Our First Winner of 2014!

Talk about a surge, over 60% of the entries to the “PiggyBankBuilder Wednesday Giveaway” Pig Cardscame in the last 2 days. As always I would like to offer a big “thank you” to all of you who entered, these contests are a great way to promote the site, new readers are always welcome and I hope that you come back often.

And it is now my pleasure to announce our next winner, she is Leslie, from Saint louis, Missouri! Congrats to her, I believe that this is our first winner from a major city. I hope she enjoys the gift card. Please stay tuned for our next giveaway which will be launching shortly. 

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The 2014 “PiggyBankBuilder” Portfolio

Happy New Year! Let’s hope it’s a healthy andgrow prosperous year for all of us. With that in mind let’s turn our attention toward growing our wealth via investing. 

Last year I tried an experiment, take 5000 imaginary dollars and invest them in a collection of stocks that I believed would perform well in the following year. I discussed my results here, to recap I took a beating in the first half of the year and rallied in the second half. All in all I would give me 2013 performance a D+. A terrible grade, but on the upside I have plenty of room for improvement and I plan to take what I learned from last year and build on it this year.

What do I think 2014 will bring? It is always best to start with the big picture. As far as the stock market went 2013 was a gangbusters year, but the economy and the stock market are not one and the same. Over 1/2 of all home sales in this country are bought with cash and nearly 100 million Americans are not in the work force. This suggests to me that the rich are, as is often the case, doing very well. The rest of us are struggling and cautious. Some people are suggesting that 2014 will be the year that the economy begins roaring forward, others suggest that the next recession is right around the corner if we even left the last one.

I think 2014 will begin strong, but I see a lot of negatives that could pop up down the road. I think that energy prices should rise, home prices should fall, and while many stocks are overvalued quality stocks will continue to perform well. With this in mind here are the four stocks that I have selected for the 2014 “PiggyBankBuilder” portfolio. This time I again choose 4 stocks that I will fictitiously invest $1250 into each.

  • Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH)Purchase Price – $47.98, number of shares 26. Last year I tried to pick and individual stock that would benefit from an increase in the price of oil, I failed. This time I am picking a fund that tracks the industry, a much safer decision.
  • Cablevision (CVC)Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. This regional cable provider was a winner for me last year and I don’t see any reason why it won’t continue to perform well.
  • Microsoft (MSFT)Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. I have written about Mr. Softie in great detail. I believe that the selection of new CEO will go a long way in unlocking a huge amount of hidden value from this stock.
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV)Purchase Price $18.92, number of shares 66. Last year I was super wrong about the price of silver. This year I don’t really see it falling much further. Of course I could be wrong, but the upside is greater than the down side.

Some old picks, some new, this time I feel like this portfolio will benefit from last years mistakes and bring a healthy yield in the upcoming year. Fingers crossed. 

*Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – WeatherTech Floor Mats

The official winter season is only a few days old, but a large portion of the country has been getting slammed with some pretty bad storms. I still remember something a friend of mine told me, he said “You know you’re an adult when snow stops being fun”. Man was he right. You have to shovel it, and scrape it off your car, and drive in it. A healthy snow storm can take even the most simple tasks and make them impossible.

Of course any problem is manageable as long as you have the right equipment. This is true of something as simple as floor mat for your car or truck. When the weather gets bad, the right floor mats are crucial. Cloth floor mats can be a disaster. You hop into your car, your boots covered in snow, you turn on the heater and what do you get? Wet mats. Soggy, smelly, germy mats that fill your vehicle with a musk odor that lasts for days.

matsYou need rubber mats designed and engineered to fit your vehicle and I imagine you would have a hard time trying to find a set of weather proof mats built any better then those offered by WeatherTech.

Their mats are designed and engineered for your specific make and model. These are not some generic one size fits all mats. They are precision made using “digital fit” technology to fit perfectly in your car or truck.

If you are extra messy you might want to upgrade to their “floor liner” mats. They extend beyond the borders of  the mats and protect up the side walls of your floor area. A great idea for those of you who work or play in the mud.

Weather Tech offers a 10 year limited warranty on their mats. When you see them in action you can see why, these are sturdy well built American made products that should last you probably almost as long as your car.

A set of mats will set you back around 100 dollars depending on the size of your vehicle. A small investment to preserve your rug and keep mud and water from messing up your vehicle. 

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – Year End Tally

Roller coaster, that is how I would describe the performance of my imaginary investment portfolio. graphFor a time it was getting hammered, huge losses in the early months. Then it started to recover and turned positive. The rally continued into the end of the year and would have resulted in a fairly nice profit. Here are the results.

  1. ishares Silver Trust(SLV) – Purchase Price: $29.48, number of shares 42. Current Price: $19.27 Loss of $428.82     ** What can I say, I thought with all of the chaos and uncertainty in the world that people would seek refuge in precious metals. Perhaps I was early, but I was still wrong.
  2. Cablevision(CVC) – Purchase Price $15.05, number of shares 82. Current Price: $17.78 Gain of $223.86     ** This stock is in my opinion a great take over play, sooner or later I think a larger cable company will come and try to buy Cablevision out. 
  3. Alpha Nat. Resources(ANR) – Purchase Price $10.28, number of shares 117. Current Price: $7.21 Loss of $420.10     ** I thought energy prices would go up,they didn’t and this stock suffered. 
  4. FaceBook(FB) – Purchase Price $29.22, number of shares 42. Current Price: $55.44 Gain of $1101.24     ** I picked this stock because I thought social media was trending, boy was I right.  

All told the $5000.00 “invested” in the “PBB Portfolio” would have earned $476.18, just shy of 10%. I said “would have” for two reason. First it was for educational purposes, I didn’t put a dime into it. Secondly, when the portfolio began losing money I set a stop loss and would have sold out. This is an important concept, so in the end I would have lost money. Situations like these can be maddening. 

What did I learn? I guess my biggest mistake was in my energy play. Oil prices tend to go up in the summer, well 4 out of the last 5 years they have. I should have picked an index fund that tracks the energy sector. I would still have a loss, but it would be much smaller. Also if I am honest FaceBook was a bit of a fluke. 

I am going to continue this exercise next year, incorporating what I learned. Stay tuned. 

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Merry Christmas to All!

The hard parts have ended, the work is done, now  it is time for the fun. “The Bride” Christmas Bulbjust opened her gifts, success. One of our favorites are theses “American Made” Christmas ornaments that now hang on our tree.

Thank you for coming to our site. I hope you have a very “Merry Christmas”. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – It’s Not Too Late to Give an “American Made” Christmas Present

Less than two shopping days before Christmas! Is your list done? Did you get everyone? Are you sure? 

This was one of the shortest Christmas shopping seasons in recent memory. If you weren’t nimble you may have gotten caught with an unfinished Christmas list. You could do it the old way, rush down to the mall, fight for a parking spot, fight the crowds, wait on line, search desperately for something that you think you loved ones might like. That certainly is an option. I wouldn’t advise it, but you can go down that road. 

The alternative? Gift cards! Printable, e-mailable gift cards! As easy as reading the words on this screen, you can give the gift of gift cards. You have thousands of options,aacc but I would like to recommend one, “All American Clothing Company”. I have bought clothing from them for years in fact almost all of my jean come from them and I have never been disappointed. 

They were founded in 2002 and have been growing and expanding ever since, a true “Made in the USA” success story. Every time I visit their site I always find something new. 

Please visit their site and look around, if you find a few things for people on your list, buy a gift certificate

Wearing something that says “Made in the USA” on the label is a great feeling and a fantastic gift, trust me.  The clock is ticking, but you still have time. 

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Buy $50 in Movie Gift Cards and Get a FREE Movie Ticket

With Christmas now less then 4 days away your gift options are shrinking very rapidly. Online shopping is pretty much off the table or it will be by tomorrow. If you don’t act fast you will end up in the mall on Christmas Eve, a wandering desperate person fighting massive crowds and a ticking clock. Its time to get creative. 

fandangoRight now (until 12/25/13) Fandago is offering a promotion, if you buy $50 worth of gift cards they will give you a FREE movie ticket (Max. value of $15.00). You can buy it in one lump sum or several cards, as long as your total exceeds 50 bucks you get your reward.  

Please remember but you must make your purchase by Christmas and your free ticket is good until the end of January 2014. 

As a tremendous movie fan I couldn’t think of a better gift especially with so many great Oscar films entering the theaters. As time marchers on remember you can e-mail a gift card right up until Christmas and even on it. Something to keep in the back of your mind as the hours draw on. Your loved ones get a nice gift that you know they will use and you get a free movie ticket.

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Free AppleBee’s Dessert and Appetizer on Your Birthday

Anyone with a birthday this close to Christmas has my sympathies. All the hustle and bustle, and your special day gets overshadowed and lost in the mix. 

While I can’t do anything to fix your predicament I can ease the pain with an offer of free food on your birthday. abeesAll you have to do is join AppleBee’s e-mail club, the sign up takes a few seconds. Once you do make sure you print out your coupon with your member ID and bring it to your local AppleBees restaurant. You get a Free appetizer when you purchase and entree and of course you also get the free desert. I hope a “Chocolate chip cookie sundae” or “Triple Chocolate Meltdown”  will add some delicious happiness to you birthday. At least you can have a few moments of joy before you open up all those Christmas/Birthday combo presents from your cheapskate friends and relatives. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Tradere Safety Razors

My apologies for the late post, I had one of those unplanned couch naps that extended until this morning. 

