Picking up Nickels

Friday, April 13, 2012

March CPI-U numbers released: April 2012 issue I Bonds are a buy

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March 2012 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data this morning, which increased by 0.76% month over month.

As I have mentioned before, 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 2012 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 2011 (226.889) and March 2012 (229.392) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can calculate the variable rate for the second 6 month period for April 2012 issue I Bonds:

That means these bonds would earn a rate of 3.06% (using 0% fixed & 3.06 variable) for the first 6 months and 2.21% (using 0% fixed & 2.21% variable) for the second 6 months. Based on this, April 2012 issue I Bonds are a very competitive investment when compared to something like the 12 month CD @ 1.15% APY currently being offered by KeySource Commercial Bank.

The above average rates offered by April 2012 I Bonds over the next 12 months make them a STRONG buy in my opinion, and I have already maxed out my 2012 $10,000 annual limit at treasurydirect.gov and used the paper savings bond loophole to purchase I Bonds with my 2011 Federal Tax refund using IRA form 8888. If you have some cash that you're looking to put in a safe place where it can earn a decent yield over the next year, then April 2012 issue I Bonds should be high on your list. However, I would do so before the end of the month to lock in that 3.06% rate over the first six month period.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 2012 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on April 10th, 2012:

Asset Mar 2012 Apr 2012 Change
Checking 1,511 2,605 1,094
Money Market 44,474 44,165 -309
Savings Bonds 62,934 65,932 2,998
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 67,440 67,691 251
Brokerage 101,501 97,926 -3,575
401k 102,954 101,988 -966
Roth IRA 57,856 56,813 -1,043
SEP IRA 306,412 303,121 -3,291
529 Savings 62,727 63,101 374
Total Assets $807,809 $803,342 -$4,467

The S&P 500 has been on a bumpy ride of late, down 0.91% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for March fell to 8.2%, although sentiment was poor due to a slowdown in hiring. Oil prices are down to around $102 per barrel, although some believe the price could double if Iran decides to do some saber rattling.

There isn't much new to report on the financial front. I have received my personal Federal tax refund in the form of paper Series I Savings Bonds plus a small cash balance. I'm also going to be keeping an eye out for the March 2012 CPI-U release on Friday so we will know the variable rate portion of the second six month period for Series I Savings Bonds purchased through April 2012. My guess is that that number will be quite tame, resulting in a composite rate far below the 3.06% in place for the first six month period. I plan on adding a more detailed post on the state of I Bonds when the numbers come out later this week.

As for all things non-financial, I am very pleased to say that I have renewed my contract with my largest client and will be in their employ for another year. With the financial certainty of having that revenue in place, I'm looking forward to replacing some of my aging computer equipment this year. On a more personal note, I'm also at the eight week point since I had my arm surgery. I am very pleased to be doing little things I've always taken for granted with my repaired arm, such as brushing my teeth and holding a fork. Now I just need to be able to pick up things weighing more than five pounds. :p