Luke, the Force runs strong in your family.
Hello there. Come here, my little friend. Don't be afraid.
It's been a while since I posted (not counting last week's post) and so I think a summary is in order. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to the youngest member of the LegendPhoenix clan. Perhaps regular readers of the blog would guess that her name might be "Leia". Well, it's not. But you will appreciate that we have named her Hanna!
Back in December I announced that I would suspend my investment activity for a year or so (until the financial dust from the new baby has settled). Since then, I've learned quite a bit about college 529 plans and even got one started for little Hanna. I've also become an expert at the awful and limited 401k options that my company offers and I've taken a more active role managing that.
While researching retirement options I was introduced to the concept of the IRS's "Required Minimum Distributions". That's when you have money in a tax-deferred retirement account (such as a traditional IRA or 401k), the IRS makes to take some cash out whether you need it or not so that you can pay taxes on it. I was speaking with my dad about this and it inspired me to write this, which was syndicated by fool.com.
After exhausting all the interest I could from those exercises I decided to re-interpret the rules of my own moratorium to become "suspend funding of investment activity". The difference is subtle, but if I'm not allowed buy anything, I'm still allowed to do something.
This summer I've decided to take a critical look at my portfolio and figure out to which companies I'm truly committed. I'd like to pare the number of companies I'm following and reinvest to build up my positions in the rest. So far I have jettisoned Vodafone and have put Apple and Brookfield on the chopping block. I also plan to sell the small amount of Dominion that I bought through my discount broker since I've been buying directly through Dominion ever since that first purchase.
Here's the performance of my portfolio with dividends and commissions factored in:
Flower Foods, 71.6%
CVR Partners, -1%
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, +37.7%
Terra Nitrogen Company, L.P., +67.9%
Vodafone, +18.5% (SOLD)
If you have a 401k and you are like I was back when I thought "All these set-it-and-forget-it, boring mutual funds are all the same," I strongly suggest you take a peek at where your pretax retirement loot is going. I found that my "aggressive" blend ended up being a bunch of high-fee, low-performance funds that I'm sure they figured nobody pays attention to. It turned out that there were better options available if I built my own fund off their à la carte menu.
May the Force be with you.