Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break Vacation

We haven't done it much the last few years because it's tough with two little ones, and we've been concentrating on wealth building, but we decided to take the kids on a small trip during their Spring Break.

In an effort to spend quality time with the kids, and fully enjoy our little get away, I'll be taking a few days away from blogging. In fact, this post is a few days late as we are already at our destination (photo attached).

When we get back online, I'll have a new net worth to report. Overall, it's been a good quarter...can't wait to publish the results! 😀

Saturday, March 28, 2015

P2P Accounts (Update) - March 2015

On March 1st, our Lending Club account balance was at $9,194.87 (an increase of $46.05 from last month). We received $637.55 in payments from our active notes; of which, we received $51.24 in interest (an decrease of $7.29).  The principal balance of our active notes was $7,319.40 (a decrease of $511.31 from last month), with $25.00 of loans in review or funding and a remaining cash balance of $1,850.47 (an increase of $582.36).  We are currently generating 5.10% on our seasoned notes. No loans were charged off this month.
Again, we continue to be thankful that we are not losing any money, but with the automatic investments strategy not working out very well, more and more of our money is standing idle and thus losing value when inflation the opportunity costs are factored in.  I think it's time to look elsewhere for investment opportunities.  
Any ideas on where we could invest this growing cash pile?

On March 1st, our Prosper account balance was at $9,187.84 (an increase of $17.86 from last month).  We received $464.78 in payments from our active notes; of which, we received, $54.44 in interest (an decrease of $7.12). The principal balance of our active notes was $8,006.43 (a decrease of $166.93 from last month). We are having much better luck with the automatic investing on Prosper compared to Lending Club. Nevertheless, we are still currently sitting on a cash balance of $1,181.41 (an increase of $184.78), of which a total of $225.00 is  pending investments.  We are currently generating 6.98% on our seasoned notes, and 6.68% on all notes invested to date (includes profits from paid off notes).

Even though we are not having great luck finding notes that meet our criteria (described below), at least the accounts are continuing to show some growth (albeit very small).

Below are the updated numbers that include both Lending Club and Prosper accounts: 
Total Value of Both P2P accounts: $18,382.71
($63.91 increase from last month)
Total Interest Earned in February: $105.68
($14.41 decrease from last month)
Estimate Average Interest Earned: 6.04%


Click below to view our peer-to-peer lending accounts history




Our family has been investing in peer-to-peer lending notes for approximately 3 years now. And because of past defaults, we have now refined our search criteria. As a result, we now take a slightly more conservative approach with the notes we invest in. Currently, we only invest in notes that fit the following initial criteria:
  • Amount requested is under $6,000;
  • Credit score of 700 or more; and
  • Monthly payment will be less than $250.
From those we evaluate (Employment Status):
  • The borrower's income (prefer > $50,000 but depends on amount requested);
  • Length of employment (must be > 2 years); and
  • Their occupation (certain occupations, known to be more secured, are more desirable).
We then look at (Ability To Pay):
  • Their credit history;
  • Revolving balance; and
  • Debt to income level, etc.
We do not invest in any notes where borrow is currently delinquent, of if they have had  a public record within the last 12 months. We also do not invest in notes where the description provided is "Other." We feel that there is too much risk involve when the borrower is not willing to reveal why he/she needs the money.

Monday, March 23, 2015



We started this series back in November as a way to add some fun to our buying process. We plan to continue doing these Ask the Reader post once a month (except when funds are limited) and will be maintaining the stocks purchased in a separate portfolio just to see how they perform. 
The four stocks we have chosen each month are stocks that are at the top of our watch list and thus stocks we would be comfortable buying regardless of the outcome.  But we thought it would be fun to get our readers input and see if collectively, we can all beat the market with this interactive portfolio. :) 

Below is a chart below of our ASK THE READER purchases to date: 

So for each ASK THE READER post, we will select four stocks on our watch list that we feel are worth buying.  But to add some fun into our buying process, we have decided to put our faith in our fellow bloggers and readers once a month. 
Please spend a few minutes to vote for ONE stock from the four companies listed below.  Tell us why you like the stock that you picked. 

