Sunday, March 28, 2010

For Those That Are Interested in Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs).

I have been investing via Dividend Reinvestment Plans since 1999 when I started with Exxon. I have grown to favor DRIPs over most other investments. I like DRIPs because after paying an initial fee, you can make reoccurring investments for free or at much lower costs than most discount brokers. Minimum reoccurring investments typically range between $25 and $100 per month. Additionally, you frequently have the option of having dividends reinvested for free. Some companies charge a fee for dividend reinvestment; however, you can just as easily avoid the fee by having these dividends direct deposited to your bank account.

The first thing to understand about DRIPs is that your shares will be held by a "transfer agent." My two favorite transfer agents are Computershare and BNYMellon. If you're interested in starting a DRIP, I recommend you go directly to their sites and see if any of the stocks on your watch list can be purchased directly through them for initial setup.

A few examples of stocks that can be purchased directly through these transfer agents are:

Purchased directly through Computershare:

* Exxon Mobil (XOM)
* Lowe's Company (LOW)
* Pfizer (PFE)
* Wal-Mart (WMT)

Purchased directly through BNY Mellon:

* Conoco Phillips (COP)
* Health Care REIT (HCN)
* Limited Brands (LTD)
* Pepsico (PEP)
* The Bank of New York Mellon (BK)
* The McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP)

Another popular transfer agent is Wells Fargo.

Many transfer agents require you to have an initial share before enrolling. When this is the case, I prefer to use Directinvesting's site to establish my first share. Direct Investing will coordinate the initial stock purchase and administrative setup with the stock's transfer agent.

Starting DRIPs can be a little time consuming because it will take you some time to find those DRIPs that are low fee or no fee. Additionally, it will take you some time to find the cheapest means of starting a DRIP. Basically, expect to spend $10-$30 to start a DRIP.

My favorite DRIPs that I hold are (Stock - Transfer Agent):

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Computershare
Wal-Mart (WMT) - Computershare
Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Computershare
Lowes (LOW) - Computershare
3M (MMM) - Wells Fargo
RPM (RPM) - Wells Fargo
Aflac (AFL) - Aflac
Southern Company (SO) - Southern Company
Dow Chemical (Dow) - BNY Mellon
McGraw Hill (MHP) - BNY Mellon

Each of the above DRIPs have no or low cost methods of reoccurring investment.

I went a little overboard and bought a lot of DRIPs. The following are DRIPs that also offer no or low cost reoccurring investment. I continue to hold these and will only buy more if their earnings improve (Stock - Transfer Agent).

Alcoa (AA) - Computershare
Illinois Tool Works (ITW) - Computershare
Manitowoc (MTW) - Computershare

Baker Hughes (BHI) - BNY Mellon
Harris Corp (HRS) - BNY Mellon
Limited (LTD) - BNY Mellon
Manpower (MAN) - BNY Mellon
Sherwin Williams (SHW) - BNY Mellon

Cummins (CMI) - Wells Fargo
Pentair (PNR) - Wells Fargo
Graco (GGG) - Wells Fargo

Overall, I hold about $15,962 in DRIPs that have a net dividend yield of 2.7%. This gives me a current annual dividend of $431.56. I intend to continue to grow this portfolio until it reaches a level that will offer significant dividend income in retirement (at least $4000/yr). Right now, I'm investing about $300 per month and will ratchet this reoccurring investment up periodically as our household income increases and as we pay off our investment properties.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Get a Free Pastry at Starbucks

Read this for Coupon.

Buy a Starbucks drink this Tuesday, March 23rd before 1030 AM and get a free pastry.

Starbucks Promo Coupon. Look at bottom left of page for coupon.

Debt From These Companies Recently Traded at Lower Yields Than Comparable US Treasuries... Ominous Sign for US Debt Rating

Came across a Bloomberg article today that reports that Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Proctor & Gamble (PG), Abbott Labs (ABT), Royal Bank of Canada (RY) and Lowe's (LOW) all had their debt recently trading at lower yields than comparable US Treasuries.

Moody's predicts that the U.S. will spend more money this year as a percentage of revenues to service its AAA rated debt... More so than all other top rated countries except for the UK.

Related article.

Additionally, John Lipsky of the International Monetary Fund notes that by 2014 all G7 countries except for Canada and Germany will have debt-to-GDP ratios close to or exceeding 100 percent.

Related article.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recommended Personal Finance Articles From: The Digerati Life, Free Money Finance, Money Smart Life, Darwin's Finance, Financial Armageddon, etc.

Here's several recommended articles from those sites that share links with Plugged in Finance. I hope they are of use to you.

The Digerati Life. "Foreclosure Rates, Job Statistics & Unemployment Numbers (Interactive Maps)."

Free Money Finance. "Investment Costs Everywhere - Another Point for Index Funds."

Money Smart Life. "How to Make Extra Money With Your Brain."

