Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recent Buys - (NYSE: AFL, GE, ORI, & DE)

  1. Aflac Inc (AFL)
    • Purchased 10 shares of AFL on 7/30/14 at $61.40
      • $14.80 added to annual dividends.
  2. General Electric Co (GE)
    • Purchased 20 shares of GE on 7/28/2014 at $25.50
      • $17.60 added to annual dividends
  3. Old Republic Int'l Corp (ORI)
    • Purchased 35 shares of ORI on 7/28/2014 at $15.20
      • $25.55 added to annual dividends
  4. Deere & Company (DE)
    • Purchased 6 shares of DE on 7/25/2014 at $86.00
      • $14.40 added to annual dividends
AFL was the only company I had already owned. I originally purchased shares of AFL earlier this year (see previous post in May 2014).
GE, ORI, and DE were new holdings for our family's dividend stocks portfolio. Glad to have had the opportunity to grab some shares in these great companies while the valuation appears attractive. The recent purchases added $72.35 to our family's annual dividends payout.

      Aflac Inc (AFL) -
    • P/E: 9.50
    • Payout ratio: 23%
    • Dividend yield: 2.30%
    • Dividend growth rate - 5yr average: 7.03%
    • 31 consecutive years of dividend increases
    • Next dividend ex date: 8/18/14

     General Electric Co (GE)
    • P/E: 19.99
    • Payout ratio: 69%
    • Dividend yield: 3.30%
    • Dividend growth rate - 5yr average: 4.66%
    • 3 consecutive years of dividend increases
    • Next dividend ex date: approx. 9/19/14

     Old Republic Int'l Corp (ORI)
    • P/E: 9.19
    • Payout ratio: 33%
    • Dividend yield: 4.90%
    • Dividend growth rate - 5yr average: 1.29%
    • 7 consecutive years of dividend increases
    • Next dividend ex date: approx. 9/2/14

     Deere & Company (DE)
    • P/E: 9.32
    • Payout ratio: 23%
    • Dividend yield: 2.80%
    • Dividend growth rate - 5yr average: 14.03%
    • 10 consecutive years of dividend increases
    • Next dividend ex date: approx. 9/26/14

What are your thoughts about my recent purchases?

Monday, July 28, 2014

I was nominated for a Liebster Award !!

I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award by Happy, Healthy and Wealthy Girl.  Even though I had no idea what a Liebster Award was, I was still happy to have received the nomination.  
In case you are wondering, after doing a quick Google search, I found out exactly what a Liebster Award was all about.
  • The Liebster Award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere.
  • This aware only exists on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers.
  • It is like a helpful hand for new blogger you like and want others to hear about.
Basic Rules:
  • In order to accept an award, you are supposed to answer 5 questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Then you find your own 5 new blogs to nominate the Liebster Award to and create a list of questions for them.
  • Lastly, post your Liebster Award proudly on your blog for all to see.

Thank you Happy, Healthy and Wealthy Girl for the nomination!!


Here are my answers to the questions from Happy, Healthy and Wealthy Girl:
1. Your favorite vacation spot
Although it has been awhile since we have visited Hawaii, I must say that it is one of my favorite all time places to visit.  Doesn't matter which island we visit, it always feels like a vacation in Hawaii.
2. Your first stock
My first stock purchase was in Sprint PCS (before it had merged with Nextel). 
3. Your worst and best investment
My worst investment was in Sirius Radio just before the Howard Stern deal (thinking the deal would boost the stock - I did just the opposite).  My best investment has to be in B of A (immediately following the banking crisis & bailout).  I bought a ton of B of A shares at around $5 and in roughly a year, I had doubled my money.
4. Do you have pets? 
We do not have any pets.  Growing up with also frugal parents, I only had a pet fish and turtle.  I may do the same with my kids. :)
5. What will you do if you win a lottery tomorrow? 
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would pay off our only remaining debt (our home!). But since I rarely play the lottery (tax on the poor as Dave Ramsey calls it), I guess my chances of winning is pretty slim. :)
For my nomination I pick
1. Dividend Diplomats 
2. Dividendasaur 
3. Wallet Engineers 
4. Starting From Zero
5. A Dividend Dream
My Questions for my nominees:
1. What is your main reason for blogging?
2. Who is the one person you admire the most? Why?
3. How close would you say you are from retirement (percentage)?
4. What would you do with $10,000? 
5. What is your favorite book of all time?

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 things you simply shouldn't penny pinch on!

We currently live a pretty frugal lifestyle by choice.  We've been known to buy generic store brands over name brands and we sometimes we also buy lightly used goods as opposed to buying new. But through the years, we have learned that there are certain things in life that you should never penny pinch on.  In pretty much all of the items listed below, we have found that you almost always get what you pay for.  Since these items may have lasting and sometime irreversible impacts if the wrong ones are chosen, it is our opinion that you should never penny pinch on the following seven items below:


1.  Mattress. One item that you would be wise to pay more money for is a mattress. After all, you spend a third of your life on it. People who have made this mistake will likely tell you that a sagging mattress will generally give you back, shoulder, or neck problems in the long run. This will cost much more than it would have cost to buy a decent mattress in the first place. Whether you pay through future medical bills, or quality of life because of constant pain, you'll almost always regret not spending the few extra dollars for the higher quality mattress. 
2. Car Seat. Another item we feel you should not penny pinch on is a car seat. A car seat has the important task of keeping your baby or toddler safe in the unfortunate instance that you get into a fender bender or major accident. I'm pretty sure that everyone who has owned a car seat will tell you that not all car seats are created equal, and you tend to get what you pay for. Rather than picking out the least expensive or trendiest car seat, do your homework, check the safety ratings and compare against other models. 
3. Doctor or Lawyer. I am a firm believer that, for the most part, you truly get what you pay for in this category. Fair or not, this generally means the wealthy have the best access to the best doctors and lawyers. Haven't you noticed how wealthy individuals always get the best medical care of legal defenses.  I can assure you that they are not bargain basement shopping. :) 
I will say that there are exceptions in this category because of the simple fact that doctors and lawyers, who eventually become great, need to start off somewhere.  If you are lucky to have retain a good one early in their career, you'll likely be getting a steal of a deal.  But the reality is that good and experienced doctors or lawyers always demand more money. Even the doctor or lawyer that you found early on in their career will likely become more expensive as their reputation and demand grows. 
4. Insurance. For this item, we would like to stress the importance of insurance coverage.  So not pinching in this category starts with actually getting the insurance your family needs instead of trying to do without. It goal without saying that every family should have the basic health insurance. You will also need life insurance if you have dependents. If you own a car or home, you should also maintain an insurance policy for them as well.  
Don't overkill here but don't under insure also.  Each family is different so it would be unrealistic for me to sit here and say you must have certain types or amount of coverage.  As you sit down and decide, just keep in mind that insurance is just is basically a back up plan in case something tragic happens.
Once way to save money here is to combine policies as many companies will provide you with a multi-policy discount.



These three items kind of goes without saying but we thought it was worth mentioning anyhow.  If for nothing more, maybe provide you with a quickly chuckle.  :)
5. Contraception. Again, this is a product where we think it safer to go with quality over price or quantity. But at the end of the day, something is better than nothing. If you truly can't afford it, most types of contraception are free at government clinics.
If you don't have access to a government clinic, don't choose to go without.  Paying for contraception yourself will always end up being much cheaper than a baby. A few extra pennies here can save you thousands in diapers, food, clothes, medical bills, etc.
6. Tattoos.  I think we've all seen a tattoo that looks like someone used a lead pencil. It is blurry, with no colors, no shadow effects, etc.  Make no sense at all! 

Although it is technically possible these days to remove a tattoo, it is at least twice the cost ,and we hear it is twice as painful as the original tattoo. Because the permanent nature of a tattoo, we have never understood why some do not find and pay for the best artist available.
7. Boob Job. While we’re all for ladies boosting up their bra size,  or otherwise re-shaping their melons, the difference between a bad boob job and a good boob job are night and day. (Just ask Tara Reid.) The best boob jobs don’t look like boob jobs, they look like boobs.  And preferably with minimal visible scaring. The goal should be a finished product that visually could not be distinguished from the real thing. Oh, and preferably two of somewhat proportionate  size. :)
For the record, none of the items on the funny list was learned through our own experience. lol

So those were our top 7 items,
what items would you not penny pinch on?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stocks Added to Collection of Stock Analyses (Update) - Mid-Month (July 2014)

For those who are not yet familiar with my extensive collection of individual dividend stocks. The collection is currently comprised of 315 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 immediately provide updates for new stock analysis the moment I become aware of them. So please make sure to check back periodically as the list will be updated frequently.
The collection goes back two years but to highlight the stock analyses that have recently been created during the last 2 months, I have provided NEW!! at the end.

