PictureImage courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Well, it has been far too long since I posted here. :P Lets see...May was the last time I updated this blog. Since then, A LOT has happened. Basically, I took out a credit card to help me get out of credit card debt even faster (sounds backwards, right?), became super busy working as an assistant for a fellow in Real Estate, and ended up earning enough money to pay off all my credit cards in the process! 

Boy does it feel good to not have dumb credit cards accruing 20% or greater interest against me! Now technically, I still have $400 to pay down on my car repair credit card (this is a store card exclusive to my mechanic which gives me 5% off on all their services and repairs and 0% APR for six months whenever I spend more than $300 on car repairs). However I still have 4 months interest free on that card and, having set up an auto-pay transfer to bill me $50 a week through my bank, I'll have this paid off in December. :) 

Presently, I am able to tuck away no less than $300/month in savings and I've also jumped headfirst into investing. My first experiment into options trading ended with me losing 50% of my principle, however I've learned a few things about myself since then and I've worked out a plan to make a second attempt on some securities and am in the mean time testing my investing theories with a nifty feature my brokerage offers called PaperTrade, which allows individuals to trade virtually, without risking money (basically it simply provides you with a play account that doesn't actually trade options or shares, but mirrors the real market so you can see how your trades do). As I am able to validate my trading theories I'll begin to launch actual trades with the cash I've been saving up (literally nickel & diming my way along with over $300 in spare change saved up over the past year and a half from pizza delivery). 

My two main concerns for next year are A) Taxes and B) paying down my monstrous Line of Credit (presently sitting at exactly $14,000 of debt after my last payment). I'll be looking to eliminate it entirely through the combined effects of snowballing my extra cash from my credit card payments and transferring as much as a I can to balance transfer credit cards offering 0% APR promotional periods (I've successfully moved $2,450 to one card already!) which will help eliminate my interest payments and keep my total repayments high. Ideally, by this summer I want to have at least all the balance I am paying interest on paid down and out of my hair. This is of paramount importance as I would really like to devote all of my available finances towards investing in the current market environment which is offering savvy investors plenty of buy opportunities despite the higher prices among many blue chips. All the deals are, of course, in the oil industry at the moment. I've been busy going through the major stocks balance sheets, cash flows, and income statements, as well as tracking the opinions of writers on seeking alpha who have researched the stocks in depth. I intend to gradually dollar cost average my way into the oil industry on several of the big names in this field. Presently the stocks that I consider super deals are ExxonMobil (XOM), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B), and Oneoke Inc (OKE). I've initiated DRIP stock purchases with both ExxonMobil and Oneoke as they offered excellent low to no fee dividend reinvestment programs, however Royal Dutch Shell simply does not offer a great option for poor investors such as myself, charging $5/transaction through their transfer agent. For me, as I can only allocate about $100 to $50 at a time this is way too much. :P 

This is all just a glimpse into all I've been doing lately. I'll slowly begin to post more information regarding my goals for 2016 and my discoveries and investments over time. I'd like to eventually be able to get into a good regular writing routine, as lately I've been brimming over with all sorts of investing ideas and no outlets to share them through. 

 
 
PicturePhoto by Stuart Miles courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
So I've been utilizing Personal Capital and I must say that it is quite convenient. :D I know it is a bit late in the month to be putting out a monthly budget, but I've been busy earning money so got a bit wiped out. I tried a few new gigs, one delivering flowers and the other article writing. Unfortunately the flower delivery gig won't work out with my schedule and will naturally have me driving my car all over the place. Not exactly ideal, given that all my other jobs require the use of my car. I have been looking for writing gigs as well, as I am a pretty decent writer. Thus I successfully landed one writing for a content provider, however that ate up a lot of my writing time and creativity, hence my lack of time to post on my blog.


 
 
PicturePhoto by renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net
Well finally getting the ball rolling on my new debt repayment strategy, which I believe I outlined briefly last week. This weekend was pretty freaky for me starting Friday with car troubles. Every delivery driver who provides their own vehicle's worst nightmare is car troubles. Fortunately it happened on a Friday, allowing me to take the vehicle in on my only day off, Saturday. The car repairs could have derailed my repayment plan, however God is gracious and let me off with a much smaller bill than I anticipated. 


 
 
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Reading through several of the blogs that have inspired me to document my own journey, I've begun to notice a trend. Both J-Money of BudgetsAreSexy.com and Jason from DividendMantra.com actively track their networth. This is intriguing and does serve a valuable purpose, thus I've decided to begin implementing this as well in my tracking. Of course at this present stage in my life, my networth is negative. :P So not exactly the most attractive figures to share, but I'm excited to continue rolling those negatives back. Last year was primarily spent getting on my feet financially. This year is primarily aimed at destroying the bulk of my high interest credit card debt. 


 
 
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While reading through J. Money's blog, I found a nifty investing app that he is reviewing. The name of this app is Acorns, as you might have surmised from the title of this post. The idea is to make investing in a highly diversified portfolio of investments accessible to everyday folks who are curious about investing but don't have the lump sums necessary to do so (that would be me). So how exactly does this work? 


 
 
PicturePhoto by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net
Dun! Dun! Dun! Another one bites the dust!!! Today I had the extreme pleasure of completely annihilating one of my Lines of Credit. I was forced to draw on it a year and a half ago when my current employment failed to provide enough income to sustain me. Today, I have finally completely repaid the entire balance, unexpectedly realizing that I had enough to do so if I accessed my Short Term Savings account. 


 
 
PicturePhoto courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
Ok so I left you all hanging with my initial post about my impending plans for options. Quick recap, the plan is to purchase stocks that I have researched and determined that I would like to acquire via the sale of cash secured put options. Essentially, this means I simply put the cash to buy the stocks at the strike price indicated by the put option I sell minus the premium I receive from the sale of the option. Clear as mud? So what exactly did I do and how did my experiments with these cash secured puts work out thus far?


 
 
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Options. This word seems to evoke fear and revulsion among the investors I personally know (not so many) and is apparently the opposite type of investment that any truly conservative investor would utilize from what I've read through other blogs or inferred from the complete lack of coverage. I've been studying them in depth over the past month, familiarizing myself with their vocabulary (for example who knew you could be long and short at the same time??) and attempting to wrap my head around what makes them so great? Are options really that dangerous for investors?


 
 
PictureImage courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I am finally getting my April budget sorted out somewhat. This month has mostly been a work in progress. I am attempting to designate money for specific roles and tasks in general, but mostly I just have it set up so that I automatically save $400 a month from my paychecks and then the rest of the bills get paid out automatically. I restructured my savings however for the purpose of capitalizing on some investment opportunities. I found a decent buy that I would like to acquire if the price drops a bit more, but more of that later. April's budget (now that we are half way into the month looks like this.


 
 
PictureImage courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
Lately I have been both struggling to figure out taxes (as an independent contractor for my day job they are more complicated than the typical tax return for the average joe). This is my first year having to deal with increased tax complexity. I can't say that I enjoy it that much. 

Interestingly, I am currently listening to a book entitled, "The Darwin Economy" by Robert H. Frank. His predominant theme throughout has been on the necessity of taxes for the continual operation of society. I guess he has a valid point. My taxes are technically paying for my usage of the public facilities here in U.S. This is a topic that I have, of course realized to some