The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – Seven Month Update

With month number 7 in the record books its time to see where we stand. The portfolio has seen some changes, a major change came in the form of me closing out a position. Today I will reveal my replacement pick, but firs lets see where we stand as of right now. 

  • Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) – Purchase Price – $47.98, number of shares 26. Sold on July 16th at $56.99 for $1481.74 a gain of $234.26
  • Cablevision (CVC) – Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $18.17, a gain of $14.28
  • Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $43.23, a gain of $190.08
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $19.17, a gain of $16.50
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $9.25, number of shares 160

A total profit of $455.12, which is down slightly from the last month. I attribute this to the stock market decline over the last month. Many are calling this an adjustment before the next leg up. I guess time will tell. 

As for the newest edition, blackberry.bbry I have been reading a lot about them, many investors had written the off for dead. I think otherwise, they have a great CEO and are poised for a turn around.  If my suspicions are correct, It think its possible that BBRY could rise to $15 a share. They have some new phones that should be releasing soon, much of the company’s success will ride on the quality of their new products. We shall see.

Going forward I maintain my cautious optimum. 

***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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My Gardening Adventure – Halfway Update

Most of the vegetables in my garden take about 90 days to reach full maturity. The tomatoes move a little quicker, the pumpkins take about a month longer. Those two aside I crossed the halfway market for my garden some time around last week. I updated you on its status two weeks ago, but the growth since them is amazing. 

From 10 days out, to a month, and finally to today.  GardenAs you can see the growth has been explosive. Other than a few minor problems, my garden has been growing like gangbusters.  Here is where each group stands:

Howden Pumpkins: Wow! That is what everyone who comes by for a second look says. These guys have left the raised bed and are traveling across my lawn. I would say the vines grow about 3-4 inches ever day. They are robust and strong, in the day they open these big yellow flowers that attract a lot of bees. Sometime I will look down into a flower and see three or four bugs just going to town. The influx of bees has really helped the other plants in the garden so the pumpkins have proven to be a real positive for my garden. 

Problems: A few days ago I notice some white fungus on some of the leaves. I read that this is fairly common after a few rainy or shady days, which we’ve had. I bought some neem oil as a cure. I will try it out on one or two leaves and see how well it works, if it is successful I will use it on the rest of the plant. 

Cucumbers: The Bride’s cucumbers live under constant threat of pumpkins. I put up fencing to protect them, but the vines are growing stronger and thicker. I am doing my best to save them. As for the plants themselves, not much to report. They are a little bigger and now have some yellow flowers. 

Golden Bantam Sweet Corn: My plants are standing about 5 feet tall, they are strong and healthy. Some of the ears have started to develop, this is the part of the plant that will turn into the actual corn. I had originally read that one plant usually produced 1-2 ear of corn per plant. I later read that it is possible to get up to 4 ears on one plant. A few of mine have developed 3 ears. It still too early to tell, but its a good sign. My initial hope was to get 10-15 cobs of corn from my corn garden. Now it seems like 25-30 might be possible. 

This week I also learned about suckers. These are corn stalk off shoots that sap away nutrients from the main plant. My initial thought was that more plants meant more corn. A youtube video form a veteran farmer showed me other wise. Two days ago I took my shears and cut off all of the suckers. It felt like I was cutting down perfectly good plants and it pained me too do so, but I know it was for the best. No suckers means more corn. 

Tomatoes - They have really broken out, they are about 3 feet tall, flowers and little tomatoes are popping up all over. I’ve had some trouble with bugs, so I will have to watch out for that. 

Sugar Baby Watermelons - These guys are the come from behind champs of my garden. They have been growing and growing. Garden1Their vines are much thinner than the pumpkin vines so they are easier to move. I have counted 7 baby watermelons and I suspect that more may be on the way. I will consider 10-15 watermelons to be a huge success. 

Looking forward my biggest concern is squirrels and rabbits. I haven’t had any problems, but I fear that once they key into my garden they might find it very inviting. I just bought some eco repellent and will be applying into around my property. All in all I am very cautious but happy with my garden project.

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BigCrumbs has Some Big Offers For You

I mentioned BigCrumbs in the past. It is a great site that offers users the ability to save money on items that they were going to buy anyway. Now they have sweetened the pot even further with two new offers. 

The first is cash ebay logoback on Ebay. I was a little shocked by this when I first saw it. A company like Ebay is so massive I didn’t think they would be interested in this type of promotion. The people at BigCrumbs are clearly a hard working, persuasive bunch. The cash back amount is .5%. Not massive, but every little bit helps. Like I have always said, if you were going to buy something anyway, why not save a little more. 

The other offer is on referral commissions.  As you may know, if you refer someone and they make a purchase using BigCrumbs you get some cash back on that referral. If you know some serious online shoppers who bigwould be interested in this service you could make some coin. From now until tomorrow, BigCrumbs is doubling their referral commissions.    

So if you have already signed up tell some friends, if you haven’t join now and then tell some friends. A few crumbs here a few there really starts to add up over time. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Epco Bocce Set

I love Bocce. I don’t get to play it as often as I would like, which would be nearly every day. Still, whenever I go to a backyard party that has a Bocce Set I jump on the opportunity.  I don’t mess around either, when I play I play to win. The festive vibe of a weekend BBQ might lead some to believe that it’s all for fun, not here. In my family Bocce is practically a blood sport. 

I am aware that many people are unfamiliar with the game. I can best describe it as similar to a giant game of marbles, it’s most commonly played by Italians. If you don’t know any Italians you probably have never played Bocce. You are now faced with two choices, find some Italians or buy a Bocce set. Either is a fine choice. 

If and when you do deiced to by a Bocce Set bocceyou may be tempted to buy some cheap Chinese garbage set. Resist. Do so for two reasons. First you want a properly balanced and weighted set. Secondly you want a set that will last. True story, my buddy John bought a cheap set and we played a few times last spring. It was great fun until it all ended when one of the Bocce balls split open when  it landed on another ball. Game over, set ruined. 

You don’t want that, you want to get a tournament quality set made be a reputable American manufacturer like Epco. They have been making quality gaming products since the early 1950’s. With over half a century of experience this Massachusetts based company is an authority on quality made Bocce sets. From billiard balls to bowling balls to Bocce balls, theses fine people are the right guys for the job. 

One of their tournament sets can be yours for  $99.94. Hours of fun for all, a great addition to any outdoor party. Give it a try, I think you will probably enjoy it. The joy of Bocce, made in the USA by Epco. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Arrow Ice Pop Maker

This week selection is a bit low tech, but ver y enjoyable. It’s an ice pop mold from Arrow. I have owned this product and can attest to it effectiveness and durability. 

The process is simple you select a ice popsjuice flavor and pour it into the mold. I am sure you know the rest. The upside is selection and portion control. One glass of juice can make four ice pops. You most likely won’t eat four pops in one sitting. By simply turning that cup of juice into a frozen treat you are shrinking your calorie input. 

As for selection, since you are choosing the juice you can opt for a healthy brand free of colorings and chemicals. A healthy juice makes a healthy pop. 

Economically it makes sense, a single container of juice can make dozens of pops. It you were to buy a similar amount of ice pops, it would cost you many times more then the cost of a jug of juice. 

This American made product can be bought for $5.99. A nice device to make a bunch of sumner treats. Beat the heat, and buy American. 

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My gardening Adventure – One Month Out

I crossed the one month mark last week and I have much to report. 1 monthMy crops are doing very well and I have a had very few problems at all. With so much to share, I will break down my progress by crop. 

Howden Pumpkins: These guys are monsters. They have leaves the size of my face, they spread a few inches a day now, and appear to be thriving. In the picture they are situated in the raised bed that is closest to the camera. Yesterday two of the vines breached the edges of the bed and are now on their way into the rest of the yard. Howdens take about 115 days to grow, with 80 or so days left I am a little concerned that these guys are really going to spread. I added some garden fences to prevent the pumpkins from crushing my cucumbers and breaching my corn. My pumpkin vines are long and strong. 

Cucumbers: The bride started theses guys in dixie cups are transplanted them into the section designated for my failed strawberries. At first they turned a bit yellow. I looked into it and it appears that this may have come from over watering. I dialed it back and they greened up. Their growth has been slow so I will wait and see. 

Golden Bantam Sweet Corn: Located in the middle bed my corn is almost three feet tall. It is also thriving, but I have a few concerns. First is the fact that I have several plants are growing in the same spots. I have tried to cut them back, but it really pains me to cut away good plants. I have done what I can and will cut back more in the next week or so. My other concern is the roots. My soil is only about 10-12 inches deep, then it gets rocky.  I am worried that as the corn gets taller the wind will knock them down. I amy have to add supports. 

Tomatoes: I have added support lattice to the plants to give then strength and room to climb. No flowers yet, but the plants are looking good. 

Sugar Baby Watermelons: About 50 days to go and these guys are kinda slow. The vines look healthy but compared to the pumpkins they are not only thinner but spread much much slower. Perhaps they will turn a corner and catch up. 

On top of the fencing and tomato cages I have added a soaking hose. I read that it is better to deliver the water right to the roots then getting it on the leaves. I will still do a traditional hose watering once a week to get the spots that the soaker has missed. As of now things are going better then I hoped. I still live in fear that some type of bug or blight will wipe out my crops, but as I stand right now I am very pleased. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Plastec Watering Can

With my new home and all the responsibilities that come with having a yard my list of things that I need seems to grow by the week. The gutter are clogged? Gotta buy a ladder. Brown spots on the lawn, need seed. Got seed? Need a seed thrower, which lucky doubles as an ice melt thrower. Thank goodness for dual use items.

On my long list was a watering can. A lot of my friends and relatives gave the Bride and I plants, plants need water. For the last two weeks I was making multiple trips from the kitchen sink to the garden with my giants Yankees souvenir cup. It took a lot of trips and got old real fast. I decided I needed a watering can and would by an American made one if such a can existed.

