May 2009 - Current Net Worth and Personal Finance Report
Published 5/31/09 (Modified 3/8/11)
Well it's that time of the month again. It's time to calculate my net worth, and update readers with a review of my current financial situation and prospective outlook. So, after spending a few months overseas for personal family reasons, I've finally returned home. As the bulk of my online and so-called real life business operations are run and managed over email, instant messaging, and Skype, there was barely a blip on my small business operations while I was away. In fact, despite me not even being in the country to run things for much of the last few months, the month of May still saw a pretty healthy bump up in income (as reflected by the significant increase in total assets), thanks primarily to the acquisition of several new legal clients and online affiliate partners. As my total net income is comprised of several income sources to form a diversified base, I've fortunately avoided much of the devastating carnage leveled by this ongoing economic recession. Only time will tell whether this healthy income streak will be able to continue for the foreseeable future at its current rate - however, I remain hopeful despite my cautiously bearish nature of late.
Thus, as far as I can tell based on current projections and observations, the only significantly damaging element that has the foreseeable potential to hurt me financially in a big way - is higher federal and state income taxes. Hopefully President Obama will play nice and leave existing federal tax rates alone and not implement any drastic increases. Yes it's easy to get all orgasmically gun-ho about fleecing the higher bracket taxpayers to generate tax revenue to pay for aggressive governmental social projects, but let's not forget that it's small business owners such as myself who directly stimulate this economy via trickle down effects by generating new jobs, expanding our entrepreneurial expenditures, and purchasing/leasing real estate properties. Taxing small business owners beyond current levels is ultimately counter-productive to achieving economic recovery in my humble opinion. Do we not agree?
My Current Net Worth and Financial Status Update Compared To Last Month
Seeking Out High Interest Alternatives To Savings Accounts and CD Deposits
If you've got money in the bank, then you're likely well aware that both online and brick & mortar savings account rates and CD rates have been plummeting for a while now. Unfortunately for those of us who are aggressive cash savers, things aren't likely to improve anytime soon. So what's one to do in our current predicament where high yield savings accounts no longer offer the same high interest rates we've come to depend on? While certainly one can opt to spend the extra cash savings towards paying down high interest debt such as outstanding credit card balances, home mortgages, or student loans - persistent rate chasers can always choose to seek out comparably risk free short term savings account and high yielding CD alternatives instead.
A few of the popularly rated short term savings alternatives I've been looking to are high yielding peer-to-peer loan investments from online companies like Lending Club, high interest reward checking account offers, and special rate deals from local banks and community based credit unions. All of these underused and under tapped alternatives currently offer APY interest rates that greatly exceed overall market rates and are definitely worth looking into. With average interest rate yields in excess of 9.00% APY (even after accounting for risk factors), P2P social loan investments on sites like Lending Club definitely deserve some extra mainstream attention.
Transferring Funds From Cash Savings To Investment Brokerage Accounts
While I remain unconvinced at the short term sustainability and authenticity of the momentary run up in the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 Indexes in the last few months, I must admit - the surge has been rather impressive. However, as as investor and trader who believes it's important to remain vigilantly fearful when others are greedy, I hope to hold out for more positive economic news to back up this bullish stock market run before I make any decisions to start investing again.
For more than a year now, I've held back from investing into further positions - hoping to ride out the worst of this economic recession with my cash savings intact. Well so far so good as my savings account funds have been shielded from loss, but I think it may be time to start looking for opportunities again. At the start of this month, I transferred a large chunk of funds from my high yield savings accounts and expired CD deposits into my brokerage accounts. But for now at least, the newly added broker funds will be held in my money market sweep accounts rather than invested into any new stock, index, or mutual fund positions. I want to tread very carefully for the next few months and not make any hasty investment splurges that I'll regret later.
Making Contributions To My Retirement Accounts (IRA, Roth IRA)
Despite whatever bearish or bullish sentiments I may personally harbor towards market investing at the present time, I still feel that it's very important to continue contributing to one's tax deferred retirement accounts (whether they be 401K's, IRA's, or Roth IRA accounts). As most investment retirement accounts like the Roth, are use it or lose it arrangements, failing to make the maximum IRA contribution limit for the year (it's $5,000 for 2009) will only deprive you of future investment funds that could be growing tax-free. At the very least one ought to avail him or herself of the maximum contribution amount as there is no requirement the contributed funds must be invested right away - they can sit as idle cash in the broker account as long as the account holder desires.
My Monthly Credit Card Balances Are High, But I Always Pay Them Off In Full
You may have noticed that my total current credit card balance suddenly surged 4,204 % during the month of May. That's because I've only recently returned home to the states from overseas. While I was away, I stuck with cash purchases exclusively, a practice that differs significantly from my U.S. consumer habits, which primarily revolve around credit card based transactions. However, the moment I returned home, my credit card expenditures reverted back to their pre-existing levels. But despite whatever balances I may carry on my credit cards, I always pay my card balances off in full every month, and have never paid out a single cent in hefty credit card overcharges or late fees, thanks to my pervasive usage of automatic account debit payments and crafty utilization of 0% balance transfer offers.
Speaking of credit cards, one particular cash back program that's caught my eye recently is the new Charles Schwab Bank Invest First Visa Credit Card (link). Cardholders get 2% cash back on all purchases, with no cash back limits, no minimums, and no annual fees. Plus, for frequent international airline travelers like myself, the Schwab Visa Card impressively waives all foreign exchange transaction fees. The only catch with the Schwab credit card is that you must open or already own a Schwab One brokerage account where the cash back rewards can be deposited into every month. Charles Schwab offers great research tools for hardcore investors, but their trading fees are higher than I'd like.