Trim The Fat

Monday, March 28, 2005

Spring Cleaning

Based on someone's advice, I made the following changes to my portfolio this morning.

  • Sold MSFT - Honestly, this stock just isn't a whole lot of fun. Plus, I took a $200 loss on it and I don't want to watch it going lower every day.
  • Bought URBN - Fundamentals look good, it's on the rise, and the chart and MA's look promising. Plus it was a suggestion from the aforementioned source.
  • Bought LU - ditto from above.
  • Sold SPY - mainly because I already have an Index ETF and I needed to diversify.
  • Bought YHOO - To replace MSFT as my tech stock.
  • Bought ECA - This is my test stock. Will this person's advice work?

On another note, the Tanita scale registered an even 210 lbs this morning! I want my goal for April to drop below 200, but I really need to get disciplined if I want this to happen. Truth be told, I've been slackin' lately and I need to get back on track. Less snacks (no gummy bears!), more water, and more exercise!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Rules

Trader Mike turned me on to Jim Cramer's Rules of Investing, which I found to be quite interesting and applicable to my current portfolio. These are my favorites:
  • Pigs get slaughtered - The key point here (I think) is not to get too greedy and to know when its time to pull out. The greedy pig keeps the same position long after it tops off and ends up with a big fat loss. This happened to me with both STEM and SIRI. Both stocks soared right after I bought them. Instead of selling when they hit the high, I kept them expecting more. I also didn't sell because I didn't apply rule #2.
  • It's ok to pay taxes - Would you rather pay 25% on a $100 gain or nothing on a loss? This one is pretty simple.
  • Do your homework - Until recently, I had no idea what this meant. My entire portfolio consists of whimsical purchases based on my own brand preferences or speculation. In fact, my first purchase of SIRI was based entirely on the fact that I've listened to Howard Stern for the last 10 years.
  • Buy Best-of-Breed Companies - Basically, if you have to choose Yugo and a BMW, buy the beemer.
  • Don't own too many names - His rule of thumb is this: If you buy a new stock, sell an old one.
  • Cash is for winners - There is nothing wrong with pulling out completely until things turn around. This is good advice.

Moves based on the Rules:

  • Quiksilver and Whole Foods are intriguing, so I'll need to do some homework on them. I especially like the latter because it follows a business model similar to my favorite non-public company, REI.
  • I also think its time to clean house. I might sell the shares of Microsoft at this point since it's been so flat for so long.
  • Should I walk away from Apple? This is the only stock that has made any money for me. It's possible that I'm being Piggish with this one and should just walk away with the gain.

Any suggestions?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Keep on keepin' on

Exercise is a wonderful thing. Over the past week I have been trying to do something at least once a day and I've been feeling great! The three walks and two bike rides have left me a bit sore, and even though I haven't lost much weight (Last weigh-in put me at 210.5), I'm walking around with my gut in and my shoulders back. I even tucked my shirt into my jeans, which I NEVER do because I'm afraid it will accentuate my big belly.

Keep up the momentum!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

New Links

Time to add some links (see bar to the right)

Some of these are sites that I check on a regular basis, others have just been inspirational. Eventually I'll split them between financial sites and fitness sites.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Workin' It

I've been feeling pretty good the last couple of days. Here is an update of what I've done:

  • Long walk this morning and short walk during my lunch break. While my weight hasn't changed, the Tanita scale reports that I've lost 2% body fat. I'm not quite sure if I believe that but I'll take anything I can get at this point!
  • Transferred another $1,500.00 into the Ameritrade account. I really don't like having so much idle cash so I'm going to start putting it in high yield accounts, new stock positions, or maybe even some bonds. For now, I'm going to bet on the Satellite Radio business and buy some shares of XM.
  • The Emigrant direct account seems to be going as described in their website. I confirmed the two little deposits and then they withdrew my initial $100.00. Once I get the famous paper letter I'll probably put $5,000 there.
  • Payday Friday is coming soon!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A New Week

I want to recover from the disaster that was the weekend. I started by going on a nice bike ride last night and then a brisk walk this morning. I just need to remind myself that I can't indulge like I usually do. Not to mention the harm that it does to the bank account. Looking at the monthly statement, groceries are by far the single biggest controllable expense. This is one category that would benefit both the cash deposits and the fat deposits.
Self control John. Self control.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Weekend Report

I didn't do so well this weekend.

While I did manage do get some exercise in, I overindulged on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. Current weight: 212

I also went out and spent $270 on a new MP3 player and related accessories. This will be my last big purchase for a while. I really need to get out of my "I can afford anything" mentality because it will eventually drain my account. Assets vs Liabilities....I just need keep repeating those words.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Do Something Every Day

That will help you reach your goals. No matter how small it is, over time everything you have done will add up. Here's what I did today to meet my goals:

  • Walked 4 miles with my wife. I tried to make it more fun at the very end by racing her - no running allowed.
  • I signed up for automatic bill pay with my cable company. Benefit: Instead of writing a check, it will come from my 1% back credit card. Plus I'll save the stamp. Next I'll do the same with the car insurance and phone bill.

Baby steps eventually add up to big leaps.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

401(K)

Here is my current retirement account at Fidelity:

FID FREEDOM 2030
$278.64

FID FREEDOM 2040
$12,076.11

SPARTAN 500 INDEX
$13,089.09

Total
$25,443.84

I currently contribute 6% of my pre-tax wages bi-weekly, up from 2% a couple of weeks ago.

Good news, Bad news

Physically

I redid my last body fat reading and came up at 34% this time. It's still one third of my body weight, but its a heckuva lot better than 39%. I wonder if the scale needs to be calibrated in any way? I do remember reading that you shouldn't do it right after exercise and maybe that's what I did.

The bad news is that I'm back up to 213 lbs.

Financially

Like I said yesterday, I'm starting a new account at Emigrant, so that's good news because I'll be earning more interest on my "parked" money. The other good news is that AAPL keeps going higher. I'm very bullish on this stock, even though I don't own a single apple product and probably never will!

The bad news is that I just shelled out $1,400 for the patio. Here's how I rationalize this one: Since its part of the house, its really an investment in the value of the property. Therefore, its an asset and not a liability because I'll see that money again when I sell the house. I can live with that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

New Account

After four days of trying, I finally got the account at EmigrantDirect.com all set up. All I need to do now is wait for those small deposits to come my way and then I'll be in business. I'm not sure how much to put in there, but I'm thinking the more the better. I mean, what's the point of keeping a "platinum account" if it's not earning a high interest right? The downside is that after doing the math, that 10k will only pull in a whopping 29 bucks a month!

New positions

My funds finally got transferred into the Ameritrade account so I picked up those index ETFs that I've been wanting. Here's my portfolio:

(I have no idea why there's so much white space here)











StockqtyPriceMkt. Value
AAPL5441.252,227.50
BPUR1200.3845.60
MSFT3824.76940.88
QQQQ5536.782,023.40
SIRI2505.221,305.00
SPY17119.412,029.97
STEM1004.37437.00
Cash20.15



Total Account value = $9029.50

Monday, March 14, 2005

Annoyed

The funds I transferred to my Ameritrade account have not gotten there.

Also,

I tried to start an account at Emigrant Direct because they raised their rates to 3.25% APY, but the server timed out and my info didn't go though.

Ugh.

Starting is the hardest

but I did it!

I went on that bike ride I promised myself I would. No official numbers because I didn't set my cyclometer but it was definitely at least 30 minutes. Johnny's out of shape.

Here are the numbers according to my Tanita scale:

  • 211.5 lbs
  • 39% body fat

According to the Tanita website that makes me obese. Hmmm....not good. Sounds like I'll need to add yet another goal to my sidebar. Healthy bodyfat for my gender and age is between 8% and 19%. I'll shoot for 20%.

Financially, Ameritrade is taking it's sweet time in transferring my funds. I'll have to wait till later in the day to buy my ETFs. I think I'll split the 4k between SPY and QQQQ. Warren better be right.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The $40 Sand Trap

I took my wife and her mom out to the ocean today. The weather was really nice and we were sick of spending our weekends doing house related errands. Anyways, I decide to go driving on the sand, like I had done several times before with no adverse effect. The thing I didn't take into account was that the lack of rain had made the sand extremely soft. The net result is that I got stuck. Eventually a "Sand Angel" (basically a guy with a big truck and some towing cables) came and offered to rescue us for $40. I couldn't say no, but my ego was bruised for the rest of the day. I saw him later scouring the beach for other suckers like me and all I could say was **** you. However, as AB would say, "That's another blog."

Here's the aim of this blog.

Fitness moves:

Get up and ride my bike - no matter how lazy I feel.

Financial moves:

Initiate a new position on QQQQ
Look into starting a new account at one of those high yield banks.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Goals

So I'm working on the table in the side bar and it dawns on me that I don't have any real specific goals yet! I mean, lose weight and save more money is good, but its not SMART (See post below for definition of this acronym)

So what's my goal?

  • I'd like to lose 40 lbs. This would put me at about 175, which according to most height/weight charts, is where I need to be.
  • I'd like to be able to work part time and while earning my current income. Ultimately I want to spend more time with my wife doing things we both enjoy. As such, my short term goal is to increase my net worth by....every year (I'm not sure what to put here)
  • Or should the goal above be to earn enough interest to make up for not working full time?

I don't have that answer right now but at least I'm thinking about it! This is a big leap from just a couple of days ago.

Time to Invest

After giving it some thought (and reading some of the more popular PF blogs out there) I decided to do 2 things. First, I will open a high yield savings account, either ING Direct Or Emigrant. I'll probably put 5k there and set up an automatic deposit. I'll also purchase an ETF - preferably an S&P index.

My other thought is to put more into the high yield account and downgrade my platinum account for day-to-day expenses and bills.

Inspiration to save

All but the last one came from the site below

http://www.mdmproofing.com/iym/

You cannot save $5000 until you save $1000. You cannot save $1000 until you save $500. You cannot save $500 until you save $10.


The majority of people go through life without truly understanding the difference between assets and liabilities. The rich got where they are by purchasing assets. Low- and middle-class people got where they are (and stay there) by buying liabilities.

The more money you make,the more money you will spend.

The amount of money a person makes is important, but it is secondary to the degree to which that person controls his expenses. Budget and plan your expenses earnestly. Demand value for the dollars you spend.

Set SMART goals. This in one I picked up at work. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.

Start with Simple Goals

I want to make this as easy as possible.

My main fear is that if I get too crazy with goals or rules they will be too out of reach. So here's the plan, Im going to try the following for the next month:

For weight loss:

  1. Drink more water (64 oz a day). I've heard this advice more than once. In fact, I read somewhere that ice water has negative calories because of the energy expenditure required to warm it inside your body.
  2. AT LEAST 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week.
  3. No more crap at work. This one is tough because there is so much food floating around ALL THE TIME.

That's it. Today is 3/12 so I'll see if this made a difference on 4/12.

crabby

I've been waking up crabby the last couple of days...plus I had the weirdest dream. I had to redesign uniforms for some hairdressers I was living with. My main caveat was that they be sexy. I really wanted something like the cocktail girls in Vegas. - short and semi-revealing. Something that made you want to look longer and deeper.

Anyways, I wake up crabby because I'm slightly hungover. That's the second part of this Blog - to trim the fat from my unhealthy lifestyle.

Health goals:

Lose 40 lbs (this involves both diet and excersice)
Limit drinking to once a week (this should help with the one above)

Friday, March 11, 2005

some changes

ok...I changed the name and got a new skin. Now its time to get down to business. I read a couple of blogs earlier today which really inspired me so I'll follow their lead. Here is the first one.
This guy really seems to have everything planned out. His goals are : $100,000 non-retirement by mid-2007, $1,500,000 net worth by age 55. I think I can shoot for the second, but I'm not so sure about the first. Here is my current financial picture:

ASSETS
Interest earning checking: $25,709.64
Ameritrade Investments: $5,045.30
Fidelity Retirement Acct: $25,582.30

Total $56,337.24

LIABILITIES
Credit Card $1,183.92

NET WORTH $55,153.32

Its not as much as the website mentioned above, but its close. I guess some tables or speadsheets would make this look better.

My old blog still exists!

I actually had to frantically delete everything because I left it open and the wifey saw it and I got in huge trouble.

Anyways, the new blog will have an entirely different purpose. I want to take complete stock of my life and set some goals for improving. Like I tell my employees, even if its small steps at a time, I want to see continuous improvement.

Here are the categories I want to focus on:

1. Money
2. My weight and overall health

That's it. Once I get home I'll make more sense of what this means and what my goals should be. I'll also rename the blog and get a new skin.