How To Buy A Coffee With A Single Stock Trade In 10 Minutes

I’ll admit, I struggled with the title for this post. Mainly because it puts a lot of pressure on me. As I write this, I’m just at the start of the strategy. That said, I have full faith in the strategy, and wanted to give myself something to push me forward. The strategy that I’m talking about is trading stocks (surprise) with Robinhood.io. Why Robinhood?

Free commissions.

Moo, bitches...

Say what?

That’s right. Free commissions. I’ve talked about Robinhood.io before, but it wasn’t until this week that I was able to finally trade with the app, because it took them this long to get an Android app put together. I invested $10 to test it out. That’s where the title of this post comes in. My goal isn’t to make millions, it’s to trade enough in a single trade to buy myself a cup of coffee.

My coffee costs $2.80.

So there we have it, I have to trade 28% of my original $10 in a single trade. Will I do that in a single trade? Hell no. It’s going to take some build up. And in fact, I’ve actually already been working on that.

I deposited my initial $10 on August 18th, 2015. Today is August 26th, 2015 as I write this. My portfolio sits at $10.72. For those keeping track at home that’s a 7.2% of the original invested amount. And I’ve even lost money on a trade. Once. Just once.

So what’s my strategy? It’s actually really simple. Small gains. I head over to Yahoo Finance or Capital One Investing (Previously Sharebuilder) and look for penny stocks that are showing high fluctuations for the day. I want them to be pretty consistent spikes, or at least trending one direction or the other. Once I know the trend, I aim to buy at the low end of the spike, and sell at the middle of the spike.

Why the middle?

I don’t want to risk too much, so I put a limit sell order on the middle price, and then I watch. I do the middle because it let’s me change the price if I think it’s skyrocketing again, but it also let’s me have a point to hold out for if the spike is slow. You see, I want to be in and out of a stock within a few minutes. I don’t want to hold for an hour or two. That’s too risky. I want to be able to pick it up at $0.40/share, and sell it at $0.425/share within a few minutes.

I’ve made some decent trades this way. Once I make a profit, I buy more stock. This let’s me compound the benefit. The plan is to cash out once I hit $20, which will let me risk as much or as little as I want, because at that point my initial investment, my cash capital, is out of harms way. I will only ever break even at that point. Thus, I can’t lose.

Yea, yea, but what about the Coffee?

My average profit on a trade is 6.5%, which means to make the $2.80 in a single trade, I will then surpass my $20 goal, and be able to cash out. Do I think that’s going to happen soon? Who knows. You’re only as profitable as your last trade.

How I Stopped Over Drafting by Opening Bank Accounts

I used to have a big problem with forgetting where I’d spent money and over drafting when the bills would come out. It was a bit of a pain in the ass, because then you have to come up with money for the fee. In a single year I spent over $1,000 on over draft fees. Not exactly what I wanted to be spending my money on. This was the same time that I was coming to the end of my freelancing, when I had come to the end of my contracts, end of my income, and lost it all.

I don’t mean that lightly.

I lost my house.

My car.

My job.

The world came crashing down, and if it wasn’t for the strong family support system that me and my wife had, we wouldn’t have made it through. We moved in with her parents, where we had a roof and food, and the knowledge that we were welcome there as long as we needed. Love them as we do, we didn’t want to stay very long, so I was determined to figure it out.

The first step was getting our shit together. We started keeping track of our bills, paying extremely close attention to where our money was going. We signed up for Mint.com, we signed up on CreditKarma.com, we started writing down every purchase in our ledger, and cut out the vast majority of the excess. My wife was working, so we started figuring out her average income every paycheck. From there we had a baseline for what we could afford.

At the time we were living on state help, so we had an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card that we could use to purchase food. Since it was obvious to me that this would be the only money we could spend on food, we became very vigilant about how we spent that money, what we spent it on, and tried to keep as much on it as we could so it would roll over at the end of the month.

We got really good living on nothing.

So good, in fact, that we realized we could afford to get a small trailer. A two bedroom, not big enough for our growing family,  but our daughter was still sleeping in the room with us at the time, since she was so little, so we went for it. It was around this time that I became extremely sick. I ended up having surgery, and was laid up for about a month. During that month I had little to do but think, plan, and read. I read a lot.

I started planning a future of real estate investing, which had always been a goal, but had pretty much faded from my plans when the world crashed down around me. How can you think about investing money you’ve never even seen into a building that you’re reasonably sure you couldn’t even rent if someone else owned it? You can do a lot when you’re watching TV and reading all day.

Finally I was able to get up and move around again. That’s when the bills started to pile up once again, and we realized that we weren’t going to survive unless I got a job. So I got out of the house, found a job as a call center operator. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was full time, and as much overtime as I needed. I was guaranteed a minimum of 40 hours per week, and I took it every single week.

That’s when I built the spreadsheet. It started as an hour tracker, we were able to budget exactly how much we could afford based on me working 40 hours. I was making enough at my job to pay the majority of our bills, and my overtime helped cover the rest. We started to thrive, but we still had a problem. Trying to keep track of everything was still a pain in the ass.

And I was still over drafting.

So, this is how I stopped over drafting by opening bank accounts. It’s not really that fancy of a trick. I was making so much at my job that I was no longer eligible for state food aid, which is not a complaint. But, growing up using state aid, you get trained that one card is for food, and the other card is for cash. I realized that the same principle could work for my own accounts. Why did I have to lump all my money into a single account?

At my bank we get free checking, so I went and opened two additional accounts. The first I labeled “Food”, the second I labeled “Bills.” These are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain them anyway. In my spreadsheet, I have itemized each expense down to it’s yearly, monthly, weekly and daily costs. I then assign an income hourly rate, and average hours to each hourly job in the income list, and if it’s a salaried position there is a salary field. This gives me the budgeted monthly income. In my calculations I also added in an estimated tax rate, so I’m creating a budget off of the Net not the Gross.

In the itemized expenses list, each item is given a category of Personal, Bills, Food or Savings. This determines which account the money will be located in. Each category is then totaled up for it’s weekly amount. Now, I am salaried and get paid weekly, but my wife is hourly and receives her check every two weeks. This is a bit of a pain. That said, I calculate the percentage for each person’s income. In other words, I take the calculated total weekly income, and figure out what percentage each of us brings to that figure. I then use that percentage as the basis for the bills.

I.E. If I bring in 60% of the weekly income, I pay 60% of the weekly expenses. She pays 40% of the weekly expenses, combined every two weeks, so she’s paying two weeks worth every paycheck. We get our checks direct deposited into our Personal account. When they show up, we then transfer the corresponding dollar amounts to each of the other accounts.

Each account has it’s own specific purpose. We don’t use the Bills account unless we’re paying a bill, we only ever use the Food account for Food or household items like toilet paper, etc. Savings is for long-term savings goals, which we’ve only recently been able to start putting money towards. And Personal is for everything else. Coffee, clothes, gas for the car is also put into this account, but could easily be put into it’s own account. We just felt three accounts was good enough. And for our purposes, it has worked. We haven’t over drafted an account in over two years.

That’s two years of no over draft fees. Two years of not having to worry about where my money was. Sure, we’ve gotten close to $0.00 in our accounts, and in fact get down to empty in our Food budget every single week, but we’re not worried.

And that’s worth a hell of a lot.

I don’t make a big fuss about this setup, but I’ve mentioned it here and there and every time I do, someone inevitably makes the comment that it’s such a good idea. I agree, but it’s not just the splitting up of the money that’s important. The underlying thing is that you have to know where every dollar you have is going. You also need to be able to look at your paycheck each week, and see a number that is equal to or larger than what you expected to see. If you can’t do both of these very simple things, you are going to run into trouble eventually.

5 Ways to Impress During a Meeting — (I’m Working on #1 Myself)

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post, and there’s a very good reason for this. I recently left my job supervising a call center, and moved back into the technology field doing PHP Development work for a local publishing company. Yay for me, and for you! Now that I’ve settled back down again, and gotten back into rhythm, I have a little more ability to write.

My first post I want to do for you is something that I’ve been focusing on. This change of job is more then just a change of occupation, I’m moving back into my career path, which is immensely important, as it’s where I intend to be working until I retire. So, I have put together a list of things that help you impress during meetings.

5. Don’t use jargon

Jargon are words that sound good, but don’t actually say anything. Forbes as done a remarkable job listing some of the worst offenders, so I won’t reiterate. Just don’t use it.

How Will It Help

The reason why is actually quite simple: It’s not memorable. Nobody cares if you’re using the same jargon as everyone else. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to put the effort into forming actual thoughts and ideas, instead of just telling everyone that you need to “synergize” your team, and “buy-in” to the new way of “moving the needle” — ok, so I reiterated, just a bit.

Instead, try to focus on the actual problem. This will show your co-workers, and your boss, that you understand what the actual concern is, and that you’re focused on finding the solution, instead of parading around pretending to know what you’re talking about, when in reality you’re just another suit full of fear that you’re not going to make it past the next rung in the ladder.

4. Ask questions

Questions seem like they’re something to avoid during a meeting, but in reality they’re not. You might have this belief that those who ask questions are those who don’t understand their job, but this is complete and utter bollocks. Those who ask questions understand their job the most. Know why? Because they asked the fucking questions that’s why.

How Will It Help

Your boss didn’t get where she is by not asking questions. She asks them everyday. You know, when it feels like she’s trying to size you up, and see where your project is? She’s really…sizing you up, and seeing where your project is. Because that’s her job.

She asks questions of her bosses, as well. If she’s the CEO, she asks questions of the share holders. She also asks them of the buying public. Because that’s what business is. It’s a ton of questions, and very few quality answers. If you can begin supplying those answers, you convert yourself into a priceless asset, and one that they will keep around for the long haul.

3. Show Up On Time

This is true about anything, but especially meetings. If you’re not on time, you had better come with a damn good reason. And not an excuse, either. A reason. As in, you had come across an immediate concern in the company servers, and instead of making the meeting’s start time, you spent an extra 10 minutes shoring up that security hole, so the company intranet didn’t go down while you were discussing the coming month’s budget.

Because if you’re not on time, you’re not important.

How Will It Help

In college showing up fashionably late might have been the it thing to do, but this isn’t college, and there will not be beer. Unless of course you’re working for Sam Adam’s. Either way, don’t be late. Your boss doesn’t want people he can’t rely on. He wants to know that if he says he needs you somewhere at 10 O’Clock, you’re going to be there 15 minutes early, and nearly finished, before he arrives.

That’s why you need to have a reason to be late. Because you can’t always be on time, emergencies do arise, but if you have a reason to be late, you can tell your boss, hey, it’s okay, I got to this one before you even knew I needed to.

That’s the ultimate early.

2. Close Your Damn Mouth

Some people think that to sound smart, and get their name out there, they need to contribute every thought that runs through their pretty little skull. This is not true, and in fact will only serve to damage your reputation.

How Will It Help

Think of it like this, you’re definitely going to hit a bulls eye once in a while if you continuously slog a shovel full of cow shit at it. This isn’t impressive, because at the end of the day you have a wall covered in cow shit, and a shit smelling bulls eye that nobody wants to touch.

Now that I’ve said all that, it might seem like a bad time to follow it up with…

1. Open Your Damn Mouth

Yes, this seems like completely different modes of advice, but they’re not. Just as there are some people that can’t seem to shut the hell up, there are also those who don’t seem to ever want to open their mouths. I’m one of them. It’s not that I don’t feel my ideas are useful, in fact I believe my ideas are pure gold and should be implemented without edit–which is why I never bring them up. Because my ideas are not pure gold. No idea is.

How Will It Help

Even though my ideas aren’t pure gold, they are good. And with a little polishing and buffing from the team, they can be great. That’s what meetings are for. To find the good ideas, and polish them as a group, and once they’re polished you all head off into your corners and work on your portion.

Your ideas might not seem great to you, or they might seem too precious to even consider offering up your opinion, for fear that you’re not as smart as you think you are. But, the only way to really find out is to put yourself out there, and try. There’s a saying in the chess world that you never become a better player until you compete against a player who is your better.

Basically what that means is, unless you challenge yourself, you’re going to stay the same. And just as you don’t want to stay in the same job forever, your boss doesn’t want to promote someone who never grows.

The trick is to only open your mouth when you believe the idea actually contributes to the issue at hand. So, when they’re discussing how to expand the stagnant mailing list on the website, don’t chime in that if you did a cold calling campaign you might be able to expand profit margin. Sure, that could be a good idea, but the issue is the mailing list. A better idea might be to suggest making some minor edits to the form, and running a split test to get some data on which performs better. It’s specific enough to get people focusing in the direction they need to be, and vague enough that you don’t imprint anything specific. Let the others handle the specifics, you’re guiding them to the idea.

One might say, you’re leading.

Ben Aaron and The Nameless Dance Walk Guru Are on to Something. Here’s what it is…

If you haven’t already seen it, Ben Aaron from NBC hit upon a successful viral video not long ago, when he was recording on the streets of New York and had a chance encounter with a man whom at the time he had no idea who he was, but he was just dancing. Walking, and dancing. Down the streets. It was awesome.

So they danced together, leaving their inhibitions at the door, and looking foolish, but having fun.

The thing that’s not touched on here is something that you should really take to heart. I’m not sure if he knew he was doing it at the time, but Ben has become the catalyst for a movement. He’s what Derek Sivers calls the first follower, and he’s done it with tremendous style, and reach.

That’s the thing about being a leader, which Joe, AKA The Nameless Dance Walk Guru, has hit on without knowing it. You have to have the courage to stand out and look silly. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s first reaction upon seeing Joe on the video was to question his sanity, but as the video progressed, and I saw Ben join in, and then I saw Ben encouraging other people to join in, and they did, Joe became less crazy to me. In short, he became a leader, someone who had hit on something I had missed.

He was having fun, enjoying himself, to hell with what everyone else thought. But he was welcoming, warm, and didn’t feel as if Ben was mocking him, didn’t take offense to the random stranger joining in. He was the epitome of what a leader should be.

Watch the Derek Sivers TED Talk below where he discusses how to start a movement, using as his example yet another dancing fool who created his own movement in less than 3 minutes.

So why this post? Because I feel leadership, but more importantly the ability to follow effectively, is lacking in our younger generation. We need to encourage people to become that “first follower”, encourage them to look ridiculous, to venture out into the world and find someone doing something that others think is crazy, but that they are 100% positive is the way to go. And when they find that person, to follow them, and encourage others to follow. Get the movement going, and suddenly you’re no longer pushing the movement, the movement is pushing you.

Or dance walking you through the grocery store.

Opportunistic or Reckless

There’s a vast difference between being opportunistic and being reckless, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which you’re being, because even though they’re two very different things, they look so similar. This is even more apparent when the focus is your career. People may feel as if you’re facing a decision that shouldn’t be a concern, you have a good thing going, and it takes a vast amount of stupidity to screw that up.

Unless what you’re doing isn’t screwing up, but moving forward. Grabbing the opportunities provided to you, and running with them.

So how can you tell what you’re being? Well, it’s actually easier to tell than you’d think. Reckless decisions are quick, not considered, and more often than not they end up with you in a worse position than you were in to begin with. Opportunistic decisions have been thought about, even if only for a few brief moments, enough thought has been put into them to justify the decision. This thought has led you to believe that taking that opportunity is going to move you forward, in the direction that you’d like to go.

I’ve had the pleasure of making more than my fair share of reckless decisions, as well as taking more than my fair share of opportunities. The more you work for what you have, the more opportunities present themselves.

It’s important to remember that all opportunities can be reckless decisions, but no opportunistic choice is a reckless decision.

State of the Stock – February

This February we got quite a bit of money from our tax return. As discussed, I took that return and invested quite a bit of it. The idea was to minimize the commission fees, by investing hundreds at a time using the 3 Months to Profit formula. So I did. Granted, it’s a bit of a misnomer calling it that, because it doesn’t guarantee anything. As you can see here, stock prices fluctuated, and profits are all negatives.

Another reason why you’ll notice a change between INTC and INTC from January, is because I realized in doing my math that I was figuring the profit incorrectly. I had been “re-adding” the commission to the value of the profit field, but I re-added about 200% more commission than I needed to, thus initially creating a false profit. This is why I don’t pretend to be an expert, or that anything you see in my portfolio is solid gold advice.

That said, I also let it be known when I make a mistake, and when it’s fixed. So here are the updated numbers as of this morning. End of day values may change, but as of 11am these were accurate within a few pennies.

STOCK TOTAL PURCHASED TOTAL SOLD PROFIT
TEU 126.4225 65.0221 (-$5.98)
BAB 13.682 4.0772 (-$26.11)
INTC 3.0778 3.0778 (-$9.94)
O 11.6080 1.5408 (-$8.27)
PGH 40.7213 0 (-$10.95)

Automating Passive Income

In The Passive-preneure I talk a lot about automation, and you’d know that if you’d picked up your extremely inexpensive copy today. One of the ways I’ve gone about automating my own passive income streams is by using one to fund another, automatically. I’ve discussed ShareBuilder in the past, and how I utilize their automatic investing options to “set and forget” my investing plan. Well, I also utilize their direct deposit option to help this along.

In my Kindle Direct account I have directed all income to my ShareBuilder account VIA direct deposit. This lets me move all my money into investing, and never have to worry about accidentally spending it. Then, once the threshold is reached my automatic investments kick in. Then I’m able to keep track, and get my dividend reinvestments from these. Thus, one passive income stream (my eBooks) funds another passive income stream (my Dividend investing) which I’m also utilizing to build up the capital to purchase yet another passive income stream (my rental properties).

You can see from this that it’s a domino effect, and if you have multiple streams, such as eBooks and membership fees on a website, for instance, you can direct multiple streams into the same account, and build those streams faster. Turning them from a passive stream, to a passive river.

Pictured: Your income

Pictured: Your income