Goals for 2017 – Learning to be S.M.A.R.T.

money_jar

Goals are important to help an individual grow in both their professional and personal lives. We hear about them everywhere: I want to lose weight, I want to get that promotion, I want to make extra money this year, etc. Some goals are easy to achieve and others are near impossible unless someone plans a course of action before stepping out to do it.

But what makes a goal reachable? There are different sets of rules to help you, and like all rules out there, there is a mnemonic acronym tied to each one. The one I like to use is the S.M.A.R.T. criteria.

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Achievable– sanity check on if it can be done.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

There are different words that can be swapped in SMART but for the most part, it should help everyone create goals for themselves.

With the new year coming, I like to go ahead and spend some time and figure out what I would like to do. My actions are based on these goals, and using the SMART system, I make sure that I can do them. I divide my goals to fall under either Personal or Professional.

Personal

Pay off the Jeep:  At the time of this post, I owe about $8,400 on my car loan. I have enough to pay it off but I haven’t been in a hurry since the interest rate is pretty low.  The minimum payment on the loan is $450 dollars but I’ve already been paying $600 a month. I am financially able to pay it off this year if I add some extra cash on top of the extra cash I  already put on it. I will be adding an extra $100 dollars a month ($700) and my goal is to pay it off in 2017, which should free that $600 a month when its done!

Increase Deposits for 2017: I currently auto-deposit $300 dollars a month and put an additional deposit of 100-500 dollars depending on how the month goes. Some months are good while others I skimp on the extra deposit. My goal is to put at least an extra $250 bucks into the account. If I consistently do this every month, then my goal is to add an additional $3k for the year. This number is do-able I believe, even with the extra $100 going to the car loan noted above.

Get In Shape: I’ve been neglecting my health for the last few years and I need to make a change in order to get back into a healthy shape. Good health is the best investment that one can make. I will be enrolling in a local gym in my area. The cost should be around $15 dollars a month. An expense that I believe is worth it. I’m setting a goal to go three times a week.

Professional

Start Posting Weekly on DividendNoob – I like to build the website more and the way to do that is to post more quality content on a consistent basis. I’ve been posting weekly  for the month of December and have been getting good results from it.  For instance I’ve hit over 500 page views for the website and before that, I would be lucky to hit 50. Interaction on twitter and other dividend blogs should also help Dividend Noob grow as well.

Youtube – Sometimes information is easier to digest in video/audio form for some people. I would like to get a youtube channel up and going where I talk about my portfolio and bring up some potential investments that are on my watchlist and go through my thought process while doing my due diligence. The time requirement for this is pretty heavy at first but my goal is to start with at least one video every monthly portfolio update.

 

Those are my goals and I hope everybody has a good New Years and I’ll see you in 2017!

 

The Noob’s Guide to Budgeting

What is a Budget?

A budget is simple. So simple, it’s only three words : In and Out. The money you have coming in (income) vs money you have going out (bills + expenses) is what you should be keeping track of. A budget gives you an idea of where your money is going and is helpful to figure out if there’s a way to save more of it.

We can use a simple spreadsheet to track it all or for the more tech savvy people, we can use budgeting software or money management websites like Mint. Whichever you are most comfortable with is fine. I suggest starting with a spreadsheet though because it’s quite a deal easier to learn.

Why a budget?

I know what you’re thinking. Budgets are lame and I know every single bill that comes into my home and how much extra cash I have at the end of the month. Let me just say this:

I still recommend that everyone take the time and carefully write down every bill that you pay. It’s easy to forget them!

If you’re trying to maximize your contribution to your dividend growth portfolio then knowing how much you’re going to spend in a given month is pretty paramount. If you have an extra $200 dollars a month to invest with, then you know you can safely deposit that into your account and not have to worry about any bill you forgot to pay!

The Noob’s Budget Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet that I provided tries to fundamentally be as easy as possible.

First off, go ahead and click the following link to download.

