Hard to believe another year is half over. Since it seems to be the thing to do for financial bloggers, I'll take a look at how this year has gone.
This is the year we are learning how expensive new(ish) cars are. We unexpectedly ended up buying an almost new car Labor Day weekend last year, and since we had just cleaned out our account buying a used car for my college girl, we decided to finance it. Our interest rate is low, we are glad we have the car and financing it was a better choice than liquidating assets but we definitely notice that payment coming out of our account. We also notice that it costs more to insure an almost new car than one that you only carry liability on.
This has been the year of medical and dental bills. I'm in the middle of getting an implant and crown, and I had a wisdom tooth pulled. In March I had what I thought was a bladder infection, except that the tests came back negative for that so I ended up getting a bunch of other tests to rule out more serious causes of blood in the urine. They came back negative as well, but the bills will be about $800.
My teen starts Catholic high school in the fall, meaning her tuition is twice what we have been paying, and that it was due two months earlier. To have the money, we had to liquidate assets, and chose to do so from our Lending Club account. I'm not sure we'll be able to pay ourselves back this year, it just seems like every month there is something. To avoid this problem next year, I have started putting 1/12 of her tuition plus 1/12 of our insurance bills into a savings account each month. The way those bills fall, we should be able to pay them from the savings account. I'll be the first to admit that discretionary spending slows around here when the checking account balance gets low.
Finally, with my college girl graduating and hopefully moving into an adult job (and out of the house) soon, we figured this spring would likely be our last full family vacation and even though we spent less than a week in Orlando, amusement parks aren't cheap.
Luckily, our major savings in our 401ks are automated, and fortunately, the stock market has done well this quarter.
Let's take a look at some numbers.
My husband and I have Roth IRAs and regular IRAs, and a taxable account. We deposited $300 in each Roth IRA this quarter. The combined dividends from these accounts totalled $1922.60. These accounts consist of a variety of mutual funds purchased for us by our ex-financial advisor, along with Vanguard's International Bond Index Fund, Total Stock Market Index Fund, 500 Index Fund, Total Bond Market Index Fund and REIT Index Fund. In the last year, our rate of return has been 11.8%.
My 401k has a year to date return of 11.75 %, and the account paid dividends of $407.98 this quarter. It is invested in Janus Triton, Oppenheimer Int'L Small Mid Co A, MFS Government Securities Fund-A , Pioneer Fundamental Growth Fd-A, and Delaware US Growth Fund-A. My firm contributes 5% of my salary, and I contribute 6%.
My husband's 401K is with AXA and it has increased in value, though not a lot. He puts in the minimum necessary for employer match.
The initial investment in this account was $7,000. It began the quarter at $8176.26. Even though we've withdrawn dividend payments, it ended the quarter at $8,355.99, So far this year the account has paid $78.98 in dividends. I have invested in "Motifs" or baskets of stock with a variety of themes including dividend payers, things I like and online gaming. Motif has changed their fee policy such that if you have less than $10,000 and do not have any commissions in a given six month period, they charge you a $10 fee. To avoid that, I am planning on moving money from Lending Club to Motif.
My returns have been steadily dropping. Accounting for expected defaults, Lending Club estimates my return since I began the account at about 5.05% annually, whereas three months ago it was 5.68% annually. I had a negative return last month--more write-offs than interest paid. From what I've read in various places, I'm not the only one whose returns have dropped. As notes mature we are not re-investing; we are moving the money to Motif and to our Roth IRAs.
My returns here have dropped as well, but not as drastically. Right now my annualized net returns are still 6.9%, and my "seasoned" returns--the returns on notes that are more than ten months old are 6.23%.
Loyal3 went out of business. Rather than selling the fractional shares and moving the whole shares, I just sold everything and applied it to the tuition bill.
At this point I own shares of AT&T, Visa, CVS, Lending Club and Hanesbrands. Robinhood is an online broker that uses phone apps only, no webpage. They charge no commission and allow you to place limit or market orders. They also allow you to initiate bank transfers and then invest the money immediately--you do not have to wait for the tranfer to complete. You do have to buy whole shares. I've added money to this account that I've withdrawn from Kickfurther and right now the value is $442.96. So far this year, dividends from this account total $2.24.
This is an online broker for whom I wrote a sponsored post. I invested $100 in Johnson & Johnson through them. They charge $0.99 per trade, so even though they sell fractional shares, I don't recommend investing less than $100.00 per trade. I plan to keep the account and use it when I want to buy shares of stock that are substantially over $100, since my investments in individual stocks are as much toys as investments and I don't plan to put too many dollars in any one stock. My J&J stock is now worth $100.33.
I'm in the process of withdrawing my money not only because I'm in the red (an expected risk of investing) but because I've become convinced that Kickfurther is going to fail. They have too little business at this time and while they have tightened their contracts and changed their business model somewhat, I've just seen too much incompetence to believe that the investment risk is the only risk I'm bearing and the returns have not justified the risk.
All in all, the second quarter of 2017 was a good one investment wise. Hopefully during the second half of the year we can return some of the capital we had to withdraw during the first half, but I'm seeing some big expenses down the road. If I could just get these kids to move out....(actually they pay rent, not what they cost us, but something).
The Bottom Line
As compared to the beginning of the year, we are about $50,000 richer, but most of that is stock market gains, not savings. We did put more in our 401k accounts than we pulled out of the others so we are going in the right direction.