Thanks in advance for your STOCK PICK!
Image result for alliance resources partners logo
STOCK #1 Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP)
  • Sector: Materials - Metals & Mining
  • Market Cap: 2.5 Billion
  • Dividend Yield: 7.4% 
  • Consecutive years of dividend increase: 12 Years
  • Paying Dividends Since: 1999
  • Payout Ratio: 53%
  • P/E Ratio: 7.16
Image result for bank of nova scotia logo
STOCK #2 Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)
  • Sector: Finance - Banking & Savings (Canadian)
  • Market Cap: 61.0 Billion
  • Dividend Yield: 4.30% 
  • Consecutive years of dividend increase: 4 Years
  • Paying Dividends Since: 1834 
  • Payout Ratio: 51%
  • P/E Ratio: 11.32

STOCK #3 Phillip Morris (PM)
  • Sector: Consumer Products - Tobacco
  • Market Cap: 122.9 Billion
  • Dividend Yield: 5.0% 
  • Consecutive years of dividend increase: 6 Years
  • Paying Dividends Since: 2008
  • Payout Ratio: 82%
  • P/E Ratio: 16.69
STOCK #4 Exxon Mobil (XOM)
  • Sector: Energy - Oil & Gas
  • Market Cap: 354.6 Billion
  • Dividend Yield: 3.3% 
  • Consecutive years of dividend increase: 32 Years
  • Paying Dividends Since: 1882
  • Payout Ratio: 36%
  • P/E Ratio: 11.13


Friday, March 20, 2015

Retirement Accounts (Update) - March 2015

As our readers already know, our family has switched our focus towards diligently building our Dividend Stocks Portfolio and P2P Lending Accounts in an effort to building additional income streams for retirement so we don't have to solely rely on the typical retirement vehicles.

We will still continue to track are retirement accounts (pension, 457K, Roth IRAs) as they are still part of our retirement plan.  Plus, although they are mainly invested in mutual funds, we still need to keep an eye on them and re-balance them periodically.


Below is a quick update to show the current values of our retirement accounts as of March 1, 2015.  For a more comprehensive list of values (beginning January 2014) and details of these accounts, please visit the Retirement Accounts page on our blog.

As of March 1, 2015

Cash Value of Pension$216,165 
($1,776 increase from February update of $214,389)
Total value of 457K: $122,489
($4,368 increase from February update of $118,121)
Roth IRAs
Total value of Roth IRA accounts: $56,794
($2,244 increase from February update of $54,550)
Great month in the market translates into a great month in our retirement accounts. From all three accounts, we saw an overall increase of a whopping $8,388 this past month!! As it stands, the total amount of our retirement accounts is currently valued at: $395,448 (up from the $387,060 reported last month). 

We currently contribute to my 457K (up to my company's match - 3%) and also $200 each to a Roth IRA for both myself and my wife. Although we are not entirely happy with their growth, we still feel that the 457K and Roth IRAs should remain part of our retirement plan.  If for nothing more, the 457K and Roth IRAs will help supplement my pension. With some of the uncertainties around government pension these days, they could very well serve as back-up plans as well. 
Click below to view retirement accounts page 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY)
Purchased 5 shares of OXY on 3/18/2015 at $71.94
Total Spent: $359.70
$14.40 added to annual dividends
The market saw a nice gain towards the end of the day after the Federal Reserve removed the word "patient" from its statement.  The biggest boost seemed to have gone to energy stocks and internationally exposed companies. We were quite lucky that we picked up a few shares of OXY earlier in the morning for just $71.94 as we saw a nice 1-day $2.07 gain with OXY finishing the day at $74.01.  

Oil and energy certainly has a long way to recover, but I have to admit that it was a welcome site to see today's spike in the market. With the recent purchase, since we had already owned shares of Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) in our family's dividend stocks portfolio, the total number of stocks/ETFs in the portfolio remains at 36.

With today's purchase, our estimated forward dividends grew just a tad, adding another $14.40 to our yearly dividends which now stands at approximately $3,148/year.

Our family's dividend stocks portfolio may be found
by clicking on the link below:

We also maintain an extensive list of stock analysis
that can be access through the link below:

We also just started a list of Recent Buys by other bloggers
that can be access through the link below:


Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY)
P/E: 98.80
Payout Ratio: 365%
Dividend Yield: 3.98%
Dividend Growth rate (5yr AVG): 16.97%
1 consecutive years of dividend increases
Last Ex-dividend date: 3/6/2015
Next Ex-dividend date: approx. 6/6/2015
Have paid a dividend since: 1975 (40 years)
Pays a dividend 4 times a year.
Market Cap: 57.0 Billion
52-week high: $101.38
52-week low: $71.75

Purchased Price: $71.94

What are your thoughts about my recent purchase?