You can import it to your own Google Docs Account or just download it as a Microsoft Excel file. If you don’t own Microsoft Word/Excel, you can download the open source office software Libre Office for free and use that program to work your spreadsheets.

The spreadsheet has provided sample values for reference. You can simply change the values where appropriate and then delete the ones that do not apply to yourself.

 

  • Input your monthly income into Columns A& B – If you have multiple people with income (husband/wife, etc), go ahead and replace their names and income or delete what you don’t need. After you provide the value, the total in B:15 should update with the sum.

  • Input your monthly bills into Column D & E Remember, if you have an expense that’s paid quarterly or yearly, go ahead and calculate what it would cost monthly. Delete what you don’t need and after you’re done, the total in E:15 should give you the sum.

budget_ss_bills

  • Provide estimates for food and gas into Column G & Hif you’re unsure what this amount is, go ahead and take a guess. I’ve provided two additional sheets in the spreadsheet that will help you keep track of how much you’re spending. Right now, they are unlinked with this value. Once you get an average cost, go ahead and input the values into the Budget sheet.

  • I also provided columns to track your net worth if you feel like knowing where you stand with that. Just fill them in and your current net worth will be in K:18.

 

The extra income you have leftover will be calculated in H:18. Anything you have extra towards the end of the month can be added to your dividend growth portfolio!

Budgeting isn’t as scary as some people make it out to be. If you’re worried about not having “just in case” money, you should already have an emergency fund to help alleviate that before you’re investing anyways!

Need an example? Read up on my own budget.

Your budget can also answer some easy questions on whether or not you can afford something you’ve been thinking of buying. But no matter where you are in your life, it’s important to have a basic budget to help you!.

Living Frugal – Entertainment- Free Ebooks

frugal_living_postimage

Introduction

Living frugal is a good way to increase the amount of capital you have to invest on a monthly basis. Small purchases here and there over the course of a month can add up to big money. Sometimes we’re talking enough capital to purchase an additional share or two, and when we’re talking about dividends, could mean adding dollars to your annual income. It definitely adds up.

People tend to spend a lot of money when it involves their entertainment.  In these series of posts, I’ll be highlighting what I do to provide entertainment to myself . First post up— books! Now the question is, where do we find free ebooks to enjoy?

Now I love to read. Both fiction and nonfiction, I find cracking open a good book just as thrilling as watching my favorite television show. I’m constantly reading no matter what I’m doing. There has definitely been a shift away from reading in general with the rise of television, movies and video games all fighting to take away your free time. But I encourage everybody to turn off their Game of Thrones or Assassin Creed game to enjoy a beautifull written book every once in awhile!

What are ebooks?

Chances are you already know what ebooks are all about. They’ve been around for years now and the ease/speed of acquiring them isn’t going away anytime soon. eBooks are just the digital form of books. There’s also been a big trend towards independent writers self publishing their own work on websites instead of going towards the traditional publishing route so I don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.

What Devices Can Free ebooks Be Read On?

You don’t need any special device in order to get into reading ebooks. There’s a good chance you already own a device that is capable of reading them. Most smartphones/tablets come with apps that will allow you to read them.

  • Apple Devices have iBooks
  • Android Devices have a bunch of apps in the Play Store.

You can also read ebooks from any Desktop or Laptop using Calibre.

I personally use a Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon. I feel it’s a good tradeoff between having a device that sort-of feels like a traditional book but with a much smaller form factor. I can store thousands of book on them and can pick what I want to read while out on the road.

Where Can I Get Free Ebooks?

There’s plenty of places online to find free ebooks. Be cautious though because not all books are available  legally free in your country and I’m a firm believer that copyright should be respected. The copyright laws vary by country so please take a little bit of time and figure out if something should be available to you. The following are all legal though and easy to download. Enjoy!

Local Library – A lot of local libraries are set up to allow ebooks to be downloaded to their patrons. Check for a local library location nearest you and support them! Libraries are great places to also pick up books, movies, etc. And the best thing about them, they’re always free!

Manybooks.net – This website was started in 2004 and has accumulated over 160 million books downloaded. It includes not only classic books but also releases newer titles from unknown indie authors.

Here’s a few titles I enjoy:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

Project Gutenberg – The internet’s oldest digital library boasts thousands of public domain books in it’s archives. Public Domain basically means that the works are old enough to have left copyright and are available to everyone for free.project_gutenberg_logo

Their website is a little wonky to navigate and they use something called Book Categories as a way to divide the works up. They also provide shortcuts to view their most popular books and their top 100 books and authors for the last thirty days.

There are a lot of classics out there and no matter if you’re reading it for the first time or wanting to dust off a book you’ve read for high school, Project Gutenberg is sure to have something for everyone. Formatting wise, Project Gutenberg isn’t the greatest. Their process of creating their ebooks is automatic and not perfect. But we can overlook its faults because they’re free.

Here’s a few titles that I enjoy.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Amazon Prime – While not technically free— I find more and more people that I talk to have purchased Amazon Prime due to their free shipping and amazon instant watch but fail to remember that they also offer free books.

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/prime-pr

They’re constantly adding and removing books in Amazon so I don’t want to link directly to anything specific. So for now, if you have Amazon Prime, just pick a genre and see what’s popular! I”m sure you’ll find something to enjoy.

NASA – I know this is a little weird and not totally expected but NASA (yes the government agency) offers free ebooks on Aeronautics, History, Science and other space things!

https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/index.html

This should get you started with finding something to read. If anybody has any recommendation, please feel free to leave a comment.  If I come across any other good sites, I’ll be sure to let you know as well!

HCP Spinoff – Is the Dividend Safe?

hcp_logo hcp spinoff

Overall, everything is looking good for HCP outside of the potential issues with the HCP Spinoff. They released earnings a few days ago and in a nutshell:

  • Q1 adjusted FFO of $321.8M or $0.69 per share vs. $364.3M and $0.79 one year ago.
  • FAD of $0.66 vs. $0.69.
  • Dividend is $0.575.

Portfolio wise, since I purchased them, it had equity growth over 12% and 2 dividend payouts of $35The dividend yield is over 6.5%,  so everything seems to be good. So what’s with the post? Well the surprise announcement that they are spinning off part of their portfolio in a new, publicly-traded REIT(SpinCo).

HCP Spinoff

HCP announced the intention to spin off its HCR ManorCare (HCRMC) real estate portfolio in a new, publicly-traded REIT(SpinCo). 

Financially, we’re seeing a drop of income for HCP of 26% from 1.9Bn to 1.4Bn. So right away, that’s a healthy chunk of money being taken out. Owners of HCP stock will continue to have the same amount of shares and will be given shares in the new SpinCo stock as a tax-free return. No word yet on whether or not the new stock will have a dividend. 

hcp spinoff split dividend
http://ir.hcpi.com/download/Proposed+Spin-Off+Presentation.pdf

 

If I were to make some guesses, I would assume the HCP and HCP Spinoff: SpinCo dividend will be recalculated based off the split. So HCP dividend will but lowered and in effect, the stock will decrease in price to compensate. The ideal decrease is to keep the dividend yield the same for HCP. From the Conference Call transcripts, management restated that they remain focused on dividend growth for HCP; so that’s a good sign. But they did not have any real answers on SpinCo’s dividend and that it will be decided by the board. You can read the entire earning call transcript here.

The rules of Dividend Noob are pretty simple.

  1. Preserve Equity : Nobody wants to lose money and with the stock split, there is a good chance we’ll see the price of the stock go down. But what about the shares in the new company as the offset? It’s a big unknown right now and I’m not in the game of gambling. I’ve had a healthy return of 12% on equity, as well as dividend payouts on HCP. Getting out might be the correct call until things stabilize with HCP.
  2. Dividend Growth: I want the dividend to be stable and to ideally go up each year. More income on the exact same equity invested is great. It’s even more free money! HCP has been great in dividend growth. They are a Dividend Aristocrat.
  3. Stock Growth: It’s why everybody wants to play the big game of stocks. The fact we invest money in hopes that it will be worth even more in the future is the whole reason!

