Wednesday, February 22, 2017

January 2017 FrugalMaster Results

The first month is well behind us and it is time to update how I did before March and spring come.  With my 3 savings goals pretty much on autopilot it is more challenging to stay within the budget.  By autopilot I mean I have separate savings accounts for those goals and money is automatically moved from them at the beginning of each month.  What is left in my checking is pretty much what my monthly budget is.  I do have some buffer in my checking to handle bills that come up quarterly or bi-annual.

Overall for January I was right on target saving 40% of my income.  This beats my goal mostly because of some extra income for the month.  Every year we 'donate' money to our church Christmas raffle that benefits the social committee.  For the first time since we joined the church we won and it was the big one on Christmas day.  My wife was screaming so loud when they called us I thought something bad had happened.  It was just a few hundred dollars but it was like the father in the Christmas Story winning the leg lamp.

The finance muscles are flexing and so are my physical ones.  I have dropped 7 pounds already since the beginning of the year.  With 11 more to go I should be ready for the summer and may even take off my shirt at the beach.  Sure everyone will be blinded but the cool breeze will feel nice.

Keep it green,

Dividend Family Guy

Friday, February 10, 2017

Budget Buster in 2016 or not?

Hungry baby!
Did I meet my budget for 2016?  Well the short answer is yes and no.  If I spent only what we needed to live off of (needs) then I was under budget by about $900 for the year.  That is great that I am able to live within my budget to survive. 

Now the harder part to talk about.  My family and I continue to fall prey to the consumerist beast.  While not as bad as other Americans it still caused us to go over our GFSM budget by $1,067.  While that is not a huge sum when you look at it for the year I had to give it a red cell in my spreadsheet.

Where did I overspend?  About half of that went to pay for my daughters candy bar sale money.  Instead of saving the cash I got, I blew it on things like eating out and miscellaneous junk.  Then in the end I had to write the check to pay for it all.  My lesson learned from that is to track cash expenditures so I can see the effects on my budget as the month proceeds.  The remainder of the overspending was just as simple as buying something we probably didn't need each month and going over my $300 budget.  Lesson learned there is to stop buying stuff you don't need!

So how do I handle cash that never sees a bank?  I never really could figure out a way in Quicken besides setting up a cash account.  Seemed like a lot of work to do and I have been getting tired of always punching in all my receipts and categorizing them.  By tired I mean I would rather spend my time reading DGI articles and researching investments.

I have always wanted to try Mint.  I used to work for Intuit and they put a good deal of effort into usability of their software.  So I have high hopes for a good web and mobile experience.  While Quicken was owned by them they sold it off in March of last year.  So I have setup my 2017 budget in Mint and will give you all an update on it later.

Now onto the 2017 budget

I am switching it up this year and looking at it from the "pay yourself first" angle.  To do that I have to roughly save 35% of my income.  The remaining 65% makes up my budget. 

To accomplish the savings goal and other goals, I have made the following budget adjustments:

  • Pay an extra $700 in principal on my mortgage every month to have it paid off in 10 years.
  • Keep food costs the same even though prices continue to rise ($700/mo)
  • Stay healthy to maximize HSA contributions that can be invested ($563/mo)
  • Shrank my miscellaneous need category by $250/mo.  I guess I need to find cheaper toilet paper :-)

Those were the positive budget adjustments.  I still had to take into account the ever rising costs of utilities and picking up my son's auto insurance until he gets a job this summer.  Luckily my work picks up my phone bill so I only have to pay for my family's phones. 

Our vacation budget has also been cut in half, while the Christmas budget remains unchanged.  Last year we took several vacations but this year I only plan on doing one big one.  The remainder of my vacation time will be staycations at home doing local free things and fixing up the house.  Last year, with the baby, I put no effort into the house and it is in need of some TLC.

Like all things budgets change.  I am sure I will continue to tweak it over the coming months.  The nice thing is in Mint it remembers the budget for each month so you can tweak it as often as you like (and historical reporting remains accurate).

Wish me luck!

Dividend Family Guy

Friday, February 3, 2017

February 2017 Dividend Growth Watchlist

Company Name
No. Years
Dividend Yield
EPS% Payout
Span-America Medical Systems
Medical Equipment
Health Care
Qualcomm Inc.
Telecomm Equipment
Information Tech
Old Republic International
Donegal Group Inc. A
Cracker Barrel Old Country
Consumer Discretionary
VF Corp.
Consumer Discretionary
T. Rowe Price Group
Financial Services
Brinker International
Consumer Discretionary
Target Corp.
Consumer Discretionary
Reynolds American Inc.
Consumer Staples
Gap Inc.
Consumer Discretionary

This month I bumped my DFG screen down to include any dividend over 2.8% and it picked up an old favorite of Cracker Barrel Old Country.  In case they don't look appealing though I included an extra so the list is 11 long.  VFC continues to take a beating (even today when the market was up).  Still a solid company with 44 years behind it of increasing dividends. 

EAT is a clever name and the first time I have seen it.  Brinker International has the Chili's and Maggianos restaurant brands under it.  The first time I went to a Maggianos a few years ago I thought it was not a chain restaurant.  It was more expensive and the food was decent.  Now I am seeing them more and more.  I will have to drive by Chili's more often and see how busy they are during prime times.


I have my old 401k rolled over to my IRA now and have some extra cash to invest.  If I end up purchasing any of these I will be long on them.

Have a good weekend,
Dividend Family Guy