Thursday, December 23, 2010



Wednesday, December 15, 2010


In the news this week, Ron Paul wants to create competition for the Federal Reserve by allowing U.S. citizens to use gold in place of the dollar.  I've a feeling that won't really catch on anytime soon, but I do agree with his thinking on the Fed's "monopoly" like control of U.S. currency and would like to see a little more restraint on the free wheeling printing of dollars.

Obama invited Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to the Oval Office for a meeting to discuss their charitable giving.  Could it be that he's thinking we might all be in need of some charitable support by the time the Democrats are through spending?

Speaking of Warren Buffett, his company Berkshire Hathaway has done a great deal of selling in the past quarter.  There is speculation it is to raise cash for the incoming investment manager at Geico after the retirement of Lou Simpson at the end of this year.  I think it might just be a move to collect capital gains in an up market.

As for my own trading, I pulled out my original investment in Centerpoint energy (CNP:NYSE) and reinvested it in Invesco Mortgage Capital (IVR:NYSE).  My stake in CNP was up over 28%, so I kept the remaining shares and will continue to draw the dividends on those.  At the same time I'll triple the dividend income I was earning on my investment in CNP by putting the money in IVR shares which currently yield 17.77%.  Like Annaly Capital (NLY:NYSE) I do not consider this a long term holding, it's purely a dividend play as long as interest rates are low.  Since a rising interest rate could drastically affect earnings for REITs, I'll be watching this one closely and move to trade out if interest rates should begin to rise.  Not expecting that to happen anytime soon, so I'll collect the dividends in the mean time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


My sale of Windstream shares and purchase of Annaly Mortgage Management are complete.  Looks like I may be positioned to collect my first dividend payment from Annaly (NLY) either by the end of this month or sometime around the first part of 2011, depending on the ex-dividend date.  Either way I stand to collect over three times as much in dividend payments as I was making with Windstream.  As long as interest rates remain favorable I should be able to hold shares of the REIT for quite a while and continue collecting the increased dividend income.  At the same time I'll still be collecting a nice dividend payment from Windstream (WIN) shares that were paid for out of capital gains.  Was also able to keep back some of my original cash investment to hold as a reserve in my money market account, should I need the extra cash or find another investment I'd like to take advantage of. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Imagine if you lived in a magical world where you never had to pay full price for anything!  Well guess what, you're already there.  With so many promotional gimmicks, it's quite possible to avoid ever paying full price for anything you buy for the rest of your life.  You just have to figure out how to do it.

I've been a bargain hunter for years, but since my recent trip to the hospital, I've been looking for even more ways to save.  Here are a few of the things I've come up with.

CASH BACK ON PURCHASES:  You've most likely heard of people who use cash back credit cards to pay for their purchases, then pay the balance in full at the end of each month and collect the cash back on their purchases.  This is a great way to save on your purchases, in fact my sister does it all the time.  However, I've found what I think is an even better way to take advantage of this strategy.  One of my money market accounts provides a cash back debit Mastercard.  As long as I use it like a credit card at the point of purchase (I don't give them my pin number), I get cash back for everything I buy.  I have to admit I was not really taking advantage of this until just recently.  It occurred to me that I could transfer all the money I usually spend on cash purchases into this account, use the card and get part of my money back.  I now pay for gas and maintenance on my car, restaurant meals, grocery and department store purchases and anything else I used to pay with cash, I put on the card.  At the end of each month I get cash back added directly to my money market account.  What makes it really great is that I also earn interest on my average daily balance, so adding my spending money to the account has boosted my interest income as well.

USE COUPONS:  I've talked about this before, but again I have to admit that I truly hadn't taken full advantage of this easy money saving tip until just recently.  Now I scan the coupon section of the newspaper religiously, in search of manufacturer or store coupons for items that I use on a regular basis.  Recently I've saved several dollars on some of my favorites like Folgers coffee, Tide laundry detergent, Bounce fabric softener, Campbell's soup and Lever 2000 bar soap to name just a few.  These are all items I purchase on a regular basis, but with the coupons and the cash back debit card, I've saved a great deal of money and earned cash back.  

SALES AND REBATES:  Of course I've always watched the sales and taken advantage of manufacturers rebates on any of the items I buy, but I've become more committed to putting these money saving tips to better use as well.  I'm thinking the best case scenario would be to find items I use on a regular basis on sale with a manufacturers rebate, then use a coupon and my cash back card to purchase them, resulting in a quadruple discount!!!  Of course you may not always be able to use coupons on sale items, but when you can, what a deal!

By following these few money saving ideas, I've been able to make my hard earned dollars go a lot farther, helping to create extra cash to pay medical expenses and keep my savings and investment plans on track. 

Friday, December 3, 2010


My stake in Windstream Corp. (WIN:NASDAQ) is up by 28.84% since my initial purchase.  I've put in an order to sell most of my shares so I will regain all of my initial cash investment.  The remaining shares were paid for with profits (capital gains) from my investment in Windstream, making them essentially free stock.  I will have none of my own money tied up in these shares, so all past and future dividends plus any gains in share price from now on, are just icing on the cake.  Counting Windstream, I'm up to 5 different companies I've repeated this strategy with.  I'm looking to do more as opportunities present themselves, with a goal of building an entire portfolio of free dividend paying stocks.

As for the money I've pulled out of the stock, I've placed an order to purchase shares of Annaly Mortgage Management (NLY:NYSE).  NLY currently pays a dividend of $2.72 per share which represents a yield of 14.95% on their recent share price of $18.20.  While an increase in interest rates could hurt NLY's profits, I'm hoping to collect a nice return on dividends while rates are low, then trade out of the stock should rates begin to rise.  The goal here is to boost monthly cash flow from dividends with this one. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


It looks as though I won't be wiped out financially by my recent heart attack and heart surgery.  Just got a letter from the hospital today saying they're charitable program was picking up 100% of the bill.  I'll still have radiology, emergency room physicians and cardiology to pay, but that's a lot more doable without the extra $50,000 from the hospital.  Takes a lot of pressure off me right now, although I'd already figured out a plan B in case it hadn't worked out.

On top of this good news, had a little up tick in the stock market today and completed a couple of successful auctions on ebay, so things are looking up a bit.  Plan on paying off most or all of my credit card debt after the first of the year.  Don't want to be making payments on credit card debt along with payments on medical bills, so I've decided to pay them off and save on the interest.