Grocery Budget – February 2017 Part 1

The last grocery budget post got some good responses in viewership so I’m going to go ahead and do another budget for the month of February. We usually do our shopping twice a month so this post will chronicle what was purchased today, and will be the food we consume for the first 2 weeks in the month.

We try to time our grocery purchases to fall at the beginning of a weekly sales period. This gives us the best chance to pick up what we need to on sale.

I typically buy food from two locations. One is a store called Piggly Wiggly and the other is a discount food store called Save-a-lot. I find that sale prices at these places tend to be much cheaper than just purchasing everything at Wal-mart or Food Lion. As an added bonus, both locations are right next to each other where we live so that makes it easier to search for the lowest prices.

Now I purchased quite a lot at Save-a-lot this time compared to the previous month. Their deals seemed to dwarf over Piggly Wiggly but that’s okay. Here’s the grocery list that I made. Read last month’s post on how I make it.

grocerylist_2117

The first stop was Save-a-lot, so let’s go ahead and look at the receipt and see what I purchased.

 

  • Apple Juice – $0.99 –  (x2) My son drinks a lot of juice so we can’t keep enough of this.
  • Avocados -$0.57 – (x2) Big fan of fresh fruits and I like to eat some avocado for breakfast.
  • Chef Boyardee Cans – $0.99 – (x5) This was originally going to be purchased at Piggly Wiggly but it’s a penny cheaper here so I decided to pick it up. Saved a big 5 cents!
  • Butter Rounds – $1.79 – (x2) These are basically just store brand Ritz Crackers. Tastes the same to me and a lot cheaper.
  • Pudding – $.0.89 – (x2) A 4 pack of pudding and generally cheaper than usual. Good for a snack.
  • Chili w/ Beans – $.99 – (x2) I bought this last month and it ended up being pretty decent. Decided to pick up 2 more for a quick meal.
  • Chicken Drums – $0.79 – Who doesn’t love chicken.
  • Banquet Frozen Meals – $0.89 – (x2) Lazy meal that’s cheap. Can’t beat it.
  • Chicken Stir Fry – $2.99 – This was an impulse buy. Basically it’s a frozen bag of stir fry that you heat up and serve and it includes the chicken. Seemed like a good deal. Hopefully it’s tasty.
  • Coconut Water– $0.99 – Impulse buy. I just wanted to have some.
  • Bubba Cola – $0.89 – (x2) My vice is soda and here is their store brand for 89 cents. Doesn’t taste half bad either.
  • Pasta Sauce – $0.99 – (x2) Cheap pasta sauce. Grabbed a Meat and Garlic Herb one.
  • Hershey Kisses – $0.99 – (x2) This was actually a reduced item that was marked as damaged even though I didn’t see anything wrong with it.
  • Hershey 6 pack bars – $1.99 (x2) Again, reduced and didn’t see anything wrong with it. Lots of chocolate in the house now. Wife and Kid will be pleased.
  • Hawaiian Rolls – $1.15 – Reduced cause cause it was suppose to be damage. Saw nothing wrong with them.
  • Hamburger Buns – $0.99 – Going to grill burgers this week and I prefer the cheap buns to the fancy ones.
  • Kettle Chips – $1.79 – Decided to try their store brand and it’s cheap.
  • Kosher Dill Pickles – $1.79 – (x2) Wife loves to eat pickles. Who am I to stop it.
  • Green peppers – $0.69 – (x3) Yum Vegetables.
  • Pepsi 2L – $0.95 – (x2) More soda to please my vice center of the brain.
  • Pringles  – $0.99 (x2) More snacks.
  • Pretzels – $0.99 (x2) More snacks.
  • Sloppy Joe Sauce – $0.79  (x2) – I was originally going to pick up the brand name but the store brand is 10 cents less and appears to have similar ingredients.
  • Turkey Pot Pie – $0.79 (x2) – Lazy meal.
  • Watermelon Slices – $1.98 –  Impulse buy because they looked good.

This trip to Save-a-lot cost us $50.60. I was going to purchase more Chicken Drumsticks but apparently the freezer is still a little full with previous food. Time to rotate the old food to the front to get it used first!

Up next is Piggly Wiggly. I didn’t buy a lot from there today but they had a decent deal on ground beef so I decided to pick up about 5 pounds of it. We’ll freeze them in one pound bags and use them as needed.

 

i forgot to take pics of the receipts but you get the picture.

 

 

Grocery Budget – January 2017

I believe it’s time to experiment with a new type of post. I’m not sure how well this will go over but I figure some people might find it interesting on how I spend my money when it comes to buying food. Now, I already talked about my budget and how much I allocate every month to food. I went shopping today and decided that I would post the receipts and talk about what I purchased.

In the past, we would just shop at Walmart for everything and when they introduced their Savings Catcher App, we thought we were just saving even more. I never really bothered with shopping around because I just thought I could afford it. And I can, but it’s not a smart way of getting the most out of our paychecks

I first start off by viewing the grocery stores weekly ads online. I believe almost every store does this now and a simple google search will show you what stores are near by. This trip I decided to stop at Piggly Wiggly and a discount food store named Save-A-Lot since they are right next to each other where I live. The weekly ads on their websites allow you to “Add” items to your shopping list and then email/print them out for use in the store. This makes a convenient way to make lists. You can view the ads for  Piggly Wiggly’s and Save-A-Lot if you feel so inclined.

To make it easier, I simply copy each item with the price into a program called Zim. I like this program cause I can easily add check boxes to each item which allows me to simply check them off as I find them at the store. Then I can just print it off like normal. You can do the same thing in notepad or just go off the emails if you want, the choice is up to you!

Here’s what I wanted to pick up from the weekly ads.

zimgroceries11717

 

I don’t usually go into the store with a plan on what meals to make, even though I probably should. I like to just pick up the things I know my family and I will eat and then go from there. The items on the bottom without checkboxes are just things that need to be picked up. When it comes to meat and vegetables, we just make meals based on whatever is on sale. There’s usually some form of chicken or beef on sale every week and thankfully no one in our family is a picky eater. Dark meat or white meat is just fine for us!

The first stop was Piggly Wiggly. Here’s the receipt with what got purchased.

pigwig_1_16_17
Click to Enlarge

The cheese was not on sale so I paid full price for it. Up next is Sunny D for a buck each. I decided to pick up two since my son loves to drink juice and I sometimes feel nostalgic for it. The banquet meals for $1 each are what I call “lazy meals.” It’s for when we don’t want to cook but want to eat something. I also use it whenever the wife and kid are gone and I want to eat something.

Up next are two huge bags of crinkle cut french fries for $1.50 each. Everybody loves french fries and this is way cheaper than getting them from Mcdonald’s. I also picked up some pop tarts for 3/$5. I’m not that big of a fan of them but my wife and son love them, so who am I to keep it from them.

The best deal comes from my meat purchases. I bought two packages of boneless chicken breasts for $1.49 a lb. One of the packages was frozen and went straight into the freezer. The other was put in the fridge to be used this week. It’s a great price for chicken breast though!

I also bought a five pound box of bacon for $10. I didn’t know what to expect from them but when we got them home, I was surprised that it’s just a big box of slices. And with bacon prices going up lately (single packages of bacon are going for $3-4), I figure this might be a gamble that pays off. We went ahead and broke the box down and put the bacon in a few freezer bags. Whenever we need bacon, we can just pull out one freezer bag for the week.

I originally went for Bounty paper towels for 9.99, but when getting there realized that their store brand was cheaper per sq ft. There’s a few things that I don’t want to skimp on, like toilet paper, but for paper towels, this is more than fine. I also didn’t pick up the T-bones because, quite frankly, they didn’t look so great.

For a total of $66.91. Not a bad haul from Piggly Wiggly.

Up next is the haul from Save-A-Lot, a local discount food store here in North Carolina.

save_a_lot1_16_17

I picked up quite a few cans of beans and diced tomatoes for some chili that I plan on making in the future. At 59 cents a can, you can’t really beat that. Some notable standouts was a 15-ct box of corndogs for $4.99 which, again, is mostly for that lazy meal that we find ourselves wanting to have. We’re also trying some store brand food with their Mac-n-cheese and their store cheese nips that are both $1.49 each. Also 2 for 88 cent Yoplait yogurt is a heck of a deal.

Again, for $58.72 this is a pretty decent haul. The weird oddity here is the Frozen Pork Tails for $9.78. Not sure why they came up as pig tails since I definitely picked up Ribeyes and I verified the package as well as the price per lb.

This grocery shopping day should last us through the month and put us under our $300 food budget by about $60 bucks. What I’ll do is go ahead and deposit the $60 bucks into my dividend portfolio next month to take advantage of the extra money.

Thanks for reading, I’ll try and do this again in 2 weeks for February!

 

2016 Dividend Portfolio – Year in Review

The year has finally ended and I thought it would be a good to take some time and look back at the dividend portfolio to see exactly how it performed; if there were any big clear winners or clear losers and if there are any lessons to be learned from it all.

Let’s first start our look at the overall market indexes. The S&P 500 had a positive 10% increase for the year with The Dow up over 13%. Even if you remove the post-election surge in November, the market still has a positive return for 2016.

Portfolio wise, my return has been 14.72% for the year with the majority of the returns coming from stock growth. I was lucky enough to purchase a lot of high quality dividend paying stocks on some dips and they have rebounded and have went even higher. The bulk of my return has been since the Trump rally in November however. Before that, i was up about 5%. The following image shows the graph in the Robinhood App on the yearly scale.

2016 dividend portfolio return

Let’s take a look with how much of the return is from dividends vs stock growth. The following image is just a spreadsheet where I keep track of dividends paid out on a monthly basis.

2016_dividends per month

At almost $1k in dividends being paid out to my account, this accounts for over 20% of my yearly return.  Not too shabby for passive income.

The biggest winners, growth wise, of my portfolio are MAIN, STWD, T and JNJ.

I first started my position in MAIN in December of last year and have been collecting their monthly dividends ever since. They pay 18 cents a share normally, but add on top of that they also paid a special dividend in June and December of this year, then we can see why MAIN is a fun stock to own. They have had a big year in growth as well since I’m up 26.17% on it.  At the time before this is posted, I have sold my position in MAIN to lock in the growth. I hope to maybe get back into it once it’s closer to it’s fair price.

STWD is another stock that I didn’t realize would perform so well when I first bought it in March 2015. It still has a dividend yield over 8% and I’ve received three dividend payments of 48 cents a share. On top of that, it’s also returned 21.3% growth. STWD is another stock that I need to revisit because I’m not sure if the dividend is sustainable. Most analyst have STWD as a hold right now and I believe I will follow that advice for the time being.

T is a telecommunications giant that’s been a dividend champion for 33 years. What’s also impressive is the 25% total return I have as well as the three dividend payments I received since owning it back in January 2015. The stock still has a PE Ratio under 20 and gives a dividend yield of 4.5%. My only regret is not buying more. Hindsight.

JNJ is another monster in the dividend champion list that has been raising dividends for 54 years. Since I’ve purchased them in January 2015, they have given my portfolio a 19.7% return, as well as four dividend payments. Right now, I believe they are fairly valued and I’m looking to buy more if it happens to dip on any amount. A lot of people have been talking about JNJ being one of the “Always Buys” and I can’t find any fault with that.

The biggest lost of the portfolio came from when I finally sold off my position of CSIQ. It had dropped radically and before I pulled the trigger to dump it, I had lost over 1k. This was before I was committed fully to the DGI brotherhood. But it was definitely a lesson that I needed to learn.

 

Overall, I’m happy with my dividend portfolio. I managed to cobble together a collection of stocks that have beaten the index for the year, which is no easy feat. I have a lot planned for Dividend Noob in the next year, so please stay tuned!

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!