Do you remember when the Mach 3 first popped up on your TV? It was such a revolutionary idea, three blades instead of two? Wow! Every guy I knew went out and got one, myself included. Then someone came up with the four blade razor. I gave it a try. Then a five blade razor? Now you are just being silly. If the past is any indication, I am quite certain that the world won’t have to wait very long for a six blade razor.

Along with this blade count arms race came a massive price increase. These days it is common for you to spend about $20 for a five packs of razors. That lasts me about a month. So I am paying around 200 bucks a year for razors. That is a bit pricey for my tastes. 

Taking a step back I have to ask is it even worth it? Are three blades really better than one? Have we been conned? Why can’t I just take more strokes? What if my single blade razor has a sharper or better blade?  These are questions that I have been contemplating for a few weeks now. 

My grandfather used a single blade razor, it seemed to work just fine for him. Perhaps I should give it a try. Instead of buying disposable plastic razors I plan on buying a metal one. A razor handle that could last me decades.  Cheaper for me, and better for the environment. 

I researched all of the single blade safety razor makers and found that many of them are made by British and German companies, but a few American start ups are making a name for themselves in this field. american razorOne of them is Tradere. Headquartered in Nevada, Tradere razors are gaining a reputation for their excellent handle design and the quality of their shaves. I found a bunch of strong reviews for theses razors from several blogs and shaving sites.  

An open comb safety razor from Tradere cost $169. This might seem steep, but remember most of us are probably spending 200 dollars on disposable razors. This fine handle with a 100 packs of single razor blades  should only set you back about $190 and will last you two years before you have to buy more razor blades. By the beginning of the second year of ownership you are saving over $20 a month. 

Most importantly the handle could potentially last you the rest of your life. All you will be left to pay for is $6-8 dollars a year for razor blades. The upfront investment might seem a bit high, but the payout will last decades. 

As someone who loves American made quality I have put a Tradere razor on my Christmas list, let’s hope Santa brings me one. 

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My Big Stock Market Investment Idea – Update

Not to long ago I made a case for why I think Microsoft could be one of the best growth stocks over the next 5-10 years. I believe that this company has a tremendous amount of untaped potential and that the right CEO could go a long way to improving the company and capitalizing on all of that unrealized value.

Many people believe, and I am one of them, that the next man to take the helm of this tech juggernaut will be  Allan Mulally. AMMr. Mulally is currently the head of Ford. He began his role there in late 2006 and during that time he has transformed the Blue Oval. Seven years a go Ford was a dying brand, on its was to 4th place amongst the big car makers (in the US). Now Fords cars are some of the best in the world, they were the only big American car maker not to take a bail out and their stock as well as their image has been on the rise.    

Prior to his tenure at Ford Allan performed a similar turn around with plane manufacturer Beoing. An early riser who often works 12 hour days, he has demonstrated an ability to manage massive companies that are not performing up to their potential.  

Critics have argued that making cars and computer software are very different animals all together. I agree that this point is fair.  Just because someone is successful in one industry doesn’t mean that they will succeed in an entirely different industry. What does a 68 year old car CEO know about the internet, search engines, or gaming consoles?

First off I would argue that he know Bill Gates, the two men are friends. Bill Gates could accurately be described as one of the founding fathers of the internet. With him at Allan’s side the two could prove to be a potent pair. I would also argue that Wall Street loves Mulally. The positive impact of a rising stock price can do wonders to improve a companies image. 

In the next two weeks Mr. Mulally should reveal his future intentions. His contract with Ford expires at the end of 2014 and he has already begun to transition out of this position. It’s possible that he could announce his retirement, he has certainly earned. 

Most of the speculation about Mulally’s future suggests that he is going to Microsoft. I believe that this will prove true. 

Presently Microsoft shares are selling for about $37. If Allan Mulally announced a decision to join the Microsoft management team I am pretty confident that the stock price would spike up over $40, perhaps even as high as $50. 

I have been building a position in anticipation of this event. I have been taking a portion of my overtime money and using it to buy shares of Microsoft. I currently have 36 shares and hope to have 50 shares by the end of this year. By the end of 2014 I hope to have between 150-200 shares before Allan begins his tenure as CEO. After that the sky is the limit.

*** Please keep in mind I am not an investment advisor, you should consult one before making any investment decisions.  A stocks price can fluctuate based on a countless number of factors.***

 

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