Wednesday, November 18, 2015

October 2015 Budget & Savings

Income & Expenses
My income is pretty consistent now however I wish I could say the same for my expenses.  A few more bills trickled in from the birth of my daughter.  Only another 1100 dollars for general hospital services.  I ranted about the healthcare industry last month so I will not do it again.  So what else was over or under?  Let's take a look.



Auto K
Both the minivan and car are doing great.  Just fuel expenses and the cost of gas is low in my area.  I saw it for $1.89 just yesterday.

Personal J
Over budget in several sub-categories this month.  The first one being healthcare which includes my son's braces.  I pray this goes back to normal in November as the Christmas season is upon me and anything I had saved went to pay hospital bills. 

We continue to go over in childcare because of unbudgeted diapers and just buying clothes for my ever growing children.  So far we are $2000 over budget in this sub-category.  This will definitely need to be revisited next year.

Surprising we were over budget in the food category.  This doesn't include dining out.  My guess without doing too much research would be fast type meals and junk food.

Lastly my Wants was over budget.  We took the kids out to see fall colors and did some shopping in country stores.  The day trip and eating out 11 times over the course of the month was too much for the 'ol budget.  Having a baby and getting home late from work is not a good combination for saving money.  You can only do canned soup and frozen meals so much before you break down.  I do cook on the weekends but the weekday I have to plan easy things for my wife.  It will get better so I am hanging in there.

Utilities K
No surprises here.  Our phones are almost paid off (I think in November) so the phone bill will drop big time.  This will be a welcome change as I have been paying them off for 2 years.  After that all our phones are ours and I plan on getting at least 4 years out of them.

Loans & Mortgages K
Nothing new here.  Just keep on paying the mortgage down.

Savings & Summary



So it was a break even month.  Actually I had a few dollars to spare thus giving me a positive savings rate for the month.  I am pretty Ok with that considering the bills I had to pay and being over budget in more categories than I should be.  I did invest some this month on a few dips so that is a positive note.  The capital came from some previous savings which gives me some pleasure in knowing my income from dividends is still slowly increasing.

I hope your October fared better than me.  If it didn't don't give up and try again in November.  No one is perfect.  What makes the difference is your actions going forward. 

Happy saving,

DFG

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

October 2015 Dividends


Hopefully this will be the last month were not much has happened.  Just sitting back (not really, been raking leaves) and collecting income.    Another purchase I should not have made presented itself to me.  CRWS I noticed hasn't raised its dividend in years.  If only I could go back in time before I knew what to look at for a good purchase and change those decisions.  You live and you learn so going forward these won't happen again.  Until they cut the dividend I will just keep collecting it.



Company
Held In
Dividend Paid (Qtr)
Amount Received
Shares of life purchased
October
GPC
IRA
0.615
$6.98
0.0842

UBSI
IRA
0.32
$7.69
0.881

CRWS
IRA
0.08
$1.48
0.1829
Not a dividend growth stock
T
IRA
0.47
$50.91
1.5192

WGL
IRA
0.463
$48.91
0.786

EROC
Taxable
0.07
$0.26


HRZN
Taxable
0.115
$6.99


VNR
Taxable
0.118
$0.27


GE
Taxable
0.23
$6.13





My YOY dividend income took a dive again.  Same as last month regarding my selling of some bad investments.  I have since taken that money and invested it in dividend growth stocks.  Those purchases I still need to write about.  As the year gets closer to ending I do believe I will still pull in my dividends than last year.  That does give me hope and the drive to keep saving and investing.



Any cuts for you this month?



Happy dividend collecting,

DFG

Saturday, October 31, 2015

September 2015 Expenses and Savings

Income & Expenses
September the bills from the birth of our child came rolling in.  Even as I write this I am still getting bills from the hospital in October.  Even though I saved to be able to pay the deductible I got lost in the rest of the explanation of my medical benefits.  Basically I learned HSA's suck.  Especially the ones with a high deductible.

When I switched jobs I looked at the regular health insurance where you do a copay and the insurance company covers the rest.  I added up the higher monthly costs for those and the HSA (monthly cost plus the $5500 deductible.)  The HSA was $1000 cheaper per year and my company puts up to $1600 into the HSA if you get a physical and do some other online activities to learn about better health.

Sounds good right?  Well even after you pay the $5500 out of pocket (I saved for that) you still have to pay %20 of anything on top of that up to $12,000.  What??  Yeah that is crazy.  Basically I am footing most of the bill for anything and paying the insurance company monthly on top of that.  I think HAS's work if you're in good health and you can accumulate money in it and invest.




Now looking at my expenses we can see the big yellow blob that was so big Excel decided not to label it.  On top of my usual mandatory expenses was a large chunk of healthcare costs.  Everything else was pretty much the same. 

Two items continue to be over budget though.  Childcare (clothes, diapers, etc.) was $200 and my wants category.  I found with tiredness comes lack of energy to cook dinner after a full day of work.  I find myself bringing home takeout and pizza at least once a week and buying more frozen prepared meals at the grocery store.  I don't get home until 6:30 PM most work nights so I need something fast before the kids have to get ready for school and in bed.  I do try to do a big meal on Sunday so I can have leftovers at least once during the week.  So that helps some. 

Savings & Summary




This month was a big drop in my savings rate.  Most of it was planned for and I will do better healthcare planning next year knowing what I know now about my HSA.  I remember my first kid was $500 dollar copay.  My last kid has so far cost me $7000+.  Things certainly have changed in 15 years!  I am appreciative that I have a job and can afford insurance.  I definitely sympathize with those who do not have any or poor health insurance.  This is a system that definitely needs fixing.  Either that or I am moving to Canada. :-)

Happy saving,

DFG

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

September 2015 Dividends


Another great month of not working for money (well at least from dividends collected.)  I still had to go to work to earn a living for the family and generate additional cash to invest on dividend growth stocks.

The stocks listed below are ones that deposited money into my account or were reinvested during this month.  I do not count dividends I having received yet (kinda like stock, not worth much until you sell them.)



Company
Held In
Dividend Paid (Qtr)
Amount Received
Shares of life purchased
September
CVX
IRA
1.07
9.83
0.1312
6th straight quarter without an increase!
MSFT
IRA
0.31
7.69
0.1785

TGT
IRA
0.56
9.87
0.1279
Yeah 7.6% increase!
ED
IRA
0.65
51.46
0.8215

ORI
IRA
0.185
19.64
1.2438

MCD
IRA
0.85
9.47
0.0964

RIG
IRA
Who cares ->
8.57

Sold/last dividend
MCY
IRA
0.618
65.43
1.2752

UHT
IRA
0.64
68.44
1.4525

COP
Taxable
0.74
9.08

1.3% increase
IBM
Taxable
1.3
5.27


VNR
Taxable
0.118
0.27


HRZN
Taxable
0.115
6.99


NUS
Taxable
0.35
8.15


CTL
Taxable
0.54
9.3

No increase since 2013, ha why did I buy this?
FTR
Taxable
0.105
11.17

At least they had an increase in 2014
HMN
Taxable
0.25
8.74



I realize I still have some stocks that should never have been purchased in the first place (VNR, HRZN, CTL and FTR to name a few from this month.)  Either they haven't cut their dividend yet or the cost to sell them is more than they are worth.  Until I dispose of them I am more than happy to continue to collect money from them while I spend my time with the baby and the rest of my family.

My YOY dividend income took another nose dive.  This is what happens when you don't do your research and buy companies with high yields.  Sure I collected the dividends for a year or so but once they cut or stopped it completely I lost that income and the stock took a big hit.  All in all I lost money on those bets and have since learned a big lesson. 

Some questions I now ask myself like many other DGI are:

Is the dividend sustainable?
Do they have a track record of increasing the dividend for more than one economic cycle?
Is earnings increasing enough so that the dividend can also increase?

Any good increases for you this month?

Happy dividend collecting,
DFG

Monday, September 28, 2015

August 2015 Budget and Savings

Income & Expenses
I just realized today that I did not send this out shortly after I totaled up my dividends.  Time flies when you go to work, rush home help out with the kids, crash into bed and then start it all over again.  I truly enjoyed the few weeks at home after the baby was born.  No rushing around and I spent more time with the kids.  August was when the baby was born so expenses will be going up.  Diapers, baby food, etc plus the additional cost of health insurance for the baby.  I did save up enough to cover my health insurance deductible so that won't cause any further debt.  Income was normal with 2 paychecks.




I was over budget in 5 categories this month which caused me to go over my overall budget by $200.  Guild Free Spending Monday was $90 over as the kids and I dined out several times while my wife was in the hospital and we visiting with her.  Added to that was my zoo membership.  For a mere $80 I get unlimited visits to the zoo for the family.  We go several times a year so it easily pays for itself.

The second category over was childcare.  School clothes and supplies continued to pile up despite our best efforts to reuse and buy low.  On top of that was some diapers.  The best thing out of the month was stocking up on $10 jeans at Old Navy for the kids (and their future selves).

Surprisingly food was $150 over my generous budget.  I did buy several build food items from Amazon in an effort to save in the long run.  That combined with my food shopping cycle just added up for the month.

The fourth was household items.  We needed some new towels as the old ones were falling apart after 5 years of use.  I also took a trip to Lowes and purchased some trim and paint to fix up our master bath.  I had big plans to get it done in August before the baby was born.  The baby came a week early so this project is on hold for some time.

Last was personal care which includes toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other items I care not to talk about that women need.  The kids and I also got haircuts which adds up quick even though it is $13 a cut.  It all adds up quick and I ran $77 over budget there.

Savings & Summary




It has been a good year so far and I have continued that in August with a 15% savings rate.  Even though I was over budget in a few categories I still managed to save a decent amount of after tax income.  This extra income I can now use to purchase dividend producing stocks that will grow their dividends over time.  This will ensure the income keeps up or exceeds inflation.  That extra income will then be used to purchase more stocks and continue to increase my income.

Some of that savings was from one of my loan payments being returned to me.  Not sure why yet and I am following up with the bank.  By my calculations I had several more years to go on the loan.

Happy saving,
DFG

Thursday, September 10, 2015

August 2015 Dividends

Company
Held In
Dividend Paid (Qtr.)
Amount Received
Shares of life purchased
Notes
T
IRA
$0.47
$50.23
1.4459

WGL
IRA
$0.46
$48.51
0.8678

NWN
IRA
$0.47
$48.92
1.1008

AGNC
Taxable
$0.20
$5.67


EROC
Taxable
$0.07
$0.39


EVEP
Taxable
$0.50
$0.37


HRZN
Taxable
$0.12
$6.99


KMI
Taxable
$0.49
$14.01

Penny increase or ~ 2% div hike
VNR
Taxable
$0.12
$0.27



As you can see in the above table an extremely uneventful month.  Stocks I own generate dividends (sometimes increasing them like KMI.)  Reflecting back if I had started investing right out of college I could retire now in my forties and spend all of my time with my new born babe.  My wife gets that privilege now while I go work for the man.  I wonder what it would be like to be your own boss and raise kids for many years.  I get a glimpse on vacations and weekends but I don't know what it would be like if both my wife and I had raised them together.  Right now work stresses me out (even the new job) and some of that comes home distracting me from what is most important in life.  

My noble purpose is to teach my kids the value of money and the freedom it can buy you.  With that knowledge I hope they can lead rewarding and happy lives.

Year over year August was an improvement so I am heading in the right direction!

Happy dividend collecting,

DFG

Monday, August 31, 2015

How to invest 250k

I had read an article that stated it would roughly cost me 250 thousand dollars to raise a kids these days.  I found this chart on Wikipedia that gives a breakdown on costs by income bracket and expense type.  Very interesting stuff.  With that said I am pleased to announce my daughter was born a week early.  My wife and the baby are doing fine and we are all adjusting to lack of sleep (hopefully for the last time.)

People are asked us if we were crazy to have another child.  At times I wondered that myself.  How could I afford to raise another child in consumerist America.  The key is to reuse as much as you can live like are parents were raised.  When I was a kid we never ate out.  My mom or dad cooked all of the meals.  We still eat out maybe once or twice a month so if things got tight that could easily be eliminated.  I am finding my cooking skills are better than all fast food places and even most chain restaurants.  I still haven't mastered the ultimate pizza crust so if you have a good recipe send it my way.

Other cost savings include breast feeding.  Formula is very expensive (powered milk with vitamins).  Diapers we also save on by either buying generic or in bulk using my Amazon subscribe and save.  This gives me an additional 15% off what Amazon charges.  I have found this to be even cheaper than diapers at Walmart.

The only expense I see going up is my dear friend water.  More kids = more laundry.  I don't think I will ever convince my wife to go to a front loader to save.  With that said my $200/month water and sewer bill will only go up.  When we lived out in the country we had well water which was FREE (besides maintenance of the pump and septic).  Who would think the most essential and basic requirement of human life would be my number one utility?  I only see our water problems in this world getting worse if  we humans don't clean up our act.  For example my brother had a kid last year.  Their whole town lost water for several days because bacteria levels were to high from all the fertilizer run off.  They couldn't even get the formula ready to feed the baby because of it and had to drive 2 hours just to find some bottled water.  Crazy stuff.

As far as my investing goes I don't see my savings rate changing much and should be able to continue investing in dividend growth stocks.  With my time off I have been able to catch up on my bills and even sold a few of my stocks that had cut their dividends.  I know I should have sold them in the summer when prices were higher.  Timing the market is impossible so I am OK with my decision.

I hope everything is going well in your world and I hope to post to dividend related articles soon.  Whether you choose to invest 250k in stocks or kids always have fun in life.  My kids and I have a blast so it is well worth the investment.

Happy investing,

DFG

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

July 2015 Budget and Savings

Income & Expenses
My paychecks from my new job have smoothed out and I now have a good understanding of what my monthly income from work will look like.  My healthcare costs roughly quadrupled with the move.  This was compensated by a higher salary but it still hurts to see how health costs vary from small companies (with less claims) to larger ones. 

Dividends for July were a slight drop from last year but that did not affect my income in any major way (yet.).  I think when I am living off of them any dividend cuts or stock splits will have to be watched very closely to avoid income loss.



As for expenses there were no surprises there.  We did a planned vacation that was covered by income for the month.  It was in state since my wife is in her third trimester and we needed to stay close to home.  Next year it will be back to the beach (thinking Maine this time).  One of the perks of my new company is I can book hotels through their system for personal travel.  While it is not as low of a rate as the business it is a pretty decent cost savings. 

My other needs you can see is up to 19%.  It was back to school shopping that consumed $500 for new shoes, book bags and clothing.  This exceeded my budget (shoes aren't getting cheaper) so I will most likely adjust it for next year.  My son will be starting kindergarten this year so I will have 3 in school now and 2 at home (once the baby is born.)  While we try to save as much clothing as possible most of it is worn out or trashed beyond saving.  Some of the clothes we saved from my 15 year old son had elastic waist bands in it.  So after 10 years the rubber lost its elasticity and the jeans would not say up on the 5 year old.  We don't save shoes as they wear out fast and worn shoes are not good for a persons feet or backs.  As far as shoes we save by using coupons combined with BOGO 1/2 off sales.

My other savings for the month continued in the food department (since one week of July was tacked on the June total).  Also my cell phone bill dropped as my company also gets me a 23% discount off my bill.

Savings & Summary

Compared to my previous 2 years in July I did well.  Negative territory has now turned into positive with a 2% savings rate.  This is my best year ever in my life with a 6/7 months of actually saving money.  Tracking my expenses within a budget has been a life changer.  I hope you were able to save for the month and use that to build an emergency fund or invest in some dividend growth stocks.

Happy saving,

DFG