from debtfreeme: how do you buy a stock one at a time?
I first learned about buying company stock and dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs) from my DH, who bought me my first share of Coke 7 years ago. Here's the deal. Many blue chip companies that pay a dividend offer to sell company stock to shareholders through a transfer agent who operates like a bank (most transfer agents are banks). You then send money to the transfer agent, who then buys however amount of shares with the amount of money you gave them. In addition, dividends that your stock generates can be sent to you or can be reinvested to buy more stock. Many of these plans are free, or nearly so. The ones I have officially charge a fee, but the company pays the fee for me.
To read more about them, here are some links...
The biggest hurdle of DRPs is starting a DRP and getting that first share of stock. You actually have to own that share, it has to be in your name - its different than actually buying that share from a broker, who buys it for you but the broker owns the stock and tacks your name on it. A broker will transfer a share into your name for a fee. If you have a friend who owns a share of a company you want you can ask them to transfer a share to you. Sometimes you can inherit shares and convert them.
After you get the share, you have to send that share to the company's transfer agent with paperwork. That's time, hassle, and other fees.
That's why I used The Temper Enrollment Services for my other two DRPs, here: http://www.directinvesting.com/ Click on "DRIP search" in the top bar. Its a great place. You can type in a company symbol and it'll tell you a bit about the drip.
For the price of a share + 10% of the share (in case the price goes up!) + $30 to $50 on-time-only fee (depends on whether its a big popular DRP or not), Temper does the whole thing for you - buys the share, contacts the transfer agent, has the transfer agent set up the DRP. In my mind, its money well spent. It just takes awhile to set it up.
After Temper sets it up, they leave and you just send money to the transfer agent. Depending on the DRP, you can send big amounts too.
Archive for September, 2005
from debtfreeme: how do you buy a stock one at a time?
No heiress letter yet, emailed sister to ask whats up.
Had the urge for another bad-for-your-health-life-affirming lunch. Hit Dome Burger for the first time in three years. All their burgers are fresh, the fries were hot, and all the condiments you could want. I had a meeting today so I didn't load up on the onions. Took me back to high school and college; Dome Burger decor reminds me of a college dorm. Prices had gone up about .50 from last I went.
Bought a $300 I-bond today. You buy those at the end of the month because the issue date is set at the first of the month. Buying at the end of the month means instead of a year's wait before you can redeem them, its 11 months.
My $40 bought a 1/2 a share of 3M, so I have 19.66 shares of 3M. Tomorrow $50 will be taken out of my savings account to buy Coke. I should have 61.50 shares of that. (FYI - Dome Burger has a Coke fountain. Ka-ching!) On the first day of October the $35 I sent to Wisconsin Energy Corp should buy another share of that. I should have over 10 shares of that. Compared to my 403Bs, these stocks are a small proportion. I just thought I'd quietly add to my positions, reinvest the dividends (all pay a reasonable dividend and cost nothing to invest in their DRPs). Investing $40, $50 at a time feels way different than plunking down a $1000 at a time - it feels nice, like I'm sending my money away to earn money for me.
Waiting for the paycheck to come on Friday.
Spending log - 1.65 coffee (paid w/change) + 6.00 lunch + 2.75 bubble tea
Saving log - 4.00 tip box + 300 savings bond
The second of grampa's savings bonds is in my online manifest. Four weeks. That took a little longer but I guess the US government has a lot on its mind. Still waiting for the second, heiress piece of paper. My job evaluation is on Friday. The job itself is starting to get into its busy season - I'm keeping up and I have a high capacity but the screws are starting to tighten.
The second day of all the Seattle buses being diverted from the bus tunnel and going through downtown Seattle. Third Avenue looks kinda cool. Bus, bus, bus, bus, bus...all of them zooming. Once in awhile a car goes by that will get stopped by the cops for $101. A *lot* more people on the streets waiting for their bus; each stop on each side of the street had at least 75 people waiting for something coming by. I never knew. I used the tunnel during lunch so it was always deceptively quiet to me, but it turns out that 40% of downtown Seattle commutes by bus.