So with the unknown in the forecast, I have decided to sell my shares of HCP.

Will You Get back Into HCP?

Once the smoke has settled on the spin off, I’ll re-evaluate and decide from there. I’m not opposed to it, since HCP is obviously a great company with an outstanding track record in dividend payout. They are a Dividend Aristocrat for a reason!

Where Will the Money Go From HCP?

No idea right now. There’s a few stocks that I have my eye on but the overall market sentiment is pretty bearish. There’s a ton of better dividend blogs talking about just stockpiling cash reserves for the time being. Maybe its something I should do? I’ll have to figure it out as I go. They don’t call me the Noob for nothing.

Disclaimer: I have owned and sold HCP within the last few days. My opinions about the HCP Spinoff are my own.

Stock Twits User Script – Better Stock Twits

Stock Twits User Script
Stock Twits User Script

What is a Userscript?

Userscripts (a.k.a User Scripts, User scripts, or .user.js ) are open-source licensed add-ons for web browsers that change web pages as they are loaded. They give users the power to make websites do what they want them to, rather than what was originally intended.

How do I Install the Stock Twits User Script – Better Stock Twits?

You will first need a userscript manager for your browser. For Firefox, you can download Grease Monkey and for Google Chrome, you can download Tamper Monkey. After you have the manager installed, you can install Better Stock Twits by either:

  1. Installing the script from Greasy Fork and clicking Install this Script.
  2. Clicking the Icon and “Add a New Script and paste the following code in the text editor and Saving.
View Better StockTwits Source Code

// ==UserScript==
// @name Better Stocktwits
// @description Better StockTwits
// @author firepetal.com
// @version 0.1
// @include http*://stocktwits.com/symbol/*
// @include http*://*.stocktwits.com/symbol/*
// @namespace Firepetal
// ==/UserScript==
//Link Location URL’s
var NASDAQ = “http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/”;
var GOOGLE = “https://www.google.com/finance?q=”;
var YAHOO = “https://beta.finance.yahoo.com/quote/”;
var FINVIZ = “http://www.finviz.com/quote.ashx?t=”;
var SALPHA = “http://seekingalpha.com/symbol/”

//Get the div tag where we want to add our links. This will not work with IE 8 or before.
var x = document.getElementsByClassName(“ticker-container”);

//Parse the stock symbol from the URL
var symbol = window.location.pathname.match(/\/symbol\/(.*)/)[1];
for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) {
x[i].innerHTML = x[i].innerHTML + “<b>Financials:</b>&nbsp;” +
“<a href='” + NASDAQ + symbol +”‘ target=’_blank’>Nasdaq</a>” + “&nbsp;|&nbsp;” +
“<a href='” + GOOGLE + symbol +”‘ target=’_blank’>Google Finance</a>” + “&nbsp;|&nbsp;” +
“<a href='” + YAHOO + symbol + “‘ target=’_blank’>Yahoo Finance</a>” + “&nbsp;|&nbsp;” +
“<a href='” + FINVIZ + symbol +”‘ target=’_blank’>Finviz</a>” + “&nbsp;|&nbsp;” +
“<a href='” + SALPHA + symbol +”‘ target=’_blank’>Seeking Alpha</a>”;
}

Is it Safe?

The Better Stock Twits script is 100% safe to use. It collects no data from you nor does it inject any malicious code. All the script does is add URL links under the stock ticker in stocktwits.

Why did you make it?

Whenever I am glutton for punishment, I like to browse stock twits and see what people are saying about certain stocks. I also like discovering some stocks that I never heard of. It got irritating when I would stumble across a new stock and would have to manually search for its financial information instead of just clicking and viewing it’s information. Of course, never trust anybody when it comes to stock, always do your own Due Diligence.

 

Stock Twits User Script