Picking up Nickels

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

September 2013 CPI-U numbers finally released: I Bond rates remain flat

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finally released the September 2013 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) inflation data delayed by the government shutdown this morning, which increased by 0.12% last month.

The release of the September inflation data is typically of the best times to consider purchasing I Bonds. If the release of the data hadn't been delayed, we would have known what the rate of return for October 2013 I Bonds would have been 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. Unfortunately, the data came out a bit late to be useful for evaluating October I bond purchases.

Using the CPI-U data from March 2013 (232.773) and September 2013 (234.149) (courtesy of inflationdata.com), we can go through the exercise of calculating the variable rate for the second 6 month period for October 2013 issue I Bonds:

That would mean these bonds would earn a rate of 1.18% (using 0% fixed & 1.18% variable) for the first 6 months and coincidentally also earn 1.18% (combined 0% fixed & 1.18% variable) for the second 6 months. In this low interest rate environment, Series I savings bonds are still a solid choice when compared to short term investments like the 1 year CD @ 1.10% APY from E-Loan that I put some cash in a few weeks ago.

I already bought the maximum amount from treasurydirect.gov in April, so I can't purchase any more I Bonds until January 2014. I'll continue to monitor the CPI-U and will probably reevaluate them in April 2014.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 2013 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on October 14th, 2013:

Asset Sep
Checking 2,449 2,271 -178
Money Market 32,307 41,284 8,977
Savings Bonds 81,264 81,399 135
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 82,547 75,758 -6,789
Brokerage 102,115 103,576 1,461
401k 125,522 128,549 3,027
Roth IRA 75,718 77,329 1,611
SEP IRA 384,988 393,551 8,563
529 Savings 89,781 92,238 2,457

Total Assets $976,691 $995,955 $19,264

Despite the best efforts of our elected officials in Washington, D.C., the S&P 500 has risen 1.55% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

All of the economic and political news has focused on the current government shutdown and debt ceiling foolishness foisted on us by the partisan nincompoops in Congress. On the jobs front, one can only wonder if the unemployment rate for September changed from August's 7.3% because the government jobs report had been postponed due to the shutdown (nice work everyone!). Oil prices have actually pulled back a bit from $107 to around $102 over the past month, which once again is likely driven by the U.S. government trying to stimulate another global recession.

On the financial front, my asset levels have surpassed the all-time high I reached two months ago in August 2013. I am so close to the $1m asset milestone that I can almost taste it! However, this past month I unfortunately saw my E-LOAN 5.25% APY 5 year CD mature and directed a portion of that cash into a E-LOAN 1.10% APY 1 year CD due to a lack of better options. The next expiring CDs on the list are the Penfed 1.26% APY 1 year variety that Mrs. Frugalson and I opened in November 2012. I intend to use some of those proceeds to fund our 2013 Roth IRA contributions with the remaining balance likely to be put toward our latest home improvement project (more on that in a bit). I also had enough free cash in my S Corp's coffers to initiate an initial 2013 SEP IRA contribution, which will hopefully give me that final nudge toward my asset level goal. And finally, tomorrow is the scheduled release date for the September 2013 CPI-U numbers, which would allow us to calculate the initial variable inflation component for November 2013 issue Series I savings bonds. While I anticipate that number to be disappointing to I bond investors, hopefully it won't also be postponed due to the shutdown.

As you can see from the above, it has been a pretty eventful month around here. I'm pleased to say that I also successfully fought my way through a tangled web of car dealer sleaziness and incompetence as we ended up taking delivery of a new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS. I've already refinanced the Hyundai Motor Finance loan @ 3.49% that I accepted in exchange for a $500 factory incentive with 1.49% financing at Alliant Credit Union (including a $100 bonus deposit). I hope to include an update detailing the buying strategy I used once things settle down around here. I've also been keeping busy vetting HVAC contractors as I move closer toward getting central air conditioning installed in my home. I'm still in the early stages of this project, but this is probably another topic that would be worthy of a writeup here. Stay tuned and be well!