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 6.00 lunch + 2.50 snack
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 5.00 lunch
Found a deal on the cat food cat likes - .50/can - so I stocked up. I have an 18 yr old cat so if he eats it and its a treat, who's it gonna harm? Of course stocking up for an 18 yr old cat is the very definition of optimism.
Found a good deal on bubble bath Saturday. I'll save the shampoo trick for later. I had been eyeing a stainless steel olive oil dispenser for a year now. My old one is soldered at the bottom and after years of use, it leaks and produces a ring of olive oil whenever I use it. I love my old dispenser, though. Its got a cool Italian lithograph on it.
Because I'm too frugal for cable, , but like The Sopranos, I made the trek to Blockbuster. To be honest, I hate the new no late fees policy. No one brings DVDs back. Here it is, 4 months from when season 5 first came out and no vol 3. And the library's worse. Oh well...eventually.
Spending log - 7.86 coffee and breakfast + 46.72 grocery store (includes bubble bath and that olive oil dispenser)
Spending log - 7.00 coffee and breakfast + 7.62 canned cat food
I skipped the bubble tea for lunch and to reward myself for my frugality, I put in 5$ into my tip box. My total in the tip box came to $48, so I deposited my squeezings in my savings account. And then I turned around and took out $40 from the lobby ATM. On paper it looks like I only saved $8, but since I don't apparently like to spend my emergency funds, it feels like shielded 40$ from spending. I guess that's what saving feels like to me...protecting slices of my money from my nefarious spending purposes.
I submitted my 6 month job evaluation to the COO, who is my substitute boss. He'll be the one to evaluate me.
I have to tell you this story. 7 months ago I applied for this job (which was a promotion) as an interior applicant, was interviewed, and got the job. I set a price for myself, which was on the high end but in the salary range on the application. However during the salary negotiation (which was done in my cubicle over the phone, sheesh), the VP of HR basically low-balled me, citing that I was going up 2 pay grades, and that the only "fair" thing was the low end, which as a bone to throw, they bumped up to the lower third. Since they put their cards on the table, I put mine down and told them what I wanted. The VP of HR said, "no way you're getting that." We're talking a difference of about $1,500.
I talked with my would-be boss about this, who talked to his boss, the COO. They agreed that they had the budget for my price and both went to bat for me. HR and the CEO wouldn't budge, so I politely declined the offer. (The VP of HR said to me, "you're very calm about this.") The office atmosphere was pretty odd for awhile. Eventually a deal emerged; I would get the salary I wanted if my evaluation (this particular one) was above a certain level. I asked for it in writing and I got that, so I accepted this job.
The reason I'm telling this tale in this journal is that I had a secret weapon while I was negotiating. At the time, I had savings of about $10,000 (the kiss my a** fund, savings bonds, some stock). No wonder I was calm! And right now its over $14,000...that'll only make me calmer during my evaluation.
I mention this now because I came across an article on how you might not need an emergency fund, but that you really need "financial flexibility" in the form of credit cards and a HELOC.
In the narrowest sense, "they" are right - you have a pile of money that has to be kept liquid, earning lowish interest and away from the consumer-industrial complex. And you are losing that opportunity cost! But after I got done wiping my eyes from laughing so hard from reading that article, I can personally attest that the safety of my emergency fund gave me my calmness. A HELOC would not have worked.
Opportunity cost be dammed.
Paid $350 on the credit card; now I have $280 of debt left. Chipping away at it - my only purchase on it last month was a Katrina donation. I shudder to think that I'll be making Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma donations, too. Baring all that death and destruction, I should be able to clear it next month.
Popped the signed waiver and consent in the mail. Sister told me that the next piece of paper was a certificate that I'm a legal heir(ess) to the estate, to be signed in front of a notary. We have a notary at work, so its a hop up some stairs. Now all I have to do is find the time.
I made some comments on another frugal blog about grocery shopping and how to select produce. One thing led to another and suddenly I was part of an email interview about how to keep vegetables fresh. If you're curious, here's the link: http://money.happyhumans.com/2005/09/21/save-on-produce/
Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $7.00 lunch (bought enough for dinner, too) + $3.00 bubble tea + $350.00 credit card
Saving log - $5.00 tip box
We sat together, my lawyer friend and I, as he looked at the papers. The consent is that I agree that the bank is to be the executor, am satisfied with the will and am not going to contest it. By signing it, I help send this into informal probate, which as sister's lawyer explained, consists mostly of signing stuff. My lawyer friend added that since everyone gets paid after the estate is settled everyone has a stake in getting things moving.
Yesterday I cheaped out on lunch in order to at least make my ATM withdrawl last 3 days instead of two again.
One of my DRPs is 3M. In the mail today, I got a shareholder offer for a Christmas pack of products for $9.75. There were a couple of things I wanted to try (shoeshine wipes sound interesting in a weird 3M-y sort of way), so for giggles and grins I bought a box.
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 5.00 lunch
Saving log - 3.00 tip box
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 8.00 lunch + 9.75 christmas box
Saving log - 40 3M DRP
Tonight I got the waiver and consent from sister's lawyer, who is going to assist the executor (the bank). We're starting with the paperwork by entering the will for informal probate, and by signing our consent allowing the bank to become the executor. Wheels are grinding slowly and infinitely fine. The first casuality: they've shaved off an "a" from my mom's first name. I expect my lawyer friend, a gay man, to enjoy the joke.
My bank transferred back the 200$.
This week the Seattle police are cracking the whip to get cars off of Third avenue during the 3 hour afternoon rush hour. Big "do not enter" signs. Cars are being turned off at every intersection on Third by four officers, two cars, and large flashing signs. Its kinda cool actually. No exhaust, no honking, no stereo bass.
Spending log - 10.00 coffee/brunch + 3.00 bubble tea
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 7.00 lunch + 3.00 afternoon juice
Saving log - 5.00 tip box
I heard the mental sound of a buzzer several times in the last two days.
So much for my project of stretching out the time between ATM visits. DH and I went to Hakka* chinese last night. DH hasn't done this in awhile, but he used to have one annoying, frugal-busting habit. At the end of a meal, he would announce, "I'm a little short this week. Can you help a little more?" I thought I weaned him of it by saying in a couple of different situations ..."Funny, so am I. All I can afford is mine." I was surprised, so I flipped him a twenty. And that meant 2 days between ATM visits, not 4. And another round of weaning.
I was going to ask DH for a bit of payback for the sewer/water/gas which was $105. If he shows the annoying habit at dinner, he's gonna whine about this. I held my tongue; I'll extract the guilt tax on him later on.
Weather turned cool, so the grocery bill went up. I'm cooking a pot roast bought from grocery 1 as I type, which should last us most of the week. Grocery 2 had a wicker sale - some storage baskets of the type I was looking for were 50% off. A saving failure but a spending success.
The bank transferred $450 out into my savings account this month, which was normal from the last year, but I thought I changed this online to $250. A couple days of confusion as I transfer it back to checking.
A weekend of sighs, I guess.
Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $5.00 lunch + $105.82 utility bill + $350.00 credit card + $20.00 dinner
Saving log - $3.00 tip box
Spending log - $1.80 coffee + $102.68 grocery1 ($40 of this was ATM) + $37.34 grocery2
Saving log - $250 (at least that was my intention)
*Hakka, according to the owners, is northern chinese and roughly translates into "soul food". Lots of frugal dishes made with preserved foods; I had the spicy beef and sour cabbage - delicious, but my palate got confused. Was it chinese or german?
Got my paycheck. $3 more than I thought I'd get.
At work we are probably getting personal time off (PTOs), a change from sick days and vacation days. I'm not sure but, apparently one of the advantages is that we can cash them out - take cash instead of having to use them. I'll have to figure that out.
Sister is now talking with the executor and asking questions about what she should do and how to proceed. Whew. Her lawyer told us that he is about to send us both waivers to sign. I'm guessing that its to give them permission to proceed from their end - post the estate, allow the creditors to come, allow the bank to sell the land and bits. One of dads friends got one of the tractors started, so that immediately means that its worth more. More good news.
The reroutes downtown are interesting. Third avenue, where the buses go, had a great drop in car activity. But it means that First, Second, and Fourth Aves are car infested nightmares.
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 5.00 lunch + 3.00 bubble tea.
Saving log - 0
For today and yesterday:
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 15.00 lunch (okay, I had a sushi craving)
Saving log - 2.00 tip box
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 5.00 lunch
Saving log - 35 - DRP
So much for routine, eh. Didn't write yesterday because I had to get to work early so I had to hit the hay early. I did manage to catch the last 15 minutes of Oprah with Dave Ramsey on. Wow. How did that girl manage to get her fiance to buy her a car? I wouldn't have the nerve. I guess that really shows the finance in the fiance.
I'm going to set myself a fun little task and slow my spending. I always get $40 from the ATM and it always seems to last 2-3 days, or 5-6 times per paycheck. I'm going to see if I can get it to last 3-4 days, or about 4-5 times per paycheck. Turns out that economists talk about the velocity of money, or how fast it moves through one's possession. Spenders have a high velocity of money, savers have a much lower velocity. And the no-spend days are infinitely slow.
Pay day tomorrow.
Read over some of my journal articles. Without the journal, if someone would have asked me, I would have said same ole ole. I've done quite of financial manuevering without really realizing it.
But really, my life is a bit on the routine side. Weekdays are coffee, work and work with lunch in between, then a walk up 7 blocks of downtown Seattle, then a 40 minute bus ride, surfing the net, then sleep, then repeat. Weekends are a bit looser, with sleeping late, errands, groceries, cooking meals to last the week for the DH and me, and a bit of shopping.
I think a routine is my secret weapon for saving money. If you have a physical routine, you also probably have a mental routine, and with those two its got to be much easier to have a spending routine, and then with a spending routine, its a whole lot easier (and more pleasant) to figure out your budget. It also means that if I have to save even more money, I can figure out an even cheaper way to go through my routine. (Lunch, sad to say, would be the first to go).
If I'm shopping, I can keep an eye on the price of something and come back next week. Just the thought that I will be back next Saturday to get that item means that I eliminate the "I gotta get it, I won't be back again" spending. If I want the item, I can think about whether I can really use it all week. When I go back, its either still there and probably on sale. If its not there, I've dodged a spending bullet.
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + 9 lunch (I've got a punch card from this place, next one's free)
Saving log - $4.00 tip box
Well, we all have our triggers - places where we lose it and can't bring our credit card. For me, its the office supply store. Something about pens and paper and binders and 1Gb flash drives. For these places I have the ten minute plan - get in, buy my thing, and get out.
I went in to Staples with DH to get PDA screen protectors. My PDA is a Handspring Visor Neo, so I had to make a best guess. Ten minutes later, I caught up with DH who was still looking, which meant I was screwed. I wandered the aisles in a weak state. Cute leopard print pencil cases? Lovely. iPod shuffles and cases? 1 Gb flashdrives for 89$? I grit my teeth. Notebooks? I have two at home that I have *not* written anything in. Stop.
I did pick up a file tote with a cover and the handle. This afternoon I put all my financial papers in it, so it was organized and when the big one hits Seattle, I can tote it away from the hot water heater. . Seriously, it can go in the car, but with an earthquake that's not predictable, where are you're going to drive to?
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $5 breakfast + $33 groceries + $37 office supply store + $3 bubble tea.
I read this essay/prose poem in the middle of last week, and there's a thread on it on this site. The link is here:
I've been thinking about it all week.
Most of the essay above was in an urban setting, but the connotation carried it; reading it brought back a flood of memories. Sister and I grew up on a farm, as a matter of fact, the farm that we now inherit. Our family had no money, just cows and crops and land. Times bounced around from being bad to being really bad.
Being poor is more than just a lack of money. Heck, being frugal means you either have no money or you have less money than you'd like. Fifteen years ago, as a grad student, I lived on $600/month. While it truly, truly sucked, and yes I was poor, and yes I despaired about it, it felt different than being straight poor like in my childhood.
Being poor is also a state of mind. Its despair, its depression, its the pessimism of the same dark grayness, and that grinds on you more than the lack of money does. Being poor means you think that the future is going to be the same as the present - gray and terrible - and that you deserve only what have and what life and fate throws at you.
