Friday, February 14, 2020

Saturday, February 1, 2020

January 2020 Dividend Income: We Must Protect This House

2020 is off and running.  A month has already come and gone, but that just means it's time to log the dividends of the past month.  Let's get to it.

Iron Mountain (IRM): $1.93   Up $0.06 from last quarter due to DRIP and a dividend increase.
Pepsi (PEP): $0.96   Same as last time
Franklin Resources (BEN): $1.91  Up $0.60 due to a dividend increase and DRIP
AGNC: $0.17  Same as last time
Bed, Bath, and Beyond (BBBY): $0.69  Up a penny due to DRIP
Realty Income (O): $0.71   Same as last month 
Armanino Foods (AMNF): $0.28  Same as last quarter

This brings the sub-total up to $6.65.  It's up $0.68 from last quarter, but down compared to last year.

The 401K threw in $0.46, which is down 4 cents from last quarter, but up $0.30 from last year.

This brings the grand dividend total to $7.11, up $0.64 from last quarter, but down when looking at the YOY numbers.  That is largely due to the Best Buy fluke.

Speaking of, I've got good news for those who have been flummoxed by the randomness of that particular payer. Whilst visiting family for the holidays, I went rummaging through some old papers and found a way to get my Best Buy account sorted out.  So now, they have my current residential info and I set that dividend to reinvest.  As such, not only will the pay schedule normalize going forward, but we'll also be seeing a bit more momentum added to the dividend snowball. I am going to miss those checks, but I can change it back (and even do a DRIP/payment split apparently, which is kind of cool) later on down the line.

Interest payments clocked in at $3.05, which is down from December.  I chalk this up to the fact that I have started moving money from my online savings account into the IRA's.  It's a lateral move, at face value, but given the way compounding works, it actually results in a small step back, as you can see.  The way I figure, the Roth is giving me tax free growth and the deposits in the traditional IRA are going to give me a bigger tax return (I'm still working on the 2019 contributions at this point), so I think this strategy will work out to my benefit in the long term.

No buys this month.  I said that investing was going to be light early on and it proved true here.  I'm viewing the IRA contributions as my "moves" for the month.  I was able to increase my 401K contribution, though.  My employer had originally set the limit an associate could contribute to 10% of their income, which is what I was doing, but this year they upped the contribution limit to 30%...which I can't do...yet.  My brain fought itself pretty hard on this one.  There was a lengthy internal back and forth of

   "Do it!"
   "Do it!"
   "DOO IIIT!!!"

Ultimately, I didn't, though it is a goal for me to get myself to the point where I can.  As of now, it's at 11%, a small increase, but I am at least taking advantage of the bigger window.

Overall, this wasn't a shabby way to start off the new year.  There was decent growth due to DRIP, as well as a few dividend increases.  It may not have been a blow out and there were some decreased numbers peppered throughout, but pieces are being moved into place so that, going forward, things can progress much more effectively.


                             "stock dividend" by CreditDebitPro is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

'1922' Movie Review

Reviewing this had been sitting on my to-do list for some time and I figured it was about time we got to it.  The reviews I've seen have been generally positive, as such, I was surprised to find out how utterly underwhelmed by this production I was. 

The plot follows a farmer named Wilf, who kills his wife after she inherits a lot of land and voices intent to sell it.  While Wilf does have interest in adding the land to his own, child custody also seems to be a large factor in what drives him.  True, his wife does try to force him to sell it all, but she later says that she'll sell her land and leave him be.  It seemed like the better option to lead with, but what can you do?

If we were supposed to feel sorry for Wilf's wife, it didn't work.  She comes off as intentionally unpleasant to the point where you wonder why the two are even together.  It also doesn't come as too much of a loss when she is taken out. 

Of course, Wilf doesn't fare much better.  Thomas Jane (who I hardly recognized at first) isn't really given a whole lot to work with.  All he can do is don an oddly thick Southern accent.  It's jarring and becomes grating after a while.

Oddly, one of the stand out characters was Shannon, the love interest of Wilf's son, Hank.  We don't get to know too much about her, but she came off as really nice.  Sometimes simply having a pleasant disposition can go a long way and this was one of those times.  She's polite, shows concern for Hank when he starts to go into an emotional tailspin and even gets along rather well with Wilf.  Even with only a handful of scenes, you grow to genuinely like her.

I think the bigger problem, however, is the fact that this was a story that's better suited to prose.  The plot really doesn't have enough forward momentum to keep you engaged.  Even with a run time of about an hour and 40 minutes, this thing drags like you wouldn't believe.  I was repeatedly clicking the screen on my phone to see how much time was left.   There are moments peppered throughout where it seems like the movie is finally going to start picking up steam, but then it regresses again.

Neal McDonough has a small supporting role.  The movie could have used more of him.  Even with only a few minutes of screen time, he manages to turn in a rather strong performance.  His presence was one of the highlights of the movie for me.

There's also a scene where it seems like Wilf is being haunted by the spirit of a cow that he killed earlier in the film.  It was random and I did get a legitimate chuckle out of it.  Sadly, a later line makes it clear that that cow is still living...though it dies later.  Had it actually turned out to be a ghost cow I wouldn't have even brought it up as the complete and surprising randomness added to the fun of the scene.  Given the true nature, I didn't feel as bad about it. I mean, it might still catch you off guard, but the scene wasn't what it could have been.

The movie also falls into the trap of having a lot of scenes take place in the dark.  It's strange because there are some scenes that are dimly lit perfectly and others where I had to struggle to see what was going on or flat out couldn't see what was going on.  It was a real problem.

Is this the worst King adaptation?  Oh, heavens no.  I wouldn't even rank it among the worst.  It's faithful to the source material and it isn't a complete misfire.  Still, I have no desire to sit through it again and think that your time would be better spent watching something else.  I really didn't find this to be worth the effort.


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Brad Thor Bibliography: 'The Lions of Lucerne'

For quite a while now, I have wanted to do a deep dive in to author Brad Thor's library.  I've read a couple of his books in the past and found them generally enjoyable: fast paced and hard to put down.  

I was pretty excited to go back to the beginning of this particular franchise, but alas, this one doesn't get off to the most auspicious start.  This is Thor's first novel and you can tell this is the case by a lot of factors.

The plot itself is very stock, "the president's been kidnapped, is Scot Harvath a bad enough dude to rescue him?"  Spoiler alert, the answer is yes. 

This flaw is augmented by simple prose which spends a lot of time telling us more than it shows us.  The narration references character traits that aren't really seen and, in particular, the book has a habit of explaining dialogue.  Now, this is helpful when characters are using military jargon, but it still feels clunky.  The worst example is when a character references people getting fired over a debacle by saying that "Henry the VIII would be taking new wives" i.e. heads are going to roll.  The line itself would have been fine, but the book stops to explain the historical reference even though it's pretty common knowledge. 

I also rolled my eyes at all the scenes where Harvath is chewed out by his superior for being a loose cannon who isn't following protocol and that he's being taken off the case.  It's something we've seen a thousand times and it's done with no sense of irony or self awareness. 

Speaking of Harvath, the introduction for the character itself is a bit on the rocky side.  I liked his rapport with the First Daughter.  It was only showcased in the early chapters, but it was one of the highlights of the book.  Later on, though, he kind of turns into a tool.  I've read other Harvath books and never really suffered that problem, so it caught me off guard in all honesty.  They try to chalk it up to the fact that he has a concussion, but it doesn't really endear you to the character.

Thankfully, both Harvath and the book get better in the second half.  You can tell that Thor is finding his groove, as the latter half features more of the action and fast pace that you would expect from the author.  Harvath himself also becomes far more likable, making it that much easier to keep reading.   

Having Harvath get implicated in the nefarious misdeeds also works to the book's benefit.  It changes up the narrative a bit and escalates the tension.  Not only does the time frame shrink, but it renders Harvath without the resources he would have had a few chapters prior. 

Oddly enough, this book took me a while to get through.  Other Thor books were much breezier reads.  Now, part of this might just be due to me having a busy schedule, but I still think that his later books have a much stronger pull to them.

On the plus side, this book is devoid of the flaws that would plague Thor's later books.  There aren't entire chapters dedicated to a character pontificating on a current event issue.  Harvath is also depicted more realistically and less of the "Gary Stu" that he is often described as later on in the saga.  He does some impressive things here and there, but it doesn't come off as unbelievable.  He also suffers lasting consequences from physical injuries, which subverts most action hero depictions.

Will this book have you hooked?  Well, it has others, but it didn't really have that effect on me.  I'm still going to follow through and read the remaining books in Thor's library, but if this were my first exposure to the author, I don't think I'd be all that impressed.  I didn't hate it by any stretch, but it wasn't the most mind-blowing opening to a franchise.

I think you're better off reading a couple of Thor's later books and then coming back and reading this.  The introduction to Harvath is more interesting if you know about a couple of his later exploits, as you can see where it all started.  Going into this blind might not end up working.  The book does have its strong points, but the flaws are also quite easily noticed.


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Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 Dividends

While my investing odyssey officially crossed the one year mark back in June, the end of 2019 marks the first full calendar year of investing.  As such, I thought it would be interesting to go back and run up the total amount that came in over said year.  In addition to the monthly totals, looking at the annuals will be a good way to track the progress (or regression) of the portfolio and dividend income going forward.


Taxable: 10.14
401K: $0.16


Taxable: $9.89
401K: $0.43


Taxable: $2.01
401K: $0.37


Taxable: $2.10
401K: $0.36


Taxable: $12.68
401K: $1.09


Taxable: $3.61
401K: $0.77


Taxable: $6.99
401K: $0.42


Taxable: $15.69
401K: $0.44


Taxable: $7.27
401K: $0.75


Taxable: $5.97
401K: $0.50


Taxable: $20.42
401K: $1.73


Taxable: $6.14
401K: $12.91

Sub-total: $102.91

401K sub-total: $19.93

Grand total: $122.84

Not a bad start.  It'll be interesting to watch the bar (hopefully) increase with each passing year.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

December 2019 Dividend Income: Jingle Bell Stock

The end of the year is upon us.  With the passing of a new month comes another round of dividends to tally and document.  Let's get to it.

Kroger (KR): $0.98  up a penny from last quarter due to DRIP
The SJW Group (SJW): $0.30
Westrock (WRK): $1.41 up $0.50 from the last payment due to DRIP and a dividend increase
AGNC: $0.17 same as last quarter
CenturyLink (CTL): $0.27 up a penny from DRIP
Flowers Foods (FLO): $0.97 up a penny from DRIP
Realty Income (O): $0.71  up a penny from last quarter, but the same as last month
Wendy's (WEN): $0.85 up $0.14 from last quarter due to DRIP and a dividend increase
VF Corp (VFC): $0.48

That brings the taxable account total to $6.14.  It's down a little bit due to Best Buy randomness, but overall there was growth almost across the board.

Now, last year, the 401K came in with a surprise $8.12 worth of dividends.  As such I was looking forward to what another year of contributions would bring.  It didn't disappoint as the 401K delivered $12.91 worth to my account across the various funds.

All in all, the grand total comes to $19.05.  It wasn't quite the record breaker of last month, but it came pretty darn close.  Next year could very likely prove to be a very different story at this rate.

Interest payments clocked in at $3.40, which is down $0.32 from last month.  The bank dropped its interest rates again.  It's getting a little annoying, to be honest, but I'll plow through.


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