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  • A 2015 Review Of The Dividend Safety Superstars [View article]

    ALE (Allete) goes way back over 100 years with our family. It was the first stock I ever bought and I got 8 shares, buying them directly from my mentor back in 1978. The stock spun off Adessa in '04 and that caused a dividend cut at the time. It is a diversified utility including a large tract of real estate in Florida where it developed the community of Palm Coast. Adessa is a used car auction house and is privately owned now calling itself KAR.

    Jul 31, 2015. 03:24 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Union Pacific A Buy After The Q2 Earnings Release? [View article]
    Hi Canadian,

    I guess the main way I cope with the exchange rate fluctuations is that I can fairly easily raise and lower my standard of living. We are not fussy people and even though we no longer live on a boat free of property tax, free of mortgage, free of utility bills, etc. we can make lifestyle adjustments. We both like to save and restaurants are not all that attractive to us - we can mostly skip them. Our friends are interesting and easily made comfortable with a cup of tea. Salvation Army has all we need to buy. New stuff is not necessary. We do not see this as us being poor. We see it as simple living that is sustainable and pleasant. Simplicity is calming and relaxing. I keep a year's supply of cash in the bank so that takes up the slack as needed.

    When we were cruising, we saw the year by year fluctuation in the Canadian currency right in front of our eyes. If the dollar was up, the Canadian sailors did not come to Florida and Bahamas. But let the currency go the other way, and we had Maple Leaf flags all around us. Winter makes Canadians good sailors so long as the exchange rate is not too steep for them.

    I lived in Britain for 8 years and was there when the Euro began. Britain stayed out but sailing in Europe was easier with the one currency once we left the UK.

    My WFC position started with 30k initial investment back in 1994 which was not reinvesting and was never added to. The money came from my selling my old single handing boat which I had lived on for six years. But once Mr Peace joined me, the 28 footer seemed too small for a full time live aboard ocean going life with two adults aboard. So I sold it and we restored an old wooden boat together. Later we built a larger boat together and lived aboard for over 50,000 miles during 13 years. Mr Peace and I work well together and he is a clever man with wood.

    Health problems have made further life at sea impossible for Mr Peace so now we live on land. We are doing fine with that transition and luckily it is affordable the way we manage things. I did inherit a house and we sold it and bought a smaller one for half the cost and invested the difference. Having lived in boat sized small spaces, we do not need a large home or a large budget either.

    Your portfolio suggestions are tempting but I feel a concern about investing in big pharmacy companies these days. It seems there is so much pressure on society to pay for the aging Baby Boomers, I think it will be likely that the European style of government agencies bargaining for less expensive drugs will be adopted. We know for certain, through experience of living in Britain for 8 years (me) and a lifetime (Mr Peace) that the high cost of medical prescriptions in the US is entirely artificial. It is what the market will bear. But I don't think the tax payers will bear it much longer.

    As for my other holdings, I am seeing the worry others see in the UNP coal transport squeeze. But I am taking the long view and I believe rail is a good method of transporting goods. Mexico will be making stuff and it will come to the US by rail on UNP trains and proceed to Canada by rail. It may take a while for the economy to accomplish full recovery, but I believe it will recover and folks will be buying.

    I also see the CVX shares I have getting squeezed. But I think these companies will pull through. Houses will be heating with oil for a long time. Solar panels will not heat homes in New England. Cars will need gasoline. If electric companies do not use coal, they will use oil. Mr Peace saw the Welsh coal mines close. That was dramatic. We know how that scene progresses.

    I am looking at EMR, SO, DE, and may add to my GIS. I am not in a hurry to buy right away. I like to move slowly and deliberately. I know very little about tech companies and am reluctant to invest in them.

    At this point, my bills are paid and we can save a bit each month. The dividends are increasing gradually but faster than inflation. I think we are doing ok. It has been a big transition to move ashore after 30 years at sea. It is nice when it is stormy outside to live in a brick house. Cozy.

    Jul 27, 2015. 10:31 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Union Pacific A Buy After The Q2 Earnings Release? [View article]
    Thanks, Canadian,

    We pay almost all our bills in US dollars and when the old live aboard boat sells, then we will no longer pay the insurance bill which is in British Pounds Sterling. Mr Peace has a British pension and and social security and he pays UK tax on that (and he always pays the boat insurance, of course). The rest of the income is US and is mostly the US based portfolio which is all in taxable accounts. I pay no US federal tax because everything is qualified dividends. I mostly a buy and hold person seeking a growing dividend income stream, but I am currently trimming an old and very over grown WFC position and have been making deep cuts each year but it keeps growing pretty fast anyway. A happy problem!

    I have EMR on my watch list and will look into the other suggestions you have made here. Thank you very much. I hope to find a high quality position I can keep adding to as I continue trimming the WFC.

    Thanks again,

    Jul 27, 2015. 12:47 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Union Pacific A Buy After The Q2 Earnings Release? [View article]

    I bought most of my UNP at around $60 - $61, so I am willing to allow UNP to continue to pay dividends to me at its current price of over $90 per share. I believe the strong dollar is preventing some international coal sales and eventually the strong dollar will weaken and coal will be shipped again. As a dual citizen I am well aware of how currency fluctuations can change buying habits. Sometimes I have had to wait years for currencies to re align themselves. This is one of the reasons I keep a year's supply of cash available to pay the bills.

    When my children were younger one of their favorite toys was a box with some plastic pegs that would go up and the child would hit it with a little hammer and another peg would go up somewhere else on the top of the box. It reminds me of my portfolio. One goes up and another goes down and then the game reverses again. Diversity is the way to stay safe when investing. Each year my portfolio is gaining diversity and it is a comfort to see that happening.

    Soon I will be trimming one of my other holdings that has become way oversize again. I am in the process of deciding which new position to buy. Suggestions are welcome.

    But I do not plan to sell UNP unless they cut the dividend.

    Jul 26, 2015. 11:54 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Union Pacific A Buy After The Q2 Earnings Release? [View article]
    I see a good credit rate, good dividend growth, nothing upsetting about the debt, and I see good Chowder numbers. The value went way up last year. I am not stressing about this company at this point. I bought a half position of UNP early in 2013 and my position doubled. I admit to being elderly, but I have got some time for them to sort themselves out. I will hold and I will be patient while I do so.
    Jul 25, 2015. 11:25 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 401(K) Reconstructed: 2015 Q2 Review [View article]

    An article by Rosenose would be nice to look forward to.

    Jul 21, 2015. 02:51 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]

    There is a big tax difference between receiving qualified dividends and selling stock. I never did get involved in tax advantaged accounts, but I have almost never paid a federal tax bill and I have no pension and only a very small social security check.

    Since reading here on SA, I have stabilized my dividend income and now enjoy a fine retirement which is fully funded and gradually increasing faster than inflation. My portfolio raises my "pay check" lots faster than any job I ever had.

    Jul 19, 2015. 03:15 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]

    Thank you for your nice message.

    Right after my solo trans Atlantic, I wrote about 250 pages of stuff having to do with what mindset changes led up to my radical decision to make that voyage. Writing helps me organize my mind and prioritize my values so I know where I am going in life and understand how I got there and what it means to me.

    There are lots of letters home to family that have been gathered from that time and after I made that voyage, and while Mr Peace and I fell in love, made other ocean crossings, built or restored boats, lived aboard, etc.

    It would be one thing to organize all this stuff which is still in boxes in the attic, and another thing to know the next step towards book publishing. I enjoy living and love the changes my life has taken over the past 70+ years, but I know that I would not enjoy the judgement process of finding a publisher and going through all that business decision making that would be involved. Probably I need a book publishing mentor. That might make things easier.

    But contemplating all that is much less interesting than what is going on outside in my new garden presently. I got flowers growing out of dirt in my own back yard and this is just great fun for a person who has not lived on the land much at all for the past 30 years. Did you ever see a passion flower? Go google passion flower and see if they are not wondrous and lovely in all their intricate construction. Six passion vines were planted just a few weeks back and I have flowers already! I am breathless each morning to run out and see how they are forming and blooming and growing into the trellis Mr Peace built with me.

    Is it more important for me to write a book about stuff in the past or is it more important for me to live fully right now out in my garden? I even have a vegetable patch and am trying to work out the ways plants grow at this latitude.

    Should I expose myself to the judgmental attitudes of a publisher, or just go about my business right here in this small town where I am making friends and learning about old age and other novelties. Just living takes up so much of my time.

    I will think about what you so kindly suggested. It was nice of you to say that. But the more important book to write would be the one Chowder should publish. Now THERE's a BOOK!

    Jul 19, 2015. 02:19 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]

    WFC has done fantastically well for my family. Amazing total returns and a strong company. Best of the banks. All that is good.

    But the banking sector is not well regulated and so I am not willing to allow WFC to be the HUGE part of my portfolio it used to be. It towered over everything else.

    I plan to keep reducing my WFC until it is among the smallest holdings in my portfolio. I cannot risk the loss of the dividend now that we are older. I am using it as a cash machine so I can diversify my portfolio. This is taking several years because the company grows so darn fast! A real nice problem for me. Grin!

    Jul 17, 2015. 12:26 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]
    It is hard to predict the future when investing. It is also hard to know which way the wind will blow when crossing the Gulf Stream. But there are things we can learn when checking a company we might invest in and there are places where we can see the weather forecasts when sailing across the Gulf Stream.

    It can be very dangerous to sail across the Gulf Stream in some weather conditions. I take it very seriously and have many friends who ask me to check weather forecasts for them when they are "waiting for wind" to make the crossing to Bahamas. I check, and I check NOAA and I check a site for wind surfers and I add in 70,000 miles of experience and make my suggestion of when I would leave safe harbor and make the crossing if it were me in my boat.

    But I would not tell them what to do with their family in their boat.

    I would suggest that they take their boat to the inlet and have a short ride out there to sniff at the weather for themselves. After all, it could be dangerous to get it wrong. But the Bahamas are very nice in winter months. Some folks like them even better in summer months.

    Best of luck with your investing!

