On the inside, I strive to be frugal but many times I succumb to a moment of weakness. I try to reach MrMoneyMoustache levels of frugality but often fall short.
My latest temptation came at a dinner gathering for work. I had several options of frugality from which to choose:
A) Extreme Frugal: Pack a PB&J and bring a canteen
B) Reasonably Frugal: Order a cheap menu item and order a water
C) Un-Frugal: Order an average item with dessert
D) Punch Frugality in the Throat: Order apps, multiple drinks, desserts and an expensive menu item
I walked into the restaurant aiming for Option B but ending up being Un-Frugal with Option C. I guess I still need to hone my frugality skills so I can save more money for investing. My goal is to learn and move forward and try not to give in so easily to temptation.
I opened a new Roth IRA account with OptionsHouse today because I want to reduce my trade costs. OptionsHouse charges $4.75 per trade versus almost $9 at my other financial institution. Once my initial funds move into my OH account and I execute a stock purchase, I’ll follow up with a review. I hope it works out because the $4.75 commission is hard to beat.
Summer is here and my kids are out of school. Finding affordable, old-fashioned family entertainment may seem challenging in an era of video games, mobile devices, and wallet-draining theme parks. I can honestly say the most fun I had with my family last week involved a deck of playing cards. Even my teenager had fun with his parents and younger siblings. The added bonus of all of this was the entire evening was free. Free = saving money = more money to invest and save. It was satisfying to have the quality time, interaction, and laughs as an entire family which is priceless. In fact, our kids begged my wife and I to play cards again the next evening. The only investment is a deck of playing cards.
Loyal3 has a decent offering of quality, dividend-paying companies. However, the stock market is hitting new highs which means a lot of stocks are also near all-time high prices. When searching for a “good” price, it is it difficult when stock prices keep climbing. So how does an investor find a well-priced stock that is available on Loyal3?
While there are many data points to look at when researching a stock, a common indicator for relative price is the P/E ratio. Currently, many stocks have high P/E ratios due to the high prices. Finding a quality company with a low P/E ratio is a hard find but they do exist. On Loyal3, Kellogg Company (K) touts a P/E of 12.9. That is less than the industry average of 20 and the S&P 500 average of 18.3 according to Morningstar. Also, K’s 12.9 P/E is lower than its 5-year average of 16.1.
Looking further at K, it pays a 2.7% dividend with a 5-year average of 3%. While K isn’t a dividend aristocrat with consistent annual dividend increases, it has been paying dividends since 1925 according to Kellogg’s investor relations website. K’s payout ratio is also at a 10-year low at 34%. Additionally, K has relatively low volatility with a .53 beta.
While Kellogg’s is well known for its breakfast offerings, it also sells snack foods such as Keebler products, granola bars, cracker chips, fruit snacks, veggie burgers, and Pringles chips. Here’s a link to the Kellogg Company Brand Portfolio:
If you’re looking for a safe, value, dividend-paying stock on Loyal3, K may suit your needs.
The internet is full of resources to help build a dividend portfolio. One tool that I’m finding to be useful for a quick snapshot of a stock’s current dividend yield and its 5-year average is Morningstar.com. By searching a stock by its symbol and then clicking the “Valuation” tab for that stock, you can find a summary of its current dividend yield, P/E ratio, and other data points compared to their respective 5-year averages, the S&P 500 average, and industry average. This isn’t the only tool to use, but I find it convenient, useful, and best of all…free.
I do have one concern but it isn’t directed at Morningstar specifically. I’ve noticed a lot of variation among various investing sites when it comes to listing a stock’s current yield, P/E ratio, etc. That is why I’ll check multiple sources for reference.
When listening to Peter Lynch’s philosophy, he touches on an investing research approach that involves talking to customers, employees, and business partners of a company. Philip Fisher also talks about the scuttlebutt approach of finding out as much as you can about a company. Most of us probably won’t have a chance to talk to a company’s managers or visit their facilities but we can quite easily research the customer’s perspective.
Today, I find myself in an international airport in the Middle East. Looking for something to eat, I venture to the airport’s food court. The food court provides a variety of sub sandwich shops, Indian food, fried chicken, and fast food hamburger joints. As I scan the options, I see a plastic Ronald McDonald smiling at me. Because I own a VERY small portion of MCD I figured I should probably eat where I’m invested.
As it turns out, McDonald’s is the busiest joint in the food court. Perusing the trimmed down menu of standard McDonald’s offerings, I notice something new I’ve never seen before: McArabia Chicken. I decided to order it and it was quite tasty. I’ve read the stories of McDonald’s international expansion but I’m still a bit surprised to see it thriving in a Middle Eastern airport.
I’m chalking this up as a bonus research opportunity on a company I plan on making a significant pillar of my portfolio. I recently watched an older Q&A session with Warren Buffett where he talked about how he likes companies that “travel well”. What he meant by that is he likes it when a company can do well internationally. For a food establishment to travel well is no small feat in my opinion. After finishing up my McArabia Chicken with a Coca-Cola Light (aka Diet Coke in the U.S.), I have even stronger feelings towards MCD.
Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Alamack that “a penny saved is twopence dear”. I learned the saying as “a penny saved is a penny earned” which is apparently a misquotation (thanks Wikipedia). Regardless of how you say it, the adage holds true with investing and saving. I’ve noticed that my bank for more than a decade is not necessarily the best deal in town (or online). I’ve been a loyal customer due to my bank’s convenience, good customer service, and user-friendly website. However, the more I look under the hood I realize I could do better elsewhere when it comes to saving and investing.
For savings, I searched for a good APY for my emergency fund. While savings accounts provide terrible returns, not all savings accounts are equally terrible. I found two candidates for my new savings account: Barclays and Ally. Barclays currently provides a slightly higher APY at 0.90% vs. Ally’s APY at 0.87%. While these APY’s seem small in comparison to investment vehicles, they are still 5 to 6 times greater than my current savings account. I tried creating an account at Barclays first but was alerted at the end that I needed to call customer service to finish my application. I called and waited about 5 minutes and lost patience for the moment. Next, I applied online with Ally which receives good reviews on several finance websites. After a few minutes of completing the online savings account application, I was on my way to becoming an Ally customer. Just like that, I was able to increase my savings account returns by 5 times.
My next and greater frustration is with the commission fees of my currently unnamed financial institution which sit at almost $9 per trade. Again, with some quick research I found a lot of good competition available. I haven’t opened an account yet, but I’m leaning towards starting a new Roth IRA at OptionsHouse which executes trades at $4.75. That is almost a 50% savings. Once my transition is complete, I’ll lose the one-stop convenience with my current financial institution in exchange for savings and higher returns.
It feels good to save a little money with minimal effort. You have to appreciate the competitive options that the online environment has created.