What are you buying?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stocks Added to Collection of Stock Analyses (Update) - Mid-Month (March 2015)

For those who are not yet familiar with my extensive collection of individual dividend stocks. The collection is currently comprised of 623 stock analyses (and still growing) with links to various stock analyses that I found throughout the dividend blog community.  
The collection was created in a Google Docs Spreadsheet so that I may continue to maintain and update the list periodically. My plan is to provide bi-monthly updates (one at mid month and another and the end of the month) to inform everyone of new stock analysis I have recently added to my collection.
The collection goes back two years.  Eventually, as the collection grows, I am planning to only keep stock analyses for a one year time period. You should also know that to help highlight the stock analyses that have recently been created during the last 2 months, I have provided NEW!! at the end of those analyses.

The following is a list of newly added stocks analysis that were prepared during the first half of the month of MARCH (2015):

  1. Aflac, Inc (AFL)
    • by Dividend Growth Stocks
  2. Air Products & Chemicals (APD)
    • by Dividend Growth Investor
  3. CVS Health Corp (CVS)
    • by Dennis McCain
  4. Dover Corp (DOV)
    • by Dividend Ladder
  5. Emerson Electric Co (EMR)
    • by Dividend Hawk
  6. Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)
    • by Dividend Ladder
  7. Hasbro Inc (HAS)
    • by Sure Dividend
  8. HCP, Inc (HCP)
    • by Pollies Dividend
  9. Home Depot (HD)
    • by Dennis McCain
  10. Hormel Foods Corp (HRL)
    • by Dividend Growth Stocks
  11. Phillips 66 (PSX)
    • by Dividend Growth Stocks
  12. Qualcomm, Inc (QCOM)
    • by Sure Dividend
  13. Raytheon Co (RTN)
    • by Dividend Growth Stocks
  14. TROW Price Group, Inc (TROW)
    • by Dividend Growth Investor
  15. TROW Price Group, Inc (TROW)
    • by Passive Income Pursuit
  16. United Health Group, Inc (UNH)
    • by Market Realist
  17. Wells Fargo & Co (WFC)
    • by Roadmap 2 Retire
Hope you like the new and improved updates
with links provided directly in this post!

Please feel free to leave me a message if you prepared a stock analysis during First Half of March 2015 that I did not include in my post.  I would be more than happy to add your stock analysis to this post and my collection.  Please make sure to confirm that it is a dividend paying stock and that it is a individual stock analysis.

My goal is to make this collection become the centralized source where one begins their research on a particular dividend stock company or at the very least, a source to confirm if a company stock is worth buying. Whether your a beginner or a veteran, I want this list to become an invaluable reference tool for you all. Best part, unlike other subscription based sites, I plan to keep this completely free for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. Feel free to share with all of your friends and family! 

Click on Link Below

Complete Collection of Stock Analyses

Also don't forget to check out our:

NEW!! Collection of Recent Buys

Friday, March 13, 2015



Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS-B)
Purchased 9 shares of RDS-B on 3/13/2015 at $59.97
Total Spent: $539.73
$33.84 added to annual dividends

National Oilwell Varco, Inc (NOV)
Purchased 9 shares of NOV on 3/13/2015 at $48.54
Total Spent: $436.86
$16.56 added to annual dividends

Ensco Plc (ESV)
Purchased 30 shares of ESV on 3/13/2015 at $21.00
Total Spent: $630.00
$18.00 added to annual dividends

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we purchased a few shares of Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), respectively. And today, with the another decline in the market, a total of 3 additional purchases were made when the stocks reach our limit price. So we took the opportunity to add shares of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS-B), National Oilwell Varco, Inc (NOV), and Ensco Plc (ESV) to our family's dividend stocks portfolio.

We realize that there is still a rocky road ahead for energy and oil stocks but we truly believe that oil and gas prices will eventually recover and along with it would be a recovery in these stock prices. As we have seen with banks stocks since the huge collapse with lending industry in 2009, we remain confident that oil stocks will eventually recover. As long term investors, we therefore look at these moments as an opportunity to buy quality companies from out of favor sectors.

So with the recent purchases today, we added another NEW stocks to our family's dividend stocks portfolio. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS) now brings our family's dividend stocks portfolio to a total of 36 stock/ETFs. National Oilwell Varco, Inc (NOV) and Ensco Plc (ESV) were companies we had already previously owned.

With the purchases mentioned above, our estimated forward dividends grew another $68.40 and now stands at approximately $3,223/year in dividends.

Our family's dividend stocks portfolio may be found
by clicking on the link below:

We also maintain an extensive list of stock analysis
that can be access through the link below:

We also just started a list of Recent Buys by other bloggers
that can be access through the link below:


Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS)
P/E: 12.57
Payout Ratio: 72%
Dividend Yield: 6.1%
Dividend Growth rate (5yr AVG): 2.30%
consecutive years of dividend increases
Last Ex-dividend date: 2/11/2015
Next Ex-dividend date: approx. 5/11/2015
Have paid a dividend since: 2005 (10 years)
Pays a dividend 4 times a year.
Market Cap: 73 Billion
52-week high: $88.13
52-week low: $59.33

Purchased Price: $59.97

National Oilwell Varco, Inc (NOV)
P/E: 8.43
Payout Ratio: 32%
Dividend Yield: 3.7%
Dividend Growth rate (5yr AVG): 28.04%
4 consecutive years of dividend increases
Last Ex-dividend date: 3/11/2015
Next Ex-dividend date: approx. 6/11/2015
Have paid a dividend since: 2009 (6 years)

Pays a dividend 4 times a year.
Market Cap: 20.1 Billion
52-week high: $86.55
52-week low: $48.07

Purchased Price: $48.54

Ensco Plc (ESV)
P/E: N/A
Payout Ratio: N/A*
Dividend Yield: 2.7%
Dividend Growth rate (5yr AVG): N/A*
4 consecutive years of dividend increases*
Last Ex-dividend date: 3/5/2015
Next Ex-dividend date: approx. 6/5/2015
Have paid a dividend since: 2010 (5 years)

Pays a dividend 4 times a year.
Market Cap: 4.7 Billion
52-week high: $55.89
52-week low: $20.20

Purchased Price: $21.00

*ESV recently cut their dividend payments from .75 to .15/share.

What are your thoughts about my recent purchaseS?

What are you buying?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015




Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Purchased 8 shares of JNJ on 3/11/2015 at $99.00
Total Spent: $792.00
$22.40 added to annual dividends

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)
Purchased 6 shares of XOM on 3/10/2015 at $84.31
Total Spent: $505.86
$16.56 added to annual dividends

Our Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) purchase was based on the results from our recent ASK THE READERS post.  It took several weeks before we made our purchase because JNJ saw a brief spike right after we had posted our poll results.  In fact, JNJ was above $103 just a week ago. With that said, we were glad that we had an opportunity to buy JNJ at $99.00.  It is definitely a stock we plan to keep in our portfolio for the long haul.

As for our Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) purchase, we just couldn't resist buying into the stock after we saw it reach the 52-week low.  After all, it's a company that has paid a dividend for over 130 years with 32 consecutive years of dividend increases and at a yield above 3%!  We realize that there is still a rocky road ahead for energy and oil stocks but as with JNJ, we plan to keep XOM for the long haul and have no doubt that oil and gas prices will eventually recover.  

With the recent purchases, we added 2 NEW stocks to our family's dividend stocks portfolio. So with our recent purchases, we now hold a total of 36 stock/ETF in our family's dividend stocks portfolio.

With the purchases mentioned above, our estimated forward dividends grew another $38.96 and now stands at approximately $3,133/year in dividends.

Our family's dividend stocks portfolio may be found
by clicking on the link below:

We also maintain an extensive list of stock analysis
that can be access through the link below:

We also just started a list of Recent Buys by other bloggers
that can be access through the link below:


Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
P/E: 17.25
Payout Ratio: 49%
Dividend Yield: 2.8%
Dividend Growth rate (5yr AVG): 7.41%
52 consecutive years of dividend increases
Last Ex-dividend date: 2/20/2015
Next Ex-dividend date: approx. 5/20/2015
Have paid a dividend since: 1944 (71 years)
Pays a dividend 4 times a year.
Market Cap: 273.3 Billion
52-week high: $109.49
52-week low: $92.46

Purchased Price: $99.00

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)
P/E: 11.06
Payout Ratio: 36%
Dividend Yield: 3.5%
Dividend Growth rate (5yr AVG): 10.58%
32 consecutive years of dividend increases
Last Ex-dividend date: 2/6/2015
Next Ex-dividend date: approx. 5/6/2015
Have paid a dividend since: 1882 (133 years)
Pays a dividend 4 times a year.
Market Cap: 352.4 Billion
52-week high: $104.76
52-week low: $84.24

Purchased Price: $84.31

What are your thoughts about my recent purchase?