    Jul 17, 2015. 10:07 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]
    User 820

    Diversity. Have no more than 5% in any one investment. That way if one fails to send dividends, you got the others still paying the bills. Works in our family.

    Jul 17, 2015. 09:59 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]
    Yup. Geekettle and Buy and Hold, and little ol' me will just hold while the market goes up and down like a demented yo yo and we will collect dividends while that happens and then the market will get going again and we will continue to do nothing because we will be collecting even more dividends.

    My mentor did this all his life and his father before him. 100 years doing this same stupid thing in our family. My mentor was never a big earner but he died a very wealthy man. He had only two stocks for most of his life. Then three more because I suggested them for diversity.

    Here on SA I have simply learned how to do it better. My mentor stuck with the two stocks his father had and did well with them. I am doing fine with ten stocks but hope to continue to diversify in the future. Currently gradually reducing WFC each year and have boughtmore UNP, CBRL, GIS, and LOW with it in past three years when price allowed.

    I like this method of investing. I spend pleasant time here on SA but only really monitor my holdings about an hour per month. Sometimes the market is going up and it is fun to watch the values of my portfolio go up but it means nothing more than entertainment. So when the markets go down, I just don't bother to look because my dividend checks will come in.

    I did have a time when I owned a mutual fund and they did not pay any dividend one year. I held because I did not know better and after a few more years I sold. The value did not go down, but it was behaving in an unpredictable manner with my money and I did not like that. I had WFC and the government forced them to cut the dividend. That time I held until the price went up and sold enough to pay me for the missing dividend. Now I want to sell more to diversify. Maybe I will make WFC a very small investment because banks are so poorly regulated. We'll see.

    I am satisfied with my investing and even more satisfied since I started reading here. Hope you will eventually be as satisfied with what you are doing as I am today. My life is good.

    Jul 17, 2015. 09:52 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Total Return Is Like Trying To Add Apples And Bananas [View article]
    User 820,

    During the Great Depression, my mentor stood by his father's shoulder and asked if their family would be ok. He was afraid as he watched the country fall further and further into economic chaos.

    I really wish I had known my mentor's father. That wise man took his son over to the window and they looked out over the city park where there were lots of homeless people camping out there. Then he said that compared to many, they were doing well and there was no point in worrying. They were eating, warm and dry, and there was still money coming in from the store.

    I know my mentor's father had shares of his local utility back then and also in the local bank. My mentor's father was a pharmacist living in an apartment over the store which he owned and which had no mortgage. I know he never sold any of his shares. My mentor was in college during the Great Depression.

    My mentor echoed his father's economic values all of his life. He regularly bought shares in the local utility starting at age 9 and in the local bank starting when he was in his 30s. He paid off the mortgage for his simple house that I later inherited, and he lived simply as I do. He avoided debt.

    I echo his values. I bought shares in that same utility (now ALE) and that local bank (now merged with WFC) and I have no mortgage on this house and never any debt. I was a registered nurse because people are always needing medical care and supplies.

    You cannot guarantee everything in life, but you can be pretty sure folks will pay their utility bills. People are going to get sick and need medical attention and supplies. When I lived on boats I had no mortgage and now in this little house, there is no mortgage.

    Now you can make a case against banks because they are poorly regulated today as they were back when they were a major cause of the Great Depression. I am backing out of that WFC pretty rapidly these days, but likely I will hold on to a few of those shares. Over many decades, they have treated our family well and I am talking about a very L O N G time. Over a hundred years of family investing that I know about.

    What I learned from my mentor is to avoid debt, save money, live simply, and invest in stuff people need. One other value that came through is to help folks who are in need. Not only is it the right thing to do, it "pays back" in many ways that are hard to calculate with numbers.

    I like to keep long life food in the house like rice and beans. I like to keep six months to a year worth of money readily available in case of economic chaos, I have a vegetable garden and I can live very simply. I live in a small town and we all help each other.


    I am not worried.

    Jul 17, 2015. 05:01 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • So, You'll Switch To Dividend Growth Investing After You Have Your Millions, Eh? [View article]
    I inherited some cash and a house. Sold the house, and ended up trying to invest the cash and what was left over from the sale of the house after buying a smaller house.

    All this investing had to happen as we were unpacking, painting four rooms in the new house and laying new flooring. Every time I went back to the investing activity, I found all my papers had been moved and churned up so I was going nuts trying to keep them straight.

    But SA helped me get through the stressful time and helpful personal messages gave me confidence. The money is well invested.

    Best of all, I am in a low tax bracket and normally did not pay federal tax on my almost totally qualified dividends retirement income. I did not ever have IRA or ROTH or any of that other complication. My income remains not taxed and it is well beyond what is needed so we are having some frills creeping into our lives.

    Sometimes simplicity really works just fine.

    Jul 16, 2015. 08:26 PM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • My K.I.S.S. Dividend Portfolio: 2nd Quarter 2015 Update [View article]
    I like the variable Chowder Numbers and have been doing something similar myself. Thanks for the article which leaves me feeling some confirmation from an author I often admire.

    Jul 14, 2015. 09:56 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment