Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

I Love Lucy" Job Switching (TV Episode 1952) - IMDb

January is in full swing and I’m already feeling behind. I’m not sure if you’re feeling the same, but this week felt like a never-ending escalator that demanded that I step on at an ever-increasing pace. I literally felt like Lucy in that episode where she is supposed to be removing candies from a conveyer belt and packaging them but resorts to eating them as the conveyer belt speeds up beyond her capacity to wrap them up. There’s an interesting metaphor within that image of Lucy; she quickly assesses her predicament and sees no other recourse but to stuff the chocolates into her mouth and uniform. That’s one way to eliminate the middle man in order to resolve the problem. Wasn’t the candy intended for someone to eat as the end result anyway?

Perhaps her solution is the swiftest way to get to the point.

It seems that we are all too eager to get to the resolution—the point where we are done. Wherever that is. January is that month. That month where we still hold our aspirations in front of us and think, if only. If only I capture the moment and hold it down and squeeze every last drop out of it, then I’ll know I tried, I succeeded.

Everywhere we turn there is advice. Productivity advice. Advice on how to be more efficient. Minimalism–the movement that has you divorce yourself from everything in an attempt to have more. More time, more life.

Of course, rushing does nothing but prioritize the finishing of a task versus the enjoyment of a task.

At first glance, Lucy seems ridiculous. But, it is really the circumstances she is in—the emphasis on speed at all costs that are ridiculous.

Perhaps this year is different from all others—perhaps this is wisdom. This year, 2022, allows us to emerge, somewhat shell-shocked after the last few years. We are expected to move back out into the sun like anemic seedlings that have been weakened but still have possibilities within them. In fact, I do notice I’m more bent over and my hair falls somewhat forward as if it were two shells of leaves hovering over my face. Or is that my mask?

This year I’m not sure I’m buying it. I’m not sure that Lucy would either. Maybe she would, now mature, step behind the machinery and shut it off. Ethel would help her and though Ricky would inevitably create a fuss, it would be the right thing. It would be best for all of us to set the pace of our lives.

Before I step out of January 2022 permanently, I’d like to forge a tempo to my own life that makes sense to me. ”It” whatever ”it” is, cannot be done all in one day. Each day should have enjoyment and if we have the luxury, we should savor the tasks we have to do. There should be time to think and look out the window and daydream. Now, before I forget, I think I’ll schedule that in…

Beautify the Neighborhood

Last night I couldn’t sleep. This isn’t a new thing—but, as the tone of my thoughts run negative, I find sleep becomes more elusive. I tossed and turned for the better part of the night, thinking about my world, and in the middle of the night my world is my house, my yard, and the block I live on.

In the last two (or less) years 4 people have died. Not all were a surprise— there is the man two houses over who had a major disability and was bed-ridden for years. He was in his 50’s. Before that, was the wife of a neighbor two houses down. She had a heart attack in her 40’s. From what I know, she had had a congenital heart problem. Lifestyle was probably indicated as well. Then there was the man next door who had cancer though I didn’t know it until the fire truck showed up during the midst of Covid and his wife told me he had a year to live. He died soon after. Last week, there was the most shocking death of all—an an ostensibly healthy man, a father, husband, ex-military, fit. He died of a sudden heart attack leaving his wife and two teenage boys. That was unexpected. Tragic. It has forever changed the melody of our street.

Of 6 houses in a row, there have been 4 deaths.

In the middle of the night, this weighs on me as I have a husband who does not often take his health seriously, and I have a son who similarly takes his for granted.

I’ve tried to talk to them, reason with them. But, you know, sometimes people have a mind of their own. Sometimes, it is for good reason. Sometimes life plays out on this roundabout trail and we don’t really know where that path will lead. Maybe they know something I don’t. Maybe logic doesn’t reside in timelines.

In the night I try to reason with myself. I try to accept the dips and remember that Life is temporary and there is no way out. Sometimes Acceptance comes just before sleep.

I think of the guy across the street—essentially homeless, a rumored drug dealer, living with his girlfriend in his wheel-less camper in front of his parent’s home. His stuff, like entrails, strewn about the street. The tarp that leaks during heavy rain and the sole reason I know is because of the screaming that comes from the belly of the trailer, the lungs of the agoraphobic girlfriend. The way he hunches while he walks with a cane, refusing to get medical help because he fears the medical establishment at the moment. The non-stop flow of seedy-looking cars to his makeshift address and the inevitable cigarette butts on my side of the street. His sunny attitude despite the disparaging looks from neighbors and passersby.

