Back in April I wrote about a Yankees ticket giveaway that is sponsored by Hess and Pepsi. I am proud to report that as of last night I got my tickets. My father, brother, sister, and I will be attending the June 17th home game against the Toronto Blue Jays. We will be seated in section 132, right behind the third base line foul pole on the field level.
These will be the best seats I have ever had in the new stadium. Out of curiosity I price checked them and I discovered that tickets in that section sell for around $150 a piece. My brother and I saved about $600 but taking advantage of this giveaway.
For those of you that did enter, please hurry, the seats are running out fast. For those of you that missed your opportunity, you will have to wait until next year, but don’t worry I will be here to remind you.
May is over and it’s time to take stock of the portfolio. Please keep in mind that this is an investing exercise for demonstration purposes. Here’s how we’ve done so far:
- Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) – Purchase Price – $47.98, number of shares 26. Current Price: $53.47, a gain of $142.74
- Cablevision (CVC) – Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $17.55, a loss of $27.88
- Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $40.56, a gain of $101.97
- iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase Price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $18.28, a loss of $42.24
A gain of $174.59 or about 3%. This is very exciting for a few reasons. First off, at about this time last year I shut down the portfolio due to losses. I took what I learned form that exercise and made adjustments, they appear to be working. Secondly, three percent is way better than you would get from a bank account.
Lastly I feel good going forward. I have read some very positive articles about Microsoft which lead me to believe that the public is excited about the stock. Also from a technical perspective the stock is trading at 10 years highs and could trade up to all time highs of around 58 dollars a share. I see room to grow and I am pleased.
Silver and Cablevision have turned around a bit and OIH is doing exceptionally well. Of course anything can happen, all we can do is wait and see.
***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.
This morning I received a pleasant surprise in the form of an e-mail from BigCrumbs. A payout was being sent to my paypal account in the amount of $3.36. This was the cash back for one of my recent NewBalance sneaker purchases. I have nothing but great thing to say about BigCrumbs. I really like that I have the opportunity to earn cash back on things I was going to buy anyway and they do a great job of tracking my purchases and paying me out. It’s not a huge amount of money, but every bit helps. If you aren’t already a member, please check them out.
So we have moved and as of yesterday we have internet access. My house is still filled with boxes and my “to do” list grows longer by the day. Somethings on the list get to jump head of others. Time sensitive things like the lawn. It’s looking pretty dry and if I don’t water it or if it doesn’t rain soon my grass will die. I don’t want that to happen and since I don’t have a sprinkler I will need to get one.
I searched the interwebs and not only did I find an American made sprinkler I found one that looks pretty amazing. When shopping for a sprinkler you have to factor in the size and shape of your lawn. Our yards are rather large so we need a sprinkler that has a very far throw. If you don’t get one that covers a wide enough area you will have to go out and move the sprinkler form time to time. I found a product that eliminates that annoyance for you.
The “Nelson Raintrian” uses the water pressure form your hose to propel its sprinkler across your lawn using the hose as a guide. You set up your hose like a track and the rain train will follow it. As the sprinkler slowly crawls across your yard it covers a huge area and saves you the headache of having to move the hose ever few hours.
Until today I didn’t even know such a device even existed, but I have to say that I am very impressed by the inventiveness of this product. The Nelson company has been designing and building sprinklers in Illinois for over century. It only make sense that they would think of such a thing.
The “Raintrain” is made of cast iron and with the right storage and care it should last you many years. It sells for $59.99 which is very high, but think how many $20 plastic sprinklers you will have to buy year after year. The reviews prove my case, on Amazon it has over 500 reviews and a rating for 4 out of 5 stars.
I ordered mine today and will share an updated review with you next week. Stay tuned.
I am two days away from owning a house. Now to some this is a loaded statement. I have friends who would argue that I don’t own my house, the bank does. I have a few angry uncles who would tell you that you never own your house. Even afters its paid the mortgage off, you will have to pay taxes for the rest of time. Many life long renters believe this and hold these examples up as the reason why home ownership is not worth the hassle. Home owners tout the appreciation in value and the building of equity that home ownership provides. Here are the main Pro’s and Con’s of each scenario:
- Control over your living space
- Appreciation in the Home’s value
- Maintenance and repairs
- Mobility, you can move very easily.
- Cost, it’s usually cheaper
- Repairs are the landlords responsibility.
- Cost of living increases, rent hikes.
- No equity.
Obviously as someone who is about to buy a house you can see where I fall in the argument. I have rented and it was fine, but every month when I mailed that rent check I knew it was money out the window. I realize that there are million of people who bought homes in 2005-2007 who are under water and trapped. We live in a complex world and its hard to know what the right decision is.
Every case is unique, many factors are involved. To help you weigh your options I have found this calculator from the New York Times. It incorporates many variables in an effort to give your the clearest picture. In the end it calculates the cost of rental against that of home ownership. It provides you with the monthly rent amount for a comparable home in your area. If you can find a place to rent for that price then owning is probably your best move.
I entered all of my data into this calculator and it told me that I would have to find a smilier sized house for $1500 a month rent. Where I live, this close to NYC, that is not possible. As far as this program is concerned I made the right choice.
Give it a try and see what numbers come back, you may be surprised.
Bad things happen every single day, turn on your local or national news channel and it’s right there. Some horrible tornado or flood or fire has just decimated huge areas of real estate. These are daily reminders of the importance of home insurance. When things go bad its good to know that eventually you will be made whole. Even if you disagree with me, most lenders require you to buy insurance as a condition of getting a mortgage.
As a first time home buyer I will admit that I was not well versed in home insurance. I have had car insurance for my entire adult life and I have a small life insurance plan, but home insurance was foreign to me. I gave myself a bit of a crash course and this is what I took away form the experience.
- Understand Your Coverage Levels – When speaking on the phone with various agents, I made sure that we reviewed each line of the policy and asked questions about anything I didn’t understand. In my case I found that the recommended levels of coverage met almost all of my needs.
- Flood Insurance? – I thought long and hard about this. “Super Storm Sandy” really devastated my region and the saddest thing was to meet people that had their home destroyed and didn’t have flood coverage. My future home is miles from any type of water so I opted not to get it, but I did buy back up coverage. This coverage insures me against the sewer or water pipes in my home backing up into my basement.
- Guns, Pools, and Trampolines – These are the three red flags of home ownership, and one of them will raise your premium. Something to keep in mind.
- Shop Around - I got four quotes, all for the same coverage. The first one was $3700, the second was $2600, and the last two were $1400. I went with Allstate, because of their low price and the local agents professionalism and willingness to help me.
- Bundle - My agents recommended bundling my home and auto insurance together. This allowed me to reduce the cost of both. All in I am paying about $3500 a year for home and auto for both my and my wife’s cars. I saved thousands of dollars a year by shopping around for the best price and bundling my coverage.
The last thing to keep in mind is that to do this right takes time. Every quote took me about an hour. The agent needs loads and loads of information from you, when was the home built, square footage, types of construction, the list goes on and on. It can be tedious but its extremly important and if you do your homework you can save a ton of money. I hope this helps.
Last december I made a case for going old school with your razor. A 100 count box of single blade razors will set you back about less than 10 bucks. You could send almost twice as much for a five pack of multi blade razors. A good American made safety razor and box of blades can be had for under $200. That would mean that after the first year of ownership your annual razor cost would drop down to about $10. It you were to continue with disposable multi blade razor you would spend over $200 annually each year.
At the time I recommended the Tradere razors, but as you can see here they have temporarily halted production. I have waited for six months and I have decided that I don’t not want to hold out any longer. I started to search again and I have to saw that it was very difficult. A majority of the best safety razors are made in Germany and England and have a long history of excellence. I almost gave up last week, but I decided to look a little further.
Then I found some reviews for “Above the Tie” razors. Handcrafted in Tennessee from high grade 303 stainless steel, these fledgling company is making a name for itself. Almost all of the reviews I found were glowing with one reviewer even suggesting that he was selling off his old razors and making his “Above the Tie” Kronos as his primary razor.
Now the world of single blade razors is a little unique, different razors have varying degrees of “aggressiveness”. I am still learning but it seems that the more aggressive a razor the closer the shave but the higher the probability of cutting yourself.
All that aside an “Above the Tie” razor sells for $185 dollars, which is identical to the Tradere razors. I plan on buying one very soon and will report back on my findings.
I’ve been a renter for most of my adult life and like most renters I long for three things that can sometimes come with home ownership. One of them is a garage, and with it the dream of not having to brush my car off from a snow storm before I go to work. Next is a washing machine and the freedom of not having to do laundry over a friend or relatives house or even worse a laundromat. Finally, the dishwasher, those of you with one have long forgotten just how quickly dishes can pile up and how annoying and time consuming tackling that massive pile can be.
The home that I am hoping to close on any day now has a garage and a washing machine, but no dishwasher. Eventually the Bride and I will redo the kitchen and a dishwasher will be on the top of our list. We will certainly want an “American made” dishwasher if such an option of available. Unfortunately my research only revealed a handful of options. Fortunately they are well reviewed and offer an impressive array of features.
The Bosch 300 500 and 800 series of dishwashers are made in New Bern North Carolina. They have several color options to match your kitchen’s decor and are loaded with features. On of my favorites is the removable silverware tray that is located on the top of the unit. This eliminates the annoyance of having to reach down into the unit or having to slide the lower draw all the way forward to get to the back of the tray. Having it right on top allows you easy access and the tray itself is removable so you can carry it over to the silverware draw for quicker unloading.
A top end dishwasher like the 800 series retails for $949.99, but I found it here for $854.99. Many of the reviews I have found and almost perfect, but if the that price range is out of your budget you could try the equally well reviewed 300 series. In either case you will be getting a quality machine made here in America.
Not too long ago I wrote about an American made lawn mower, it only seems logical to follow it up with a trimmer. When I was a kid we called them “weed whackers”, I guess that term is too aggressive or not sophisticated enough for our modern times. No more “weed whacker” now its lawn trimmer.
Either way I am going to need one and if possible I want a quality machine made here in America. I did a quick internet search and found “Echo”. Based in Illinios, Echo’s history goes all the way back to the 1950’s. Over that time span they have been creating and innovating many of the lawn care products that we use today. Although they were purchased buy a Japanese corporation they still do most of their assembly in the US.
Many of the reviews I have read about their products are very strong. Models like the Echo GT-225 sell on the Home Depot website for $169.00 . This is a sizable discount from the retail price.
Like all of their trimmers this one is balanced for ease of use and comfort and it comes with a 5 year warranty. It is a well built device that should serve you and your lawn well for many years.
Another month is in the books our fictional portfolio is about 2% in the green.
- Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) – Purchase Price – $47.98, number of shares 26. Current Price: $52.06, a gain of $106.08
- Cablevision (CVC) – Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $16.78, a loss of $80.24
- Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $39.69, a gain of $73.26
- iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase Price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $18.69, a loss of $15.18
As you can see a large portion of this months gains have come from increases in oil prices. This is partially seasonal, oil prices historically have risen as we enter the summer months. The other driver of higher oil prices in my opinion is the Russian conflict. As the Ukrainian tension continues to escalate and fears of a Russian invasion grow the energy markets have reacted. Strangely silver, which is a measure of fear or a harbor of safety has not reacted accordingly.
Going forward I am very excited about Microsofts prospects. They just reported a strong quarter and the financial media is gaining interest. Between that and what could be a big potential spike in oil prices I suspect that the portfolio will have a very strong month. As always, time will tell.
***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.