WHAT WE DO? WE SELL OPTIONS FOR INCOME. WE USE THAT INCOME TO BUY DIVIDEND GROWTH STOCKS!
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Posted by Martin July 08, 2013
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Do you want dividend investing and do not know how to start?

Do you want dividend investing and do not know how to start?

Are you invested in mutual funds in your ROTH or traditional IRA account? Are you sick of seeing their mediocre performance? Have you been recently thinking about picking up and investing into individual stocks?

If you responded to those questions YES, but have no clue what to do and where to start, read on.

If you are inexperienced in investing into individual stocks you need to start by answering a simple question:

“What do you want from your investments?”

Find your strategy first

You need to define your investing strategy first and a goal you want to reach. And here I do not speak about a goal for which you are saving and investing but the goal of how your portfolio and adopted strategy should look like once you are fully invested.

Once you set up an investing goal, you will enter into an accumulation phase of investing. At this point, your goal and strategy should be set, otherwise you will fail.

Believe me, I’ve been there, so I am speaking from my own experience.

To demonstrate what I am talking about, I am going to show you my own selection process. Originally, I believed that I could make money and get rich trading stocks. So I wanted to trade. And I selected and studied a swing trading strategy.

As I was losing money and slowly realizing that the swing trading is not my nature of investing (it didn’t fit my investor’s profile) my next thinking was how to make more cash to be able to to use it for more trading. How to make my portfolio to produce a cash flow.

Cash flow!

The magic word was out.

Cash in hand is king

“Will I be able to generate enough cash flow trading stocks?” was my next question. Well, my past performance proved that I wouldn’t be able to do that.

Then, a dividend growth investing strategy popped up to me and I instantly knew that this was it.

With dividend strategy you do not care that much about underlying stock as long as the company pays dividends.

OK, you are thinking that you won’t be experimenting with trading or other strategies. You want income which you can be reinvesting for next 20 years and then enjoy a reliable, untouched, and ever coming stream of income.

But what’s next?

How to start?

35 Dividend Growth StocksIf you want to know where to go next, which stocks to start with, I would recommend you an e-book by a fellow blogger Dan Mac 35 Top Dividend Growth Stocks. The book, he wrote, is available for Kindle edition and it is an inexpensive review of the strategy and metrics he uses when evaluating dividend stock candidates. It follows an old investing adage: “Keep it simple stupid”. The metrics he lists are basically the same or similar to those all dividend growth stock investors use.

The second part of the book shows great candidates to start with. If you invest to some of those stocks, you won’t make a mistake.

I am not affiliated with Dan and I am recommending his book because I remember my own struggle when I started investing and thinking “what stocks I should buy first?

I am a lazy person and I still like to choose my stocks by reviewing of what stocks others invest in and what they have to say about those companies. Then I want to keep it simple. I take stock selections others mentioned in their reviews and add them into my watch list for further studying or review. A great source of stocks and analysis can be found on another great blog Dividend Growth Stocks provided by a dividend investor and blogger Dividends4life. You can also check other bloggers from my blogroll who periodically write up their stock analysis, such as Dividend Monk, Dividend Engineering, or Dan’s blog Dividend Growth Stock Investing. On those web sites you will find tons of dividend growth stocks to start building your watch list. And of course, you can use my own dividend stocks watch list too.

The stories about each of the 35 Top Dividend Growth Stocks in the second part of Dan’s book along with his listed metrics will give you a great starting insight into your first stocks. With this book you will no longer ask the question “How to start investing?”

I have my watch list, what’s next?

Once you create your watch list, the process is easy. Based on how much money you have available in your account, select one, two, three or more stocks you will invest in and look at them closely. If you use metrics Dan lists in his book, just compare those stocks current values with those metrics. Do they look better than listed or worse? If they look better than those listed, it is a great time to buy your first initial position.

A dividend itself can also help you to find out, whether the stock is undervalued or overvalued. Let’s take a look at an example of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). About a year ago the stock traded in a range around $65 a share and the dividend yield was around 3.6%. If you have your yield threshold set at 3.5% for example, you would be allowed to invest in this stock. As the JNJ price ran up, the yield dropped down to 2.9% at one point. As of this writing the yield is 3.0%.