And, he’s still living!

The gall! How can this be? Life, like a serpent, slithers through and past and inside my head during these moments. I’m awake! It’s 2:00 a.m! Why is this happening? What can I do?

Then it hits me.

I can control my side of the street. I have a little patch of garden—about 20’x10′ in the very front of my house by the street. A fence separates the section from the other part of my yard. There is a fig tree and an Arbutus tree, but there is room for more.

What if I put flowers there? I could weed it and make it look really good. I begin to envision a mass of spectacular color. The kind people stop by and linger—an immersive experience. Bees and birds would be attracted to my living contribution. In times like these, when words become meaningless, and gifts vacuous, maybe a riotous distraction can bring a moment of peace.

And then, maybe a bubble of hope can surface just long enough to take a breath.

Changes in 2022

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been pretty unmotivated with this blog lately. It’s even worse than that—I just have nothing to say. When I say nothing I mean not a word. It’s like a white room behind my eyes when it comes to ideas. The thinker people just dash off and take all their stuff leaving me with an echoing room. You can almost hear the rocks dropping—if there were rocks, but there aren’t even those because it’s just so empty.

I have almost thrown in the towel so many times. But, then, I remember that I used to write a blog—for three years, to be exact. I was a volunteer writer for the University of California Master Gardeners and though I don’t really know a whole lot about plants, I did go through the program and I was able to research plant-related ideas. These were fact-checked and published by a horticultural expert on the UC Master Gardener website. Every week I sat down and wrote a brand new topic, made up by yours truly, and some of them were good and funny and once in a while I’d even get a comment from someone about how witty I was. Believe it or not, I was once requested as a speaker based on my ”very funny blog.” Unfortunately, my speaking engagement ended my burgeoning interest in public speaking as it was more of a ”your worst nightmare” scenario than a ticket to fame. Honestly, not that I wanted fame, just a good experience. But, even my good experience was dashed by my lack of expertise and the fact that the rooster-like president of the garden group did not seem to like me at all. I figured this out after she contradicted what I said while I was speaking. It came as quite a shock when I heard her respond to a question while standing just out of my peripheral vision in front of the room. I literally did a double-take because I could not believe she was leaning against the whiteboard on the wall, cleaning her nails with her arms crossed waiting for me to screw up. She clearly did not want to relinquish the title of ”Captain” by sitting down and listening to the likes of me. It was interesting as I tried to field questions about genius rats that could not be trapped and heard whispering from the middle row, ”what did she say, I can’t hear her.” I could sense the unrest of a growing mob as they realized there was going to be no slideshow about a glossy garden transformation like the slick couple who had presented before me. Luckily the time allotted for me was short—about 15 minutes—and my speech was soon over. The Top Hen was able to resume her squawking and I left out the back door as soon as it was polite enough to do so. Ahhh, in the warm car and homeward!

‘ I quickly realized that I was not going on a speaking tour anytime soon.

Back then I loved writing the blog although each week brought a degree of panic that I would do or say something wrong. I always wrote to make myself laugh. I was lucky that my editor was flexible with the posts because each and every post brought a moment of pause for me: should I? Can I get away with writing this? I always wrote it anyway and there was only one time where I was told ‘no’ and that was a sentence that spoke about Miley Cyrus twerking. I forget the context now.

I remember my neighbor would ask me how I do it each week—he too was a writer for the Master Gardeners and I think he struggled with writing more loosely. He was also constrained by writing for the paper which has a lot more structure to it. The blog was so much more fun because there were really no rules.

I remember telling him the plain truth: I write to entertain myself.

I think that’s where this blog has stagnated. I’m not interested in what I’m writing. It just does not end up entertaining or funny to me.

I began this blog as a way of putting together my family’s finances and, in the process, motivate and learn from other people. The problem is that I am not financially savvy—and though I think that is fine for many bloggers—I’m also not fanatically obsessed with writing about how I save money or other content-heavy posts like “How to Feed a Family of 4 on $10 a Week.” Yes, there are bloggers who write about these things and I love them. But, it’s just not where my mind spends its time.

And, that’s where I’ll start. I want to spend more time talking about topics that are more current in my thoughts these days. I’d also like to write in more depth on specific topics. I’m thinking that I’ll stick to a subject per month so that by the end of the year I’ve got 12 specific ideas that I’ve spent a whole month refining and thinking about.

Where did this come from? I guess I am asking myself this question. The answer is easy, it came from a lack of ideas on solely a financial front. I just can’t put finances into my thoughts when I’ve got other things putting their mark on my life. Family, organization, health, these are a few topics that seem to continually color my days and often I’ll think to myself, ”that would be fun to write about” but then I feel I’ve already set a focus to this blog that doesn’t really allow for something different.

Also, I love the idea of structuring my posts on monthly topics. In fact, I just picked up a few books from the thrift store on household organization and I think that may be the theme in March or April.

This month I’d like to focus on The Mind. My mind has been clouded by doubt, stress, and worry lately. I’m scattered and all over the place and it just makes me feel bad. Part of this new change is an attempt to find my long-lost sense of humor. Where did it go?!

So this month—January 2022 is the month of The Mind. I think that no matter what, you have to have your clear mind before you tackle anything else. I’ve got a couple of ideas already that I’m working on, so stay tuned.

Andrea

You Can’t

I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with my two teenagers lately. Without dragging their dirty laundry out onto the internet, let’s just say it’s given me much pause. My son is 15 and—well, huge–as in, I can’t lift him around and put him in the car and go home and cry in private the way I used to. My daughter is younger and smaller and less likely to muscle me but she is acutely capable of outwitting me in my more fragile moments.

I’ve taken to YouTube to learn a thing or two about parenting. It’s perfect, anonymous, and I can shrivel up at home with my tail between my legs and hope it’s not as bad as I think. There’s always a shred of hope.

I’ve been following this guy—a parenting counselor. He’s great, very positive, and best of all, he has a video on every topic. His demeanor is so sunny, that you will willingly broach each subject, even though you’re a bit worried that you are, in fact, the worst parent on the planet.

Tonight, I saw a really short video of his listed on my feed. I’m always in a rush and this one was just a little over 7 minutes. Like a heinous car accident, I could not tear myself away from the title: “What Is The Most Psychologically Damaging Thing You Can Say To A Child?”

Ooh. Short and Scary.

So, there I was, figuratively biting my nails, but I went ahead and clicked on the video. Really, who can resist the temptation there—The Most Psychologically Damaging Thing?

When the video began, my fears were put to rest immediately as the counselor listed out a number of ”damaging things, but not The Most Damaging Thing.” Luckily they were things that I generally refrain from, such as calling my kids ‘stupid,’ or telling them that “I should’ve never had kids.” I mean, those are things I may have thought at times but never really believed. As a side note, I do remember my mom calling me an ”eejit” a lot as a kid (she’s Irish), but it was mostly in a somewhat exasperated tone, as in, “Don’t be an eejit!” And, it’s a funny word, so, we all saw that as amusing.

Finally, the counselor got to the most damaging thing: telling your child they can’t do something. His meaning was in the sense that they are not capable of doing something or can’t become something.

The irony here is that I’d just spent the better part of 15 minutes being told by my husband that I couldn’t do something. He saw that I was visibly upset and in an effort to get back on a good note, I pointed him in the direction of this video. With the hope of deflecting him, he agreed to watch the last couple of minutes.

Let me back up. Before the video, I’d been Zillow Surfing for fun. I often like to check out big homes on acreage. ”Homes with a hallway” I like to joke with my friends. The thing is, I live in an amazingly beautiful small town in California, but our house is 850 square feet. That’s not a typo—it’s not 1,850, or 2,850, it’s 850 and one bathroom. I love my small house, but a girl can dream, right?

“Check this out,” I said to my husband. He came over and saw the huge house on Zillow—two houses and a 750 square foot game room on 22 acres to be exact. Immediately the can’ts poured forth.

“You can’t clean that!”

“Where’s the water?

“Is it on a well? Do you need me to call my construction friends and tell you there’s no water?”

I have to admit here that my husband has a fear of me impulsively taking on large projects on my own. Underneath his adamant protestations was probably the huge worry that I may be serious.

