Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Almost Mortgage Free!

The title can this post can be misleading. No, being mortgage free does not mean that I've almost paid off my mortgage. It means that the bank is almost done processing the foreclosure on my house. I'm getting some big envelopes in the mail about my house, ones that cost $5+ to send in the mail. I'm also starting to get frequent phone calls from Wells Fargo about my mortgage. It's funny that they want to communicate with me now that my mortgage is being processed for foreclosure. Over the past few months it's been nearly impossible to communicate with them.

I didn't listen to conventional wisdom about my mortgage. I didn't put 20% down, and I had doubts if I'd live in the house for more than 5 years. I just really, really didn't want to live in an apartment building.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd find a nice local property manager who managed a maximum of 10 houses/duplexes/properties. Someone who was able to buy another property and wants to rent it out. This would be a person that is personally invested in their properties and their tenants. This way, I know they'd care about the property and give a "hoot" if something went wrong. Also, the benefit of living in a duplex is that you have 1 direct neighbor instead of 2 or 3.

Mortgages are rough, and if you can take away anything from this post, it's my encouragement to wait to buy a house until you know you'll be somewhere for at least a few years. If you have a gut feeling you won't, or any doubts/reservations, it'll probably be easier to rent.

Signed,

Mitch

Monday, March 28, 2016

Someday I'll get a new phone....

I still can't decide on a new phone. I have it narrowed down to a few choices -

OnePlus Series - https://oneplus.net/ - This isn't a phone that I think a lot of non-tech people know about. Basically you get pretty close to the specs of the latest iPhone/Samsung phone for a lot cheaper of price.

Samsung Galaxy S7 - I've heard nothing but good things about this phone. The fact that it added back an expandable storage spot is also super cool. I have a 64 gb SD card for my Galaxy S4 and don't want that SD card to go to waste.

iPhone 6S - AHHHHHH!!!!! OK OK, hypocrite alert!!!!!! I'm still just so, so in love with iMessage. I would love to simply "text" from my iMac. Also an iPhone wouldn't come with pre-installed bloatware. I could also finance/buy the phone through a real Apple store and not deal with the Verizon bull crap.

Google Nexus 5X/6P - There are two options for this. I could get on Google FI (Spring & T-Mobile Network) and get a nice discount on a Nexus 5X. I could also buy the phones outright and put them on the Verizon network.

If I had to choose right this second, I'd go with the Samsung S7. I want to stay in the Android/Google ecosystem and the S7 just has so many awesome features.

We'll see!

Signed,

Mitch

Friday, March 25, 2016

Investing Update 3/25/2016

I didn't really pay attention to the market at all this week. Compared to last week, my stocks went down a little bit, but not by a huge amount. Overall, this is a pretty bland update :)

Robinhood Instant - http://blog.robinhood.com/news/2016/2/22/introducing-robinhood-instant

3/26/2016 - I am the 11,709th person in line out of 209,016 people.
3/20/2016 - I am the 11,747th person in line out of 201,794 people.
3/11/2016 - I am the 10,179th person in line out of 183,141 people.
3/4/2016 - I am the 7,616th person in line out of 159,647 people.
2/26/2016 - I was in the top 6,000 in line out of 136,245 people.

Year-To-Date Update

1/1/20163/25/2016Change since Jan 1st
Robinhood Portfolio Value$607.87$777.29$169.42
Money from my pocket$550.00$675.00$125.00
Dividends$9.79$16.69$6.90
Gains/Realized & Unrealized$48.08$85.60$37.52

The table above shows the change in my Robinhood portfolio since the start of 2016.
Robinhood Portfolio Value = (Money from my pocket) + (Dividends) + (Gains/Realized & Unrealized)


Dividends

No dividends this week!

Stock Purchase

No stock purchases this week.

2016 Investing Missions

  • Purchase and hold 25 different stocks that pay dividends: 15/25 - 60% Completed (Not counting Disney stock)
  • Receive $75 in dividends: $13.80/$75.00 - 18.40% Completed. The year is 23.22% completed, so currently, I am not at the pace needed to complete this yearly Mission.

