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Archive for January, 2015

The Uncertainty of January

January 21st, 2015 at 07:27 am

This is kind of small in the grand scheme of things but January finances always drive me a bit batty. I'm the type of person that just likes to know in advance and plan and January is just that month of the year that you just don't know …… until you do

New Health Insurance Rates
Other Deduction Changes

So I never know exactly what the paychecks are going to be until I see them in the account. But thankfully tomorrow is the last paycheck of the month, and then I'll be able to plan all the future paychecks more accurately.

So I've been taking a poll of people around me. In January of this year, our State (Illinois) Income tax rate decreased. This effects everybody in the State who earns a wage.

Basically a couple of years ago our politicians passed an increase and sold it to the Public as a "Temporary Measure to Solve Our Fiscal Crises!" In order to make that look realistic, they put automatic rate decreases into the legislation that unless the legislature voted to extend the higher rate or make it permanent, the rates eventually drop down toward prior levels.

They then raised the state spending by amounts greater than the increase. And of course no politician who wants to be re-elected is ever going to say "I WANT TO RAISE YOUR TAXES EVEN MORE!!!!" to the voting public.

So here we are with even more spending and decreasing revenue, but everybody knows the Illinois government is in huge financial trouble. We don't need a poll for that.

But this is my thing. I have been conducting an informal poll of people around me and so far I've found 16 people who didn't have a clue that their state income tax rate increased, or that they've now decreased ….. and 2 who actually noticed.

Sometimes I think I'm probably overly anal about things like this but sometimes I just want to line the world up in front of me and scream: PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!!!!

Meal Planning - 1/19 to 1/25

January 18th, 2015 at 01:12 pm

One of my resolutions this year was to try and get a handle on meal planning so we aren't constantly looking at each other around 7pm nightly wondering what we should eat.

And of course it's Jan 18th and so far it's failed, but I have managed to come up with a menu plan for next week. I've also started using the Pepperplate app to organize a shopping list. The helpful thing about using apps around here is that we can all put the apps on our devices and then whenever somebody ends up at the store, they can check to see what is needed.

But here's the menu

Monday - Vegetable and Cashew Stir fry with fried rice.
Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken soup
Wednesday (Son Cooks) - Homemade pizza
Thurs - Sausage Pasta and mixed Vegetables
Fri - Vegetable Fajitas
Sat - Caesar Salad w/ Chicken Breasts
Sun - Slow Cooker French Dip w/ Fries

Mid-Month Update

January 15th, 2015 at 05:53 am

Non-Paycheck Income

Swagbucks/Surveys Etc: $135.22
Credit Card Rewards: $140.6
Savings Acct Interest: $18.6
Quarterly Company Stock Dividends: $1531.2
Rent Collected: $50
Other Dividends: $0.83

Total 1876.11

Deposits Made

GE Capital Bank: 400
P2P Lending Accounts: $300
Loyal3 Account: $275
Other DRIP/DPP: $550

Total $1525

I am holding some money back because I'm considering starting a DRIP for the stock HCP. This is a Real Estate Investment company which invests in health care properties including senior housing and skilled nursing and medical complexes. It is currently paying a dividend of around 4.5% The minimum initial deposit is $750.

Also, as I said in a previous post, we've had an expensive month around here with things breaking down left and right. I am trying to cut down on our admittedly way too high grocery bill for the rest of the month in order to offset some of the expenses.

The good news is our little dog hasn't had another seizure. He has about another week left on his pills and then we'll need to take him back for another blood test. The Vet says that if that blood test comes back okay, the best course of action would be just to monitor him and hope he just never has another one or at least they don't ever get more frequent than one every 3 years or so that he's had so far.

It is time for Murphy to leave my house!

January 8th, 2015 at 08:12 am


So far this month…and it is only the 8th!!!!!!

$720 for heating and plumbing emergencies caused by cold weather

$150 to fix and seal up a window that developed a leak around the edges - caused by cold weather

$1898 for auto breakdowns (2 cars in the same month)

$190 and climbing for vet bills - Little dog had a seizure. Hopefully won't have another one but needs to go back in 2 weeks for another blood test.

Also had to put down a $1000 deposit to a masonry to have our fireplace rebuilt. They obviously can't do it in the current -2degree weather but they wanted a deposit to order the bricks etc and hold our spot for the work when the weather finally warms up.

Gosh it seems to pile up sometimes.

A Few Investing Purchases

January 6th, 2015 at 09:55 am

My DH collected $1289 in quarterly dividends from his Employee Stock account. $500 was added to a bit of cash already at TradeKing Brokerage and we bought 5 more shares of Chevron. The rest is in holding pattern while we make a few decisions.

$100 that we collected for renting space in our storage shed to a neighbor went to Schwab Brokerage and was invested in SCHB.

Payment on some Independent Contractor work I did .... $100 to the Realty Income stock purchase plan and $50 to the Pinnacle West stock purchase plan. These are both DRIP/DSPP plans where transactions are made commission free and dividends are automatically reinvested.

$10 from survey income went to the Loyal3.com Investment account to invest in Berkshire Class B. I just set this account up last week so this is the first $10 invested there.

I cashed in $25 in Swagbucks this morning for a Paypal reward. That will likely go to my P2P Lending Investment Account at Prosper.com

Blog Reboot

January 2nd, 2015 at 04:49 pm

New Year, New Intents Yada Yada Yada.....

I haven't posted in like, forever - I'm a bad, bad blogger. But no time like January to start anew.

I was thinking about a blog and for now I'd like to concentrate on what I like to call my "Investing Hobby" money.

When I say this what I mean is the amounts that are about to follow are not our Retirement Funds or Emergency Fund or anything like that. These are accounts that I hold using mostly what I like to call found money. Some of it is extra work I pick up doing small business bookkeeping here and there. Some of it is Swagbucks and Survey amounts. Some of it is from when I come under budget in grocery or other items in a month and I'll sweep the difference into my investments. Occasionally life aligns in a manner that we just have some extra money and DH and I will agree to take a small part of it and put it in one of these accounts.

So to start the year, this is where things were at the beginning of January/end of December.

1. Lending Club/Prosper P2P Loans Investment Account. $2,725.86

Back in 2013 I became very interested in the things I was reading about Peer to Peer Lending and I wanted to give it a try. But, I didn't want to risk what I considered "real" (I do know the money isn't fake, seriously) money. I determined that I was going to take what I earned with Swagbucks, Survey sites etc and use those funds. I literally started these accounts with $100 and I just keep reinvesting the interest and pumping new money in as I get it. Some months it is a couple hundred bucks, some not so much.

I will later write about how I choose loans and how it has worked out, mostly good but some bad.

2. Schwab Acct (currently all SCHB, which is an ETF). $2,051.43

This is just a broad US Market ETF that trades commission free. I like it because it reinvests dividends and it is a fuss free way to invest fairly small amounts and keep it diversified. We have several other schwab ETF investments in our retirement account, but this is the only one I hold in a regular taxable investment account. Most of this was bought using money I made from a garage sale and EBAY etc.

3. Individual Stocks. (TradeKing, DRIP Plans, Loyal3) 9,441.92

I'll write more about how I ended up with each of these stocks later. Let me just say I do realize that nearly every intelligent financial advisor on the planet recommends against owning individual stocks in such small amounts. That's why I don't do this with our retirement or college funds or whatever. I've just realized that I LIKE owning individual stocks. Many years ago I was a member of an Investment Club and it was lots of fun, but we moved so I had to cash out. For now I've tried to limit myself to under 10 symbols so I can keep up with them.
I've been dabbling with this for a couple of years, but with the kids not sucking up so much of our income with tuitions now --- money is just a bit more freely available and I get to play with it more.

So this is what I have right now

Berkshire Class B 2 shares
Realty Income Corp 6 shares
Abbvie Corp 6 shares
ATT 16 shares
Pinnacle West 10 shares
Chevron 8 shares
National Healthcare 19 shares
Lockheed Martin 10 shares
Lending Club 125 shares
Disney 1 shares

I will just quickly explain the Lending Club stock as it is a large holding for us and not exactly a fit considering the other companies I've bought stock in, or how I got the money to buy it.

When the company (Lending Club) issued their IPO awhile back, they gave their existing customers a chance to participate. I've never done an IPO before, and I might never again because they are very risky. But I thought it sounded intriguing so DH and I decided to go ahead because the IPO just coincidently matched up with one of his "extra paycheck months."

My gut says that I should probably sell these shares now at a nice profit. But right now I'm still in the Short Term holding period, which means a huge chunk of our gain would just go to the government for taxes and I HATE to pay more taxes. So I haven't done it yet.

Total of the 3 Sections - $14,219

So that's about it for now. I think it would be fun to see if I can get this total to over $20,000 by the end of 2015 while still maintaining our Retirement and other savings goals.

Looking at my sidebar Author Info I really need to update that too. My son did graduate college, we did go on a vacation but I wouldn't mind another one. Our savings account has about $40k in it right now, but I have around $15k in 0% Credit Card balances that need to be paid off in February and March. I'm not sure of our exact Mortgage balance but I do know that 2015 is the year it is supposed to go under $100,000 so that's pretty exciting.

And if you actually read all this rambling, thanks!