OverDrive – the frugal reader’s best friend

I like to read.

It’s fun, it’s good for your mind and I feel like it’s also one of the best ways to improve your investing results. Through reading, you can learn from the best, find different investing styles, and see what has worked for people in the past while becoming more aware of the history of the market.

There are many benefits to reading from an investing stand point but it’s also an awesome way to entertain and improve yourself – plus people who read are super cool.

reading puppy

The best part about this is that it all can be free.

All you need is a library card and you can have access to thousands upon thousands of hours of entertainment and learning material at no cost to you.

The problem with that is that you actually have to put on pants, drive to the library, get familiar with Mr. Dewey and his decimal system, find the book you want to borrow, talk to someone to check it out and drive home with your book in tow.

Who wants to do all that!?

I like to read but I also like to sit on my butt and not go out.

That’s really where OverDrive shines!

If you’re like me; love to read but aren’t interested in building a collection of books for your bookcase and want to save time and money then OverDrive is for you.

OverDrive is an application that allows you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks and more from the comfort of your own home and all you need is a computer or phone and a library card(an eReader helps too). Continue reading “OverDrive – the frugal reader’s best friend”

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Getting my girlfriend excited about saving money!

I was surprised when my door burst open earlier this week and future Mrs. TimeInTheMarket ran in with a sheet in her hand.

“Look,” she said pointing to sheet, “I gained $364 this year!,” she continued with an excited tone to her voice.

I was a bit confused as she had never been one to get excited about money before. We’ve  talked about my portfolio and my desire to retire early in the past but they were never conversations she was too eager to have.

In fact the below cartoon captures her interest in the subject perfectly as resorts to nodding half the time when I start talking finances and eventually just tells me that’s my area of our life to handle, not that I mind!

mutual funds boring comic

In any case, she gave me the paper and I was intrigued to see that it was her simple IRA statement. Were we really going to have a conversation about stocks and retirement accounts that I didn’t start? Continue reading “Getting my girlfriend excited about saving money!”

Going Places – Denver and the eclipse

Going Places – Denver and the eclipse

I’m not a huge traveler but I do like to get out and about every so often. I’d like to two vacations a year, maybe more if the trips are more local. It was actually one of my goals this year as well! The Denver vacation is my 2nd one of the year.

I thought it’d be cool to document some of my trips here on my blog since it doesn’t all have to be financial stuff. After all, life is about more than just money.

If the personal tag didn’t tip you off, this post won’t have anything to do with what I typically write about. I like to write and it just seems reasonable to combine that passion and archive some of my trips on this page.

I went out to Nashville earlier in the year and had fun. The plan was to write a bit about it when I got back but I never go around to it so now that I got back from Denver, Colorado, I have another opportunity to get that started. The Denver trip was a few weeks ago so I’m a bit late to the party but it’s a start!

The idea of heading to Denver was actually spawned by my fiancee’s dad who wanted to go see the total solar eclipse. I’ve wanted to check out Denver for a while and as luck would have it, it was only a few hours away from Wyoming which was in the path of totality.

It wasn’t just my fiancee and I this time around which wasn’t ideal but having three other people around really helped reduce the costs of the trip which was a plus.

One of the nice things about this trip is that my fiancee’s dad actually took care of all the booking which was awesome as I’m typically the one doing all that. He also got tickets for a bus trip on the day of the total solar eclipse so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving there ourselves and finding a good spot.

The visit to Denver wasn’t going to be a long trip since we’re all employed and have certain schedules.

We flew out Friday morning and got there around lunch time and then flew out Wednesday morning so I was back in my own bed by Wednesday night.

The total eclipse was happening on Monday so that day was booked up but the rest of the time was spent exploring Denver and the areas around it. It may seem like a short trip but we tried to jam as much stuff as we could into those days. Continue reading “Going Places – Denver and the eclipse”

Relationships, personal growth and marriage

Relationships, personal growth and marriage

One of my recent posts talked about my engagement and future marriage and I’ve been thinking about what that means for the past couple of days. Those thoughts have centered around the impact a good relationship can have on your life.

It was only a few years ago that I was in my late 20s, discouraged from the dating rut I was in and expecting to be stuck in that loop of mediocre relationships for a while. There’s something to be said about feeling trapped and the stickiness it brings into the other aspects of your life. Often times when one thing isn’t going well, other things follow suit. In short, one thing failing can make your outlook on other parts of your life change as well. I wasn’t happy in my social/personal life, wasn’t happy with my career and wasn’t even happy with my living situation. I felt like I was failing in my relationships and by default I felt the same way in all other aspects of my life.