You can click on the investing tab or here to see what stocks I currently have in my Robinhood portfolio.

Signed,

Mitch

Monday, March 21, 2016

Looking Down at My Phone

I see so many people that just don't look happy. I see people walking, staring down at their phones, and when they look up, they look stressed. I understand in the hustle and bustle of the day people have a lot on their minds, but I still think a lot of people are generally stressed. I feel like the general consensus in our culture is slowly shifting towards "Who cares what other people think?". 

As much as I want to jump aboard this train, I don't think it's true. Our attachment and obsession with checking our phones tells me otherwise. We still care very much on what people think. We need to be connected to other people through our phones. We get anxiety when our phone batteries die.

I try to be happy and I've been trying to appreciate little things. I've been doing a better job on this in the past 8 months since leaving my terrible job. I know this sounds cliche, but a lot of the big things we're worried about, really don't matter in the long run. People are still so inwardly focused, that you shouldn't worry if you said something stupid or looked stupid in front of someone. Chances are, they weren't paying attention that closely. 

I still need to work on not checking my phone as much, and this is one of my 2016 Missions. I also need to do a better job of trying to be encouraging and supportive of co-workers/friends throughout the day. I know life sucks sometimes, but try and find some humor in things. I can find humor in most things and am constantly laughing (either vocally or on the inside). 

Don't use your phone as an escape away from your bad day. Turn the phone off and go talk to someone, have some laughs, and move on. 

Signed,

Mitch

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Investing Update 3/20/2016

My stocks went up this past week, and I'm almost considering selling my stocks so I don't lose the money I've made when the stock market inevitably goes back down. I won't sell my stocks though because if you hold a stock for at least a year, the dividends from the stock don't get taxed as much. I don't remember the specifics on the tax rates off the top of my head, but it's worth it in my mind.

I have placed a limit order for my Apple stock on my TD Ameritrade account. Apple stock has been going up lately, and with their hardware event tomorrow - http://9to5mac.com/2016/03/11/apple-march-31st-event-new-hardware/ - I'm expecting the price to go up (don't hold me to this).

Once my Apple stock sells, I will transfer those dollars over to Robinhood and finish buying my 2016 Investing Mission stock list.

Robinhood Instant - http://blog.robinhood.com/news/2016/2/22/introducing-robinhood-instant

3/20/2016 - I am the 11,747th person in line out of 201,794 people.
3/11/2016 - I am the 10,179th person in line out of 183,141 people.
3/4/2016 - I am the 7,616th person in line out of 159,647 people.
2/26/2016 - I was in the top 6,000 in line out of 136,245 people.

Year-To-Date Update


1/1/20163/11/2016Change since Jan 1st
Robinhood Portfolio Value$607.87$787.98$180.11
Money from my pocket$550.00$675.00$125.00
Dividends$9.79$16.69$6.90
Gains/Realized & Unrealized$48.08$96.29$48.21

The table above shows the change in my Robinhood portfolio since the start of 2016.
Robinhood Portfolio Value = (Money from my pocket) + (Dividends) + (Gains/Realized & Unrealized)


Dividends

March, June, September, and December are traditionally big dividend months, so I'll see quite a few dividends in March.

I received two dividends this past week -

International PaperIP$0.44
Realty IncomeO$0.20

Stock Purchase

No stock purchases this week.

2016 Investing Missions

  • Purchase and hold 25 different stocks that pay dividends: 15/25 - 60% Completed (Not counting Disney stock)
  • Receive $75 in dividends: $13.80/$75.00 - 18.40% Completed. The year is 21.86% completed, so currently, I am not at the pace needed to complete this yearly Mission.

You can click on the investing tab or here to see what stocks I currently have in my Robinhood portfolio.

Signed,

Mitch

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Phone Bill

Last week I went through our phone bill, penny for penny. I thought that switching to Verizon's new(er) data plan would save us money, and it turns out it probably won't. We also realize we aren't getting an employer discount anymore, because it expired. Verizon notified us of the expiration through an online statement, so this got missed. This is probably smart on their end, because it'll make them more money.

The biggest thing with breaking down the bill is that it'll help monitor upcoming phone bill costs. The phone bill should be pretty consistent month-to-month, but it hasn't been. This has been due to phone upgrades and activation costs. If the bill is higher next month, I'll be able to quickly tell where this cost came from. I also consider this important to not be "nickel and dimed" by Verizon.

Verizon's website was better to navigate through compared to previous attempts, but it's still not perfect. Keep an eye on your phone bill and you might save some $'s in your pocket.

Signed,

Mitch

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Robinhood App Update v2.1.4

The Robinhood App had another update. I will say this every time the app updates; this is a good thing. An update to an app means the Robinhood Team is working on their product/company/business. They are improving things. They are making the app better.

I think Robinhood is brilliant for rolling this product out only for smartphones. From what I've read on the Robinhood subreddit, it requires less maintenance/security to just run this on phones. (Long-term I'm sure they'll add a desktop version). Remember though, that will add cost - cost in paying for servers, engineers, coders, etc. I'm sure Robinhood will only add it once their revenue stream is strong enough.

As far as this app update goes, you can see from the picture on the left how the app looks different. There weren't any new features added, but cosmetically, the app hadn't changed much for Android since it premiered in August 2015. Robinhood Instant is at the top of the list, which tells me that this is pretty important to Robinhood OR they know it's pretty important to the user base (which in turn is important to Robinhood).

If you have Robinhood Instant, I'd love to hear about your experience with it!

Signed,

Mitch

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Weddings

I went to a wedding this past weekend. I'll be honest - I don't really like weddings. My reasons for this come down to pretty much two things: being uncomfortable and the cost.

We'll start with being uncomfortable. This is due to clothing. I usually have a hard time finding clothes to wear for a wedding, because previous dress clothes I've worn usually don't fit me when it's time for the next event. I then have to go shopping for new clothes. Being overweight gets expensive. I was also never really taught what's the right attire to wear at weddings. Do I change clothing based on the season? Do I wear a tie and suit jacket? I still don't know, and to be honest, I still really don't care.

So what's my response to this? As I'm striving towards minimalism, I should probably get three different dress-clothing sets. A black, brown, and blue set. As a man, I have the luxury of being able to wear the same outfits repeatedly and not worry about it. If I get neutral ties to wear, then I'm pretty much set. I should consider those three outfits my uniforms for any type of special occasion. I should also lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, as this will reduce having to buy different/new clothes.

Let's move on to cost. This next part is going to make me sound really cheap, just an FYI. There are tons of costs going to a wedding. Clothes, housing for pets while you're away, gas, hotels, wedding gifts, eating out while you're away, etc. There are also calorie costs. I usually eat pretty crappy when I'm traveling. Weddings are supposed to be fun. Like everything else in our culture, they've gotten bigger and more extravagant. 

My mom said she remembers weddings where the ceremony was upstairs in the church sanctuary and then the wedding would go downstairs to the church basement for the reception. She said the reception was punch and cake. Simple. Easy. Minimal. 

Ok, Mitch, we get it...You don't like weddings. You're a scrooge and you don't want to celebrate the big day with your friends and family. I will continue to go to weddings, and I will continue to support my friends and family. If I ever get married though, I'm not going to have a big wedding. I'm not going to ask for wedding gifts. I won't be getting married right out of college and be needing pots and pans, small appliances, towels, and dishware to supplement the transition from college to the real world. I'm already in the real world, and to be honest, wedding gifts will just add to all of the "stuff" I have. 

Right now, if I have any say in my future wedding, here are my plans. The wedding invites will say something along the lines of "We don't wish to receive any gifts. Please use the money spent on gifts to fund your trip to the wedding or donate to X charity/organization." The reception will probably be at the same place as the wedding. There's enough driving and travel to get to weddings, so I don't want to drive anymore than is needed.

So there it is. Weddings are about sharing moments with family and friends and I want to maximize enjoying this moments in the future. I want to minimize things that keep me from enjoying weddings.

Signed,

Mitch


Friday, March 11, 2016

Investing Update 3/11/2016

My stocks maintained their value from this week to last. I will be receiving money back for a tax refund, so I'll be looking to get those dollars within a month or so. Once received, I will finish my 2016 stock list with probably a few small adjustments.

Robinhood Instant - http://blog.robinhood.com/news/2016/2/22/introducing-robinhood-instant

3/11/2016 - I am the 10,179th person in line out of 183,141 people.
3/4/2016 - I am the 7,616th person in line out of 159,647 people.
2/26/2016 - I was in the top 6,000 in line out of 136,245 people.

If you have Robinhood and are frustrated with the amount of time it's taking to get Robinhood Instant, here are my thoughts.

  1. Robinhood stock commissions are free - That's awesome. Are we really complaining about the company offering us FREE stock trades?
  2. Robinhood is using a referral method to build up their user base. So what? The more people that join, the more money RH makes, and the more stable it becomes long term. 
  3. Robinhood Instant is going to be a huge selling point to get people to jump ship from ETrade, TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, etc. Robinhood wants to make sure Instant works! 
  4. Could Robinhood have waited a few months to announce/release instant? Probably. Oh well, when something you're working on is exciting, it's hard to keep it under wraps. 
  5. Most of us don't need to be selling and buying stocks on a high frequency basis anyways.

Year-To-Date Update


1/1/20163/11/2016Change since Jan 1st
Robinhood Portfolio Value$607.87$774.03$166.16
Money from my pocket$550.00$675.00$125.00
Dividends$9.79$16.05$6.26
Gains/Realized & Unrealized$48.08$82.98$34.90

The table above shows the change in my Robinhood portfolio since the start of 2016.

Robinhood Portfolio Value = (Money from my pocket) + (Dividends) + (Gains/Realized & Unrealized)


Dividends

March, June, September, and December are traditionally big dividend months, so I'll see quite a few dividends in March.

I received three dividends this week -

Southern CoSO$0.54
Archer DanielsADM$0.30
UnileverUL$0.33


Stock Purchase

No stock purchases this week.

2016 Investing Missions

  • Purchase and hold 25 different stocks that pay dividends: 15/25 - 60% Completed (Not counting Disney stock)
  • Receive $75 in dividends: $13.16/$75.00 - 17.55% Completed. The year is 19.40% completed, so currently, I am not at the pace needed to complete this yearly Mission.

You can click on the investing tab or here to see what stocks I currently have in my Robinhood portfolio.

Signed,

Mitch

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pescetarian Diet

For the last month I've been following a pescetarian diet (I'll eat fish, but not any other kind of meat). From the end of last summer through February I was gradually weening myself off of meat. I am hesitant to talk about it on my blog since food (like a lot of issues) can be very polarizing for people. Believe me, I understand the part that meat plays in the economy/way of life for a lot of people. I'm from Iowa, where hogs out-number residents 3 to 1.

I have a lot of personal reasons for making this decision, but it was also an animal well-being issue and an environmental issue. This was my decision, and I'm not going to use my blog as a platform for advocacy. To be honest, it's getting tough not eating meat. I need to figure out protein a little better, because I feel like I'm eating more carbs. I don't really miss pork at all, nor chicken. I miss beef the most. I miss traditional hamburgers and steak.

So enough of making me hungry. This is something I'm doing and I'll see how long I can do it for. This is something I've wanted to talk about for awhile, but wanted to approach the right way. I think a lot of vegetarians/vegans, etc, shove hate down people's throats, which in turn gives them a bad image. I think meat tastes good, and at it's core, I don't see eating meat as a problem. I do see a problem in how we presently raise and slaughter animals for food. If I went to a friend's local farm, I'd have no problem eating an animal that they humanely raised and processed.

Signed,

Mitch

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sticking with a Smartphone

I've deciding I'm sticking with a smartphone. I was getting my taxes done this week, and having a smartphone really came in handy. I had to look a few tax forms up, which I didn't bring with me to the tax guy. It was really easy to be able to look up the documents on my phone, and saved me a trip home and back.

I am checking http://www.phonearena.com/ for upcoming phones. I would hate to buy a new phone and then have a brand new one come out a day later. I might see if I'm able to get the Galaxy S7 that is coming out on Friday. I still have a Galaxy S4 and it's held up pretty well.

I will not be switching to an iPhone mostly because of the ecosystem. Like I've mentioned before, I'm not impressed at all with Apple's cloud system/account syncing, and I've never had a problem with this with Google/Android.

I also may finally be giving up my unlimited data plan in an attempt to barter down the price of a new phone!

Signed,

Mitch

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dropbox Selective Sync

Something I just learned about that Dropbox has is "Selective Sync." This feature is as awesome as the band N*SYNC! (No sarcasm).

You can select which folders in your Dropbox folder will sync on the computer you're using. I found this out when installing Dropbox on my new laptop last night. I didn't want the camera uploads folder (with years and years of photos/video) to sync to brand new computer and slow it down. I went to the good 'ol Google search and starting asking questions. I was eventually led to the Dropbox website and it talked about selective sync.

When I got Dropbox installed and logged in to everything, I quickly went to the preferences to select which folders I wanted sync'd. Now one thing to note, it'll sync the folders you select and it will still sync all of the loose files in your main Dropbox folder. My lack of digital minimalism led me to having my Dropbox on my new computer filled with a bunch of loose files.

I didn't know about this feature, and I thought it'd be cool to share. This saved me and my computer hours (maybe days) of unnecessary file syncing. This saves network bandwith and saves resources on your computer.

Signed,

Mitch

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Laptop

I bought a new laptop today and effectively ended my March shopping ban. When your job and overall productivity depends on being able to effectively and efficiently use Microsoft Office, I didn't really have a choice. Using Office on my iMac was decent, but I just really needed something that I was familiar with. I was decently impressed with Windows 10 when I updated it on my old desktop, so I was more on board with getting a new laptop.

I got a HP brand windows laptop, since I've had a lot of success with my HP Chromebook. The laptop is nothing amazing, but it'll get the job done to get my job done. It is going to be a pure work laptop. I'm uninstalling any bloatware/games, and will only install things that are necessary to get work done. I could have used Microsoft 365 on my Chromebook, but again, it's not quite yet to level I need it to be at (although it is almost there).

It's nice to have a Windows device again (it kind of pains me to say this). Microsoft has done a great job of setting themselves up as a "standard" or as "the norm". I still love my Chromebook and am less thrilled with my iMac as each day passes. I think I'll like my new laptop more than my iMac in a very short time frame.

I'm not going to give up on the shopping ban, but I did effectively break my Mission today.

Signed,

Mitch

Saturday, March 5, 2016

New Phone this Week

I'm hoping to get a new phone this week! My current phone can't go more than probably 4 hours without needing to be charged. I could order a new battery, (I have a Samsung so I'd be able to change the battery, unlike an iPhone), but I think I should just get a new phone.

I'm actually half tempted to go back to a dumb-phone. I've been really thinking about when I was a kid and comparing that time to now. I didn't have a smart phone when I was younger, and I somehow managed to survive. I think it'd be really nice to go a whole day without charging my phone (maybe even 2 days). I don't think I'd check my phone as often either, and I'd save a lot of money.

My reservations with going back to a dumb phone comes down to pictures and communication. I'd miss out on group messages, which can be important when planning stuff. I think for a lot of us, the number of pictures we've taken has gone up 1000% since we got smart phones, and I don't want to miss out on important or stupid photo opportunities.

I would consider this a "minimalist" move to go back to a dumb phone. I think it would simplify my life. I would probably get a nice tablet to still be able to use Robinhood and other important apps, and event with that purchase, I think I'd come out ahead money-wise.

I'll let you know my decision this week!

Signed,

Mitch

Friday, March 4, 2016

Investing Update 3/4/2016

My stocks are up and this is a good thing and a bad thing. Once I transfer some money into my account from my tax refund, I will want stock prices to be down. Right now, I don't mind seeing my portfolio up after seeing it go down for a good month-and-a-half.

Robinhood Instanthttp://blog.robinhood.com/news/2016/2/22/introducing-robinhood-instant

At the time of writing this, I am the 7,616th person in line out of 159,647 people.
Last week I was in the top 6,000 in line out of 136,245 people.

I've been reading the Robinhood subreddit, and there are a few people upset at the time it is taking to get  Robinhood Instant. I'm personally not too worried about it. I want Robinhood to roll things out the right way, and to minimize as many glitches/problems that they can.


Year-To-Date Update

1/1/20163/4/2016Change since Jan 1st
Robinhood Portfolio Value$607.87$769.15$161.28
Money from my pocket$550.00$675.00$125.00
Dividends$9.79$14.88$5.09
Gains/Realized & Unrealized$48.08$79.27$31.19


The table above shows the change in my Robinhood portfolio since the start of 2016.

Robinhood Portfolio Value = (Money from my pocket) + (Dividends) + (Gains/Realized & Unrealized)


Dividends

I received two dividends this week. Ford paid a $0.40 dividend and Intel paid a $0.26 dividend.


Stock Purchase

No stock purchases this week.

2016 Investing Missions

  • Purchase and hold 25 different stocks that pay dividends: 15/25 - 60% Completed (Not counting Disney stock)
  • Receive $75 in dividends: $11.99/$75.00 - 15.99% Completed. The year is 17.49% completed, so currently, I am not at the pace needed to complete this yearly Mission.

You can click on the investing tab or here to see what stocks I currently have in my Robinhood portfolio.

Signed,

Mitch

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wunderlist

I've finally decided between Wunderlist and Google Keep, and the winner is Wunderlist. I used this app/program religiously 3.5 years ago and I'm getting back into it again. I use Google for a lot of things, so it made sense to try and use Google Keep. For day-to-day things and for work tasks, I'm going to use Wunderlist. I just like it better for managing tasks. For long term tracking (like my weight), I'll still use Google Keep.

I'm working towards being one of those annoying people that gets stuff done, is proactive, and stays ahead on things. I'm still a very lazy person, and this is just a way to get people to leave me alone about stuff. I don't want people "following-up" with me and wasting my time. I'm just going to get stuff done so people will leave me alone.

My only concern with Wunderlist is that I see an option to upgrade. This of course is a way for Wunderlist to pay the bills, and as a company providing a service, I can understand this. I just don't want to add another subscription service to pay for. I hope I won't need the extra features that I would have to pay for.

Signed,

Mitch

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Uninstalling FB App Update

Happy March!

I've now gone two months without having the FB app on my phone - (http://www.bloggingmitch.com/2015/12/treating-facebook-like-aol-instant.html)

I have not reinstalled the app and have only considered it a couple of times. I considered it once when I was having trouble sharing a YouTube video and also when a new friend sent me a friend request, and I had to wait to accept it.

I've enjoyed not having the app on my phone. It saves a lot of space on my phone and I'm not being a phone zombie scrolling through my Facebook feed. I think I enjoy FB more when using it on my computer, and I think I am having more quality interactions too.

I've just recently understood the appeal of Snapchat, mostly with posting stories. It's pretty much a visual Twitter. I will say my Snapchat usage has gone up with uninstalling FB, but I don't feel as much of a phone zombie while using Snapchat. I think part of this is because I mostly have people I want to see on Snapchat compared to Facebook. I've had Facebook way longer than Snapchat, so I have a lot of friends/connections just to maintain the ability to keep in touch with people.

I will continue to keep Facebook uninstalled on my phone!

Signed,

Mitch