Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Loyal3 Buys, April 2016

Post Allergies Gremlin here again to talk about how I've been improving my portfolio via Loyal3.  This portfolio keeps growing and surprising with how quick it is snowballing.  Loyal3 has allowed me to build several positions from the ground up a few dollars at a time, not a thousand at a time that I would otherwise with a traditional brokerage.  I am not always getting the best deal, but I usually am getting a decent one.  Using cost averaging and knowing I have a long time frame allows me to invest perhaps with more freedom than people who desire instant returns.  The account also features those with higher growth potential (often), but lower upfront yield.

$ Invested
Shares Purchased
Annual Income Added
American Express
Dunkin Brands
VF Corp.
YUM! Brands


A total of $425 was put to work, a decrease of 13.2% from last month when I added $490.  It adds $8.65 of annual income to my 12-month forward outlook.  It is nice to increase my invested amount, it shows that some finances are starting to really turn a corner for us.  In terms of valuations, AXP is still probably the best value.

Going forward my intent is to keep up the push until July, then back off during summer time.  Part of this is due to vacation, part of it is due to the fact that my wife is a teacher.  So some cash needs to be saved.  Going forward there are still a few positions I'd like to start at Loyal3, but I am just waiting for the right time.

- Gremlin

Friday, April 22, 2016

Nice Day for a Bike Ride

Biker Gremlin here to talk about bikes, not motorcycles but rather bicycles.  As I have stated before my job moved me from the suburbs to a downtown office (same company).  So what came with that was the very real annoyance of learning a new commute.  Well it turns out that annoyance is in fact profitable in terms of being able to save me money and return some time to my life.  So what is this new traffic pattern I deal with?  Well it is one of two things: it is either taking a bus to DC's Metro system (the local Subway, Underground, etc.) and riding that one stop or riding my bike.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both are better than driving my car to work.

Previously, my commute involved an approximately 15-20 mile drive, depending on the route, which took 30 minutes to over 1 hour.  Due to traffic and every day life I was filling up my car about once a week, which costs $20-25 with today's gas prices.  That put my gas budget around $100 per month.  If you add in maintenance benchmarks; every 5,000 mile oil change and other services, the cost goes way higher.  Plus I was putting close to 15,000 mile on my car each year.  On top of that my car is new, and is still in the process of getting paid off.  So taking gas, monthly adjusted maintenance and state fees (registration, inspection, etc.), and car payments I was already out around $385-400 a month.  That does not include any major repairs, and I don't even drive a super nice car or large SUV; I drive a Honda Civic!

Fast forward to starting my new job.  Taking the bus to the Metro is an approximate cost of $6 per day, estimated because Metro's fees are adjusted based upon peak riding hours.  If I were to do that exclusively my monthly cost would be about $120 in transportation.  Sure you can still add on the car payment and fees, but now I only get gas once per month and have barely added any miles to my car.  So my money spent on transportation remains the same on the surface, but  now there is almost no need for major car maintenance.  It is clear how in the short term there appears to be no difference, but there will be in the long run.  (I also get home a little quick typically, and that time is worth $$$$$ in my mind.)

That brings us to today.  This week, like most weeks I plan on biking to work 2-3 days per week.  Round trip the ride totals 13 miles.  Its great, I save $12-18 per week and get my workout in on my way in and home; to be clear this is possible because I am able to use a shower at work otherwise I'd be a messy piece of garbage.  Over the course of a month this comes to about $60 in savings.  Even if I only did this in the warmer / sunnier months of the year (say 8 months), that equates to $480 in annual savings.

If my annual transportation cost is $4620 ($385 per month), I find that biking for 8 months at 2 days per week brings my costs down to $4140.  Going further, there is no reason why in the really nice months I won't bike to work 4 or 5 days week.  That will really pump up my savings.  Another interesting part of this savings is that I've had my bike since college, so there was no recent (within the last 4 years) cost added.  All my bike needs is air in the tires, occasional break maintenance, and a little bit of chain oil and I am good to roll.  Though I do wish it was a road and not a hybrid road/mountain bike...

All of this saved capital is going to do one thing - allow me to put more $ against our debts!

What ways do you look to save money and time in your every day life?  Anyone out there able to walk to work (the ultimate prize)?

Thanks for reading,

PS - I am not personally huge into cycling or things like the Tour De France.  Though those guys are pretty intense.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Recent Buy, April 2016

I <3 Finance Gremlin here to talk about a recent buy.  Tomorrow I leave for a long weekend in Minnesota - for fun, but before I head out I decided to made a purchase in my Roth IRA.  My stocks' dividends combined with extra income, savings, and a higher tax refund than expected allowed me to push this purchase to today.  Originally I though I'd have to wait until May, but the sooner my money gets to work for me the better.

It has been stated before on other blogs and echoed here that time in the market is superior to timing the market.  I am no oracle nor do I possess a crystal ball or mystical foresight.  Also lacking is a high power trading computer, that many of the big boys have at their disposal.  Time is my most trusted and faithful ally.

Today I added shares of Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU), which is a new position in my Roth account.  I bought 15 shares at $71.87 / share, with a $6.95.  The current P/E ratio is approximately 5.89 and yield is 3.82% (on current cost).  Looking at past dividend payouts, PRU has managed a 5 year DGR of 15.5%  with approximate payout ratio of 21%.  PRU has a seven (7) year history of dividend growth, and sports Tweed and Chowder factors of 15.2 and 20.5, respectively.  This purchase adds $42.00 to my forward 12-month dividend income.

PRU paid its first dividend in 2002, starting with an annual dividend.  In 2007 the payout was an annual $1.15, then in 2008 it was slashed to $0.58, slightly less than a 50% decrease.  Since 2008 the dividend has steadily increased; equaling 2007 in 2010 and surpassing it in 2011.  In 2013, PRU moved to a quarterly payment system.  This may seem like a checkered past to an outsider, but note it took 2 years to get back to where they were in 2008.  Many that cut or reduced dividends in the US took longer to restore them to prior levels.  In addition, their dividend has a huge amount of room to grow.

PRU also has an exceptionally long history.  It was first a listed stock in 1915, and it is a $30+ billion dollar company.  In terms of industries it has insurance, investments/retirements, and other financial services providing a decent bit of diversification in an industry that does not often feature such flexibility.

I was really close to buying Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) instead.  I went with PRU because of the numbers, room for growth of the dividend, and short / long term resourcefulness.  That being said ADM does have superior track record of dividend payments and a great history as well.  Both companies have had their bad periods and good times.  Growth is not always a perfect line trending upwards, it often has fits and starts.  That being said both stocks would have helped me sleep well at night, too bad I couldn't get both. This will likely be my final financial stock in my Roth account for awhile, unless prices continue to be exceptional in that sector.

What do you think of PRU?

I will update my portfolio page at the end of the month, get ready for summer!  Also expect a brewery review from Minnesota.

- Gremlin
- Long PRU

Friday, April 1, 2016

March, Review / April, 2016 Preview

Spring Gremlin here to talk about March. Another amazing month under my belt for sure.  First I have started biking to work.  The reason for the start was threefold.  1 - To save costs, 2 - to prove I could / get a workout on the way to work, and 3 - Because of this.  I rely much of the time on DC's Metro to get to work, so once that notice was issued I hopped on my bike and made it work.  At the moment Metro is even talking about long term line maintenance, which will lead to shutdowns.  Plus the weather is good. All three reasons are definitely good, and anytime cash gets returned to my pocket is great.  Right now, I only bike 2-3 days per week, but in the summer time pending weather, no reason I can't make it more.

Second, my taxes were also polished off last month.  Due to my wife's new job I had assumed we'd owe a little.  I could not have been more wrong.  We got a whopping tax return, and as it came to be understood that my wife paid a bunch more in taxes than before, hence we accidentally overpaid.  Its hard to be mad though, as that chunk of change will be split nicely between debts and investments.  Our tax returns can be described as a windfall, one that will be put to good use despite our mistake otherwise.

Third, I booked flights and part of our summer trip to Europe.  We will be visiting friends who moved there.  My wife is very excited.  Our round-trip tickets cost $366, which reflects only fees and taxes, as all of our flights were purchased using points.  When the time comes I will post "what was done" in reference to our booking.  It will have to wait until after the trip, which will have to wait until July.


I was able to put $490 to work in Loyal3 over the course of last month, so that was nice.  I added no new positions this month, and just built upon existing positions.

Last month I brought in a total of $111.86 in dividends ($83.93 taxable , $27.93 Roth).  This is an increase from last year ($73.37 total) by 52.46%.  I had expected this amount, and its pretty delightful.  In fact this is the most I have ever brought in via dividends.  These numbers were aided by my purchase of Eaton (ETN) and pushed higher than I expected by getting a small dividend from Pepsi Co (PEP) at the end of the month (Loyal3 usually is behind the dividend pay date).

In terms of dividend increases, I realized three this month from ETN, Dunkin Brands (DNKN), and Waste Management (WM).  Each was above 4%, which pleases me.  Those are my favorite kind of raises, the ones my money earns for me.

Next month I will realize 6 dividend increases: Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM), Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS), Coke Cola (KO), Realty Income (O), and Walmart (WMT). That is a great beginning to the quarter.  Of those positions only BNS and WMT are new or relatively new.

Thus far for 2016, I have realized 6 dividend increases, and after April it will be 12 total.  This is what a snowball looks like in the early game.


Our only long term debts are our cars and my wife's student loans, and her loan won't last the year.  I will continue next month to throw some extra money at her student loans and my car.  If we paid her student loans at the minimum rate it would take around 2.1 years to finish otherwise.  I have already gotten ahead on my monthly payments on my car and that will not stop as well.  Her student loan should be finished around September or October, if everything else remains constant.

Next month should produce around $82 in dividends, which is a 9.75% YOY increase.  On the Loyal3 front I will probably invest $400 on existing positions.  I am trying to pump up our safety net savings a little bit on the side as well, which is the reason for the slight edging down of Loyal3 investing.

My portfolio page is currently up to date.

Hope everyone has a great April!
- Dividend Gremlin
- Long all stocks tickers mentioned