Nevertheless, the counselor’s message is heavily weighted in truth. The problem with telling someone they can’t do something is that it dashes their hopes, squashes their dreams, and shrivels them into a smaller version of themselves. Even as an adult, being told I couldn’t do something made me feel crushed and shut down.

Being told something is impossible for you—particularly if it is possible for someone else—creates a disequilibrium within the self that is difficult to reason your way out of.

Of course, I’m an adult, I can only imagine how repeated exposure to negativity can severely alter the trajectory of a child’s life—and dampen his or her search for meaning, self-actualization, and joy.

It certainly does not lead to an open mind, the world of possibilities or the drive to succeed.

I wondered later, as I thought about the ”can’ts” of life: how many of us tell ourselves consciously or unconsciously that we cannot do something, that we are not capable, that we are inherently ‘not good enough?’

Having an ‘I can’t do that’ mentality creates serious roadblocks and ultimately leads to a marked inability to act.

I believe the way around these roadblocks is to look each challenge squarely in the eye and parse out the elements that you ‘can’ do. For example, looking at a home on Zillow could be seen as a first step, and if I were serious about pursuing it further, I could drive by a couple of the homes. I could talk to someone, learn about it, and slowly, those impediments would melt away and become the pathway to what you want.

In Praise of A Homemade Sandwich

We went out to dinner last night.

It was a nice restaurant—not just a diner. The restaurant is situated at the end of a long working pier. The seating, outside, gives you the vantage point of a vast, glimmering sea or a quaint town depending on your angle of view. The town itself punctuates a winding rural road that is long and somewhat wild and by all standards, very beautiful.

The dinner, however, was mediocre.

I’m not picky, nor should I be. My own cooking skills are best summed up by an old roommate who claimed by Holy Decree, ”Irish mothers cannot cook.” I insulted my own mother with this little tidbit once, and karma being what it is, I find this a somewhat sensitive point in my own term of motherhood.

But, the blahness of this meal was undeniable—the not-so-hot fish taco, was given a full thumbs down by my husband. His face said it all, along with the words, ‘I can see why you didn’t like this fish taco.’

These were generous words from him. He actually has a knack for cooking that I’ve spent an entire marriage trying to please and sometimes, albeit rarely, do. He seems to have a way with food that I can only explain as kinetic and tactile.

No, it was definitely not a smiley face coming from him. I was pleasant about the meal because any dinner that is healthy and without a load of dishes is not really worthy of complaint.

But, still.

It reminded me of a similar meal years ago when I wanted to go to a restaurant in our town that is famous for its German-style cuts of meat laid out on rolls and served with au jus. We took the kids there one evening and the price was so exorbitant that I remember thinking I’d be better off buying more expensive groceries and making my own specialty sandwiches. Like, maybe some nice rolls and melted swiss cheese would not only be enough, but even better at home. It didn’t help that this restaurant always has a huge line and, of course, finding seating, bathrooms, parking, you get where I’m going with this. Is it worth it?

Even more, why do I constantly crave a meal out?

This spring I got more extreme in the sandwich department. I started buying up. Meaning, I bought the pricier brand of sourdough bread, the $5.99 package of humanely raised meats. I pushed myself by adding cucumbers and carrots. I tried my hand at making homemade sauerkraut and when it was ‘ready’ that too was heaped on. I used a lot of garlic on the mayonnaise and smothered the two together with avocado.When pumpernickel rye sourdough bread showed up at Ralphs it was game on. Something new!

But, before I get too crazy, this is not about the sandwich.

It’s about perception.

I believed that this restaurant was better than it was. The truth is, I haven’t been satisfied with the meals I’ve had outside of my own in quite a while. I’ve noticed that after covid, restaurant food—no matter the quality of the restaurant—tastes a little bland. Maybe those months (years?) of eating at home, particularly during covid, gave me time to refine my tastes. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me to spend the money on restaurant food. Maybe I’m going to the wrong places but what I’m getting is not really worth what I see as extreme spending—particularly for a family.

The other thing I could see was how my frugal ways in the grocery store were making me crave outside purchases that were less satisfying. I never did the math, but I can imagine that my imaginary sense of restaurant = better could lead to excessive spending that couldn’t be made up for in the grocery store no matter how many coupons I clipped or Kroger products I defaulted to. The alternative, a restaurant-style dinner at home, seemed the logical choice on all fronts.

In the end, I think I’d rather extend my borders at the grocery store—-purchase a nicer piece of meat or cheese or try a new fruit—rather than ”get the experience” of a meal that involves zero effort. This last meal at this fine dining establishment on the pretty pier was a nice reminder that I don’t necessarily need to go to great efforts to have something great.

Crosssection of a sandwich with hearty bread smashed avocado cucumbers sprouts lettuce finely sliced carrots and creamy...

Speaking of sandwiches, here’s a sandwich recipe I’d like to try: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/california-veggie-sandwich

What do you think? Are restaurants worth it?

Attitude

Yesterday didn’t go very well. I can’t say dramatically that the world ended or that I had some major disappointment.

It was a sideways not-doing-so-hot kind of day.

I dislike those days because inherently I know that I have full control over my attitude; nothing earth-shattering occurred that changed my existence. It was just a day that started out with me on the wrong side of the bed and then letting that lopsidedness inflict itself on everyone else.

I could have done any number of things to remedy myself, but perhaps the simplest would have been to stop and take a breath. I could have thought about my life for a moment and located the bright spots rather than focus on the shade.

Instead, I woke up worried and anxious about my job and the seeming impossibility of teaching a sixth grader to read so that she can catch up to her peers. Today—a different day and attitude altogether—I spoke with a colleague and we both agreed that we are probably accomplishing more than we think. We are in the same worry boat and it is what it is. We can do our best with what time and circumstances we are given.

Yesterday, I only noticed how late my kids were for school—how they are always late. I heard myself sounding gruff and how that made the whole matter worse. Later, in a quiet moment, my mood was underscored by the yellow stain that started on one side of my turquoise blue sleeve and crept along the inside where it was worse than the other—no way to roll it or hide it. I found myself shrinking into my neck like a turtle, envisioning the gray hairs that have come to live on the back of my head, the darkened skin, no longer fresh. My terrible mind crumpled me further like a wad of blank paper sullied from storage and no longer of use. Everything I came into contact with affirmed this morose bent and by the time I ran into an old friend my nerves were shot and as she described her new home and life—one exceedingly different from the one she’d moved from—I was happy and small and petty and jealous all at once.

My attitude diminished me and I had allowed it to.

. I allowed a darkness in and that black ink seeped into my household and infected all of us.

This morning I took myself by the reins. I made amends with my son who initially did not want a ride to school because of yesterday’s ”drama” i.e., my complaining. We even drove his new friend who I’ve not had a chance to really meet until now. I did not fret over the clock as we got off of the freeway. “I’ll make it to work and it will be fine,” I silently told myself. Besides, my kids are my first, and most important job.

On the way to my job I thought about my sixth grader and I knew she would be fine. She is a very nice girl and I am only a small portion of her life—but I am on her side. I took my time at work and let time lay itself out as it has a tendency to do anyway. Instead of complaining about my allergies and the windy weather I decided to be thankful for medication that works.

Yesterday was a weird one—gale force winds and places to be, unexpected meetings and a negative attitude. None lasted, all were ephemeral.

Thankfully, today went very well.

July Passive Income Report

In my neck of the woods, it’s been a foggy, cool summer. I almost typed ‘winter’ in place of ‘summer’ there because it is a bit winterish. It has been a summer more conducive to work than play, I suppose—though I will admit to longer mornings spent resisting waking up and later nights checking out Netflix. This July I am really excited about my passive income report—particularly in the dividend department. Let’s see how we made out.

American Express

American Express never disappoints. This month I earned $47.39 in cashback rewards and I’ve made a decision about my accounts. I’ve decided to Marie Kondo the whole experiment and use my AMEX for all of my spending. At this point of the year, I’ve almost spent $6000.00 on groceries (I’m not quite there yet, but it’s getting close!) and that means that I will not be getting the 6% cashback on groceries. After the $6000.00 limit is reached AMEX pays 1% which is still nice. Other expenditures remain at 1% unless it’s fuel or streaming services—those are 3% cashback. There’s more…

TAB Bank

I’ve been waffling about TAB bank for over a year. I was very gung-ho in the beginning with this account because they offered over 3% interest. The caveat, however, is that you had to deposit money into the account monthly and make 15 purchases of $5.00 or more. TAB has had a number of shifts in the interest rate-lowering the rate to slightly above 1%. So, I’ve been torn. Should I find another bank with a higher interest rate? Or should I simply continue with TAB and take the interest—which is not horrible, just a little less than I expected.

Okay, let’s get to it. In June I made $13.73 in interest.

I am happy with the interest—however, I’d be lying if I didn’t question my behavior in relation to the nature of this account. Initially, I kept the account to save money for property taxes and bills that are due yearly such as insurance. I still think that separating your money in order to pay future bills is a great idea. But, I’m also noticing the spending element of this card—15 transactions monthly. Unfortunately, I’m feeling like there are times I’m in a rush and I purchase more just to make sure that I am getting the 15 transactions in—also, I notice I’m more willing to get snack foods for the kids in an effort to use that card. Looking at my July statement I notice an awful lot of Taco Bell and Subway. One charge was $23 for Subway! And, while I’m not opposed to having a treat now and then, it seems this card encourages me to spend a bit more each month than I ordinarily would. It’s also encouraging ”little shops” to get that $5 transaction and inevitably those are lower quality foods that we really don’t need. So, I’ll be dialing back my use of this card. I still intend on keeping money separate for future big bills, but I’m going to forego the interest and stop using this card for the small stuff. Honestly, I think I’ll end up saving more money than I will make in interest. So, those are my thoughts there.

What I’d really like to do—-instead of focusing on this card as a tool—is increase my commitment to my dividend accounts….

Dividends

I’m really excited this month because my dividend income was just over $300 in July alone. I really cannot believe it. All my scrimping and saving—and researching the market— feels like it’s paying off. Below is the breakdown for both my regular stock account and my Roth IRA account.

Regular Account:

Preferred Apartment Communities, Inc. (APTS) 100 shares $17.50

B & G Foods, Inc. (BGS) 100 shares $47.50

Global X Superdividend ETF (DIV) 3 shares $.25

LTC Properties, Inc. (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

New Residential Investment Corp. (NRZ) 400 shares $80.00

O Realty (O) 60 shares $14.13

Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) 50 shares $5.71

AT&T (T) 60 shares $31.20

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) $10.66

Verizon (VZ) $9.41

Total for this account: $218.26

Roth IRA

Global X Superdividend ETF (DIV) 3 shares $.25

O Realty (O) 60 shares $7.07

STAG Industrial (STAG) 12 Shares $1.21

Invesco Mortgage Capital (IVR) 250 Shares $22.50

LTC Properties, Inc. (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

Annaly Capital Management (NLY) 137 Shares $27.50

New Residential Investment (NRZ) 100 Shares $20.00

Total for this account: $80.43

July Total Passive Income: $359.81

Wow! I am really amazed at this number as it gets higher each month. The snowball effect is in place and I can attest to the fact that the more you see growth, the more interested you are in saving. I sometimes joke with a friend that investing is so beautiful because it feels like shopping, but it is actually saving. I also notice that the more I analyze my earnings, the more I am noticing details about stocks and dividends that help me improve my investments in the future.

Have a great week!

June Passive Income Report

June is the official month of summer and we’re enjoying every minute of it. I live near the coast, so we’re in the middle of June Gloom which is not unlike a warmer version of deep fall. Motivation is at an all time low with the lack of warm sunshine, though we do see a glimmer of the fireball here and there just to remind us. It’s a tease.

But, let’s get into this month’s totals….

American Express

I’m not going to lie—my June cashback is embarrassingly high at $100.12. Blame it on those expensive summer camps and the gallons of sunscreen we needed despite the fog. Summer is a little too luxurious— less time working and a lot more time spending. Still, I’ll take it. June’s cashback amount pays for the yearly Amex fee. Next month, I’ll have to throttle back on the extras in order to keep my budget under control.

TAB Bank

I didn’t forget to make a deposit this month to my high-interest savings account and I found ample budget-busting opportunities to spend so I was able to get the higher interest rate for the month. TAB’s interest rate payout for this month was $12.77

Investments

Cashback, savings account interest, and income help me contribute to my investment accounts. Though I joke about the ”spending of summer” I am actually extremely frugal—and very serious when it comes to investing. Below is the breakdown for dividend income in both my regular investment account and my Roth IRA accounts. I share this because I believe everyone should have access to the freedom of life—but let’s face it money is really what ”buys the ticket.” I haven’t added up my earnings yet, so after I type in the numbers I’ll be excited to see where I stand this month.

Regular Investment Account

Wells Fargo (WFC) 10 shares $1.00

Pfizer (PFE) 15 shares $5.85

Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) 10.555 shares $11.12

Unilever (UL) 10 shares $5.16

Global X Superdividend US ETF (DIV) 3 shares $.25

3M (MMM) 20 shares $29.60

McDonalds (MCD) $58.05

Monmouth R.E. Inv. Corp. (MNR) 10 shares $1.80

Newell Brands, INC (NWL) 356 shares $81.88

Realty Income (O) 60 shares $9.40

Viatris (VTRS) 1 share $.11

Kohls (KSS) 10 shares $2.50

Flowers Foods, Inc. (FLO) 30 shares $6.30

Schwab US Dividend Equity ETF (SCHD) 5 shares $2.70

Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) 10 shares $6.75

LTC Properties, Inc. (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) 50 shares $6.04

Total for Regular Investment Account: $230.41

Roth IRA

Wells Fargo (WFC) 85 shares 8.50

Global X Superdividend US ETF (DIV) 3 shares $.25

3M (MMM) 10 shares $14.80

Newell (NWL) 101 shares $23.23

STAG Industrial (STAG) 12 shares $1.21

LTC Properties, Inc. (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

Total for Roth IRA: $49.89

Total Dividend Income: $280.30

All told, June went beyond my expectations with a total of $393.19 in passive income. I’m definitely encouraged most of all by my dividend stock payouts. Having the discipline to save and invest even though it is scary and nerve wracking at times, really pays off. Just keep putting in a little bit here and a little bit there—it all adds up in the end.

Have a great week!

May Passive Income Report

Summer is in full swing and I’m itching to get into my passive income report. This is the time of year that my kids and I have a little more flexibility time-wise and somehow I end up slacking off a bit more than I intend to. The combination of warm weather, longer days, and freedom are fertile grounds for some financial analysis—and some daydreaming about the future. But enough sitting poolside, let’s get into the hard numbers.

American Express Card

American Express did not disappoint in May. This month I earned an amazing rewards payment of $83.20. This month my spending could have been lower at $1,403.87 since most of my charges were at the grocery store. I’m going to have to tackle those coupons once and for all. As I’ve said before, American Express Blue Card is the best card for groceries as it gives you 6% back on groceries (up to $6,000 per year and 1% thereafter). Logistically, if you’re trying to stick to a budget of $500.00 or less per month on groceries, this is a great card for that. As usual, I’ll shamelessly include a link below for the card which gives both you and me a bonus if you are approved. As a side note, the card does have a yearly fee of around $95.00. Amex is well worth it though if you spend over $1500 on groceries per year. It also gives 3% back on gas and streaming such as Netflix and 1% on everything else.

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!

http://refer.amex.us/ANDREPiddJ?xl=cp15

TAB Bank

If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I’m very wishy-washy about TAB Bank. During 2020 they lowered my interest rate twice and now it hovers just above 1%. Well, May was once again an epic fail as I forgot to deposit money into the account. TAB requires one deposit and 15 debit card transactions over $5.00. This month I made an abysmal 42 cents. I’ll blame my forgetfulness on the chaos that occurs as summer looms. Okay, on to the next.

Dividends

Ah, for the love of dividends! I have two accounts—a regular investment account and a Roth IRA. I’ll list below the stock, ticker symbol, the number of shares and the dividend I earned this month. Combined, my dividends earned me $

Regular Account:

AT&T (T) 60 shares $31.20

Verizon (VZ) 15 shares $9.41

American Express (AXP) 10 shares $4.30

Enterprise Products (EPD) 12 shares $5.40

Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) $.27

Green Plains Partners (GPP) 200 shares $24.00

Realty Income (O) 60 shares $9.40

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT) 100 shares $17.75

Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC) 531shares $5.31

LTC Properties (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

Invesco S&P 500 High Div Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) 50 shares $5.70

That brings my regular account to $114.64 in monthly dividends.

Roth Ira

General Mills (GIS) 10 shares $5.10

AT&T (T) 6 shares $3.12

Enterprise Products (EPD) 50 shares $22.50

Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) 3 shares $.27

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT) 6 shares $1.07

AbbVie Inc (ABBV) 5 shares $6.50

Stag Industrial Inc. (STAG) 10 shares $1.21

Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC) 68 shares $.68

LTC Properties (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

My Roth IRA earned $39.35

Combining all of my passive income I earned a total of $237.61 during May. Not too bad when you consider that this is pure income that I can either roll over into more stocks or keep aside and use to keep my expenses low.

Let me know how you’re doing financially and if you have any suggestions for a high interest savings account!

Have a great week.

April Passive Income Report

Here it is June 1, and I realize I forgot April! Spring just whooshes. I don’t know if you feel the same way but I notice that spring typically presents me with unusual challenges and this year has been no different. Most of my slowing has been due to a certain lack of prioritizing on my part, but I suppose that this is the time of year that everyone gets a little more revved up and people and activities seem to come out of the woodwork. Well, enough about that. Let’s get to my monthly report.

American Express Card

During April I made a whopping $96.26 in rewards cash. During that statement period we had some residual vacation expenses, but the overall bill was not horrendous at $1,463.00. American Express pays 6% cashback on groceries and 3% on gas so you can see how those points added up as we brought food to our cabin for our stay and we drove over three hours each way.

If you’d like to apply for the American Express Card you can go to this referral link:

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!

http://refer.amex.us/ANDREPV3An?XLINK=MYCP

Right now American Express has a special referral package that I’ll post below. (I copied and pasted this directly from the AMEX website.)

Each friend can earn:

$150 back after they spend $3,000 in purchases on their new Blue Cash PreferredĀ® Card in their first 6 months of Card Membership. They can also earn 20% back on purchases on Amazon.com made with the Blue Cash PreferredĀ® Card in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. The cash back will be in the form of statement credits. Your friend will be able to choose from all available American Express Personal and Business Card offers. You can receive your referral bonus no matter what Card your friend is approved for.

  • I should note that there is a yearly fee of $100 for the Blue Cash Preferred American Express card. However, their offer more than makes up for that fee because of the $150 back on $3,000 in purchases (which you’ll also get 6% cash back on groceries, 3% on gas or streaming services like Netflix, and 1% back on everything else.)

TAB Bank

I’ve been waffling a lot when it comes to my TAB Bank account. After they lowered the interest rate twice in 2020, I lost heart. The original interest rate was around 4% provided you made a deposit monthly and had 15 transactions during that month. During April I resumed using the card and I made the required deposit and I was pleasantly surprised with the resulting $12.40 interest earnings. My account hovers around $10,000 and that money is set aside in that account for emergency funds as well as year-end tax bills. I’ve said before in other posts that there are other banks that offer a higher interest rate and I am still considering opening up another account. However, I don’t like to be spread too thin and as I make my way through this journey of getting control of our spending, saving, and earning. As of yet, I haven’t felt comfortable enough to sit down and make that move but when I do, I’ll let you know.

Dividend Interest

In the month of April I earned $108.64 in dividends in my regular account and $3.38 in my Roth Ira account for a total of $112.02. Here is the breakdown:

Regular Account:

Global X Super Dividend ETF (DIV) 3 shares .27

Realty Income (O) 40 shares $9.40

Preferred Apartment Communities, Inc. (APTS) 100 shares $17.50

LTC Properties, Inc., (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

B&G Foods, Inc., (BGS) 100 shares $33.25

Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) 50 shares $6.32

New Residential Investment Corp. (NRZ) 200 shares $40.00

Roth Ira Account:

Global X Super Dividend ETF (DIV) 3 shares .27

LTC Properties, Inc., (LTC) 10 shares $1.90

Stag Industrial, Inc. (STAG) 10 shares $1.21

Total Combined Income

Combining Interest income, credit card cashback, and dividend income, I made a total of $220.68. My hope is that I can take this monthly passive income and continue to invest in the stock market. I’d like to grow our savings in a thoughtful way, however, and as I learn and consider my options, I’ll continue to write about it.

Have a great week,

Andrea

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