Then I met her and everything changed. People often say that their significant other makes them a better person and I never understood what they meant by that until I met and spent time with my now fiancee. She has a lot of great qualities and I immediately knew that there was something different about her when compared to other girls I’ve dated. Most of my prior relationships barely lasted a few months and I honestly expected this one to be the same but things progressed, they moved along and I realized that this was working; it was working pretty damn well.

That internal belief of being stuck in all aspects of my life made no sense to me anymore. I was in my late 20s and living a life I didn’t want to live because I told myself that was the norm. I was depressed, anxious, bored and unhappy.

It took one great person, one good relationship to make me realize that didn’t have to be the case and get my life moving again. If I could succeed in a relationship, I could succeed in other areas of my life as well. That was a pretty key realization in my life that drove me forward in search of bigger and better things. I was no longer stuck in my default loop of mediocre relationships so why should I be stuck in other parts of my life?

I moved to a nicer place; closer to work and amenities which led to a higher quality of life. I never hated my job but found it rather unfulfilling so I took a closer look at my career and pushed myself forward into a different career path; one that I enjoy and one that offers more potential for earnings, personal growth and impact. I began this blog as a way to track my financial progress and push myself forward on my personal projects and through all that I became a better boyfriend to my girlfriend as well. She was the one that brought forth this whole cathartic realization me. Meeting her was the start of a whole new part of my life and now here we are ready to start yet another journey.

Marriage! That’s our dog and bunny up there announcing our upcoming nuptials. I’m excited to continue growing as a person and seeing where the journey takes me from here.  Continue reading “Relationships, personal growth and marriage”

Life!

It’s rather interesting how quickly your life plans can change and I came to realize that in a big way this weekend.

My girlfriend and I went for a walk and took the long way to the grocery store afterwards to enjoy some of the views of our beautiful state and also to get a gym(Pokemon Go – we’re nerds).

On the way there, my girlfriend noticed an open house sign on a cute little road in a nice neighborhood and we decided to stop by to take a look.

We had talked about home ownership in the past and I’ve talked about it being in my future on this blog as well but I always thought that future was pretty far off. I love the comfort and low stress of apartment living. My apartment is in a nice area in an excellent town that’s about halfway between each of our places of employment so the convenience is there as well. It’s expensive but brand new and efficient and safe and I was expecting to stay there for at least another year. My lease is up in September and the plan so far was to renew.

We’re super picky and both assumed it’d take us forever to find a house when we seriously start looking and do note that we weren’t even looking at this point.

The little blue house with the open house sign was just something to do to kill time on a Sunday afternoon. We’re both big fans of the HGTV home shows(even if they’re staged) and enjoy looking at open houses from time to time to get an idea of what’s out there on the market for when we actually start looking and that’s why we stopped and decided to take a gander.

We pulled over, I checked Zillow to see if the open house was still in progress as it was later in the afternoon and there were no cars in front and saw that we still had about 10 minutes left before it was all done.

The area is cute, one we drive by quite a bit although it’s in a town I hadn’t really considered too seriously as a potential area for purchase due to the high taxes and generally high prices. Still, it was worth looking and this house fit our budget even if the taxes were a bit higher in this town than the surrounding areas. Plus, we weren’t seriously considering being home owners at the time anyway so what did it matter?

We walked into the house, met the nice listing agent and pretty much fell in love with the place.

Continue reading “Life!”

My 2017 Annual Goals

I’m a bit late to the party here but it’s time to lay out my 2017 goals. I didn’t have any goals last year but I’ve been listening to a book recently that spoke to the value of writing down goals when it came to actually achieving them.

I think it’d be fun to set not only financial goals but also some personal goals. I also thought it’d be enjoyable to tier my goals into three levels. I’m going with bronze, silver and gold to reward myself at the end of the year! I’ll make bronze a reasonable level that I think I can reach with my regular approach and then stretch it out with the silver and gold tiers. It’ll be like the Olympics when I review this in 2018 and award myself a variety of medals based on how well I did in 2017!

I’m aiming to at least have as many bronzes as there are goals but am hoping for some silvers and golds in 2017 as well! Continue reading “My 2017 Annual Goals”

My portfolio – April update

The market has been essentially flat since my last update with a 1.2% increase in the S&P in that time frame.

I haven’t been too active since then as other things in my life have kept me busy but I did make an important move in the last month. That was moving some of my extra cash into my Roth IRA and maxing out that out for 2015. All that cash went into my REIT fund which was underweight in my asset allocation. If you’re reading this right now and still haven’t maxed out your 2015 Roth IRA then you still have a week to do so as 4/18 is the last day to do that for 2015. It’s also the last day to submit your taxes if you haven’t done that either.

The Roth is one of the best savings options as it offers tax-free growth and tax-free distributions. It’s also potentially the only other option for tax-free growth beyond a 401k especially if your income is above a certain level as the traditional IRA phase out happens a lot earlier in that scenario.

I had a big influx into my account last month with a raise and a bonus and a big contribution to my 401k but my savings rate this month dropped quite a bit. I reduced my 401k contribution to a lowly 14% as I want to make sure I keep getting my employer contribution and to do that I have to make contributions through the end of the year and I’d be in danger of maxing out my 401k and missing out on those if I went a lot higher. That means I get a bigger paycheck but it also lowers my automatic savings rate. I can and will certainly use that extra money to fund my taxable accounts but it’s always easier to just have that done automatically.

I’ll start tracking my savings rate this month just to see exactly how I’m doing there and where my expenses are going. I feel like March wasn’t a great month on that regard as I spent a bit more than average there after a huge savings month in February.

There were no individual purchases made this month – all the money went into funds and ETFs. Just like last month, I’m not seeing a ton of value out there. I’ve started working on a DCF analysis spreadsheet that I’ve been meaning to work on and have done a quick analysis on a few stocks on my watch list and nothing has piqued my interest.

Last month’s total stood at $305809.68, an 11% increase over the previous month and while this month shows growth as well; it’s far from that growth due to a slower market and much lower contributions.

I saw a 2.3% improvement in portfolio size this month. It’s always good to see growth although month to month growth isn’t something I’m concerned with as a long term saver. After all, if the market drops then I’m buying things at a lower price with my extra cash and dividend proceeds which is always going to be better for long term returns.

The total after this month stands at $312939 which is nice considering my savings rate this month probably wasn’t that high but we’ll see what it was when I do the number crunching next week.

My cash hoard went down from 9.5% to 8.1% as I moved some of that money into my REITs via my Roth IRA.

Now let’s take a look at how the asset allocation looks and where I have to make adjustments.

Still a bit off here with mid-cap, bonds and international being a bit high and the US caps being too low. It’s really hard to get a high % asset like the large cap back to snuff since 3% of my portfolio size is nearly $10000 at this point so it’ll take some time to fix that. However, I’m certainly getting closer to where I want to be compared to where I started. REITs and small-caps which were way off before are getting much closer to where I want them to be now.

Here’s where I am against where I want to be based on my asset allocation targets.

  • US Large Cap at 39.1% versus 42.5%(-3.4%)
  • US Mid Cap at 11.8% versus 10%(+1.8%)
  • US Small Cap at 8.8% versus 10%(-1.2%)
  • US REIT at 8.7% versus 10%(-1.3%)
  • International Developed at 16.4% versus 15%(+1.4%)
  • International Emerging at 5.8% versus 5%(+0.8%)
  • US Bonds at 9.4% versus 7.5%(+1.9%)
Last month I had four asset classes that were more than 2% away from their target allocation and now I’m down to just one! I started with small-cap being 5.6% underweight and we’re just 1.2% below target now.
Last month I moved some mid-cap money to small-caps and moved some bonds into REITs and this month I had some heavy contributions to REITs and all those served to remedy some issues with my asset allocation. I’m certainly still not where I want to be but I’m getting there!
I think I’m too far behind on my large caps now so I need to adjust for that. Here’s the changes I’ll make to account for that.
  • 401k contributions will be changed to about 65/35 large cap/small cap.
  • Use excess cash to look for attractively valued large cap and small cap securities.
  • Potentially move some US Bond money in my Roth IRA into a large cap fund of some sort.
The plan has always been to let my contributions fix the asset allocation and that’s mainly what I’ve done so far. I have made some moves to reduce my bond and mid cap allocation by exchanging those into classes where I was underweight and I may do the same this month to boost my large cap exposure. However, I might hold back on that since most of my individual security purchases in the future will likely be large caps so I don’t mind having that asset allocation be a bit underweight since it can swing wildly with one purchase if a good value emerges.
In a week or so, I’ll post my savings rate/budget post for March. I don’t think I did too great there. I made a conscious decision to not make any changes to my spending patterns for the next few months to make sure I’m capturing a realistic budget/savings rate in the upcoming months. I want to see what my spending patterns actually are before I make any changes at all and in order to do that, I want to get a few months of regular spending in there to get a clear pattern and an accurate regular savings rate.
See you all in a bit. Hopefully the cold will finally leave us by then!