Monday, July 20, 2015
For this post I will be talking about a little bit of everything: my career growth, minor investment activity / market trends, some travel, sports, and frothy beverages. There is no reason I cannot enjoy all those things at the same time! So let's get to it, shall we?
One of the best ways to save faster for financial independence (FI) is to earn more from your day job. Overall, that is a no-brainer. A way to accomplish that can be through professional certifications. In my industry typical professional certifications include Professional Engineer (PE), Professional Geologist (PG), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), and many others. Yes, mine is one of those, but I am waiting for the certificate to come in the mail before I post which one I got on my about me page. The one I got was years in the making, literally with multiple years in the industry required on top of my degree and specific experience. Once that was achieved, I applied to be able to take the exam. Then last Friday I took and passed the exam.
Naturally, I won't get a salary bump right away, however I will now be able to demand a better salary no matter where I work. It is not my intent to leave my current job, but it would be nice to receive some extra benefits for upping my skill set to improve the company's marketability. Regardless of what the future holds, I know at this point I have taken a strong step up the proverbial ladder and it should help build FI!
Investment Activity / The Market:
The market has been awesomely volatile of late. Naturally people point to the larger situations that have come and gone, domestically and overseas. It is always interesting hearing the distress from coworkers, friends, the talking heads on TV + radio, and the experts forecasting what will happen. The answer to all of them is, no one knows; and all we can expect is this to be long term noise, which will open the door for people like me and other long term investors.
This is excellent timing as I've just received a generous special dividend from Kraft Heinz (was KRFT, now KHC). That money was received in my Roth and will spur another large buy shortly. Right now I am debating between several stocks I really like - UNP, NSC, CSX, TROW, BEN, ETN, and NOC mainly. None of those are 5% yielders, but the plan is to get (oddly) lower yields first with high growth in my Roth, so in 5 to 10 years time I can turn around and add high yielders and sit on a retirement monster.
In addition, Chubb Corp (CB) recently announced that ACE Insurance (ACE) was buying them for approximately $120+ per share; I will receive $62+ and 0.6015 shares of ACE per share of CB. In a way this is sad, because I liked CB's future prospects. On the other hand I will gain likely 2 positions for 1 - the new cash will spur another buy when the deal completes and I will have approximately 7 shares of ACE. Currently, the plan is to sit on the shares and continue collecting CB's dividends. Once the deal completes there will be a grace period to decide if ACE, despite its foreign with-holdings, is right for my Roth. As of right now, I am leading towards dropping it, but we shall see.
Lastly, I have hit 25 shares of Coke (KO) in my Loyal3 account. That value is slightly over $1000, and so long as it stays above that threshold I am done with it. It feels extra nice to tick another Loyal3 position off my list, but if the price drops I will not be afraid to capitalize!
Recently I've attended one wedding in the city of Harrisburg, PA. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the nice little downtown area on the water, and Appalachian Brewing company there.
Then immediately after that wedding, I traveled to Texas. I am currently involved in a contract that involves testing of indoor filtering machines to make sure they are working right, which means there are a lot of stops in a lot of places for each trip. This one started in Dallas, then wound its way down through Austin, San Antonio*, Laredo*, McAllen, and Brownsville*. The asterisked locations indicated places that were just passed through. My perception was that Texas seemed like an alright place, and sadly I did not have enough time to really see anything. Dallas and Austin in particular seemed cool, along with the coast by Brownsville. Alas, these places will just have to get added to the list at this time...
Summertime for me is usually when I careless about seeing any sports and more about playing them, I'm just not a big golf or baseball fan. However, this year we have the Women's World Cup and the Gold Cup in soccer. It was really cool to watch the US Women win the whole thing again in such dominate fashion (at least once pool play was over). At one point I almost felt bad for Japan during the final game, and really bad for England who I thought should have taken on the USA. England did dominate Japan in that game, but they just had one lapse that lead to their collapse. (Plus it would have been cool to beat the Brits again the day after July 4th...)
With the women's team winning, perhaps its time to see the men's step up and take the Gold Cup this year. 2 semis left, and 1 final, it would shock me if the games were not exciting. Mexico's win over Costa Rica last night was very exciting to watch, though Costa Rica got hosed badly at the end falling due to 1 bad call. Really though Mexico could have won 3-1, if strikers could just shoot on frame...
As much as I'd love to say I've tried a ton of new beers of late, that would simply be a lie. However, my travels did allow me to get a few sips on some new flavors. Specifically these were at Appalachian Brewing in Harrisburg, PA and Glasstown Brewing in Millville, NJ.
Appalachian had a few excellent beers. My favorites here were their IPAs, Belgian, Pale Ale, and Scottish Ale. Appalachian showed they clearly excelled in both hoppy and malty styles. The newer Glasstown surprised me with an excellent variety. Though I did not try the stout, I was told it was one of the best people have had in a while. Their Pale Ale and Red Ale were both fantastic. In general both were very reasonably priced and provided nice if completely different atmospheres.
Moving forward on my beer posts I've decided to add some variety and spice it up in the future. Posts will review my favorite beers within certain categories. These could include by state, country, style, and in depth reviews of local crafters. I will also cover some wine in this, as that frequently gets paired with dinner in my house depending on the meal of course.
Thanks for reading, sorry it was long.
- Long UNP, CB, KHC, KO