What are you buying?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mortgage Balance (Update) - March 2015

If you have viewed our family's Net Worth Page, you probably already know that it does not include the equity in our home.  Although, we do realize that it is technically part of our overall net worth, we decided that since our home equity is not an asset that we can count on for income (unless we sell and buy something cheaper) we would exclude it from our net worth calculation.
For the purpose of this blog, we are more interested in documenting our loan balance rather than our home equity.  With that said, we will use the current Zillow value as our estimated home value and use it to figure out the percentage we owe on our home. For those interested, we will include the amount of our home equity, but know that we are less concerned with the equity since we have no plans to cash out or otherwise sell our home. Our main goal is to pay off our home on or before my retirement date. 
According to Zillow, our home is currently worth: $778,807 (up $2,502 from our February post). Housing has cooled down a bit from the highs last summer but as long as interest rates remain low, home buying should remain steady.  This should bode well for the housing market.
Mortgage Balance (March):
$331,670 (down from $333,421 in February)
Percentage Owed:
42.5% (down from 42.9% in February)
Home Equity:
$447,137 (up from $442,904 in February)

Even though we don't consider home equity as part of our net worth, since I am sort of a statistics nerd, I still like to look at the numbers and draw fancy comparisons. :) 

But like the stock market, one shouldn't constantly look at the values.  As long as my mortgage balance continues to go down consistently each month, in the long run, I know we will be in a good position at retirement.  We love our home, our neighbors, the schools, local markets, etc. We have no plans to move anytime soon. 

Mortgage Background:
For those that have not read the Preface on our home equity, we currently hold a 15-year fixed rate mortgage at the incredibly low rate of 2.875%.  My goal is to retire within 13 1/2 years so we are setting out to pay off our mortgage on or before my retirement date. Right in line with my retirement goal, we have 13  years  - 4 months (160 months) left on our mortgage.  Nevertheless, I would like to have it paid off in another 10 years (or less). If we accomplish that, I plan to use the last few years to aggressively build our passive income to help supplement our retirement and defer tapping into the 457K as long as we can so it can continue to grow. 
Right now we are not putting any extra money towards the principal given our low 2.875% interest rate. We feel that we could make our money grow faster by investing it and while keeping the money more liquid. At a certain point, maybe in 8-10 years, we may consider using money from our investment accounts to wipe out the remaining mortgage balance.  Until then, we will continue to grow that money outside, rather than have it locked into our home.
Click on the link below to view our mortgage balance history:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dividend Stocks Portfolio (Update) - March 2015

Here is the recent update to our dividend stocks portfolio – March 2015.


We are still trying to re-balance our portfolio as there are a few companies we simply view as short-term investments and thus do not plan to hang onto for the long term.  This past month, Frontier Communications (FTR) saw decent gains and reached our limit price. We therefore ended up selling 228 shares of Frontier at $8.05. From the recent sale, we netted a total of $1,835.51. The sale left us with roughly 300 shares of FTR. Unfortunately, the sale also means that we saw our annual dividends decrease by $95.76 

The good new is that we did not pay a commission fee since we receive 100 free trades a year.  To date, we still have a total of 54 trades left out of 100.  Our trade counter will reset on 9/15/2015. 




The month of February ended up being a VERY quite month for us.  For the first time since we started our blog in April of 2014, we ended the month without a single buy transactions. We did have a few limit orders open, but unfortunately with the market rebounding in February, none of those limit order had executed.  On the bright side, we saw gains all around in our stock portfolio, retirement portfolio, college funds, etc.  We will be report those gains in future post later this month. 

Because tax season is around the corner, and we have a few large bills coming up, we had to be a bit more reserved this month. Hopefully, March brings some better opportunities to put more capital to work. But with no new purchases this month, and we still held onto some shares of FTR, our family dividend stocks portfolio remains with a total of 34 different companies/ETF that all pay us a dividend. 



With no additional dividends, and a loss of $95.76 in dividends from our sale of 228 shares of FTR stocks, our new estimated annual income is now $3,133 or and average of approximately $261/month.  In addition to the loss of dividends from our sell of FTR stocks, the recent dividend cut to ESV reduced our annual dividends by $132.00.  On the bright side, AT&T and KMI increased their dividends!

Definitely not enough positive to outweigh the negatives this past month. I guess not every month can be a winning month. But I never said this journey was going to be an easy one. :)


February was  also a below average month in terms of dividends received.  During this past month, our dividend total was $112.32.  We had 5 companies/ETFs pay us a dividend this past month. We own shares of AT&T in two separate accounts so we saw two separate payments from the same company. 

For the month of February, we receive the following dividends:

2/2/15 - Dividend from VZ (Verizon Communications Co): $13.75
2/2/15 - Dividend from DE (Deere and Co): $10.80
2/2/15 - Dividend from T (AT&T, Inc): $18.96
1/15/15 - Dividend from KMI (Kinder Morgan, Inc): $10.35
1/15/15 - Dividend from ATNA (Artesian Resource Corp): $13.98

1/28/15 - Dividend from T (AT&T Inc): $44.48


* We currently receive our dividends as cash in all stock positions held.
In case you interested, our family's dividend stocks portfolio may be found by clicking on the link below: