Investing in My Children’s College Funds: A Costly Mistake

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While I’ve spent countless hours reading and writing about dividend investing I’ve been making a costly mistake when it comes to investing in my children’s college education.  With my eyes focused on my retirement accounts I’ve been blind to what’s been happening in my kids’ Educational Savings Accounts (ESA).  Recently, I woke up from my ESA slumber and made some changes for the better.

Years ago, I opened Coverdell ESAs for my kids with USAA.  Why USAA?  Because that’s where I kept my checking, savings, and insurance products.  I guess I was being lazy because it was convenient to keep my money at a one-stop shop.  Until recently, I never realized how subpar the investing options were with USAA.  Almost two years ago I discovered better brokerage services for my Roth IRA when I stopped funding my Roth with USAA and opened an account with Optionshouse.  What I failed to recognize at the time was that my ESA accounts I had for my kids could also do better outside of USAA.  Well, better late than never.  I recently found a better ESA option by switching to Charles Schwab.  Schwab has some great fee-free investment options that easily outperform the USAA mutual funds I was invested in.  Also, the available USAA funds that were performing well had investment minimums which prevented me from putting my kids’ college investment in any of the decent USAA mutual funds.  Luckily, I found Schwab and the minimum investment barriers were knocked down to a $1000 minimum.

Let’s compare the mutual fund I was using at USAA to the Schwab mutual fund I recently transferred my kids’ ESAs to.

OLD USAA ACCOUNT:

USCRX (USAA Cornerstone Moderately Aggressive Fund) : 5y = 2.45%, 10Y = 3.35%, Expense = 1.18%

NEW SCHWAB ACCOUNT:

SWPPX(Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund): 5y = 10.92%, 10y = 6.87%; Expense = .09%

Not only has the Schwab S&P 500 fund more than doubled the 10 year performance of the so-call moderately aggressive USAA fund, the Schwab fund’s expense is 1.09% less than USAA’s fund.  A mistake like this could result in thousands of dollars of missed opportunities over time.  Please learn from my mistake and do your homework when shopping ESAs.

April 2016 – Dividends

apr_2016

 

April 2016 dividends are in so it’s time to share my progress.  April was a lackluster month but I still brought in $5 more than last year.  This April I brought in $25.17 which brings my annual total so far to $150.88.  Here’s a breakdown of my April dividends.

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
KO $4.46
NKE $0.04
KHC $1.32
WMT $1.45
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
KHC $6.69
PM $5.48
MORL 5.73

TOTAL: $25.17

 

Looking ahead at May, I’m expecting another quiet month.  Things will jump up again in June though.  Thanks for stopping by!

March 2016 Dividends – A New Record

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My monthly dividend update for March sets a new personal record.  I really enjoy adding up my dividends each month and watching the numbers grow.  While March was a record, it could have been better if COP hadn’t reduced its dividend.  I understand nothing is guaranteed and I knew COP had some risk when I bought it because it didn’t have a long dividend track record like JNJ or KO.  Other than the COP dividend cut, I’m pleased with my March dividends.

LOYAL3 Account

INTC $0.10

UL $1.37

K $0.97

MSFT $0.55

MCD $3.87

PEP $0.30

Roth IRA

COP $2.63

CVX $11.27

JNJ $6.91

XOM $22.60

K $4.19

MCD $6.56

MORL $0.37

RDS.B $19.82

TOTAL $81.51

This beats my previous personal best from June 2015 which was $80.88.

February 2016 Dividends

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February is coming to a close so it’s time to report my monthly dividends.  In addition to monthly dividends, I also purchased some Valero Energy (VLO) stock.  The addition of VLO should add approximately $18 to my 2016 annual dividends.  Energy stocks are down and VLO was near a 52-week low so I decided to pick up some for my portfolio.

FEBRUARY DIVIDENDS

ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
AAPL $3.74
CLX $5.57
PG $0.70
PG $5.44
MORL $0.40
HCP $5.62
LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
HAS $0.49
SBUX $0.10

TOTAL: $22.06

The $22.06 I received in February 2016 is almost $7.00 more than what I received in February 2015.  While it is a small increase it is an increase nonetheless.

 

 

 

January 2016 Dividends

 

cash

January flew by quickly but it is time to report my monthly dividends again.  January was mostly a quiet month but I did add some more RDS.B to my portfolio.  Energy stocks have taken a beating so I grabbed some while it was down.

Here’s my January 2016 dividends:

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
WMT $1.42
NKE $0.04
PEP $0.30
DIS $0.17
KHC $1.32
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
MORL $6.84
PM $5.42
KHC $6.63

TOTAL: $22.14

 

 

 

A New Year – January 2016

newyear

 

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is now history.  With the calendars flipped over to January 2016, there’s another year of dividend investing in which to look forward.  Before I post my dividends from December 2015 and my year end totals, I’m excited to say that Loyal3 has finally released an Android app.  I’ve made a couple of purchases using the Loyal3 app for Android and it works great.  This was long overdue but they released an easy to use app to make investing even easier.

Now let’s take a look at my December 2015 dividends and 2015 year end totals.

DECEMBER 2015 DIVIDENDS

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
INTC $0.09
K $0.97
MCD $3.87
KO $4.20
UL $0.55
MSFT $0.55
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
COP $7.69
K $4.16
JNJ $6.86
XOM $22.39
CVX $11.13
MCD $6.51
MORL $0.40
RDS.B $8.54

December ’15 Total: $77.91

That is more than a $50 increase from my Dec 2014 dividends.

Finally, let’s take a look at the entire year of 2015.

2015 YEAR END TOTALS

Jan $19.43
Feb $15.46
Mar $44.06
Apr $20.30
May $21.96
Jun $80.88
Jul $15.71
Aug $28.27
Sep $73.27
Oct $15.15
Nov $30.53
Dec $77.91
TOTAL $442.93

My total in 2014 was $97.09 so my 2015 dividends were approximately $350 more than the previous year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cord-Cutter Shows

Okay, I’m going a little off topic here but I thought I’d share some shows that I like that don’t require cable or satellite television services.  About four years ago, I decided to cancel my DirecTV service.  When I called to cancel, they had offered me an amazing deal to retain me as a customer.  It was almost too good of an offer for me to say “no” but I stuck to my guns and decided to become a “cord-cutter”.   I ordered a RokuHD at the time and signed up for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.  All three subscriptions were, and still are, cheaper than my satellite TV subscription.  I also went old school and hooked up an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to receive local channels in HD.  At first, it was a challenge (mostly for my wife) to say goodbye to some of our regularly watched shows.  For me, I missed out on Monday and Thursday NFL games since those weren’t broadcast OTA.  While Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon had limited programming at the time, they’ve done a lot to improve their selection.  Even better, they’ve taken great strides to produce their own shows (similar to what HBO does) and have churned out some quality programming.  Four years ago, cord-cutting was a bit of change for me.  Today, I really think that streaming, on-demand shows are here to stay and we’ll one day wonder why we used a DVR to record TV shows for viewing.

With all of that said, I feel like sharing a short list of shows that I enjoy via streaming.  You may or may not like these but we all have different tastes.  If you have any recommendations, please add them to the comments section.

 

  1. The Walking Dead  – An obvious cable hit, Netflix has all but the most recent season.  If you can wait for the most recent season to be added to Netflix and avoid any spoilers, you can see this on Netlfix.  If you can’t wait for Netflix, you can purchase the most recent episodes on Amazon Prime.
  2. The Man in the High Castle – I didn’t really know what to expect from this Amazon original series and I’ve never read the book.  This isn’t the best series I’ve seen but I enjoyed watching the first season and I heard that a second season has been approved.  Even better for me is that my kids actually watched this with me and were hooked.
  3. 30 for 30 – If you’re a sports fan, Netflix has a ton of 30 for 30 shows.  Some are better than others but I’ve found a few to be enjoyable.
  4. Bloodline – I haven’t seen the whole season on Netflix yet.  I watched a few episodes but my wife finished it without me.  I haven’t gone back to finish the series but the few episodes I saw were pretty good.
  5. Virunga – Interesting Netflix documentary in Africa showing a part of the world that most of us will never see.
  6. Making a Murderer – I’m a sucker for documentaries and so far this one has my interest.  I haven’t watched all the episodes yet but the first few kept me wanting to watch more.  This is an unbelievable story that I’ve never heard before so I’ll likely be watching the entire season Netflix.

These are just a handful of shows that I’ve found entertaining as a cord-cutter.  I’m sure I missed some but this was a spontaneous blog post so I’m just going from memory here.  Thanks for stopping by.