June 9th, 2014 at 04:06 am
This was the second day of my three-day "shakeout" trailwalking trip.* The weather forecast predicted rain, but I dodged it all day and did all my hiking** while staying dry. I pulled off my plan for the day and logged 3 hikes in 2 state parks along the Staunton River.
I started my day with a nice country drive along 40 or so miles of back roads from the Best Western in Danville to the Staunton Bridge Battlefield State Park*** outside the teeny-tiny town of Randoph (VA). Although this was a smallish, one-day battle, the state and a non-profit group have done a great job of preserving the site. There is a very well-done visitor/education center and the 2.2-mile battlefield trail I hiked**** is well posted with interpretive signs on what happened when during this engagement fought over control of a bridge vital to Confederate resupplying of the besieged city of Petersburg.
Next, I headed for the Staunton River State Park***** some twenty miles away, after enjoying a picnic lunch at the battlefield park. The big highlights of this hiking were the river views along the trails. This was aerobic, up-and-down, body-leaning-forward hiking that gave me a good workout. From the extensive network of intersecting trails, I cobbled a composite 3.5 mile hike going from the River Bank Trail to Crow's Nest Trail to Robin's Roost Trail to Captain Staunton's Trail and back to end at the River Bank Trail trailhead. And I was ready for some rest!
My stop for the night was the Super 8 at South Boston, which I reached after another 20-mile drive. No luggage cart there, so I had to do a lot of back-and-forth trips to my truck to get fully set up in the room. But it was all good, anyway. I had a good night and it was a good day.
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* May 28 -- Little Mountain Falls Trail:
** My Love Affair With Hiking:
*** Staunton River Battlefield Park:
**** Frugal Fun: Hiking Civil War Trails:
***** Staunton River State Park:
June 6th, 2014 at 04:16 am
Between February 5th and February 21st, I bought 1380 shares of OCI Resources (OCIR) for $29,288. On May 28th, about 3 months later, I sold those shares for $32,766. That sale gave me a $3478 realized gain. Just one month before that sale, OCIR had paid me $690 in quarterly dividends. All told, holding OCIR for a little over 3 months netted me $4168 which worked out to a 14.2% profit on my original investment. This was another "textbook case" of my dividend-based investment approach* in action. Here is how that worked this time.
I discovered OCIR during my weekly stock search. Its 9.4% dividend yield caught my interest. Its financials passed my tests.* And its business model, centered on long-term sales contracts, gave OCIR's dividends the extra stability I like to see.** So it was just a question then of when to buy shares of this utterly boring soda ash mining and production company.
OCIR was good to buy right then. That was because the stock was selling around $21 a share with solid price support at $20.00. So, if I bought around $21, the stock's annual $2 dividend would give me downside protection down to $19, which would be well below OCIR's $20 price-support level. This made OCIR a "safe buy"* right then and there.
I bought at an average $21.22 and sat back to collect dividends. Because that is what I always do. I buy stocks for the dividends.*** I never buy a stock on the expectation that its price will rise. (Well, almost never.****) But often, the price does rise. That is what happened with OCIR, due to some happy talk about the company here and there in the investing blogosphere.
And within 3 months, OCIR reached my sell point. That sell point was a 10% realized gain, which in my view is the same as collecting an entire year's worth of dividends in advance.***** So I pulled the trigger and sold OCIR once its price had risen past that point -- which is another thing I always do. And that (1) put a year's expected income in my pocket now from the $29K I had invested, and (2) gave me a year's time to find the next company in which to invest that now cashed-out $29,000.***** Like I said at the beginning: a textbook case.
The takeaway: Have a plan for your investing. Have the discipline to stick to it if it is working, and the flexibility to change it if it is not working. Know how much money you want to make and take it when you have made it. Do not be greedy. And know how low a stock's price can fall before you need to start worrying. Do not be a Pollyanna. But do not be a scaredypants either.
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* My High Yield, High Risk Investing:
** Stacking The Deck For Dividends:
*** Why I Only Buy Dividend Stocks:
**** Stock Panic Nets Me 13% Overnight:
***** What Makes Me Sell a Stock?:
June 6th, 2014 at 03:38 am
Today was the first day of my 3-day TrailWalking trip. Not only did I have fun, but this day's hike* also marked the start of my attempt at a hiking-based part-time business**.
My morning was spent actually driving down to my destination area. I arrived at Fairy Stone State Park (VA)*** around noon or so. Had lunch at a picnic table (I always pack my own trip vittles) and planned my hike.
I spent the next 3 hours finding, hiking and photographing Little Mountain Falls Trail.
-- The park trail guide was not very good and neither were the trailhead sign posts.
-- Long story short, I had to hunt for the Little Mountain Falls trail head by cutting through a campground and walking around a closed-gate access road. But I found it.
-- I hiked the 3.3 mile loop trail, which included a panoramic view overlook and the 20-30-foot drop creek waterfall that the trail is named for.
-- And I did my first test of the "TrailWalkers Trail Notes Form" that I developed to record trail observations which I will then use as the basis for a trail report to be posted in my new hiking blog.
With that nice workout under my belt, I drove about another hour to get to the Best Western at Danville, where I spent a very comfortable night.
A good start to the trip!
