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A Method To Select & Analyze 401K Investment Choices

When your employer offers you the benefit of a 401K investment option, you need to select from the choices they offer in the retirement plan. My employer is revamping and forcing investors to switch companies and select from a few choices. Here's the process I followed to make my decision.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor and considering this information is at your own risk.

  1.  Go to your companies 401K website and find the link for the comparison of the "Various products, fees and investment items". There you should find a quarterly performance report for the last quarter. 
  2. The first thing I review is the historical returns, and the fees. I eliminate any with high fees over about 5%.
  3. Then I look for double digit returns in the last year. Eliminate any choices that don't have at least double digit returns in the past three to five years.
  4. Also consider the type of fund being considered and what risk range is preferred.
  5. So, now you only have a handful to investigate further. Find out the ticker symbol of the fund or stock so you can investigate dividends, review the performance charts and see projected dividends.
  6. With your ticker symbol, you can search google finance to determine the last years dividend. If there is no dividend, then eliminate the choice from your remaining inventory.
  7. I like to use a free android app called Dividend Tracker to look up and research funds.
  8. Then I made a chart in Excel where I could compare the potential of the ticker symbol by taking the share price minus the annual fee cost and add the annual dividend income (average 5 year) to come up with the final projected value of the the fund/stock.
  9. Using Dividend Tracker I can find the 5 year average dividend which I use instead of last years. I also can review the dividend history to see if they have been decreasing or increasing, or have stopped altogether.
  10. Review your choices and add more to your chart if none of them look promising. If you decide on a fund, google it and research it further to be sure it aligns with your investment strategies.
stock  price  #shares in 100K fee -fee divd per share +annual dividend value+AVG divd-fee 5 yr avg divd 5yr divd proj price to div ratio
RGAEX 49.63 2073.83 6.8  $  680.00  $   5.08  $  10,535.05  $  107,283.50 $3.84 10.55% 9
VCSRX 22.50 4623.21 5.6  $  560.00  $   2.04  $     9,431.35  $  103,508.42 $0.88 9.45% 11
LSSIX 27.23 3725.78 9.4  $  940.00  $   2.58  $     9,612.52  $  107,256.72 $2.20 9.61% 10
INGIX 15.90 6561.68 2.7  $  270.00  $   0.95  $     6,233.60  $  108,260.18 $1.30 51.62% 16
RNPEX 44.24 2341.37 8  $  800.00  $   2.83  $     6,626.08  $  104,468.09 $2.25 6.33% 15
IICIX 10.40 9532.89 3.5  $  350.00  $   0.18  $     1,715.92  $  102,700.52 $0.32 4.23% 58
VIIIX 272.79 382.54 0.2  $     20.00  $   3.30  $     1,262.38  $  101,747.34 $4.62 1.93% 79

The chart starts with the price of the fund. It assumes you have $100,000 invested and divides by share price to give the Number of Shares. Then fees are listed by %, and dollar amount based on your principle of $100K. The dividend per share amount is taken from Dividend tracker and used to calculate the annual dividend by taking the last years dividend amount multiplied by the number of shares. Then you can add your $100K + annual dividend - fee = value of your money. Of course you want the largest value, but it is not guaranteed. This is just a projection if all funds are analyzed equally. 

I like to also consider the share price vs dividend ratio by dividing the share price by the last years dividend. The smaller number the better value. In fact that is the column I sort my chart by, the dividend ratio.

You will notice that just because a fund has a high fee does not mean it is the worst choice. It may have a high dividend and low share price to compensate for that and provide you with good value at the end of the year.

You will also notice that a low fee fund is not necessarily the best choice either. It may not provide good dividends or any dividends.

Again, I remind you I am not a finance advisor and this is just an example of how I review choices to invest in.

Good Luck!

#money #invest #retire

Bicycle Safety is No Accident

Maybe its the warm weather. Maybe its the time of day. But, some days drivers on the road are more erratic than normal. Today was one of those days. In the dark, early calm morning. With my handy dandy rear view mirror, I can tell when a driver spots me on my bike and speeds up to pass me before we come to a narrow area where there is definitely not enough room for a bicycle rider and a car, like a tight corner. I can also tell when a driver slows down to let me pass the situation (like today it was the garbage truck stopped in the oncoming lane).

I always think about close calls on my bike because I read about motorcycle crashes and bicyclists who were killed every day in the paper. Another grim reminder of the tragedy of biking, is the white ghost bike that was installed on my routes deadliest turn off 56th Street & Harney last week. I've always told my DH that if I get killed on my bike its going to be at that fork in the road. Drivers are speeding along and there are no signs to yield or slow or stop, just pick a direction right or left. I need to go right, crossing the left road in front of potentially left going vehicles.

Today the driver that tried to kill me was in a little red Kia or Corolla. I could tell they were going above the 25 mph speed limit and as I approached the downhill corner, I knew we both could not be there at the same time. So, I moved to the middle of the lane to capture my space so they didn't expect me to stay in the gutter to the right. That meant for them to pass me they went to the far left and then cut back in front of me, forcing me to the right into the gutter. Being the prudent biker, I moved aside rather than die.

Riding a bike to commute is not for everyone. Cars speeding 55 mph inches away from me, can be a little unsettling. It is a safe and healthy activity, made dangerous because of the drivers. I'm a driver too, sometimes. I know its a hassle to stop for a biker or walker. But it matters.

Here are some of the little things I do to help me stay safe on the road biking alongside traffic.
  • Be Seen - wear hi vis yellow or orange shirts or a safety vest. I wear a vest with reflective stripes when it is dark too.
  • Use Lights and MORE lights - I have a small Knog bike light that is super bright. It has a small rubber strap that clips on my front handlebar. It charges the battery with a regular USB plugin.
  • A super bright back red light. Its important to keep the batteries fresh on this one or the light is not quite so bright.
  • A lumos Helmet that has flashing front and back lights, and turn signals. I charge it once a week on my USB port of my laptop. 
  • A rear view mirror is critical to see whats coming up behind you, in the event you need to swerve into the lane of traffic to avoid a hazard such as dead animals, broken glass, piles of gravel, lumber debris or any other number of things that will impede your safe travels.
If you use all these safety features, you'll be seen by drivers and hopefully they will be the courteous ones who share the road.

Ten Years

It's been ten years since I created this place of mine on the internet. Unfortunately, I have not dedicated the effort it takes for a blog to be profitable and support my life style and quit my day job. I'm still toiling away at my government job, and still dreaming of being able to quit. So, I've decided to rearrange the leisure activities in my life, notably reading and replace it with writing and promoting my blog.

Having a blog is not simply writing 500 words and clicking send. There are lots of details to get it out there where people will read it. It means sharing on social media sites, responding to comments, and in general engaging with others on the internet. It's tedious, and not always productive. However, I want to give it a try. There are lots of tools to automate posting and sharing.

I'm thinking that my focus will be frugal living, and also adding the perspective from a senior (now that I'm over 55) and preparing for retirement. Not necessarily early retirement like all the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) people out there, but just regular old retirement for regular people.

2nd Qtr 2019 Mileage Report

 I know the orangatan doesn't have anything to do with mileage, but thats the new rollercoaster Tigris in the background. Typical mileage this past quarter as we continue to use the motorcycles sparingly. The majority of our travel is in the new minivan at close to 70%. My biking to work is the other major part of the commuting with 20% of the miles traveled. We have not gone on any trips this past quarter as we are saving our leave time for our big transatlantic cruise in the fall.

2019 Rays Baseball 10 strikeouts Promotion

Well the Kanes 10 strikeouts is back, but they've tightened up the rules. No more stockpiling of the taco meals. 

If the Tampa Bay Rays get 10 or more strikeouts, you'll get 1 FREE taco, chips & a medium fountain drink from a participating TIJUANA FLATS. Participating locations: Tampa, St. Petersburg, Ft. Myers, Naples, Orlando, Daytona, Gainsville & Ocala Florida Markets. No purchase necessary. 

WITHIN 3 DAYS of the 10 strikeout home game, bring in one of these qualifying items to any Kane's Showroom and get a FREE Tijuana Flats coupon:
Ticket Stub
Seat Locator Receipt (for Flex Pack Cardholders)
- Web voucher from www.KanesStrikeOut.com (printed or on phone)

 IMPORTANT: Limit one coupon per person, per web voucher, per game. For seat locator receipt or ticket stubs, you may receive up to (4) coupons given that all seats are together. You must be 18 years of age & you must redeem your ticket stub/receipt/web voucher at Kane’s within 3 days of the 10 strikeout home game date.  No purchase necessary. Participating Florida locations, see coupon for details.


#Baseball #Kanes #Rays #Free #TijuanaFlats #Freetaco #Tampa #Promotion

Frugal Florida State Fair

 This year the Florida State Fair in Tampa, FL had a bargain day for us frugal folks. It was $2 after 2 pm, plus selected rides were $2 and most food vendors offered an item of their menu for $2. There were $2 cheese curds (from Wisconsin), hotdogs, corn dogs, sautéed mushrooms, lemonade, cheese fries, water, pizza and veggie pita. We still spent over twenty bucks but it was actually nice to just get a sample size of something. Definitely a diet buster day.

I started out back near the Equestrian center to see the Moto Maniac show, and happened by the #FairClysdales. These beautiful horses are having a nice time in Florida where amazingly it was an 80F day. And Sunny. Too bad for the rest of the nation where weather pretty much is typical winter.
 The ferris wheel
 The Lady Houdini was impressive, she stayed in that tank for 2 minutes unlocking locks and chains and padlocks while submerged in water.
 The Zaji #amazingacrobats was my favorite show, There was lots of activity, skill and fun.
 Plate twirling - not a single plate toppled.
 Amazing to watch 11 people climb on this bike while one dude was riding it.
 The circus has changed over the years, no more dogs, elephants or horses. The only animal act is the camels walking in circles, no riders. Still entertaining show though.
 All these aerial performers do their acts without nets or safety lines. Quite scary.
 The Clydsdales friendly pet, Bud
Night time for the horses, the handlers were taking out all the braids in their manes and tails.
 Bello Nock and his kids performed, includes being shot out a cannon over a running helicopter.

 The beautiful ferris wheel at night, changing colors
Not quite as good as the Minnesota state fair, but worth going to. The Florida state fair really is missing out on sponsorship and local participation. The difference from a Midwest state fair is that there are no give aways of bags and junk. They could add local radio station booths, TV broadcasts, local celebritys, local companies like Publix, Hospitals, Sporting Teams, Tourists destinations, Busch Gardenss, Disney, colleges, local police and sheriff agencies. There is very little corporate involvement, other than the Fl Dept of Ag. There is so much opportunity here.

How to Free Yourself From a Lifetime of Clutter

I know this sounds like a morbid topic, Death Cleaning but it's an important one. Its the process of freeing yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter. This past year our beloved neighbor lady who treated my DH and I like her children, passed away. She had invited us to holiday meals with her family for the past twenty five years and we helped with small tasks around the house like taking out her garbage weekly. She lived a fabulous life and passed away peacefully in an afternoon nap. No pain or financial debt occurred which was a blessing.

However, the pain would come in the death cleaning of her lifetime home. When her husband died eight years ago, some things were given away to family, some things donated or sold second hand, and some things just thrown away. But the majority of their possessions remained in the home until she died.

The process of death cleaning in this particular home took less than 100 days due to the daily diligence of her daughter in law (DIL). The DIL already had experienced the death of her husband eleven years earlier, and performed a death cleaning there to move into a different home. I wasn't very involved in the death cleaning of the neighbors home, but we did help a little. We acquired the outside plants, one of which is the beautiful orchid pictured above, which is blooming now in November.

Seeing the process of the dismantling of a life history is sad. After her death, the family went through the house and tagged items they wanted with postit notes.  The DIL went through every cabinet and drawer and closet and organized like items together. Obvious junk was discarded in the trash. Furniture and clothing was donated or sold in an estate sale. Expensive items, antiques and collectables were sold on Facebook, Craigslist and Ebay by the DIL. I don't know if Charities were involved, but they will take household items and pick them up. Some photo memories were kept and stored with one of the family. I scanned over a hundred photos and shared w flash drive and online cloud account with the family members.  The automobile was over 20 years old and was sold for a small amount. The house had some code violations so it was sold undervalued to an investor.

I just read the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning and it makes me want to do a death cleaning next year. A death cleaning is something you can do many times in your life to help lessen the burden of your death on your family or executor. The guiding question to ask when Death Cleaning, it "Will anyone be happier if I save this"? Even if you think you will live many more years, it is never too soon to be prepared for death. If you are over 60, and don't live near family or grandkids, it is time for a death cleaning.

Here is a list of things you can do to help others deal with your demise after your death:
  1. Create a document with a listing or flowchart of all your finances. Where do you have checking accounts, savings accounts, IRA's, savings bonds, investments, etc. Include a list of all your credit cards and which ones are used to autopay bills (cell phone, television, electric, utilities, car payment, Netflix, etc). List your employer ID, your 401K provider. This is a working document that you need to keep updated for the rest of your life. I suggest using Microsoft Excel and make it a spreadsheet.
  2. Create a document with all your online accounts, your email signon and the password. At least do this for all accounts that have anything to do with money or subscriptions.  Include a list of all your email addresses, social media accounts, banking and vendors that have your credit cards. This also is a working document you need to keep updated. This one is helpful to keep on the cloud.
  3. Create a Will or Trust, and Medical Directive, and designate a Power of Attorney. List your life insurance policies here too. Keep these where they can be found upon disabling injury, illness or death. Scan this to the cloud, but keep originals in a desk drawer, not locked up.
  4. Designate a beneficiary for all your investments and note it on your finance document. These will not have to go through probate after your death. You can do this online for most accounts.
  5. If you have joint finances with a partner, be sure they know where to start with closing accounts and gathering documents. Show them your finance and online account documents and ask if they understand it. If they are not able to operate a computer, agree on a friend or relative who can help with this.
  6. Start with items stored in the closets, basement, garage, sheds, etc. Tell friends and family you're cleaning and getting rid of clutter in case they want anything you have. Even if you aren't ready to get rid of something now, you can tag it for them to get after you die.
  7. Make a list of your personal items that have value or you know someone who would appreciate having them. If the item is in a drawer or box, create a tag and write "For XX upon my death" and affix it to the item. You could also take a picture of the item and assemble a document for item distribution upon your death. This could be an appendix to your Will.
  8. If you have items that you haven't used in a couple of years, or since you last moved, or don't fit now - consider gifting, donating or selling them now. Why leave them for later when you're pretty sure you won't use them the rest of your life now. If you won't get rid of it now, and the item has value - at least take a nice photo of it to use in an ad to sell the item in the future.
  9. If you have photograph prints, these can take a long time to determine what to do. I would suggest scanning the best memories to your cloud storage if you have a scanner. If not send them to the family members who would appreciate them. If they are of your vacation memories and you can't scan to cloud, your best option is to do nothing or trash now. They will get trashed upon your death.
  10. If you never have guests eat at your home, and its just you and your partner - you can clean out your kitchen and pantry. Get rid of expired foods or items you no longer consume. You only need less than a dozen each of bowls, dishes, and coffee cups. Get rid of the fancy China set. Get rid of the gravy bowl. Get rid of the frying pans you no longer use that the nonstick is worn off anyway. Get rid of the roaster, crockpot, blender you never use.
  11. If you have a pet, make plans for its care upon your death. Make a box where you keep all the pets vet information, medications, toys, personal care items and leashes and collars. In this box, have a document that outlines what to do with the pet upon your death.

What Possibly Could Go Wrong? Our Toyota Sienna Service Experience

It started when I noticed that small piece of plastic sticking out of the front windshield of the Sienna van. We took a picture of it. I said to DH we can just fix it with some sugru. He said no, I want Toyota to fix it. This shouldn’t happen to a new van. I didn’t want to deal with the drama of going to the car dealer for something so incidental. It’s not like you can just drive in and show them the defect and they say, oh we have that part, let me pop it in place. No, that would be too simple. It’s going to involve calling and not being able to reach anyone who can actually do anything.

So, DH calls to find out what to do. Courtesy Toyota tells us to bring in the van for a look see. He asks can I email you a picture to avoid that trip to the dealer? No, they reply – a certified technician needs to inspect it to determine if it’s a warranty defect. So, we make an appointment on Saturday afternoon when we were kind of in the area on our way to another event. We stop by at our appt time, and the service advisor who we had an appt with has already gone for the day. Strike 1. The nice guy Kevin, helped us anyway and just took a picture of the defect, filled out a service request form and we were on our way in 5 minutes. That met my expectations. Ball 1. The dude said he didn’t know if they had the part, but if they had to order it in, it could be there in two or three days.

It’s Monday morning and DH gets a call from the original Service Advisor, Angie. She can’t find our van key. DH is confused. We have the van, we’re waiting to hear when part is in. Oh, She says, we  have the part. Ball 2. DH is like okay, lets do this. Make it tomorrow Tuesday. He talks me into foregoing my biking to work, so I have to drive the van to work and drop it off at lunch at the dealer. Get a shuttle ride back to work, then uber back to dealer to pick up van at the end of workday. Quite the hassle if you ask me, when I could have fixed it with a pinch of sugru.

Tuesday I drive the van, for about the 5th time since we’ve had its since January 2018. I just don’t drive much. Actually, I prefer the old Camry – don’t have to worry about dinging it up, not that I do. But, I digress. I get to the dealer and drive into the service bay where its crowded with about ten other cars. I get out and nobody approaches me by the van.  So, I go into office and the cashier tells me the service advisor Angie is around but she doesn’t know where, and tells me to just wait by my vehicle and someone will help me. When I get out there again, more people have arrived behind me. The service advisors are buzzing around directing cars in and out, writing on their clipboards and greeting others, including the guy who drove up behind me. But there I stand solitary. Looking around helplessly. Finally, a dude comes up and puts a plastic number hat on the hood of the car. Number 2. Five more minutes go by, cars are leaving the service area. The dude switches out my number to number 1. Goodie, maybe I’m next. Nope, the dude behind me is walking back with a service advisor and is exchanging information and getting his form on his clipboard filled out. I’m starting to get upset now, its been over 10 minutes. I start my yoga breathing to calm down. Breathe deep. Now another advisor is walking up to me, asks how I am. I’m pissy now. I tell him this is pretty unorganized here. Strike 2. He apologizes. Asks how he can help me. I show him the defect and explain that Angie has the part ready to install today, I’m dropping off van for replacement and I need a shuttle ride back to work, and I’ll pick it up after four pm. He’s quick and efficient as he fills out his form on the clipboard, and I tell him to call DH when its ready since that’s the phone number they have already (I don’t want to confuse them with too many different numbers).

Now its been over a half hour since I left work and I’m hating this stupid errand. I tell the cashier I need a shuttle ride five miles back to my office. She says the two drivers are out and there are three people ahead of me. It might be a while. So, now I have to yoga breathe again. I’m not sure if I should just Uber back to work (it will only cost me $1.24 since I have a $10 credit on Uber), but then I have to get back here later to pick up the van. So, I call DH. Tell him I’m at the dealer and waiting for shuttle. He can tell I’m upset. He asked if I talked to Angie. No, I didn’t. But I can see her through the window, she’s at her desk now. DH tells me he wants to talk to her. So, I go in there to her, ask if she’s Angie, she says yes, and I identify my self as Ms. Andrews and the Sienna. She remembered the discussion with DH and then I said "he wants to talk to you", handing her my phone. DH says to Angie “What’s going on there? My wife is upset". Angie assures DH that she has the clipboard and the van will be ready later. Not really sure what else was said, but Angie says to me “Well, we'll just get you a loaner car”. I’m surprised by this, but totally cool with it. So, she hands me back the phone, I tell DH "I’m getting a loaner, gotta go". Grounder, First Base.

I go to the rental car window and wait behind the guy who pulled up behind me and was served first and now see him getting a comp loaner too! Is it because he has a tie on, he got served before me? He didn’t have any expensive car, it was a little one, maybe a Scion or something. Maybe he has a personal relationship with the service advisor and when he pulled up he knew to just his guy hook him up quick. Anyway, it didn’t sit well with me. You know how sometimes, some places a guy gets better service than a girl? I felt the female discrimination factor was slipping in here at this dealer. I dreaded coming back.

Its been at least an hour now, but I drive away in a shitty little Corolla. It was a new car with only a few thousand miles on it, but compared to the van, it was a shitty car. I call DH after getting back to the office and tell him I dread going back. He offers to come to my office after work and switch out the car, and drive the rental to the dealer to pick up the van. I readily agreed.

I’m so relieved to be home after a stressful day with the stupid dealer. DH is not home yet, so I call and he answers; he’s still at the dealer. I ask "What’s happening there?" He is in the middle of a pow wow with the service advisor Angie and two of her managers. The technician fucked up.  And the service advisor fucked up. DH had turned in the rental, got in the van and was about to drive out when he glanced over and noticed the defective piece of plastic was still sticking up on the passenger side. Strike 3. Out.

There were no moving parts, and the van didn’t need a lift or any service that would require a master, genius tech. No. I think they probably put their least experienced guy on the job. The tech replaced the piece on the wrong side of the van. He took off a perfectly good piece of cowling, and replaced it. The bad one – still there.

DH gets out and calls over Angie. He is mad. How did this happen? She looks at the work order to see who did the work. She tracks down the technician and starts talking to him like he screwed up. He glances over at DH and says “I don’t have to listen to this” and walks away. DH tells Angie he needs to speak to her supervisor. She goes into one of the offices and starts talking to two guys, while DH stands outside looking in. He hates when staff people try to explain away problems to their bosses instead of letting him speak directly to the boss. He is mad, but a calm mad. He decided he needed to be heard, so he joined the little trio whether they wanted him to or not. They were in spin control now.

DH says “In case you can’t tell gentlemen, I am livid.” They could tell. “This is not the first screw up at your dealer. This sort of stuff happens every time I come here for service. I learn from past situations, and try to clarify my expectations before bad things happen, but that didn’t help this time. I want you to fix the defect and have your best guy do it. I don’t want to see any damage on my new vehicle from repeated attempts at the repair.” The repair on the driver side was noticeable, there was glue visible. The discussion continued, and they determined they have the parts in stock to replace both sides of the cowl.

Now for the CYA, please give me a five star review show. The managers tried to be all friendly and started throwing perks at DH. We’ll wash the van. We'll detail it. And we'll fill it up with gas. Plus we’ll let you have the loaner overnight, and we’ll deliver the completed vehicle to your wife’s office so you don’t have to come back again. How bout that? Angie says, will that get me a five star review?

Wednesday the van should be ready. DH calls the dealer to confirm the deal – clean it up, fix the defect and deliver it to my office. Supposed to happen before noon, and it does. Pretty anti climatic ending, the driver manages to find the office and park the van. It sparkles in the sun, cleanest its been since we bought it. The molding looks good, both sides. We switch keys, I point to the loaner car. He opens it, but then decides to have a smoke and watch the horses in the pasture a minute, enjoying the beautiful day. Then he's off like a thief in the night, speeding through the parking lot. I hope that's the end of Toyota in my life. At least until the van gets to ten thousand miles. Next year.

Adventure OTS Day 12 At Sea - Golf and Flowrider

Nice day on the decks. Partly cloudy, 24C (72F) with 8 ft seas, 23 mph winds. We had to make some last minute changes to our rental car in Port Canaveral the next day because RCL decided everyone disembarking had to do it by 9am. We were getting off the ship a day early in Port Canaveral, rather than going on to Ft Lauderdale to save ourselves from a 5 hour drive home on Sunday.

After making arrangements we decided to head up to the sports deck and join the mini golf tournament. I didn't do so well, but with practice became better. Scott got a hole in one.

After the mini golf we watched people on the Flowrider, a simulated surf. Mark decided he would try after watching some others, and figuring he might not get another chance. The flowriders are only on bigger ships, and there were no kids on this cruise so it was a good choice.

Mark, Scott & Marie watching the flowrider

Mark getting ready to try it again
Mark really made it look hard

Here's a live video of his first effort

Later in the day we met up with Wes & Karen from Victoria, BC in the Blue Moon during the happy hour.

The concierge had a special performance in the Diamond Lounge of juggling bartenders and special martini drinks. They also had the izumi chefs there to present platters of sushi and special appetizers.

Ended the day at the Quest game held in Studio B.

Well, that's it for our repositioning cruise. We settled up our account, paid our tips in cash to the staff who took care of us and packed up our stuff. We'll be back on another short Thanksgiving cruise for our 26th anniversary at the end of the month.

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