Know When to Hold ‘Em (Part 2 to A Tale as Old as Time)

When I wrote my previous post, I didn’t realize that it would be a part 1.  But here I am today after a couple of days of weird coincidences and I couldn’t resist revisiting the issue.

Today I saw this on msn.com (and you should take a read as well) –

What $1,000 invested in these stocks 10 years ago is worth today.

Ha!  Disney is on the list!

Last night, I went through all of my old financial papers to finally shred them.  I mean OLD papers, bank statements, tax return copies, brokerage house statements, wage summaries, BGE bills and a really cute credit card summary from 2000 from Platinum Plus.  I don’t even remember that credit card but it must have been awesome because I have a cute booklet with all my charges for the year, broken out into categories and accompanied by graphs and value added coupons. Imagine what that cost to put out every year and how much these companies save by getting us to sign up to receive the same information online in real time.

Anyway, I decided to go through those papers to 1)free myself from the paper past and 2) to find the stock certificates that are (hopefully) hiding somewhere among the papers of the past.  And I only decided to do this because the night before that, Mirror Image walked into my home office and reminded me that I had encouraged her to buy stock a couple of years ago as a learning opportunity and now she was ready to buy wait for it…Apple (AAPL).  Why Apple and why now?  I just watched a show and the kids on the show wanted to buy Apple because blah, blah, blah…

I was really excited by her interest and wanted to show her my pretty Disney certificate from forever ago so the next night, after we came home from the gym, I tackled the file cabinet of financial lives past.

It is amazing what you manage to forget if you live long enough.  I was whip-lashed back to my past and some really interesting decisions I made regarding money.  In the papers I found a Merrill Lynch (remember when there was a Merrill Lynch?  Not a Bank of America Merrill Lynch but the true Merrill Lynch?!?!?!) 1099.  Here it is

See anything Familiar?

I still have no memories of this beyond my broker telling me of an exciting opportunity to invest in tech funds.  And even that memory is hazy. And I can’t see why I would have spent so much money buying funds to sell them 3 months later but, in many cases, according to the 1099, I did.  And, it was the beginning of the dotcom bubble burst.  And most interesting of all, where did I get the courage to give someone $15,000 to invest my money?  And where did I get $15,000?!?!?! (I am kinda joking – I have really always been a saver.)

But to the question, do you see anything familiar?  A cute little online book seller perhaps? Priced at around $61.72 per share when I sold it – 3 months after I bought it?  

Admittedly, most of the rest of the stocks and mutual funds appear to be dogs and or non-existent now.  Dell is still around but went private back in 2013.  The rest, I couldn’t even bring most of them up on Google searches.  Or when I could, I found them to be small regional internet service providers.  But AMAZON (AMZN).  If I had held onto those 10 little nuggets, based on last night’s $974 closing price per share, I would have pretty close to $10,000 sitting in my account.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

There is no turning back time and I will not lament on this beyond using it for the lesson it is.  Buy and hold (maybe), understand the stock that you buy (I wasn’t buying books online back then…I had no idea of what Amazon really did beyond INTERNET), pay attention, short-term versus long term tax implications, only invest what you can afford to lose, no one cares about your money more than you and on and on and on.

I tried to share this paper and a look into my life before her with Mirror Image last night but she had already fallen asleep (she has a cold and our personal trainer worked us out good yesterday so I think she just petered out).

When I showed her this morning in the car and tried to share the lesson of buy and hold and gee wow we used to own AMAZON, I saw a glazed look on her face.  So much for sharing the hard learned lessons of my past :).

But seriously, where as I once owned a new online bookseller, I could now own part of Whole Foods.  Shoot.

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A Tale as Old as Time

This morning, I noticed this article on the The Street

Is Disney’s Stock Toxic?
Disney isn’t a bad company. But it’s a bad stock right now, because sellers are controlling the price action. So, as long as that remains the case, you don’t want to own it.

Briefly, the writer notes that Disney stock has been hard pressed since it’s high in April.  The author feels that it is not a bad company and is doing a lot of everything right but…

I took note because I am interested in most things Disney.  The amusement parks, the awesome movies, the intense focus on delighting kids.  I am also very interested in Disney stock.  You see the author shares that until the sellers stop putting pressure on the stock, it should not be part on one’s portfolio.  Well it is already part of mine.

Disney was my first stock purchase.  EVER.  I had just started dating my boyfriend at the time and he was exotic.  He talked about things like buying stocks and investment property.  I had never heard these things before.  In other words, he spoke the language of wealth creation.

He encouraged me to think about stock ownership and he introduced my to his broker and I was encouraged to buy.  So I did buy. One stock.  That’s right, my first stock purchase was one share of Disney.  One paper share of Disney.

Today, somewhere in my house is a pretty Disnified certificate indicating my ownership of one share of the happiest Corporation on earth.  I should find it to show Mirror Image. Paper shares don’t even exist anymore do they?  Plus, it is worth about a hundred bucks.  That is an expensive piece of paper.

Since I bought that first share in 1993, the stock has split one final time in July 1998 (3-1) and reached an all-time high of about 116. It is now sitting at about 98 as of this writing.  The stock is being treated as an evil step-sister right now (see what I did there?) but, I suspect a motivational song about being down but not out will be along soon to show us the way to the happy ending.

I bought the Disney stock that first time for reasons of sentimentality.  I knew Disney.  It was my first vacation as a child that I remember.  I lived down the street from the  Park when I moved to Orlando for work years later. It was the first place I took Mirror Image for her first vacation (with a Town Car ride from our hotel right up tot he front gate thank you very much.  It was her 5th birthday and I was too excited).  I have almost every Disney animated feature in my collection and I know where I was when I watched the premiere of the original High School Musical television movie.  I know I am not not a hard core fan when compared to others but, I have fondness for Disney that is similar to maintaining a childhood friendship into adulthood.

By the way, when I purchased my first few shares, they cost about $10 a piece.  I have since accumulated 100 shares and get a dividend disbursement most quarters.  Disney stock alone will not make me rich but it is still very much my happy place.

This is a tale timing the market with the bad news.  I am not great at timing the market (is anybody, really?) so since I have bought the stock, I will continue to hold.

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Putting Most of my Eggs in One Basket

I have had a lot of jobs.  A LOT of jobs.  Great jobs.  Not so great jobs. But truly, a lot of jobs.

Every one of my full-time jobs came with the benefit of a 401K or equivalent.  They were rarely with the same Company.  I have had investments with AIG (remember them?), Valic, Vanguard, TIAA-Cref, Fidelity and more.

Like I said, I have had a lot of jobs but now I don’t want to have a lot of stuff to keep track of.  I have a couple hundred thousand spread out among all those retirement brokers and I was finally able to get a true sense of what my financial position was when I listed them all in Mint.  But I was still dissatisfied.  So I finally (FINALLY) I got it all together and embarked on what was a 2 day project and turned it into a year-long event.

In other words, I procrastinated.  And procrastination cost…for realz!

By procrastinating, I blew the 1 year of free management they offer for new customers. And I lost what tax loss harvesting advantages I would have accrued during that year but!  I did it and the more I do, the more I will learn that there is more I can do.

So it went like this, a year ago I signed up for Betterment after seeing an ad pop up on Mint. I signed up after comparing it to Wealthfront and later Schwab Intelligent Portfolios when they launched.  I really wanted it to be Schwab.  I have had my major accounts with Schwab for over 10 years.  I do everything important with them including my original mortgage.  But it wasn’t to be.

I decided on Betterment because I liked that it was IRA focused and I really like all the tools that are part of the Premium service that I decided to splurge on.

The rolling over of my current accounts wasn’t necessarily fun but it wasn’t hard.  I just made it hard by dragging it out and making it a bigger deal in my mind. Truth is, Betterment did most of the work.  They provided my with instructions, pre-filled in documents to send to my current firms and they would send me progress reports.  It is done!  Well, almost.  After rolling over more than $12,000 from my accounts, TIAA is hanging on to my last $800 there.  They actually sent me a letter telling me that Betterment isn’t an approved recipient for my funds.  This AFTER already sending thousands of dollars to Betterment already.

I will call TIAA to straighten this out son but am currently procrastinating…

I am enjoying the ease of interacting with my account.  I love how easy it is to use the tools to manage my future goals.  I am excited thinking this will add to my bottom line when it is time to retire.

I love being able to say “I did it!”

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That Time They Tried to Scam Me

I saw this headline at msn.com this morning:

Ex FBI agent: 2 things you need to know to avoid falling for a money scam

So I tucked in for a read.  The author – Ali Montag – shared the professional advice of FBI agents that could help the reader avoid scams.

This is interesting and timely to me because of an experience I had just last week.

After several days of reading CNET and PC Magazine blog reviews and changing my mind between Hulu and SlingTV (then Hulu ans SlingTV, again), I finally decided to get a Roku to stream Hulu.  Seriously, I believe I read everything there was to read online about these services before jumping in.  So, imagine my surprise when some voice over the phone was telling me I needed to pay $49 to activate the device. Basically it happened like this…

After Mirror Image read the instructions that came in the box, we hooked the cute little $29 Roku Express to the television after a longer than should have been game of find the HDMI plug. We went through the process of entering data on the screen and then got to the part where we we instructed to go to the activation website to enter a code.

I entered the web address on my phone and got a message saying the code wasn’t accepted and that I needed to call this number – 866-567-5581.  I did and a loud rushed male voice answered.  I wish I could remember what words he answered with but can’t.  I shared that I received a message to call this number about the activation error.  He told me that I can’t submit the activation code until I until I pay the activation fee.  I was shocked.

I told him I wasn’t aware of any such fee.  I told him I never saw any mention of a $49 fee on the web site.  He told me – get this – that the website was down.  All of the websites? Really?

By now I was teeth gnashing mad. I told him I would have to think about this before moving forward and hung up. I was perplexed.  How could no site, including all of the reviews and the Roku site itself, ever not mention a $49 activation fee? Maybe because there is not an activation fee. Then I asked Google “tell me about Roku scams”, and she did.

Apparently I was not the first (and probably wont be the last) to have an issue.  Those stories weren’t exactly the same as what happened to me but just similar enough that it was obvious that a scam was certainly a possibility here. In one post, I read that customers had actually returned their units to the stores because of the $49 charges and the confusion over having to pay for something that didn’t supposed to have an additional fee and trust me, it is likely I would have done the same thing.

So I tried it again with the Roku. I got a new code, typed in the activation website EXACTLY as was on the screen, entered the activation code, it was accepted with no issues that time and I merrily binged watched the rest of the evening.

It is frustrating that some people’s jobs is to steal money other people work hard for at their own jobs.  And this would have been a real blow to my finances as the scam likely wouldn’t have ended with a $49 charge but would have wreaked more havoc as my credit card would have been exploited. The whole reason I got Roku/Hulu in the first place was to lessen my financial burden.

I am glad I had researched the process before or I may have believed the grift.

Life – it is always something!

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Changing Car Insurances – Again!

 

Sometimes I feel like it costs a lot to save a lot.

In this case I mean the high cost of insurance to negate the high cost of a potential car incident claim.  To be specific, that is a cost of $1,100 for six months.

If you read an earlier post where I was ridiculously pleased with myself for changing insurance companies to get a better rate, then this post should seem a bit odd.  For me, finding out my insurance increased by about $300 in one period, I found it very odd.  Not accidents.  No claims. Just an increase.

When I finally realized the extreme increase, I called Progressive and said “huh wha?”  The response was that the elimination of a one time $75 discount and the rest was a general rate increase.  There is nothing general about a $300 rate increase.

Thank goodness for the creation of the modern interweb and insurance comparison sites. After checking several – including Esurance, State Farm and Geico –  I signed up with Geico for about $115 per month.  That is about $70 less per month I would have paid with Progressive had I stayed and the policies are comparable.

My guess is that going forward, I will need to shop yearly for insurance.  The companies are resetting rates quicker and higher than I have experienced in the past and I am unwilling to keep paying higher just because of “general rate increases” that have nothing to do with my personal driving record.

The good news is, getting a discount on what I was paying will make room for the new added Allowance line item in the budget.

Question – at what point do you decide to forego Comprehensive coverage form your policy?  Age of car?  Kelly Blue Book value of car?  Amount in savings account to replace the car with cash? I am curious.

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