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* My Love Affair With Hiking:
** For Fun And (Maybe) Profit:
*** Fairy Stone State Park:
June 4th, 2014 at 04:15 am
Some people think that there is not enough money in cash reward cards to go to all the trouble of managing them. Of course, I do not see it that way at all.* Check this out.
I just placed a $2692 order for 16 new windows. I made sure to charge that purchase on my Discover cashback credit card, which is running a special 5% cashback promotion on home improvement store purchases.* By doing so, I got a $135 credit in cashback dollars from Discover. And I will leverage those cashback dollars** to get anywhere from $168 to $270 in good-as-cash gift cards to use on goods and services I would buy anyway.
To score all that free money, all I had to do was (1) know that Discover was running that special promotion, (2) sign up for the promotion, and (3) make sure I carried that card in my wallet when I went to buy the windows. It just took a little credit card management on my part to capture a big cashback payout. It is worth the effort. Here is more on that.
In the first place, cashback card management is just another fun round of the Frugal Game*** that I love to play to save money without really giving up anything.
Second of all, it is not chump change I am getting here. My annual baseline living costs are around $18,000**** and I figure about $8000 of that is credit card billable. At a conservative 2.5% average cash back on that $8000, that is 200 cashback dollars. Factor in a modest 25% average redemption leverage** and my found money goes up to $250 a year. But that is just from my baseline living expenses. I also spend another discretionary***** $10,000 a year for fun stuff. And all of that is credit card billable. So add another $300 to my yearly found money from putting in a little effort into the management of my cash reward credit cards. That means that in total I am adding $550 a year to my discretionary fund for just taking an hour or less every 3 months to check a few credit card websites and rotate a couple of credit cards in and out of my wallet. I am getting over $100 an hour for my effort.
No, I do not pay more in order to get cashback rewards. For example, I bought those 16 windows at a big box home improvement discount store. I timed the purchase to get a 15% special sale discount that saved me $475 over and above the store's already discounted price. And I used a $25 store coupon to push down my cost even further. So the 5% cashback I got from Discover was on top of the $500 I would have saved without using the card.
And, yes, I will pay off that window purchase charge when the credit card statement comes in. Which is what I do with all the purchases I charge on cashback cards. It is all good.
The takeaway: Doing cashback credit cards is worth it to me in principle because I never leave money on the table. That would not be very frugal.
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* Raking In Credit Card Cashback:
** Leveraging Up CashBack Rewards:
*** Playing the Frugal Game is Fun!
**** My $18K Annual Baseline Budget:
***** A Discretionary Fund, Not a Discretionary Budget:
June 4th, 2014 at 03:59 am
My plan for the day was to do some financial paperwork and finalize my planning for the 3-day TrailWalker trip I am going on tomorrow. By day's end I was good to go. Lots of hiking fun coming up*!
My early-morning blogging went very well. I finished the article "Cashback Cards ARE Worth the Effort" and started a new one titled "Free Gourmet Coffee Every Day."** All while having some of that delicious free gourmet coffee.
My morning went to financials. Reconciling all the bank accounts, updating the income and expense projection records, and managing my cashback cards*** all got done.
My afternoon went to trip planning. After lunch and a prehistory course DVD lecture (The First European Farmers), I concentrated on getting ready for the TrailWalker trip I am starting tomorrow. My plan is to do a 300-to-400 mile loop that will take me to 5 Virginia state parks where I will hike 5-10 different trails.
My evening went to relaxing by watching (again) some of my favorite DVD war movies (Zulu and Windtalkers). Can't wait 'til tomorrow!
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* My Love Affair With Hiking:
** 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
*** Raking In Credit Card Cashback:
June 4th, 2014 at 03:38 am
My plan for the day, which is my plan for most Mondays, is to dive into last week's piled up home administration work and do a heavy investment management timeblock. Got it all off my to-do list and cleared the rest of the week for want-to-do stuff.
I started my day by starting a new blog article I am titling "Cashback Cards ARE Worth the Effort" while enjoying my first cup of coffee.* Then off to "work" at the computer the rest of the day.
8:00am to 12:00noon
Did a 4-hour time block on home administration (bills, phone calls, follow-ups and record-keeping) and cleared the decks.
12:00noon to 1:30pm
Had lunch and watched a DVD prehistory course lecture (Why Farming?)
1:30pm to 5:30pm
Caught up my stock portfolio records** and then went hunting for more stocks to buy.***
5:30pm to ...
Playtime! Dinner, movies and some Pacific War game playing.****
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* 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
** How I Stay On Top Of My Stocks:
*** My High Yield, High Risk Investing:
June 4th, 2014 at 03:18 am
My plan for the day was to give myself a day off from tasks and chores and enjoy. So I did. I caught up my blog day posts for May 23 and May 24, completed and posted my latest article post "LTC: a Lesser and Necessary Evil"* and went with my wife to a nice church picnic.
Today was also the day that we ordered 16 new windows for the house and got a whole wad of credit card cashback** by charging the purchase on my Discover Card. And scored a big bagful of free gourmet coffee at Bed Bath and Beyond using leveraged cashback gift cards.***
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* 200 Words A Day That (Hopefully) Matter:
** Raking In Credit Card Cashback:
*** Leveraging Up CashBack Rewards: