% APY that I opened in January 2007. It will be a major blow to lose that great rate and there just aren't many good places to put that cash these days. I'm leaning toward using the cash in a combination of 2011 Roth IRA contributions, an I Bond purchase, and a larger contribution to the young Frugalson's 529 college savings accounts. I suppose another opportunity may pop up between now and then, but I'm not holding my breath... :p