Like I’ve said before, all you have to do is look. watercanI found this great watering can from Plastec on Amazon.  The reviews were good, as was the price. For $9.50 this watering can was mine. Could I have spent $7 for a cheap Chinese watering can? Could I have found one at the dollar store? Its possible, but those importer watering cans wouldn’t last, and I prefer to support American workers. 

Plastec is a woman owned small business. It is located in Florida and was started in 1989. They began with the invention of the “Plant Pallet” and have expanded their line to include various gardening stands and holders. They manufacture many of their products in American and design with and eye towards innovation and fashion. 

My watering can is easy to hold and pour from. It looks nice and feels very solid. I would recommend it for anyone with a small amount of plants. This is due to the watering cans small capacity. For those with a massive amount of hanging or potted plants you might want to go with a larger can. For me it fits the bill and I am very happy with my purchase. 

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My Time as Secret Agent, err Shopper – Field Agent

At the end of last year I was introduced to “Field Agent” a secret shopper app that allows smart phone users to earn some extra cash by visiting a store, answering some questions, and submitting a few photos.  Each of these jobs can pay anywhere from $2- $12 depending on the task. photoI eagerly signed up and in the following seven or so months have earned $12.60. Alright, I realize that this is not very impressive. I’ve only completed three jobs, but to be fair I bought a house, which I moved into, and am in the process of lightly renovating.

Still I like this app very much and would recommend to anyone with an interest in making a few hundred dollars a year in extra income. I believe that this is possible if you have the time. Here is my break down of “Field Agent”.

Ease of Use: Very easy, you pull up the map and up pops all the jobs. You can preview each job to see how much it pays and what is required of you. Once you select the job you will have two hours to complete it. I usually pick jobs that are very close to where I am so it is never an issue.

What is a job like?: To be quite frank, its can be little weird. My first job was at a CVS, I had to take some pictures of the display stand that sat on the counter. It required me to answer a few questions and take a picture of the displays. The trouble was that the cashiers are right there. It was very awkward to take a photo of something while someone watches you, wondering what you are doing. My last job was much easier, it was in a Target, I was alone in the aisle and could answer the questions and take as many pictures as I wanted.

How Much do you think you could earn in a week?: That is an excellent question. If you woke up every morning and set out to just run jobs for “Field Agent” I would estimate that over 8 hours you could earn between $30 – $125 a day. This is a very wild guess, sometimes I look on the site and their are almost no jobs, lately it seems like they are ever

How do you deal with employees?: Simple, lie. Tell them that you aren’t sure if the product is the one you spouse wants, click a picture and pretend to text it to them. Most people can relate to this as such behavior is increasingly common. I know it feels bad trying to deceive someone, but in the big picture what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Going forward I plan to try and get more jobs. The hardest part for me is trying to find jobs near me, driving 20 minutes out of the way just doesn’t seem worth it. Still if I could make $25 a month, pay for a couple of meals at work, that would be good enough for me. All in all I give it an A – .

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio Trade Update

I mentioned it prior. I am cashing out of a position in my fake investing portfolio.  I am “selling” my OIH position. oilThis was my oil play and historically oil prices tend to peak in the summer months. I am happy in the performance, it has gained over 20% in just a few months. It may have more room to run, but I am content to lock in some profits. OIH is trading for  $56.99 for a total of $1481.74. I have no intention of letting that cash just sit there for long. I have another idea kicking around and will share to with you shortly.

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Made in the U.S.A. Moday – “Dezign With a Z”

Almost two years ago I wrote about the graphics company,”Dezign with a Z” with the plan to buy and display one of their giant decals once I bought a home.Birds Last week I made good on that proposal and bought this amazing tree and bird decal. The tree itself stand at about 5 feet tall and I positioned the birds as a flock swooping into land on the tree. This fills out the wall and adds a sense of movement to the display. 

What I love about this decal is what it does for the room. We painted all of the walls in our living room a light blue and left one wall bright white. To this space we Dezignwithazadded the decal which really draws your eye. Now anyone entering our living room immediately notices our wall art and comments about how much they like it. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but the dimensions of the room make it impossible to shot the room and the decal in the same shot.

My experience with “Dezign with a Z” was top notch. Creating and ordering the decal were very easy. It shipped quickly and arrived in a neatly organized tube. The installation took me about two hours and the directions were very straight forward. They even supplied an application tool that helps get the job done.

With a decal this big it would probably be best to have someone help you. I watched a few videos online to figure out some tip and techniques. All in all it was very easy, but at times a little stressful. You have to be extra cautious not to rip or bend the decal as you rub it onto the wall and very slowly removed the backing. 

I installed it while my Bride was out with company so she had a nice surprise when she returned home. Our decal came out just as we had hoped, it adds an artistic and unique element to our room and I am very pleased with my experience. 

“Dezign with a Z” is a great company making an innovative product right here in America. If you are looking for a new look for your home and don’t want to spend a huge amount of money this might be exactly what you need. Add some art to your walls to liven up your rooms. 

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