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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

July 2015 Dividends

As I continue to save for expected healthcare costs not much has changed in the dividend area.  My goal was to save up $5500 dollars to cover my deductible.  I did this because I am still building my HSA (Health Savings Account) up since starting my new job in June.  At this time I am about $800 shy of this goal.  At the end of August I hope to have saved enough to get back in the investing game.

 Stock
Account
Dividend
Received
Shares of Life Purchased
Notes
CRWS
IRA
0.08
 $7.94
0.1851
No change in dividend
GPC
IRA
0.615
 $89.55
0.0775
No change in dividend
UBSI
IRA
0.32
 $40.23
0.8255
No change in dividend
RSO
Taxable
0.16
 $19.25

No change in dividend
GE
Taxable
0.23
 $6.13

No change in dividend
CSAL
Taxable
0.442
 $40.62
1.7344
First dividend after WIN split
VNR
Taxable
0.118
 $0.27

No change in dividend
WIN
Taxable
0.11
 $8.46

No change in dividend
HRZN
Taxable
0.115
 $6.99

No change in dividend
AGNC
Taxable
0.2
 $5.67

No change in dividend

The only thing I should have caught was the automatic reinvestment of CSAL.  This and WIN have not been doing well since the split and while I had stopped the DRIP for WIN it was automatically enabled for CSAL.  This will be disabled as I do not want to purchase shares in companies who are not raising dividends and earnings.



Year over year it was a 21% decline in dividends.  This was do to the Windstream split to WIN and CSAL.  At this point I am still trying to determine what to do with the stocks.  I hope your month was an increase YOY and my goal is to get back to increases soon. 


Happy dividend collecting,

Sunday, August 2, 2015

June 2015 Budget & Savings

May was a triple paycheck month so it will be hard to beat it's savings rate.  With my new salary June wasn't so bad even after paying a semi-annual car insurance bill.

I am officially one month late on this since it is now August.  I have been busy getting things ready for the baby due this month.  This past week I took off of work to spend time with the kids while I am still getting sleep.  We had fun at the zoo, the county fair, hiking in the woods and exploring a cave.  My daughter and I even spent a couple of days working on a couple of projects out in the garage.  Some great memories were created and all on a budget.  We will explore if I stayed on track when I write July's.  For  now let's take a peek at quiet June.


Income

This was the first month at my new job.  My health insurance is weird as I pay the premium for the full month in the first paycheck.  This has made it hard to set up a nice reoccurring paycheck in quicken like I have done for the past 15 years.  I am also not able to split up my paycheck and have it deposited in multiple accounts.  This snuck up on me and I have to close one of my checking accounts or pay a $12 month fee.  Other than that just enjoying the nice pay boost.


Needs

These are the things if I were to be financially independent I would cover with my dividends.  If I ever lost my job I could still cut out of my needs but life would be pretty boring (but at least we would have food on the table and a roof over our heads.)
Category
Comments
Under K or Over J
Auto
Insure was due but I had saved for that.
K
Home/Personal Expenses

Over by $200.  I had put another 15 inches of insulation in the attic in June.  I hope to recoup some of that cost this summer and winter saving on utilities.
J
Utilities
The sewer bill always follows the water bill.  I do save for this but it caused my budget to be overspent by $40 in this category.
J
Loans
2 Mortgage loans and 1 kid in braces.  Other than that debt free.
Fixed
Food
Spent the entire budget this month.  Mostly because the last week of the month started out as June and ended as July.  I shop in the beginning of the week so it goes on June.
K



Wants

We did go over for the month.  I had a reoccurring payment setup for an online subscription that I forgot to cancel.  It showed up on the bill this month.  If not for that we would have been under budget and saving more!

Category
Comments
Dining Out
Again only ate out twice this month.  That makes me feel good. July wasn't so nice on the wallet though.
Gifts
The aforementioned online subscription was for my daughter.  I have it on my list to cancel next May to prevent this from happening again.  As long as she plays the game I am OK with footing the bill.  She has helped my wife out tremendously with this kids this summer playing with them and even teaching them.  She will be a great mom or teacher someday.


Savings & Summary

So for the month of June overall I was $464 over budget.  This was Ok as it was mostly due to normal bills which I save and budget for each month.  With that said I was able to achieve a savings rate of 16% for the month.  That includes money from my taxable account dividends.  While not the half I would like to be saving it is still way above what I saved in previous years. 

Unfortunately all of this savings rolls directly into my fund for paying our health insurance deductible when the baby is born.  My goal is to use the cash to pay the bills and not touch the money in my HSA (health savings account).  I am going to build that up enough where it can be invested and let it compound tax free until I am of poor health and will need it.

After July I will have enough money saved to cover the deductible and then I can turn to my old friend the stock market.  I have missed the feel pushing the buy button on my computer and watching new dividends roll in.  Sure babies are fun but so is investing.



Happy saving,

DFG