Mistakes

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Wow, just a couple of weeks in and I’m already feeling really, really, really cash-strapped.

It’s sunk in now how far “out-of-game” I’d allowed myself to get over the past couple of years of not posting on here.

I unveiled that really aggressive plan to pay down my auto loan just, what, like two weeks ago and, ALREADY, I’ve had to dip into my savings account to cover my regular bills.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

I mean, I’m an expert at this sort of thing, right?

I used to be.

So my stumbling out of the gate is clearly a result of my finances going nearly unchecked for the past couple of years. If I wanted something — and I could justify the costs — I bought it. It’s pretty simple, really.

In my head, two weeks or so ago, I though, eh, I’ll just move some automatic payments around to knock out the auto loan, you know, and things will be just like they’ve been for what feels like forever. No big deal.

But then I see something I’ve gotta have on eBay. I spend a couple hundred bucks on my business. The auto insurance bill comes in. I buy a new tablet for my son’s birthday. You know, stuff.

Add all of that up and, well, hmmmmm…that was all of the extra money I’d had slated in my plan to go towards the auto loan.

Crap.

I can’t have it all.

Even still, I haven’t stopped the payment plan.

I didn’t even hit pause.

To get me through this rough patch, I brought over $500 from my savings account to get me by until my next paycheck.

And, hopefully, from here on out, I can curb my spending back to where it needs to be to make this all work…

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Money HoardingSo the markets are just roaring so far in 2013. It’d be hard to imagine anyone is “down” this calendar year — unless you’re really, really terrible at investing.

Since I started purchasing individual stocks last December, a couple of my choices are up over 40%.

I should probably cash out.

In fact, I know I should.

I’ve made my money — take it while you can.

Well, that’s where the problem lies…

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a hoarder.

I like to accumulate.

(No — I’m not like the hoarders on television…)

It’s been working great for me with my 401k — and my hockey jersey collection — where I just keep adding to the pile and the value consistantly keeps getting bigger and bigger.

That’s not how it works with individual stocks.

As a mostly absent portfolio manager, I have no desire to be a day-trader or anything but I totally understand the concept of buy-low-and-sell-high.

I know how that works and how it leads to wealth at a much advanced pace.

I just never pull the trigger. I grow too attached or something.

Looking back on my childhood, we moved every few years to a new house. Each subsequent move was to a bigger and better house.

I wasn’t privy to the mortgage bill or anything, since I was only 7 years old by the time we hit the fourth house, but I do see how you can go from house-to-house, getting bigger and better along the way, while keeping your mortgage bill roughly the same.

The size of the house doesn’t determine the size of the mortgage — the folks accross the street from us paid DOUBLE what we did for a similar but smaller house.

I’d bet if you compared our two mortgages, you’d be hard pressed to determine that we live in the same neighborhood.

Buy low, sell high. That’s the path to take…up, and up, and up…

I know that.

Yet I sit in my first and only house today — knowing full well that I can technically afford something twice the size and, by now, could probably be in something three times the size.

The reasoning there is a bit more complicated, though, since I like where I live and enjoy the freedom that a sub-$500 mortgage allows us.

But there shouldn’t be any irrational emotional connection with the stocks!?

Dude, you’ve made over $80 on a $200 investment in less than a month. Sell Tesla now!

I can’t even justify my own reasoning.

It’s like…by holding on longer, I own more or something.

But that’s not how it works. I know that.

If I own two shares at $80 and now they’re worth $100 — I still only own two shares.

I bought low — I need to sell high.

That goes for you, Google, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons, Tesla, Solar City, and Ford.

My only loser was Apple (which I purged in disgust months ago…)

Facebook and LuluLemon have essentially stayed right near what I purchased them for.

I’m pretty good at picking stocks (even when it’s not a boom year like 2013 has been), I think…

My end game is terrible though.

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So, I’ve been meaning to write an answer to the as-of-yet unasked question, “How’s the stock market experiment going for ya?”

I’ve been so far behind on posting the net worth updates that it wouldn’t make sense to answer the question without some numbers to look at but I’ll tell you this…

Apple sucks.

I’ve always held this opinion.

But I left my better judgement at the door and momentarily bought into their hype machine when I decided to go out and buy individual stocks via ShareBuilder…

And guess what?

Apple has been the anchor in my portfolio — down over 30%.

For every dollar I made from my donut-related investments, I’ve lost two more dollars because of Apple.

Even the ongoing Lululemon transparent pants debacle (which sounds more like a value added feature, if you ask me) hasn’t hurt my bottom line significantly…

Lesson learned.

Shoulda bought more Google instead.

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LED Light BulbWow… You know, sometimes I just get on a roll and, well, spend freely. Just to get it out of my system, if that makes sense?

$2320.00 : Family
$2314.38 : Property Tax
$902.20 : Daycare
$749.84 : Homeowners Insurance
$497.72 : Mortgage
$337.40 : Clothing
$304.56 : Gasoline
$228.27 : Auto Insurance
$154.50 : Hockey Jersey
$131.43 : Electric
$116.63 : Water/Sewer
$107.58 : Natural Gas
$100.85 : Light Bulbs
$72.77 : Cable/Internet
$66.57 : Business Expenses
$60.00 : Cash
$40.08 : Life Insurance
$31.68 : Christmas Movies
$25.90 : Charity
$13.14 : Fast Food

All summed up, that’s $8575.50 out the door.

While it is the highest total this year, it just barely beat out July. Oh, the insanity.

Taxes and insurance were the killers this month totalling $3332.57 all by themselves but you can’t really skirt that type of thing.

Spending a hundred bucks on lightbulbs, well, that’s a different story…

See, we have recessed lighting in most of the rooms downstairs and each room has four cans. One bulb blew out and I couldn’t for the life of me find an exact bulb replacement anywhere.

Trust me, if one bulb is different, it looks horrible so I decided to try out some of those new LED bulbs that are supposed to draw like zero electricity and last forever. Problem is, they’re expensive. And I need four.

Being a photographer, I have a slightly better understanding of light than your average lightbulb shopper, so I knew what I wanted. Bright white, not orange but white, with a very wide spill. I wanted flood lights not spot lights. And white. Bright white.

So I found what I wanted, ordered four of them, screwed ’em all in and…HATED IT!

Yeah, so, while I’ll still never be a fan of the orange glow that incandescent bulbs give off or the fake orange glow (that looks white but isn’t really) that CFLs give off, I went way too far with these LEDs. They’re so white it makes the room feel blue.

Sadly, they’ll probably last a decade.

Thankfully it was only $100.

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Okay, so now I’m all fired up now about not having my “play” money invested yet…

Lululemon [NASDAQ: LULU], which I called a “BUY” on Tuesday, went up 7.26% today.

Yeah, SEVEN PERCENT.

And I don’t own any of it yet…

Grrrrr…

What I need to try to keep in mind is that my initial investment will only amount to maybe 2 shares worth so while 7% sounds like I really missed an opportunity, truth be told, mathematically, it’s only around $8.

NBD.

Still… this waiting game is kinda crappy.

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Dolla SignsProbably not the best way to realize the future ownership of a Lamborghini

Anyway, one of the companies that I do contract work for owes me in excess of $3000. They pulled the same stunt a year ago before finally paying up but… shame on me for giving them the benefit of the doubt a second time.

Long story short, for years I moonlighted for the marketing department of a super large “entertainment” company. I did what I loved to do and got paid for it. Can’t beat that.

A few years ago, though, the big company outsourced their marketing efforts in my region to a “local” company that offered them the moon.

It was a totally understandable decision. They’d still profit from the end product but wouldn’t need to lift a finger or spend much more than a dime to market it? That’s a no-brainer.

So, this local company took me on in the same exact contract role I’d been doing for nearly a decade at, as we agreed, the same wage.

And this is where it went south…

The first year they were constantly six or more months behind on payments.

And now, just last week, the BIG company cut ties with the them for, well, complaints from vendors due to unpaid bills.

Plain and simple, the swarmy marketing company was cash poor and they’d spent millions in excess of what they had on hand…knowingly.

So, as the connection was cut, the marketing company (and all of it’s associated bogus llc’s) have (poof!) vanished.

As I said, I’m still owed in excess of $3000 and there’s no longer a “contact” to contact regardig it.

Small claims court is a possible course of action but I’m not certain it’s even worth the trouble (not to mention the fees) to try to collect money that I’m pretty confident was never there to begin with.

It’s a crumby situation.

I’m telling myself that I’m okay with it, sort of, but my concern is that when the BIG company comes back in and asks me again to continue what I’ve been doing (and I’m confident that they well), I’ll still feel like they OWE me $3000.

“Sure, I’ll come work for you again but you need to give me $3k first.”

Awkward.

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Land Rover Discovery IIIt’s been a year now since I bought the Land Rover that’s been sucking down gas each and every month.

The main reason for the purchase was because we’d be becoming a family of four within weeks and we needed another car that we could all fit in for a family vacation…and I’d always wanted one.

Was it worth it?

Well, it has certainly lived up to Land Rover’s well documented reputation as an often-in-the-shop money pit.

There was that $1100 “incident” in March followed by the $1200 accident in June.

And how could I forget that $1675 oil change in August!?

Wow…

That’s a lot of maintenance in a six month period…

But time heals all wounds and, thankfully (or surprisingly), it’s been smooth sailing every since.

So, while I don’t feel as if it was a wise investment yet — I never expected it to run forever — I’m still glad that I bought it.

It’s just eclipsed the 60k mile mark so it “should” have some life left and if I get another 20-40k out of it with minimal maintenance, well, it’ll have been a steal!

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Henry FordI couldn’t help but chuckle at Grant’s recent comment regarding my issues with the Land Rover.

He said, “Shoulda bought a Ford.”

It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to a comment that I made on his site back in 2009 where we were both kicking ourselves for not buying a ton of Ford stock back when it was on the brink of worthlessness.

Re-thinking back to that time, and imagining if I had pulled the trigger on buying into Ford like I’d wanted to, what would I have done with it since?

Would have I have wisely sold it for a tidy profit before this most predictable downward trend of the past few weeks?

Or would I still have it in my portfolio?

Well, I’ll tell you… I’d still have it.

Since there’s nothing on television worth watching on Sunday or Monday nights, for the past few weeks I’ve found myself wathing those hoarding shows on A&E and TLC.

Personally, I much prefer the TLC variation of the show. It’s far less confrontational.

Anyway, from watching these shows, I think I’ve somewhat confirmed something that I’ve long suspected anyway.

I have hoarding tendancies.

No, no, I’m not *anything* like the people on the show but I do have a thing for collecting and accumulating things (cough, hockey jerseys, cough, cough) and then being reluctant to ever part with them.

Remember that $30k worth of photography equipment? Yeah, I should have sold the stuff that I no longer used back then for a tidy sum.

A Canon 10D, Canon 1D, and a Canon 1D Mark II aren’t worth nearly as much now — and I’m *still* not using them and have no plans to either.

Still, I’d have a hard time parting with them.

And that’s exactly what would’ve happened with the Ford stock.

Can You Dig It?

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