The dividing line between poor and not poor, I think, is optimism. During grad school, I was working toward a goal, and was optimistic that I would succeed. Being frugal is also a sign of optimism...you're saving money for a plan, a purpose, for something better in the future. If you have a lack of funds, being optimistic means that you accept help when you need it, and allow people to help you. Most optimists are aware of choices, ask about them and go after them. You believe you have a better future.
Before you start thinking that I'll spout the take-responsiblity-freemarket republican line, I want to let you all know that I'm, if anything, a yellow dog democrat. (It used to be that a yellow dog democrat would vote for a yellow dog in the road before voting republican; truth be told, that yellow dog is looking good all by itself.)
Ate at the New Orleans Restaurant at lunch. They were collecting donations for their namesake, to be donated to the Red Cross. Dropped $5 in their jar. It might go to New Orleans. It might go to the next disaster which will unfortunately occur. We're never far away from suffering.
Online, I changed the mid-month transfer of money from $450 to $250 so I can hike up my credit card payment. I found out that Looney Tunes volume 3 is coming out in late October. Its only 45$, but be strong, defer gratification. Wait, at least get a month of no debt before I ride on that horse again.
Got taken out for a $3 chai in the afternoon.
It'll be interesting on Monday. Seattle is revamping the bus tunnel to accomodate light rail, driving all the buses up on 3rd Avenue, one of the main streets downtown. Cars allowed only for a couple of blocks. They're doing the reroute in a couple of weeks, but to show every commuter they mean business, they are doing the reroute early. No cars on 3rd Ave starting Monday. Being a bus commuter and pedestrian, I like it.
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 9.00 lunch + 5.00 charity + 8.00 takeout
Saving log - 1.00 tip box
So I looked in my online Treasury Department account where I have my online savings bonds.
I filled out the paperwork and made a manifest on Aug 25. I see it on the website, so its been converted. Yay, it worked! Not that I've been biting my knuckle, but they did it in about 2 weeks. For government work, lightening fast. . I did the manifest of the second bond Saturday, and mailed it Monday, so now I know that it works and how much time it will take.
I wanted them all online so I can keep track of them and I wouldn't lose them. Plus, clutter worth a lot of money is still clutter.
Sister has loosened up and accepted the executor's deal. She asked me for advice on what to do next, now that the house is mostly clean. This is a new world for me too so I couldn't really give her a decent answer; the only thing I can think of is that its time to make up the household inventory - how much of what is in each room. I suggested that since she has her lawyer working in tandem with the bank that she ask him what to do next from her (and my) end. And I'll ask from my end.
And I reminded her that its only been 6 weeks since dad passed. We don't get brownie points for speed. Perhaps a couple of weeks of not thinking about estate stuff might be refreshing.
Spending log - 1.65 coffee + 7.00 lunch + 1.45 sbux chocolate chip cookie
Saving log - 2.00 tip box
Showed the letter to the lawyer-co worker today. After reading it carefully, he told me a story. When he did probate work in Wash DC, anything not freaking obvious -- like a list of liquid assets and their beneficiaries and no debts of any kind -- would be considered extraordinary, and therefore they would charge 10%. "They're letting you off easy at 4 flat," he said.
My DH, the step-son of a banker, mentioned tonight that at a decent flat rate the bank has a stake in maximizing the assets, trying to get the highest prices on the land and the effects. You'll pay more but you'll get more.
I emailed sister the news. I know she'll be disappointed. I don't know how she will react - will she loosen up and accept it, or dig in her heels? Its a familiy trait, assuming that everyone is trying to screw you over. Heck, my natural inclination is to assume it, but the straight fact is that the farm has to be sold, and this is not a do-it-yourself project. Plus, nothing's ours. I have to keep explaining it to her that a nice legal entity called Dad's estate owns everything.
Spending log - $1.65 coffee + $9 lunch + $2.75 bubble tea.
Saving log - $2.00 tip box
(Tip box is a little opaque box I keep in my desk at work and put small bills and change. Usually I deposit whatever's in there monthly, but sometimes I use it for office collections.)
I mean it in a nice way. Really.
I got the letter from the bank executor tonight and read it over carefully. It describes the estate's parcels of land (where the wealth rests, frankly), the disrepair of the buildings (yep), and that some of the farmers have grabbed some of dad's farm implements for "safekeeping". 2% of the estate is minimum for WI and for average, ordinary, liquid estates; WI law allows charging more for "extraordinary circumstances". The bank is charging 4%, flat.
Selling land. Capping water wells. Clearing fuel oil tanks. Clearing ancient wood and rusty scrap iron from waist high grass. Fetching tractors. Dismantling the barn and sheds for wood reclamation. 4% flat? We're getting off cheap!
They're also charging to file a WI inheritance tax return, if the estate is worth over $675,000. The trick of this is the word "file". Not pay, merely file. I'll ask the bank and ask for the innocent clarification .
Having my lawyer look at it. (Gee, that sentence types easy!)
Spending log - 1.75 coffee (tip) + 4.50 lunch
Saving log - 4.00 tip box
Ah schadenfreude. Pleasure at another's misfortune.
I experienced it today in Safeway with my price book. Safeway is one of the those grocery stores with the club card that "entitles you to sale prices" but in fact over inflates regular prices then encourages you to sell your privacy down the river in exchange for a crummy card that entitles you to regular prices. I guess Safeway to me is what the bank is to sister -- it produces all sorts of semi-irrational long term grudges and hatreds.
I was cutting through in the double-decker Safeway -- they have an escalator and sometimes I just don't want to face the walk up the hill -- when I had an urge to pick up a couple of things. The so called "sale" price on every thing was more expensive than the mid-range of my price book. HAH!
Plus I got a fantastic deal on ground beef yesterday from my usual grocery store. Stocked up and rotated out the old stuff from the freezer for crockpot chili.
I also got a voicemail yesterday from sister. She received the letters that the bank executor sent, opened hers up and she let fly. The bank had checked off that they need an exclusionary clause in case the situation required it. That really set her off. It nearly set me off, but I'm fairly sure that this is boilerplate - a clause that nearly every estate gets. I mean, what if they find 33 dead bodies in the basement?
I had to call her back and ask that I get my copy. Ranting over the phone isn't going to help the situation any, and my lawyer-advisee needs the paper, not the pissed-off voicemail.
Normally Labor Day weekend is one of my favorite holidays. The weather is usually good and the its one of the few American holidays that occur at the beginning of the month so you can celebrate when your bank account is flush.
Not this year. I donated $100 to United Way Katrina Response Fund. I glad that help is finally coming through, but if there is any sort of justice in this world, heads should roll. I'm a voter with a long memory, and some situations go beyond money. When doctors at charity hospitals in 2005 have to use the glucose in the IV bags to keep going because there is no food and no FEMA and no social order of any kind for four days, that tells me something. I am frankly so ashamed to be an American this week and that shame is turning into anger as I write.
I mused about this, slugging down a couple of martinis during a going-away party Friday night. When I got back home, I found out that sister mailed me another savings bond. Too bad I can't specify what part of the government debt I can assume with the bond. The bond is of the same denomination and issue date and comes again from grandpa. I wonder what tipped his decision - why July 1991? I'll have to ask.
I also got a couple of black and white pics from Sept 1962. Me at four months old. The first one was grandma and grandpa holding me, the second was mom and dad holding me. Out of the five of us, the oldest was grandma and the youngest was me. Whose left now? Grandma and me. Funny how fate works.
Called one of the bank executors today to introduce myself and provide them with phone numbers and address. I updated and added more to a word document regarding our joint decisions, and mailed it to sister. At lunch today, my lawyer-trained friend suggested that it might be a county or local inheritance tax. When the documents come, he and I will look at them a bit to see if something's hinky. I offered to buy him lunch as a payment.
Ah, payday. Sent out $50 to ING, put 40$ to a DRP, paid my bit of the rent to DH. The toilet got fixed yesterday; the tenants union is safe from inquiry.
Cheapest gas in Seattle is about $2.80, and the high end gas is above $3.00. I'm actually a bit surprised because we are so far out on the periphery of the country.
Spending log - $445.00 rent + $1.65 coffee + $8.00 lunch
Saving log - $2 tip box + $50 ING + $40 DRP