Your strategy won’t allow you investing in this company anymore. It is too expensive and you have to wait for the company to do two things:

  1. The price to drop and yield go back up above your 3.5% threshold, or
  2. The company raise its dividend so the new yield will be again 3.5% or more.

Of course this is just an example, but it can help you keep it simple. As you progress over time, you will be adding more metrics to your strategy and polish it into perfection.

Good luck and start reading about dividend growth stocks and learn how to invest in them. You will beat the market by doing it.




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Posted by Martin July 07, 2013
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My inspiration in the last week #27

My inspiration in the last week #27

I often browse the internet to find ideas about investing, trading stocks, options, investing opportunities and strategies. I like to read about investors and what their investing/trading approach to create income you can live on is.

 

 
 




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My Investments 2Q 2013 results

My Investments 2Q 2013 results

I am publishing my 2Q 2013 results of my goals and investments. The second quarter was very bumpy. The first part of the quarter was quite successful, the second part wasn’t. Much of the investment gains were erased by the correction on the markets. This value drop had a little impact on dividends. This is why I like dividend investing because no matter what happens to the principal of your portfolio, your income is intact (unless the company cuts the dividend).

From the tables below you can see that my dividend income increased to $2,098.68 annual dividend income ($174 monthly). Nothing extra ordinary, but improvement.

My 2013 Overall review

Here are data from all my accounts I have:

My 2013 goals progress

The table below shows the progress of the goals:

My 2013 Options Income

The chart shows that I accomplished another goal and that is to create a $100 monthly income stream by selling options. I actually exceeded the goal. The chart below shows the progress of my options income.

Options Income

My 2013 TD account value

The TD account value stalled this quarter due to some significant drops in REIT sector which I am significantly exposed to. As I said above, I am fine with this as long as my dividend income stream is intact.

The chart below shows the account value YTD.

Account value

My 2013 Dividend Income

I am still building my dividend income. This goal may however be postponed due to more important goal – the debt elimination goal.

The chart below shows my YTD Quarter dividend income:

Dividend income

My 2013 Portfolios vs. benchmarks

This chart indicates that my 2nd quarter wasn’t able to exceed the benchmark. I believe however that in long run I will be able to grow faster.

Portfolio vs Benchmark

From the chart it is apparent that my portfolio was growing well, but the REITs selloff erased all gains. Although this may look bad, to me it is not. This is only a short term drop which in long term is insignificant.

My 2013 Debt reduction goal

I must admit I failed this goal during this quarter. I lowered the debt, but at the end I increased it a bit again. Overall I am still lower than at the beginning, but not as I wished. So the next quarter my effort will be even harder in eliminating the debt.

Once again I could see myself how important the zero debt is when aggressively investing. The point is that if you want to invest aggressively, take riskier trades, use margin, and so on, you cannot be carrying debt.

During this quarter price correction on the market I faced a small maintenance call on my TD account. I had to pay circa 300 dollars to keep the account current. I could do it using my reserves, but it was a hard lesson because without reserves I would be in a big trouble. Paying large amounts in debt payments and satisfying margin calls for example can kill your effort.

My failure was due to our Disneyland trip. I saved money for this trip, but not enough and we exceeded the budget. So this quarter my effort in eliminating the debt is reinforced and I will work even harder towards this goal.

The charts below show my debt elimination progress:

Debt reduction

And here is my debt allocation chart:

Debt allocation

I follow my debt allocation because my plan is to use zero APR credit cards and low interest loans to refinance my debt and lower the interest rate over time to speed up my debt repayment effort. I will be using this strategy in the next quarter as much as possible.

I hope you had a great 2nd quarter yourself and that you achieved your goals or at least got closer to them. I hope my third quarter will be even better.

 




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Make options easy – how to sell puts

Make options easy - how to sell puts

This article is for beginners who never traded options but wanted to give it a shot because they understand how powerful options can be in making money. If you want monthly income besides dividends, trading options can be a great tool for you to boost your portfolio.

If you want to learn trading options and generate income every month or every other month (it depends on how much money you are willing to commit) the strategy I am about to explain can be a great learning start for you.

Recently, I discussed options trading with a few people, friends and even my co-worker and I surprisingly found out that there are a lot of people who are afraid of options or have little knowledge about this topic.

It is OK to fear options since the fear can make you cautious but it can also paralyze you from trading. Over my trading and investing career I traded all sorts of option strategies, such as iron condor (my favorite), butterfly and both put and call spreads. I made money, but I also lost money. At the end I didn’t feel comfortable with the advanced options trades. It could have been because of lack of my knowledge or just those trades did not fit into my investor’s profile.Buy stocks

I searched what options trades can make me feel comfortable. Here is a simple strategy which you can use and which can provide you with peace of mind and calm nights.

Trading options is surprisingly easy and safe although you will hear otherwise from people and brokers. They will even give you a disclaimer to read where they will scare you to death from trading options.

Options trading approval

To trade options you need to be approved from your broker. I won’t describe the process here. Contact your broker and get approval for basic options trading – covered calls and cash secured puts. This shouldn’t be a problem and you should obtain it easily.

Simple put selling strategy

The first and simplest strategy is selling put contracts against stocks. In this article I assume you already know what calls and puts are. If not, take some books or search the internet to find out.

As with stocks, you can be buying options and you can be shorting (selling) options. In this article I will show you how to easily sell puts (short puts). Why do you want to be selling puts instead of buying them? When selling puts you will have a powerful friend on your side. That friend is time. With this friend, you do not have to worry about your put contract during its entire life. When buying options, time will be against you and the underlying stock will have to move by a large point in order to make money. When selling, you want time to deteriorate your option.

Money making machine

The second benefit is that you get paid for selling the put and that money will be yours forever and no one can take it away.Money Machine

Once approved you need to select your strategy. If you have no experience with options, how to roll them higher, lower or further away in time, this simple strategy would be the best for you:

  1. Always sell puts against stocks you are OK to own. This means that you first select stocks you would normally buy yourself. I suppose you are an investor and you buy stocks to make money. The stocks you already have in your portfolio or in your watch list are your best candidates for simple put selling strategy. For example, I have a few stocks in my watch list such as GLW, SWY, FGP, T, O, etc., which I want to buy. Instead of buying those stocks right now, I would use them for my put selling strategy. For our example I chose Corning Inc. (GLW). It is a dividend paying stock which I want to buy although not right now.
  2. Once you selected a stock you want to use for your income machine, find the options chain. Go to your broker account and under GLW stock summary find a link which can take you to the stock’s option chain. On the screen you will see two major columns. The left will be for calls, the right one will be for puts. I usually want to sell a contract with expiration day two to three months ahead.
  3. Which put contract to sell?. The picture below shows a typical options chain table. On the right side you will see put contracts. The colored lines indicate in-the-money (ITM) contracts, the white lines indicate out-of-the-money (OTM) contracts. If you are very bullish on the stock, you can select ITM contract (15.00 strike), if you are not sure which direction the stock will go, select the nearest OTM contract (14.00 strike). In our example I would go with November 16, 2013 contract, 14.00 strike and I would receive 0.92 or $92 per one contract.
  4. Options chain

    Click to enlarge.

  5. Execute the trade. When you click on the 0.92 link on your broker’s screen, you will be prompted to a trade form entering a trade to sell 1 GLW Nov 16, 2013 14 put at 0.92. Make sure you are really selling and not buying the contract. Once executed, you will see that you are negative (short) one put contract of GWL. Now you just collected 92 dollars and all your effort is over until November 16th 2013.
  6. No need for analysis. Keep it simple. You do not need any analysis or sophisticated knowledge with this strategy. All you need is to select a stock you are OK to own, select a proper put contract and sell it. You do not have to deal with Delta, Gamma, Theta, volume or open interest with this strategy. You also do not have to worry what direction the stock will go in the future. If anybody tries to tell you otherwise, he is probably trying to impress you with his (lack of) knowledge of trading options. Ignore them, you really do not need anything they will try to sell you. All you have to do once you executed a trade is to wait.

What’s next after you sold a put contract?

After you sold your put contract and collected your premium the next thing to do is wait. You will wait until expiration in November. There are three possible outcomes which may happen to you during your waiting time.

  1. Worthless expiration. The first thing which can happen to you is that our stock will be trading above $14 strike price on November 16th. In that case our put contract will lose its value and becomes worthless. Our friend time will destroy it. And it is a good thing! It is what we want. We sold a contract for 92 dollars and now it is worth zero dollars. We keep our $92 premium we received. And the best part is that you can repeat the entire process again and again.
  2. Assignment. The second outcome which can happen to you is that our stock will drop below 14 strike on November 16th. In that case our contract will be ITM and we will be assigned 100 shares of GLW @ 14 dollars a share. Let’s say GLW will be trading at $12.98 a share at expiration day. You will have to buy 100 shares for 14 dollars a share instead of $12.98 a share. Although it looks like a bad deal, do not forget that you have received 0.92 a share, so in reality you are buying for $13.08 (14.00 – 0.92 = 13.08). It is the same as buying for $14 dollars a share but three months later (minus premium received). You wanted this stock anyway right? Instead of buying it for $14 a share today, you will buy it for $13.08 three months later.
  3. Early assignment. The third outcome is that you get assigned prematurely. That can happen to you if the stock drops so deep in price that the buyer who originally bought the contract from you decides to execute the option before its maturity day. Although very unlikely, it is a possible option. If that happens to you, it may not be pleasant either since you will be buying a stock for 14 dollars a share while it is trading for let’s say $6 a share at the time of assignment. In this case you worked as an insurance company for the buyer of your put contract. This is a great example and a reason for selling puts against stocks you want basically at any price. If this happens to GLW you can start selling calls to fix the trade and collect dividends while waiting for recovery. Selling calls will be my next post.

The above described strategy is basically a win-win strategy. No matter what happened you collected an income and you can repeat the process, or you bought a stock you wanted to buy anyway.

Below is a chart of my current options trading showing my income machine. It shows my collected premiums from put selling and from so called total return covered calls selling.

This strategy gives me a peace of mind while trading it. It boosts income in my portfolio (besides dividends). I no longer have to predict what the stock may do in three months or construct sophisticated options contracts. I do not have to care about the contract at all as long as I still want to buy the stock. I used this strategy to learn in real life about options and I could learn a lot without fear of losing money. You can do the same. Select the stock and sell puts against it as long as you get assigned or collect income indefinitely. You do not have to worry about anything. It is that simple.

Try it and let me know how that worked for you. Also contact me if you need help or detailed explanation.

 




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Posted by Martin July 03, 2013
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My inspiration in the last week #26

My inspiration in the last week #26

I am posting my favorite links review late this week due to my traveling. Here are the links I liked during my last week reading.

I often browse the internet to find ideas about investing, trading stocks, options, investing opportunities and strategies. I like to read about investors and what their investing/trading approach to create income you can live on is.

 

 
 




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Posted by Martin June 25, 2013
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The art of saving money

The art of saving money

Savvy people save money. It is an important part of everyone’s life and it shows how educated financially a person is. There are several ways, methods, and purposes for saving cash.

I learned saving cash at early age. When I was about 12 years old I was keen on building models of historical man-o-war sailing ships and I wanted to have all books about those ships and how they were built. My parents weren’t rich, and since those books were quite expensive, the only way to get the books was to save money.

A British man-o-war ship Victory (1805)
Victory

Even today I am proud of the achievements I made at my early years, that I was able to buy those books on my own and without a help from my parents.

There are several purposes for saving money. People save for retirement, for a college, for kids and their college, and for all sort of goals, such as new car, house, new TV, etc.

It is all great and honorable if you do that. These days a lot of people use debt to purchase those items instead of saving for it first. So if you save first and spend later, then you are a unique person. But over time I learned that saving for recurring bills can help you to release a burden of your everyday tight budget. Yes you can save for smaller goals than a new TV or car. This article will focus on saving for this particular purpose – your larger recurring bills rather than the traditional goals.

Identify your large bills

Do you have bills which can bring a hardship to your budget? I do have some. As a mechanical engineer I am a member of a professional association (ASHRAE – American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) and I pay $190 membership dues every year. I also pay $450 home owners insurance yearly, $300 home owners association due/tax (or whatever it is), $236 life insurance semi-annually, $80 car registration plates annually, and many other large annual bills.

I bet you can find some in your own budget. These bills can be quite bothering if they arrive in the wrong time (they always arrive at the same time, but it may not be your time).

Split the bills before you get hit with a large one

Did you ever experienced a situation like mine which I experienced just recently when I have received a bill for homeowners association to pay $300 dollars and a few days later my insurance broker called me that they haven’t received a life insurance semi-annual payment and what happened? I was suddenly hit by two bills at the same time and I was supposed to come up with a payment totaling $536.

This amount looks small in an annual perspective, but it can be a significant deal at the current month, especially if you had a few other unexpected expenses (such as a car repair, which my wife paid for). Fortunately, I was ready for this situation, but it made me thinking what would happen if I wasn’t. I would have to use debt to pay for it.

Many years ago I decided to save for those bills and split them in smaller increments, which is easier to handle every month.

I opened several savings accounts and each has its own purpose. I even nick-named those accounts according to their purpose. For that I have an account named “Life Insurance $460/$40” “EVPOA/Car Lic. $381/$32” etc. The first number indicates what amount I need to save and the second number indicates how much money monthly I am saving for that purpose.

The math is easy. You take the annual amount and divide it by 12 months. That gets you how much money you have to save. For example, for the life insurance I have to save 460 dollars annually. That number divided by 12 gives you $38 a month. I save $40 and let the $2 accumulate over time into more cash available.

It is a lot easier to pay 40 dollars monthly than $230 semi-annually. This gives me a peace of mind and I can completely forget about this bill.

Pay yourself first

You may have heard this old adage “Pay yourself first”. That means that you take the cash away for savings from your account before you start spending it. In my opinion this is the most important part in saving money. I do this all the time. I set up an automatic deduction from my checking and the little cash is transferred into my savings accounts automatically. Every month. I no longer have to worry when my broker calls me that a payment hasn’t been made. I just gave him my credit card number, and later at home I transferred money from the savings account back to my checking and paid the credit card off.

Pay slightly more if you can

It is a good practice to save a bit more that you would be required. If your monthly amount should be $38 then you can pay $40 or even $45 a month instead. The reason behind this is that over time you accumulate more money, ideally one payment ahead. That will create your emergency savings. You will have one year payment in your account and only using cash you theoretically saved one year ago. Even greater peace of mind. Then you can reduce your monthly payments to the exact number and let the interest do its job (although in today’s interest rate environment the job is miniscule). You can redirect the surplus to a different account.

The bill arrived

It’s very easy process here when the bill arrives into your mail box or email. You can use your credit card to collect points for example or use a benefit of free 20 days grace period (squeeze that 0.000000001% interest the savings account gives you for another 20 days) and before the credit card company asks you to pay back, you transfer your saved cash back to your checking account and pay your credit card bill in full. Done. And you know your savings account is slowly accumulating for the next year.

Never use the money for a different purpose

Once you start saving cash for those bills, if you want to enjoy a peace of mind this method can provide, never, ever use that money for a different purpose. Never! You are saving for that particular bill and nothing else. That’s why I also am advocating to have separate accounts dedicated for that purpose rather than only one account with all the money pooled together. You would then need accounting and keep track of any contributions and expenditure. It may be tricky and it may get you into thinking that you have money saved, while you may actually be withdrawing money from a different “digital envelope” (purpose).

Conclusion

Saving for a specific purpose such as recurring large bills, typically paid annually, can help an investor offsetting a potential financial hardship and fear when such bill arrives that you not always have money aside to pay it. Having a specific savings account dedicated to the defined purpose may help you with budgeting without keeping the books, without messing up your emergency savings account, tapping into a pool of cash in your emergency account, or even worse taking a new debt. With this method you know exactly what you need, what you already have and what you spent. Saving small money monthly before you start spending other cash from your paycheck is a lot more affordable than one large bill once a year. When you have money saved and you know it and see it in your monthly statement, it gives you a great peace of mind. You no longer worry about that and any of the future bills anymore.




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Posted by Martin June 23, 2013
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My inspiration in the last week #25

My inspiration in the last week #25

I skipped my link love review for two weeks due to my vacation last week. This week I am back to present the following interesting web sites and links.

I often browse the internet to find ideas about investing, trading stocks, options, investing opportunities and strategies. I like to read about investors and what their investing/trading approach to create income you can live on is.

 

 
 




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Trade exit – Taser Int. (TASR) – covered call expiration with 11.81% gain

Trade exit - Taser Int. (TASR) - covered call expiration with 11.81% gain

Today was expiration Friday and I had one position (contract) in Taser Int. covered call. You can see my original trade setup in this post where I am showing the entire calculation of what would happen if I buy 100 shares of the stock and sell 1 call option against the shares. This trade is called a total return covered call, because you are realizing a gain on the stock by being assigned when you are forced to sell the stock (with a gain) and you keep the premium from sold option contract as well.

This trade was only one cycle trade, that means that I didn’t have to sell more calls against this position and this position executed during the life time of the original contract.

I also hold an older covered call contract on TASR with higher strike price ($10.00 strike) for which the original call contract expired worthless and I sold another contract. That trade is still “waiting” for execution. But I am OK with it. It is a part of my strategy. I will be waiting and selling covered calls as long as the stock gets called away.

As you can see on the chart below it indicates both trades.

TASR

Click to enlarge

The upper green line on the chart is the original trade with 10 strike, which is still alive until September, when the contract is supposed to get expired or assigned. If it expires I will sell a new call contract. If it gets assigned I will end this trade with 13.47% profit.

The stock got irrationally hit on February 20th, 2013. Can you see the large price drop, the extended candle in the middle of the chart? That’s when Taser announced its 4Q results and although they beat expectations the Wall Street morons (suckers by Jesse Livermore) didn’t like it and heavily sold the stock. However, I still liked the story of this company. When you consider all the madness around guns and gun laws at that time (and today) it was obvious that this company would prosper in the long term, mainly in areas where the gun ban is adopted, such as Chicago.

So I decided to open another contract (the one which is expiring today) of total return covered call.

The second, lower green line on the chart indicates this trade. And today’s expiration is the second trade going to its finale with a nice $77.22 profit (11.81% or 42.9% annualized return).




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Markets react on FED so turn your computer off and walk away


PanicServer Yahoo posted several articles this morning in reaction to Mr. Market’s behavior today asking a basic question: “Is the market overreacting?”

Well, in my opinion of course it is! Have you ever seen markets reacting rationally recently? I haven’t. As much as I am involved in the stock market I understand more and more what Jesse Livermore meant when he was calling other participants “suckers”.

When I opened my account a few minutes ago, the entire account was horribly down. All holdings losing in average 2 – 3%, some even 5 – 6% in a single day! You may be asking yourself whether this drop is justified or what’s behind it. Is it the long anticipated correction, pure overreaction or is the market adjusting to the reality of the shape of the US economy after FED ends its stimulus?

You may have asked yourself what you could have done better to prevent heavy loses in your account. Well, you could buy some puts this morning if you really knew what’s going to happen. If you are like me, a regular stock market sucker (no offense here, just using Livermore’s version of a “greenhorn” or a newbie), then you probably didn’t have enough information at the right moment to react to FEDs meeting fast enough. I also do not have a big enough account to spend a lot of money on a quite expensive puts (thanks to increased volatility) to protect my tiny account.

If you have turned on TV and tuned to CNBC you may have heard talking heads recommending their clients raising cash. It is a good advice, but they meant sell stocks to raise cash. If you do that, you will slip into (day) trading the market and that is not allowed in dividend growth strategy.

Do you remember year 2008? Do you remember the panic and selling everything no matter what value the stock had? What happened next? The markets rallied and erased all loses from that year. Is this the end of world? Probably not. And if so, nothing matters anyway.

So what is the best solution to do?

Nothing!

At least do nothing today. Turn off the computer or log off from your account and do not read anything about the market and stocks. Walk away. The panic selling can force you into irrational, emotional thinking and actions. It may force you into selling (and usually this selling will happen at the bottom, so you end up buying high, selling low). Turn it off and do something else. I did it today. When I saw the opening prices this morning I turned my account off and walked away from it.

I will check my account later tonight (maybe) because I am trading on margin to make sure I do not have any margin calls issued and if not, I will be turning it off coming back to check it on Friday and coming back on Monday to make decisions what I want to do next. I will definitely prepare for more buying, but not yet. The selling may not be over.




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Posted by Martin June 19, 2013
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Supper quicky note #9


So, a few months or weeks ago, FED chairman Ben Bernanke said that they may possibly start tapering the stimulus and stocks tanked (mREITs and real estate especially).

Today, FED said that although the job and the US economy outlook risks eased, they will continue spending $85 B monthly buying bonds, and stocks are tanking again.

I must exclaim, that those guys in Wall Street are idiots.

Well, I am happy for it. I will be buying more shares of stocks of my interest.




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