Originally, I was only planning to provide monthly updates. However, seeing that there is already a decent size list of stocks to report just in the first half of the month, I have know decided that I will provide two updates to my blog collection. One at mid month and another and the end of the month.  This will allow everyone to be more up-to-date with the newly added stock analyses.
With that said, the following is a list of newly added stocks analysis that were prepared during the first half of the month of JULY (2014):
  1. Aflac, Inc
  2. AT&T Corp
  3. Coach, Inc
  4. Community Trust Bank Corp
  5. Deere & Co
  6. IBM Corp
  7. Kellog Co
  8. Kimberly-Clark Corp
  9. Kraft Foods Group, Inc
  10. Mattel, Inc
  11. Procter & Gamble Co
  12. Visa, Inc
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

Collection of Stock Analyses

Sunday, July 13, 2014

P2P Accounts (Update) - July 2014

June was decent month for us on Lending Club as we purchased a total of $600 worth of notes this month. At the end of June, our Lending Club account balance was at $7,859.68. We received $507.48 in payments from our active notes in June; of which, we received, $50.74 in interest (an increase of $7.38/mo.).  The principal balance of our active notes was $7,101.97 (an increase of $71.11 from May total), with $450.00 of loans in review or funding and a remaining cash balance of $332.20.  We are currently generating 5.27% on our seasoned notes. We did have one loan that was charged off this past month.  The remaining balance of the loan was $21.40.


June was also a decent month for us on Prosper as we purchased a total of $775.00 worth of notes this month. At the end of June, our Prosper account balance was at $8,361.92 (an increase of $450.99 from our balance at the end of May). We received $403.78 in payments from our active notes in June; of which, we received, $57.10 in interest (an increase of $3.41/mo.).  The principal balance of our active notes was $7,847.19 (an increase of $422.21 from May total), with $50.00 of loans in review or funding and a remaining cash balance of $488.21.  We are currently generating 7.55% on our seasoned notes.

In an effort to grow both P2P accounts, we are currently re-investing all of the payments that we receive from our notes. And when the cash balance is low, we are continuing to add more funds to the account so that we may constantly purchase new notes.


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.

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


Friday, July 11, 2014

Retirement Accounts (Update) - July 2014

For several years now, our retirement accounts have been growing at a decent pace...this year, however, the performance has been pretty anemic! I am still thankful that we are not losing money. But that is why our family has now decided to switch our focus towards building our Dividend Stocks Portfolio and P2P Lending Accounts so as to have optional income streams in retirement. Nevertheless, we will still continue to track these accounts as they are still part of our retirement plan.


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


JULY 1, 2014

Cash Value of Pension$200,795 ($1,314 increase from June total of $199,481)

Total value of 457K: $116,748 ($1,538 increase from June total of $115.210)

Roth IRAs
Total value of Roth IRA accounts: $53,390 ($2,046 increase from June total of  $51,346)
Overall, the month of June was a decent month as our retirement accounts increase $4,898 from the June 1, 2014 totals.  As it stands, the total amount of our retirement accounts is currently valued at: $370,933.
Click below to view retirement accounts page


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mortgage Balance (Update) - July 2014

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. 

Home Value:
According to Zillow, our home is currently worth: $788,317 (up from $768,380 in June). The housing market in our area has been roaring in the last few months as we had a roughly $20K gain the month prior.  It's nice to see home values go up but the reality is it is simply a paper gain until we actually go to sell our home. Meanwhile, the higher value translates to more property taxes. 

Mortgage Balance (July 2014):
$345,379.00 (down from $347,098.15 in June)

Percentage Owed:
43.81% (down from 45.17% in June)

Home Equity:
$442,938 (up from $421,281.85 in June)

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. 

