Saturday, May 20, 2017

Road Trip for President Trump

"This is ridiculous.  What are we going to do?  Road trip."  ~  Animal House discussion

It's been a tough week politically for President Trump.   And now he's off on a 9 day trip to the Middle East and the Vatican.  

It doesn't seem to me that the political situation will go away while he is travelling.  It will be interesting to see how everything evolves.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

This is not financial, policy or political advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pacing House Updates

It seems that houses need to be updated about every 10 - 15 years.    Otherwise, the home will seem dated, especially to potential buyers.    We've been living in our home almost 14 years.

We've already updated some mechanicals (roof, furnace, A/C, and water heater) in the past ten years.  Over the last couple years we've updated most of our kitchen appliances, due to failure.  Also, I changed the kitchen cabinet handles from brass to brushed nickel.    Recently, we painted the living, family, and dining rooms, and the exterior.  In addition, we changed the remaining aluminum venetian blinds to celluar shades.

This month, we will be changing our kitchen sink to stainless steel, and updating some bathroom faucets to brushed nickel.  I will also be replacing most of our brass switch/outlet plates with brushed nickel.

Our next round, which we have started, will be working on eliminating  ground cover (i.e. ivy and vinca) from our landscape areas.   Also, we will be replacing some plants and adding new ones.

Hopefully, we will complete our major updates in the next couple years, allowing us 10-15 years of minimum effort before the next update.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back every Monday  for a new segment.

This is not financial or home improvement advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

My Buy List

Here are the stocks on my buy list:

Add to existing positions:
WDC, PCLN, GOOG, GOOGL, FB, AMZN,

Buy new positions:
TSLA, TRMB, ALGN, SHOP, HRC

Just purchased yesterday:
SIMO, IDXX, MMSI

I identified these stocks based on a screen of recent price performance.  My hypothesis is that winning stocks will continuing advancing in this bull market.   These will be primarily trading positions, which I will exit partially or completely after meeting target profit gains.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

This is not financial or investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Turning Bullish

"Don't fight the tape." ~ Wall Street Adage

To be this has become a market of winning stocks and losing stocks.   The winners keep winning and the losers keep losing.   It's time to put more money into winners.

Examples of winners:  Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, Priceline, Tesla.

Examples of losers:   Under Armour, Gilead, Seadrill, Tidewater, J.C. Penney.

For me, it's tough to put money into these winning stocks.  Often, they have already advanced significantly, have high P/Es and seem very expensive.  I prefer to buy stocks on sale, but this seems to be a buy high and sell higher market.    So I'm going to go along for the ride.

I've made a list of stocks to buy as new positions or to increase holdings and will begin acquiring shares this week.

Disclosure:   At the time of posting, we own shares of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, Priceline, Under Armour, Gilead, Seadrill, Tidewater, and J.C. Penney.

For more on  New Beginnings, check back every Sunday for a new segment.

This is not financial or investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Paying Zero Federal Income Taxes in Retirement

"People would rather stick a pin in their eye than think about taxes after April 15th."  ~ me

My goal over the next few years is to pay as zero federal income tax.   And it will be 100% legal.

How am I doing it?

Income Source
First, since we are retired, we can manage where income is derived and choose a source that is most tax efficient, dividends and long term capital gains, which has a special federal tax rate of 0% for taxpayers in the 15% tax bracket.

Itemized Deductions
Second, we have itemized deductions that can reduce ordinary income (wages, rents, IRA distributions) by 1/2. I am still not old enough to collect Social Security, but deductions can also reduce the amount included in adjusted gross income (AGI).

Tax Credits
Third, we have two children that each qualify for a $1000 child tax credit.  This enables us to eliminate any remaining income tax after itemized deductions.

These are legitimate strategies for reducing one's taxes.  I also know that tax laws may change and eliminate any or all of the three strategies that we plan to use.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Sunday for a new segment.

This is not financial or tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, April 08, 2017

A Hard to Make Money Stock Market

This is a frustrating stock market.   The market is pricing in high expectations for Trump's administration and the Republican congress, despite no concrete results being delivered.  The advancing stocks are narrow.  Investors do not seem to have any conviction.

As a result, the market indices are trading sideways in a narrow band.   It's kind of like watching paint dry.  Not very exciting.

In addition, only a few stocks (e.g. Amazon, Facebook, and Apple) are are making significant advances.  The rest are flat or even falling.

The good news is that most of our accounts are near their highs.   The bad news is that these accounts are not achieving new highs.   So our accounts are not growing.

For now, I have no confidence in the market direction, nor any confidence that Trump and congress will meet expectations.   I will wait for a more clear market direction before putting any significant amount of funds back into stocks.

For more on  Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Career Path and Expectations Explained in a Graph

I found this on the Internet under Life Explained in Graphs:



This one gave me a good chuckle.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back  Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial or career advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Happy 8th Anniversary

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the bull market that started on March 9, 2009.

It wouldn't surprise me to see the bull market end in the next year, but then again, I've been expecting a an ending to occur since 2011.  I haven't been right yet, which isn't a bad thing.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Waiting for Extreme Carnage Before Buying

"To the pain..." ~ Westley from The Princess Bride

I'm itching to buy, but I'm going to wait.

In 2013 (the tape tantrum) and 2016 (worst start to S&P in history), I started buying right away and endured a month of further decline.  Then for Brexit and the Trump election, I waited and missed the immediate rebound of 2 days and 6 hours.

I expect this time the decline will be longer and more drawn out for the following reasons:

  • The Fed is raising interest rates.   
  • Trump's honeymoon fading fast.  And Trump is running out of items that can be dealt with by executive order.
  • Too many stocks are near 52 week lows despite the indices being near all time highs.
  • The low bar of expectations for Trump is rising.
  • Obamacare repeal and replace proposal disappointingly is really Obamacare tweak and refine.  
  • And the Fed is raising interest rates.
So I will wait for the market to become painful before buying.  Currently, I'm thinking of a 20% decline before doing most of my buying.  However, if a reversal occurs before 20% is reached, I may start buying.

Hopefully, I will be able to buy low.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, March 06, 2017

Preparing for a Really Ugly Market Downturn

While I don't know when the markets will turn down significantly, I want to be prepared for the inevitable.   Here are my two ugly market scenarios:

The first scenario, which some may expect, is the market will fall quickly, 10, 20, or maybe 30+% , over a couple months and then recover.  This scenario is usually painful, but short lived.

The second scenario, which others may expect,  is the market falls slowly over 6 months to two years. This scenario is usually painful for those expecting the first scenario and stay in the market or put more fund in while waiting for the rebound. Since this scenario extends the pain for a longer period, this scenario is particularly ugly.

Over the past few years, we've reduced our equity exposure from about 50% to about 25%.  This has been done primarily by reducing our exposure to my company stock by 66%.   So this has reduced our risk in two ways.

So if the stock market falls significantly, our downside will be about 25% of the market indices, which gives me comfort.   Of course, if the market rises significantly, we will only experience 25% of the gain in market indices.  However, given the current uncertainty of the markets, it is a trade off that I am happy to make, so that I can sleep better at night.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back every Monday for a new segment.

This is not financial or investing advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC