Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Loyal3 Buys, Oct. 2016

Fall Gremlin here to talk about how I've been improving my portfolio via Loyal3.  Things have been coming along pretty well for the past few months, and I added a few shares to in Loyal3 as noted on my monthly updates.  Finally, I got my position in YUM up to a point I am satisfied with.  YUM is about to spin off YUM China (YUMC) at the beginning of November so it is easy to understand why I pursued YUM.  Once the deal is completed I will own shares in both, but YUMC will clearly be its own animal.  Part of me would still like to have seen YUM carry on as is.  There is a strength in companies like Johnson and Johnson (JNJ),  where width of their brands and innovation complements their depth.  Hopefully, after the spin off the two YUMs both do their thing and do it will.

I bought 3.2654 shares of YUM for $290.  This will add $6.66 to my forward annual income, considering the recent dividend raise.  More importantly, my total number of YUM shares now stands at just above 12, and I am happy with the size of the position currently ~ enough to start buying other things.

YUM has been the focus of this account for much of the past few months.  With other finances back in order and a slightly larger free hand, I will be able to tackle other Loyal3 stocks moving forward.  It is still my plan to fill up positions to a specific point, then merge them with my regular account.  This will create a lot more buying power concentrated in one place, which is the ultimate goal. 

Either way, have a great rest of October and enjoy the start to fall!
- Gremlin
- Long YUM and JNJ

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September Review / October Preview, 2016

Hobbling Gremlin here to talk about this past month and the road ahead.  The road ahead starts with a twisted ankle, which will slow up my personal progress, but not my FI progress.  As I write this I know that one of my wife's student loans is gone (the highest interest loan which was at 6.8%).  There is still a 2.8% loan out there for her education, and that one is looking like it will be done next month.  Otherwise the normalcy of life has started again with the school year restarting.  This also means two paychecks back in the house, time to make these next few months count.  Though that normalcy is also to be short-lived, when you live in the DC area, election time should fill you with dread.  Not the dread of whoever wins, rather the dread of road closures and stupid rules for traffic. 


I bought a bunch of new stock in my new Pre-Tax IRA account, which was funded with rollover money from my old 401k.  This was done in two phases; phase 1 and phase 2.  I will begin count these dividends along with others, but they will not be counted towards my year end goals. In addition, I added one share of YUM in my Loyal3 account, but only one so it was not worth an article. 

Last month I brought in a total of $115.43 in dividends ($75.50 taxable, $39.93 Roth).  This is an increase from last year ($79.91 total) by 44.5%.  Growth surely cannot maintain such high percentages, but with the new pre-tax IRA counting in the future surely the numbers will begin to balloon.

In terms of dividend increases, I realized four this month from from Hershey's (HSY), Kellogg's (K), Realty Income (O), and Target (TGT).  The raises ranged from 1% to 7%. 

Next month I will realize two dividend increases.  They will be from O and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS).  The increases range from around 0.2% to above 2.8%. Thus far for 2016, I have realized 25 dividend increases!


Things are getting exciting.  As I noted above, one of my wife's student loans is gone.  Since last December (when I first looked into this) we have plowed $7.6k into her debt and now just about $850 remains.  It may seem like a small drop in the bucket, but it is a huge stride forward.  Within a few months our savings will be bouncing along with more investments.  This is the start of something big, I can feel it.

Next month should produce around $80 in dividends, which is a 51% YOY increase. At this point I will already eclipse last year's totals, which is just great.  .

My portfolio page is currently up to date.

Hope everyone has a great August!
- Dividend Gremlin
- Long all stock tickers mentioned

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Recent Buys Part 2, Sept. 2016

Relaxed Gremlin here to talk about some more recent buys.  Before I get started, let it be known that the reason I am relaxed is because I did a good number on one of my ankles recently, I won't be moving at a pace faster than a hop for a little while.  So, after much deliberation and thinking I have decided to keep all of my old 401K as pre-tax money.  I view my future retirement as something best dealt with by attacking from multiple angles, akin to a Hydra.  The cool thing is that one day my other retirement accounts will need to be dumped, and they will have a home waiting for them.  So let's get to it, what did I buy and why?  For starters these are definitely different companies than I bought in my last round a little over a week ago.  They are strong, but as I said different.

First I added shares of Westlake Chemical Corp. (WLK), which is a new position in my IRA account, and it is my first Basic Materials sector stock.  I bought 25 shares, with commission.  The current yield is 1.50% (on current cost).  I like WLK a lot, they have been aggressive in expansion and done a nice job at growing the dividend over the past few years with a growth streak of 13 years.  They have low P/E and payout ratios compared to the rest of the industry, 12.3 and 18% respectively.  These are excellent numbers.  To build on that they just acquired rival Axiall.  From what I read about them I see they have good leadership, an eye on growth and they exist in a boring - but needed - industry.  Here is a brief description from them:

"Westlake Chemical Corp was founded in 1986. It is a manufacturer and marketer of basic chemicals, vinyls, polymers and fabricated products. The Company's products include some of the chemicals, which are fundamental to many diverse consumer and industrial markets, including flexible and rigid packaging, automotive products, coatings, residential and commercial construction as well as other durable and non-durable goods. The Company operates in two principal business segments, Olefins and Vinyls, and it is one of the few North American integrated producers of vinyls with downstream integration into polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, fabricated products."

Second I added shares of CVS Health Corp (CVS), which is a new position in my IRA account (note they will be classified as Healthcare in terms of sector, because that is their largest segment).  I bought 25 shares, with commission.  The current yield is 1.90% (on current cost).  The P/E ratio is just around fair to slightly high at 20, but the payout ratio on the yield is a sweet 35%.  CVS needs a lot less of an introduction, though it should be said it has paid dividends at an increasing rate for 13 years too.  CVS is almost on as many street corners as Starbucks these days.  They also just inked a huge deal to manage and run Target's (TGT) in store pharmacy.

What I like most about CVS is just that, their pharmacy department.  The amount, type, and reliance on certain types of medicine seems to only be trending in one direction, and that is higher.  Few others are poised to do this at the capacity of CVS (though RiteAid and Walgreens certainly can).  In addition, that income is augmented by strong retail and consumer staples sales.  What is even crazier is how much room they have to grow and it does not even touch the amount of sales growth that their division of TGT pharmacies can bring to the table.

All in all, both buys are not going to be golden eggs layers today, but they may be tomorrow.  They also represent growth in the face of economic downturn.  After all both increased their payouts during the recent recession.

What do you think of WLK and CVS?

I will update my portfolio page at the end of the month.

- Gremlin
- Long WLK, CVS, and TGT
- Fuller disclosure, my first part time job was at a CVS many years ago.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Recent Buys, Sept. 2016

Retirement Gremlin here to talk about some recent buys.  In the last few months I switched jobs, which freed up my old 401k money, which was promptly deposited into a new IRA with my broker.  I am contemplating moving some of the money to my Roth IRA via the backdoor conversion process, but a big slice of the money was going to be invested right away.  So last week I watched the market like a hawk, especially since it seems to be in a weird mood where it goes up on one day and down on the next.  No point in timing the market, but if a few dollars can be saved up front that will work.  If every dollar can be stretched out to provide a few more pennies, well then that could add up to a significant long term amount of money.  So just be aware these purchases were all made when stocks were generally trending downward for that day.

Anyways, there will be no individual listing about these stocks that now comprise the core of my new IRA.  These are all stalwarts; of the six stock purchases I made five are Dividend Champions and the other one is a Contender.  Some of them do share sectors, but none of them entirely share industries (though their is crossover).  Of the six, three are generally viewed as industrial.  The others are one in each of these spaces - consumer staples, healthcare, and telecommunications.  Enough blabbering here are the stocks purchased.

Thanks to My Dividend Pipeline for the idea of using screenshots for posting buys; I like it for big moves.
As you can see these are all big players in their respective industries.  My goal is to make this a very strong defensive account that will be ready and waiting for future 401k capture.  As noted above a decent amount of money is still available in this account.  The question becomes do I move it to my Roth after a time or invest it right away.  For now what is most important is knowing that my retirement is in my hands exclusively - and that is a freedom that is totally worth it.

Thanks for reading,
Long all stocks above.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August Review / September Preview, 2016

Getting back to business Gremlin here.  So this past month I started a new job.  One that I already know will have a measure of interest significantly greater than my last job.  It will involve some travel, in fact I've already been out on one trip to Kansas City, but not the life robbing travel I had before.  Also the money is way better, which is the key thing.  This month somewhat normal investing and debt squashing activities will resume.  Next month those will be ratcheted up in intensity.  No I did not build a gaggle of wealth in my 20s, but I am going to make up for that right now.


I bought no new stock of any sort, but much financial reading was done.

Last month I brought in a total of $95.21 in dividends ($36.50 taxable, $58.71 Roth).  This is an increase from last year ($67.45 total) by 41.6%.  The march forward is truly accelerating.

In terms of dividend increases, I realized one this month from from Discover Financial (DFS), which was really cool because I expected to have none.  The raise was around 7%. 

Next month I will realize four dividend increases.  They will be from Hershey's (HSY), Kellogg's (K), Realty Income (O), and Target (TGT).  The increases range from around 1% to above 7%. Thus far for 2016, I have realized 21 dividend increases.  Boom.


Things are about to get exciting.  To start, sometime between October and November I will clear out my wife's student loans.  Since last December (when I first looked into this) we have plowed $7.2k into her debt and now just $1.25k remains.  Its a drop in the damn bucket.  This reinforces my belief, along with my extra salary that my car can be paid off by the end of next year.  On top of that more money coming in means more investing.  Its exciting times to be sure.

Next month should produce around $114 in dividends, which is a 43% YOY increase.  I will almost have made as much already as I did last year.  On top of that due to my work change I have some extra retirement money to play with; my 401k is being migrated as we speak to a new Sep IRA with my broker.  That is about $31k, and once that comes online my dividends overall will rocket up (though I will not count them towards my goals until next year).  .

My portfolio page is currently up to date.

Hope everyone has a great August!
- Dividend Gremlin
- Long all stock tickers mentioned

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer Travel, 2016

The London Shard...
Travel Gremlin here.  Its been about a month since I went on vacation, and all I can say is that it stinks that all of us don't get more time for stuff like this.  Such is the world.  Anyways, I've been busy since I got home, with a job transition currently underway and all the usual stuff on top of that.  So for starters, my plan for upcoming months will be to have three (3) posts each month.  I used to aim for four (4), but with new responsibilities and the course of life it is clear that will not remain nominally feasible.  Still, this is a post that I am extremely excited to write because it is about the fun stuff in life.  Do not worry though, I will begin with a little financial recap.

Our Journey:

We (my wife, I, and a friend) ventured to sunny - sorta - England to visit some friends.  We stayed in the UK for a week seeing parts of England and Wales.  Afterwards, the three of us hopped a flight to Italy, then met back up with our friends in Pisa and scooted around that part of Italy.  Our total time in Italy was around 7 days, for a total journey of around two weeks, and now my wife is staying she wants to travel again.  Traveling once makes you want to go again (having perfect weather helps too).

My favorite part about this journey is that we were able to go at all.  Our flights cost (my wife and I) $360 round trip.  That included flying to the UK from the US, to Italy from the UK, and back.  This was done using points transferred from my Chase Sapphire credit card to my United Frequent Flyer number.  Had we just purchased tickets it would have been over $3k.

When we went to Wales, I used hotel points through Hilton to acquire us three rooms in a hotel for three nights, with the final cost being $20 - just taxes.  Plus we stayed with our friends in England.  In Italy, we used AirBnB and found some real steals in the heart of a bunch of cities.  I am not promoting those products, but merely stating if you look hard enough (not that hard), you can find these deals are rampant.  The point here is most people can travel, if they are willing to listen and learn from pros online or in person who do this all the time.  I am far, far from an expert - so don't just take my word for it.

The United Kingdom:

Well for now it is anyway.  We went to two parts, England and Wales.  Also we benefited from a deep monetary discount, thanks to the Brexit.  30 year low in the Pound to USD.  Simply stunning.


Tower Bridge.
It is hard to describe any place, when you only see fractions of it.  Those parts we saw were really fun.  We spent most of our time in London and Cambridge, both gave a very unique cosmopolitan feel.  In some ways it reminded me of the USA (not just cause of the language), but the demeanor of the people.  They were hard working, but matched that with a hard play attitude.  That is right up my alley.  In addition, we saw some of the old towns in the Cotswolds  that sometimes show up in movies.  Among those was a town featuring the oldest 'inn' in England, and yes we got a beer there.  Favorite drink: Speckled Hen - cask. 


The view from Pen-y-Fan, Southern Wales' highest peak.
If the UK has a West Virginia, I've been told its Wales.  Of all the places in the UK I saw, I liked Wales the most.  Why?  Mountains.  We only saw the southern range, but those views and the effort to get there are some of the things that I enjoy the most.  We also sampled Cardiff, which is a nice small urban contrast to the mountains nearby.  Of extreme note, amazing Indian food was had in Wales - by far the best I've ever had.  Honestly it might have been my favorite food from the whole trip.  Favorite drink: Brains Amber cask (I don't remember the full name).


We arrived in Venice, made our way to Pisa, saw the Cinque Terre, and ended in Florence.  So many wows, oohs, and ahhs.  Places I likely will never see againMy favorite drink was red wine: specifically any house wine and definitely those 'Supertuscan' wines.  Though there was a microbrewery in Pisa that was excellent, so look for that if you are ever there.

A view of Venice from the Tower of San Marco.
Venice: This city has intrigued me for a long time.  As a person who thinks a lot about engineering, science, and urban planning - this city is a model in so many ways.  It is south of mountains and on the sea (near to the Adriatic), which are my two favorite types of places.  The streets are small and old, but it is a feel that cannot be replicated.  Of all the places in Italy we visited, this is the one I feel I need more time to see (not to belittle other places).

The Dolomites
One tour we did in Venice that I would recommend heavily, is to see the Dolomites.  Or if you are in Slovenia their mountains count too.  The Alps in general are gorgeous, and the Dolomites and the towns among them have their own outstanding charm. 

The Tuscan Countryside.
Tuscany: After Venice we went to Tuscany, and some neighboring areas.  We started in Pisa, went to Cinque Terre, and ended in Florence.  Of those three places I thought Pisa had the best nightlife for hanging out and mingling with locals.  Cinque Terre is well and beyond the most scenic.  Florence reigns in architecture.  The best food went to a few small places in both bigger cities, a fried seafood place in Cinque Terre, and to the Tuscan countryside where we went on a wine tour.  If you could only see one of the three, the answer is Cinque Terre its so unique and despite the crowds it feels more open than Florence.  In Cinque Terre you must hike the trails, but they are not easy.  The second one to see is Florence, which despite its architectural works, is just so crowded during the day.  I have no desire to be surrounded by 100 person tour groups, fair warning.

Manarola, part of the Cinque Terre.
Overlooking Florence.

Wrap up: The biggest mistake of this trip is that we are no longer on it, am I right?  Truly, all of these places hold their own unique charm.  I would gladly venture to any of them, just to get a fuller experience. 

I hope everyone has had or is having a great summer!
- Gremlin
- Long all beers and wines drank
- Sadly Short Pasta Carbonara right now.
*All pictures taken by me or someone riding shotgun.

Friday, July 29, 2016

July Review / August Preview, 2016

Back from vacation Gremlin here to talk about July and the next few months.   So vacation was great, I went to the UK and Italy and saw a lot of cool stuff.  I will put together a post on that soon, just been lazy of late.  I watched the end of the Euros over there and was happy to see CR7 and Portugal win (why? because he is a good player, and its nice to see a new team win, especially from a smaller nation).  Though, Iceland winning would have been cooler.

Now the focus is on my new job, which starts in less than two weeks.  In the mean time I will be wrapping up my current position.  One thing I will note is that my pay schedule will change from once every two weeks to monthly, which sucks.  This will mean cash is tight for a brief period, however my salary increase will really start to fit in quickly, and debts will be punished.


I was able to put $90 and purchased a new share of YUM stock.  It was a small purchase, and I did not feel like it warranted any posting.

Last month I brought in a total of $84.98 in dividends ($65.47 taxable, $19.51 Roth).  This is an increase from last year ($77.69 total) by 9.4%.  Not a bad increase, but it could have been higher had I held onto Chubb stock, but I am happy with my decisions concerning that situation earlier this year.  Those transactions have given my DFS and AMP stock.

In terms of dividend increases, I realized two this month from from Realty Income (O) and CIBC (CM).  The raises ranged from 0.5% to 2.5% (local currency). 

Next month I will realize no dividend increases. Thus far for 2016, I have realized 20 dividend increases.  Boom.


Our only long term debts are our cars and my wife's student loans, and her loan won't last the year.  With my new job rapidly approaching there will be a brief hiatus on putting extra cash towards debts, until I start getting paid.  Once that happens, all bets are off and I will be crushing debts with this extra cash.

Next month should produce around $91 in dividends, which is a 35% YOY increase.  Investing wise this will be a bare bones month or two.  Once my pay period becomes more regular, watch out debt, watch out.

My portfolio page is currently up to date.

Hope everyone has a great August!
- Dividend Gremlin
- Long all stock tickers mentioned