Darwin's Finance. "101 Ways to Cut Expenses - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

Financial Armageddon. "No Surprise Here."

Military Finance Network. "A Military Retirement is Worth Millions of Dollars."

Military Money Might. "Lowe's and Home Depot Extend 10% Veteran's Discount to Every Day."

Paper Economy - A US Real Estate Bubble Blog. "Buyer Traffic Forecasting Decline."

What's Your Number? Mine is Apparently $2.3 Million. Determine Your Number in Two Minutes.

I saw an interesting commercial by ING tonight while watching a program on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

The ING commercial has a guy carrying his number (amount he needs for retirement) while talking to a neighborhood guy whose number was a GAZILLION. The point was that not everybody knows what they are going to need in retirement to meet their life style expectations. The commercial goes on to announce a simple ING website that you can use to determine your number.

The site is INGYOURNUMBER. I went to the site and in less than two minutes it gave my "number" as $2,311,839. This number was based on my desire to have $58,000 a year in household income that will last from the age of 51 until 90. This $58k was in addition to the pension I expect to receive from the Navy, assuming I only get only one more promotion.

Previously, I had the expectation for my number to be somewhere between $1.7 and $2 million. So, $2.3 million is not much of a surprise. My number will drop to something closer to $1.7 million if I get two more promotions and retire as an O-6 (Navy Captain = Colonel other services).


Monday, March 15, 2010

Best Article I Have Found on Unintended Acceleration

Came across a great Bloomberg article on unintended acceleration.

Bottom line:

(1.) Fifty-nine of 110 fatalities attributed to sudden acceleration in NHTSA records occurred in vehicles sold my manufacturers other than Toyota.

(2.) Toyota (51) followed by Ford (20) and Chrysler (12) have the most fatalities attributed to unintended acceleration.

(3.) All Toyota models worldwide will be equipped with advanced brake-override systems starting in 2011.

(4.) NHTSA records show 17 Camry, 7 Avalon, 5 Lexus ES330, 5 Highlander and 3 Sienna fatalities blamed on unintended acceleration.

Bloomberg article.

A separate NHTSA article states the following steps should be taken if you encounter unintended acceleration (be careful with the option discussing turning the engine off... This can result in a loss of power steering. I would be concerned about having steering wheel lock up during a drastic turn):

* Brake firmly and steadily - do not pump the brake pedal
* Shift the transmission into Neutral (for vehicles with automatic transmissions and the sport option, familiarize yourself with where neutral is - the diagram may be misleading)
* Steer to a safe location
* Shut the engine off (for vehicles with keyless ignition, familarize yourself with how to turn the vehicle off when it is moving - this may be a different action than turning the vehicle off when it is stationary).
* Call your dealer or repair shop to pick up the vehicle. Do not drive it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One Year In Review With Lending Club (Peer-to-Peer Lending)

I started using Lending Club in November 2008 and collected my first interest payments the following month.

So far, I have invested $1617.67 into Lending Club and have another $675 ready for deposit whenever I find loans I like.

Lending Club has consistently stated that my "Net Annualized Return" has been in the 10 to 12 percent range with my current "Net Annualized Return" listed at 12.15%.

These numbers have been overly optimistic since Lending Club's formula fails to include transaction fees and losses in traded loans.

Accounting for these factors my monthly annualized returns have been:

Dec 2008: 8.99%
Jan 2009: 9.35%
Feb 2009: 8.76%
Mar 2009: 8.39%
Apr 2009: 8.33%
May 2009: 7.78%
Jun 2009: -5.24%
Jul 2009: 11.26%
Aug 2009: 9.66%
Sep 2009: 10.04%
Oct 2009: 9.81%
Nov 2009: 9.36%
Dec 2009: 5.89%
Jan 2010: 11.88%
Feb 2010: 9.90%

My compounded monthly returns netted me 7.7% in 2009.

My 2009 returns were most affected by my first delinquent loan. I held onto this loan and sold it when it was between 2 and 4 weeks late. I eventually unloaded it but at a 32% discount to face value.

My monthly "annualized returns" are a bit lumpy due to fluctuations in my loan portfolio and the periodic loan trades I make. I don't like carrying any delinquent loans on my books and have only kept performing loans.

My principal lending criteria is not to loan to anybody with a total debt greater than 3x their monthly income. I make $25 loans. This small lending amount takes more time but it ensures more people can qualify to purchase the loan if I ever have to sell it in a hurry.

Additionally, I look at loans for the quality of an applicant's occupation vs. my own opinion on the corresponding industry. I am positive on the outlook for Federal civil service and healthcare jobs and have focused a significant amount of my loans on applicants in these two areas.

I'm seriously considering establishing a self directed ROTH with Lending Club, but I am waiting until I grow my non-IRA account to the no fee minimum (currently $10k).

Lending Club - Start Investing Online Today!

Monday, March 01, 2010