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)
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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

On Bitcoin

Bitcoin

Bitcoin

If you follow the world of Bitcoin you probably know that Mt. Gox is gone. For about 4 years they were the name in Bitcoin, and in a spectacular show of incompetence and mismanagement, they lost about $700 million in bitcoins, and closed shop. I’ll be honest, though, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

For years Mt. Gox has been a blight in the bitcoin world, and I’m not just saying that because they screwed me over, mainly because they didn’t. I’ve never lost a dime because of Mt. Gox, in fact I bought $10 worth of Bitcoin in 2011, and by early 2013 the price had jumped so that $10 was worth $100. I sold, and withdrew all of my cash from Mt. Gox right before they had so many issues and had to shut down US withdrawals.

I do still own bitcoin, about $3 worth–I know, it’s amazing, right? I didn’t spend anything for these, I built tools to help Peerbet gamblers play, and for a 1% fee of their winnings they could use it. It worked, and I ended up with almost $500 worth of bitcoins…which I promptly gambled away, because fuck it yes I did. They were free, and the system took me a night to put together. I like to gamble, but I’m not stupid. I’ll gamble with free money any day of the week, but if I have to invest my cold hard cash, I’m being responsible about it.

But this is more of a rant than anything, I’m not even sure what I wanted to accomplish with this post, if I’m being honest. There has been some questions since Mt. Gox went down as to the capabilities of Bitcoins to ever be a “real” currency. I have some concerns with this idea, and it all goes back to infrastructure.

I love bitcoin. I love the idea of unregulated currency, and market rate pricing. I love the idea of it. I do not currently trust it. If Fallout 3 taught us anything, it’s that even bottle caps can be considered currency. But they can also be considered bottle caps. Currency is only a promise of value, and if what you’re using is considered to have value, you’re good. It’s bartering, only we’re bartering notes that have a promise of value to them.

But Bitcoins can’t promise that, because they don’t have the infrastructure. Bitcoins still rely on the banks of the world to convert their money from Bitcoins to actual currency. It’s for this reason that Bitcoins have such a hard time. They want to call themselves a currency, but don’t want to be regulated like a currency. It scares the banks. It scares the governments. It lowers the value.

Or it should.

But people are insane, and the value of Bitcoin has become hyper inflated as of late, and as such is not a good investment. The fact that there are a limited amount of Bitcoins sounds like a good idea, it really does. But if you really think about it, is it really a good idea?

How many times have you had a computer crash with a bitcoin wallet on it? Those bitcoins are gone. Forever. If you can’t recover the wallet file, you can’t recover the bitcoins. Think about that. There are a limited number of coins, once they’re minted, they’re minted, no more.

I’m not saying all eCurrencies are a bad idea, but I think there are things about Bitcoin that on the surface appear to be good ideas, but after a quick brush away of the veneer, you realize that they’re rookie mistakes. I’m still interested in seeing the future of eCurrencies, but I doubt that it will be Bitcoin.

Drop Shipping and eBay

If you know anything about eBay, you’ve probably heard about drop shipping. If not, you’re about to. Drop shipping seems like such a simple thing to do, because it’s literally being a middle man. You take the money from the buyer, and you pay the warehouse, and they ship the product to the buyer. You never have to handle the merchandise yourself, and make a profit for your time.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, this can be automated, and I’ve covered this in The Passive-preneur, so I’m not talking too deep about it here. What I’m going to talk about here is my own experiences with eBay and drop shipping.

It’s not easy. Let’s get that out of the way right at the start. You can’t just assume you’re going to post a bunch of items and make a lot of sales. Because it doesn’t happen. I’ve sold some items, but I’ve never invested the time or money into the marketing side of things, and thus have not made anywhere near enough money to say that it’s been worth my time. That said, I know there is the potential for me to. I just haven’t had the need to do it, or the desire. I like to play around with different types of passive income streams, but I only invest in ones I want to have an investment in.

That said, I’m considering investing in drop shipping. I’ve started focusing a bit on a particular niche: Security and Surveillance, because the gadgets are cool, and it fills an actual need in the world. I like to make people feel secure, and safe, so this particular niche suits me. If I don’t make money, that’s fine, because I’ve not spent a ton of money on it ($0.80 currently in listing fees) but if I do make money on it, I might use some of that money to hire a virtual assistant to help me with the process.

I use a drop shipping company that allows you to insert excel spreadsheets of orders and will mass purchase the orders for you. This allows me the ability to hire a virtual assistant to compile these sheets for me, and list new items for me. I could also then put them in charge of a small budget for advertising, and if business became good enough possibly even a small website store. The possibilities are there, but the idea is to focus on a single niche, begin on eBay, build my reputation there, and use that social capital that I build up on eBay to build credibility into my own website, as well as eBay. Once I’m running my own website, I can not only remove part of the VA’s job by automatically compiling the excel files VIA website code, but I can also integrate with my drop shippers API system and automatically place orders.

This allows for automation, but it is not cheap. The API costs money, and I’m not ready to invest in it until I know I have a steady customer base.

This is why you’ll find in The Passive-preneure that I don’t discuss passive income as some get rich quick scheme. That’s bullshit. Passive income isn’t for the feint of heart, and if you think you’re going to jump out of the gate with a million dollars in a year, you’ve been sorely misled.

Stay tuned to see how this little venture works. I’m not investing a lot of time into it just now, but I’ll keep you posted.

New Book: The Passive-preneur

The Passive-preneur

The Passive-preneur

 

The Passive-preneur is set to release later this month. I’m finishing up edits, and waiting for responses from people whom I’ve sent emails to, but if all goes well you’ll be seeing it on Amazon by the end of February. I’ve consolidated a lot of knowledge into this book.

Basically it’s a book explaining different types of passive income in detail, rating each. It also explains exactly what a Passive-preneur is, which I’ve touched on in the past, but felt it needed further explanation in book-form. If you ever intend to make money passively, you need to read this book. It will help you get through the haze of starry eyes, and get your shit straight, so you’re prepared for the reality that is the Passive-preneur lifestyle.

You’ll be able to find the book on Amazon, and potentially other marketplaces, before I’m finished. But for now, keep an eye out here and on the Books page.

Getting Serious About Credit

For the longest time I haven’t cared about my credit. This is stupid, a very stupid mistake, that I have made. Not that my credit is irreparable, it’s simply bad. What happened was simple. I moved out on my own as soon as possible, at 18 years old. I had no practical experience handling my own finances, and didn’t know how to save money. Worse yet, I didn’t know how to keep up on bills. So, I defaulted to just not paying anything. As you can imagine, this became bad really quickly. I became very far in debt, and I am still digging myself out of that a little at a time.

But it’s time to get serious.

Here I am nearly 10 years older, a wife, 2 kids, and dreams of owning my own home one day. Initially I had hoped to pay for that home with cash. And if I wanted to wait another 10 years to buy a house, I probably could. Thing is, I don’t want to wait. Neither does my wife. Nor my children.

So over the course of the next year I’m getting extremely serious about paying off all of my debts, including both my wife and I’s student loans, totaling approximately $78,000 on their own. Can we pay them all off in a year? No. But we can get the rest of our debts paid off, and get current on student loans, and hopefully improve our credit scores to the level that we can get a mortgage, thus saving ourselves even more money per month which we can devote towards our student loans.

It’s time to start focusing on the future.

This year we’re set to receive approximately $8,500 in tax returns. A large portion of this will be used to completely pay down my wife’s credit card, as well as my own, which we will then strategically use to transfer past due debts to current debts. The trick is to not transfer too much at once, and pay it off quickly. This way we can improve our credit by maintaining a good standing with our credit card company, while at the same time removing previous debts from our history. It’s my assumption that we can not only pay off all of our past due debts within the next year, but by doing so this way we can begin down the path towards credit score recovery.

Another part of the process is going to be growing my investments. As you’ve seen from my previous pasts, my portfolio is not that large. I plan to use this tax return to increase my holdings ten-fold, all with my dividend investing plans for 3 months to profit. The plan for my stock portfolio at this point is to develop it into the down payment for our mortgage. Allowing the dividends to work for us, and collect gradually while we improve our credit, so once our credit is to the level that we can potentially get the approval, we’ll have the down payment ready to go.

Obviously this is the start down a path which I have not yet completed. I bring it here so you can see how I do, and see if this strategy works for me, or maybe even if it doesn’t, it might work for you. I’m not an expert–if I was, I wouldn’t be so far in debt–I just have been forced to teach myself ground-up the financial world, and enjoy spreading my self-learned lessons when I can.

If you have any suggestions on how to quickly pay off past due debts without incurring even worse results, leave them in the comments.

State of the Stock – January

So I decided to do a run down of my current situation with my stock portfolio, where I have decided to change how I buy my stocks. Since I made that decision, I have purchased no new stocks outside of the automatic dividend reinvestment. I can already see growth, and potential with this method of investing, in a short period of time.

Some of you may wonder how I get my figures, and I have explained this in the past. In short, I do not consider dividends to have a dollar value, simply because they are free to me, and cost no commission to reinvest, thus they are a zero dollar amount stock share. For this reason, the value of the Average Price Per Share can, and will, creep closer to $0. This allows me to build up a portfolio of solid dividend shares, sell off all of the shares that I have purchased to that point, a piece at a time, and eventually leave myself with a dividend of $0 share stocks.

This is akin to a gambler walking into a casino with a $100 bill, winning at roulette for $500, and then depositing that $100 into his account and playing with the $500. Is it really losing money if you lose it all? Of course, it is. But it hurts much less, because you’re not actually at the negatives, you’re at the break even point.

STOCK TOTAL PURCHASED TOTAL SOLD PROFIT
TEU 65.0221 65.0221 $6.84
BAB 4.0772 4.0772 (-$17.40)
INTC 3.0778 3.0778 $13.24
O 4.9486 1.5408 (-$40.69)