Although 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. :) This last month was an great month in that our home equity grew approximately $21,657. As for percentage owed, the number continues to decrease ever so slightly. The percentage dropped another 1.36% this past month.  With our mortgage balance, I'll certainly accept that as a decent month. :) Plus, that is an annual decrease of 16.32%! 
Click on the link below to view our mortgage balance history:
Mortgage Balance History

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Net Worth (Update) - 2nd Quarter 2014

Originally, I was only planning to provide annual Net Worth updates.  However, since I am now part of an active list of bloggers who provide their net worth on Rockstar Finance's page - The Ultimate List of Blogger Net Worth, I now feel that I need to start providing quarterly updates.  This will allow our readers more insight to our overall progress towards Financial Independence. It will also allow us to stay accurate and current on the Rockstar Finance's Ultimate List of Blogger Net Worth.
As of the end of June 2014, our family net worth is as follows:
Retirement Savings:                       $370,933
P2P Lending Accounts:                    $ 16,220
Dividend Stock Accounts (DSA):      $ 42,449
DSA - Surplus Cash:                       $ 23,789
Investment Accounts:                     $ 25,205
Cash and Savings:                          $ 87,275
(Increase of $54,742 since 12/31/13)
Home Equity: $442,938

When I was younger, I always said I wanted to become a millionaire. Well, if you add our home equity (as some people actually do), I guess our family became millionaires this past month! Don't get me wrong, I am actually proud of the accomplishment. But maybe it's because of the my friends, my neighbors, or other people I have around me whom are way better off than me, I just see this milestone as simply another goal accomplished. Definitely not Financial Independence and definitely not the finish line.

NOTE: If you follow us, you know that we do not consider the home equity in our home as part of our net worth. Although others do consider home equity, and even cars, collections, etc. as part of their net worth, it is our opinion that since these items are not very liquid and the value of these items is highly dependent on what others are willing to pay for them (at the present time), we have decided not to consider these assets as part of our recognized family net worth.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dividend Stocks Portfolio (Update) - July 2014

Here is the recent update to our dividend stocks portfolio – July 2014.


As noted in the narrative for our dividend stocks portfolio, we are in the process of re-balancing our portfolio to meet our current stock criteria. Some of our holdings, therefore, do not reflect our current goals, but we are in the process of selling a few of them as they reach our limit price. We continued to sell a few shares this past month but still have a bit more to go.  My goal is to finish the transition sometime before the end of the year.  We definitely made some great progress towards this goal in the month June.
With that said, we have sold the following 6 positions this past month:

25 shares of EXC (Excelon Corp) at $37.05 ($926.25)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Lost: $31.00
100 shares of BSBR (Banco Santander Brasil) at $7.00 ($699.98)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Lost: $21.60
73 shares of CIG (Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais) at $7.66 ($559.18)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Lost: $55.63
75 shares of CIG (Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais) at $8.30 ($622.50)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Lost: $57.15
50 shares of BSBR (Banco Santander Brasil) at $7.12 ($356.00)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Lost: $10.80
25 shares of EXC (Excelon Corp) at $37.05 ($926.25)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Lost: $31.00


*We receive 100 free trades per year through our brokerage account so there was no commission paid on these sales.



June was a light month as we only made a total of 3 purchases during the month.  All of our purchases was to increase our position in ARCP.  We should see an uptick in our buying activity in the coming month as we are now sitting on approximately $3,000 in cash reserves received from our recent stock sales. We will definitely look to initiate some purchases in the upcoming month to replace the dividend income that we had lost from our recent sale.   
The following are the actual buys that we made during the month of June:

25 shares of ARCP (American Realty Capital Properties) at $12.33 ($308.25)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Received: $25.00
20 shares of ARCP (American Realty Capital Properties) at $12.18 ($243.60)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Received: $20.00
40 shares of ARCP (American Realty Capital Properties) at $11.95 ($478.00)
  • Estimated Annual Dividend Received: $40.00


*We receive 100 free trades per year through our brokerage account so there was no commission paid on this purchase.



June was an average month in terms of dividends received. Glad to see the monthly dividend back near our monthly average. So far this year, we are averaging $133.44 in dividends each month. However, since we are in the process of re-balancing of our portfolio, there may be a brief period where our monthly average will dip because of the sold positions. Well, at least until we replace them with new and hopefully more stable and even rising dividends.  :) 

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

6/03/14 - Dividend from ENB (Enbridge Inc): $6.46
6/09/14 - Dividend from BBD (Banco Bradesco): $0.71
6/10/14 - Dividend from TGT (Target Corp): $4.33
6/10/14 - Dividend from EXC (Excelon Corp): $34.08
6/13/14 - Dividend from ARCP (American Realty Capital Properties Inc): $6.25
6/20/14 - Dividend from ESV (Ensco PLC): $7.50
6/30/14 - Dividend from FTR (Frontier Communications): $62.86
6/30/14 - Dividend from BPY (Brookfield Property Partners): $1.07


* 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: