OUR LIFE IN 3D

The Home of Daddy's Day Dare! ~ I am just trying to stay above water

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Help Wanted:

Had a busy day yesterday! Busy day, good day! Between picking up Legos, wiping runny noses, cleaning up, making lunch(s), playing outside and everything; lots going on! I didn’t end up getting a shower yesterday until, aaaaa, 10:00am ~ today! All because I got the news,” Someone wants to hire me!”

Ironically the Dora song is playing the background, “We did it, we did it, we did it, hurray!” Really it is.

 

And I just didn’t just get hired once yesterday, two people wanted to hire me! When it rains it pours. Well the first gig doesn’t pay any money. A lady I saw on the professional web site, LinkedIn.com was offering a few internships for writing on her Business Finance web site at About.com. She liked my stuff and took me on! Thank you! You may know by now how I enjoy writing about finance. So I am excited about this.

I got another call at the end of the day. A famous snack food company wanted to hire me for a new position in our area. Super Cool! It is very exciting to be able to put your thumb print down on something you enjoy. But there is a great deal of ironie here; and amusement.
I grew up in a small town in PA. It was a small town but with a few large businesses, including this snack food giant. But you know how small towns go. One family, that owned one of the large businesses in town, also owned a fancy restaurant. The owners were great people; lots of fun! I worked at there restaurant as a bartender during the summers and on weekends thru my first college degree.

The wife of the owner was great lady and always took an interest in me. One summer it was time for her daughter to pack her things and go to college. Of all the people at her disposal she asked me if I wanted to help with the college relocation. I was thrilled! Her daughter was a great girl that was 2 years younger than me in school. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Well I helped, we had a great time, and made some plans for weekends in the future as the homesickness would inevitably set in. But that is about where it ends as I lived up to being a bit of a punk in my youth and didn’t believe my luck could be that good. I enjoyed those experiences  and still consider the family one of my favorite employers.

Moving back to the future now, guess what family has bought this snack giant? Uh-ha! I was dropping names in the interview and knowing some things about my new employer that my interviewer didn’t even know (my parents still live  in that town). It was a great conversation, but he quickly spun the direction of the interview saying, “I better watch what I say I guess” knowing my family’s connection. So I am very excited to be working for my hometown brand, for a great family in a sense, and more importantly, with some very nice people locally. Thanks!

All that being said, I need a favor from one of you! Sadly, very sadly, I need to find some child care for the girls. (Sniff, sniff). If any of you feel qualified or interested, we are looking for a great child care provider in our home, with some experience working with and teaching toddlers. Some skills that will set you apart fromf the group would be being able to write, take pictures, and post to the Internet.

Whaddya think? Email me. I have been very fortunate to be able to touch base with lots of great people in this blogging. All of you are qualified! …and certainly better writers than me!

I also wanted to thank everyone who has chimed in and offered ideas, experiences, and advice on my previous two post in fitness. I took some notes! In the population of the handful of readers here in 3D, I find we have a broad range of fitness levels from the beginners to the best in the country. I enjoy learning from all of you!

Since this post today is a quickie, and following in the fitness theme,  I wanted to leave you with a funny from a Big Bang celebrity, since there was not a whole lot of humor today. You can see she’s really not acting too much!

I have sooo many jokes or comments I would like to add to this video but you still don’t know me that well so I will let you make up your own. Plus its late! ~ the actual time is not quite 10:00am Thurs. If you look above in the post… I really need a shower

Lets Buy a Company Today!

You know, there’s never one around when you need them! I have an important appointment to day and all my tried and true sitters are out of commission! I called and called and called. No use! What to do? Do I  miss the meeting? Finally, at the midnight hour, another angel came through! Phew! It kinda makes me want to buy a company so I have a ‘go-to’ list when I need one!

Last Tuesday I talked about how we all can retire millionaires through the buy-and-hold, investing-on-a-shoestring, carefree and painless investing strategy of Dividend Reinvestment Plans. I talked about what they are and some of their advantages. But I know ths is scarey stuff to some people that are new to investing. “Am I doing this right?” “What if I pick the wrong company?” And so on.

Today I want to help you pick a great company or two to buy for your retirement by giving you a few criteria to look for and some good examples. First understand not all great companies pay dividends to shareholders. Many tech driven companies on the NASDAQ are such companies. In the ever evolving tech world, some great tech companies would rather reinvest their profits into their Research and Development instead of rewarding their shareholders. Thats OK.

An example is Apple, Inc. (AAPL). Apple is one of the most sought after companies today. Their stock’s price is over $400 per share. Few people would argue their edge in Iphones, Ipods, and other great toys would put them ahead of their competition without reinvesting in their great ideas, thus leading the charge instead of following it. Yet Apple doesn’t pay out one penny in dividends to their shareholders. Based on Apple’s cool stock performance not many are complaining either.

Dividend paying companies are super cool for their own reasons though. The Motley Fools point out, “dividend-paying stocks historically outperform non-payers over the long term. According to Ned Davis Research, publicly traded companies paying a dividend returned 10.1% compared with just 4.1% for non-dividend companies between 1972 and 2006.What’s more, during periods when the market declined between 1970 and 2000, dividend stocks outperformed non-dividend-paying stocks by a 1.5% margin every month.” Why? Because dividend paying stocks have part of their performance built in in the form of dividends.

Investing in DriPs, we reinvest those dividends, year after year to let our savings snowball into owning a share of the comapany’s empire. So how can we know which companies to DRIP with? Let’s take a look:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

The prime indicator in finding a great company, paying a sizable return, big enough that you want to retire with, is the measure called ‘Dividend Yield’. Simply, this number is a measure of the dividend paid to shareholders compared to the stock’s selling price. A good paying company has a dividend yield of at least 2%, meaning it is paying you back 2% of your stock’s purchase price; every 3 months. This ratio is not a stationary number. Understand, since this is a working ratio (dividend / stock price) as the stock’s price goes up the yield goes down. As the stock drops, the yield goes up. Simple math.  We’re looking for yields of at least 2% so don’t let the math concern you ~ its actually done for you at most financial web sites. Just believe the Dividend Yield is an ‘indicator’ of a company that pays a significant dividend.

PICK A WINNER ~ THE BASICS:

First, So you know what to look for in a DRIP company you want to own, now what? Here we go back to good investing basics, “find a company that you know, you know how they make money, and you know will be around for at least as long as you are. ~ for better or worse, we want to grow old with this company!

Second, you find a few companies that meet your criteria so far, before you say, “I do” take a look at their DRIP plans to be sure they have all the features we want, as some do not. You can find the specifics for DRIP companies at their transfer agent sites, like Computershare. The checklist of features we want our DRIPS to have include:
•    little to no fees for purchase and reinvestment. To me a $2 fee is OK for a $50 transaction. It is a lot better than brokerage firm commissions.
•    be sure the DRIP can make automated bank drafts. We want this long term investing to be easy and painless. There is nothing easier than an automated bank draft that we only have to confirm, but not be a party to its occurrence. ~easy-peasy!
•    be sure it has a feature for optional cash payments. We do this if we get a big tax return some time, or take advantage of a price while it is low to buy more shares, etc. Its just a nice feature to have.

Does this seem easy enough yet? Are you a little uneasy about researching great companies and picking the right one(s)? Let me do some of the homework for you! The following is a list of some of my favorite great companies to purchase for DRIP investing. ~sorry about the table, WordPress seemed to eat it, how embarrasing..
Company    Symbol    Price (1/16)    Dividend    Div. Yield
McDonalds    MCD             $100.35            $2.80            2.79%
Proctor & Gamble  PG    $65.81               $2.10             3.19%
Merck              MRK              $38.32                $1.68            4.35%
3M                     MMM             $83.60               $2.20            2.63%
Walmart        WMT              $59.54               $1.46             2.45%
Coke                     KO               $66.99               $1.88             2.81%
Intel                INTC               $25.14               $0.84             3.34%
Johnson & Johnson JNJ  $65.26          $2.28             3.49%
Phillip Morris PM              $77.32             $3.08             5.70%
Eastman Kodak  EK            $0.52                    0                     0%

So what do you think? Which companies would you like to buy right now? Why?

Some more tidbits about this list to consider:

McDonalds is entering into China for increased sale PLUS McDonald’s operational performance is top notch. That’s why it’s been able to pay and increase dividends for decades. The restaurant titan just upped its dividend, making for an annual $2.80 per share — or 2.9% — more than triple the amount it paid out five years ago. (it actually increases its dividend paid!)

Procter & Gamble has raised its dividend each year for the past 50 years. More importantly, it boasts a strong stable of products that people use and rely on. That doesn’t mean you can blindly buy and forget about it, but you don’t necessarily have to keep an eye on it as much as you might with less established companies.

Merck:  An aging population will need more health care, which supports not only obvious picks like high-yielding dividends but increasing sales (demand) as well.

Johnson & Johnson: see Merck and Proctor and Gamble above        .

3M: has a 52 year history of raising its dividend EVERY year.

Coke, Walmart and Intel speak for them self as far as brand recognition and staying power.

I think this discussion has you thinking a little bit about smart investing and logical thought processes based on your own business education. So I want to leave you with why investing in the last two companies would NOT be good ideas ~ the one speaks for itself. I’ll get back to these ideas next Monday on considering owning companies for the long, long term.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please ask or email me. I want to help you retire with a million almost as much as you do!

I Think I Just Saw a Monster!

Sunday started out a day with high hopes and great expectations!

Then I got outta bed…to find our oldest has a stuffy nose and didn’t feel very well. I think all the parents reading this can agree that few things are sadder than a child that is sick, they don’t understand why, and we are helpless to make them feel better other than dosing them with some meds and juice.

Oh, wait! Can I stop for a moment and make a 30 second rant on kids medicine? First, you can’t find anything for kids under two and if you do you still hold your breath about overdosing them. Second, who can read the blasted directions?! Its like you need a microscope to find the dosing directions with the super-small fonts. So you just pray you are doing this right. I don’t mind a little chemical experimentation myself when I am sick (wouldn’t be the first time) but I am not about to do this with the kids when they can’t really tell me what is wrong.

OK, on we go. So it looks like a lazy day in front of the TV with some movies, popcorn, and a floor full of fruit and other munchies while our oldest tries to feel better. Good-bye Ravens! Good-bye Green Bay! I figure I’ll have to catch the highlights later tonight. My fav teams keep on losing any way! Bye-bye Saints! Bye-bye Tebow!

So it is a cozy day, with everyone snuggling on the sofa, staying warm, stationary and fed with snacks. Not losing any weight today! We start off with the house favorite, Monsters, Inc. and that cute girl running around the film hollering, “Boo!”. This was the first movie we showed Dylan way back, as it was one we saw sans kids before; and liked it.   Dylan has always liked this one. At first she was so afraid of monsters after viewing the movie for the first time. ~ not a smart move for a Dad of a 2 year old…with monsters hopping out of the closets at night.  But we turned it around and now she loves being a playing monsters. Its one kid’s movie we watch over and over again.

 

Another one of our favorites is one from my youth, the Jungle Book. One reason for the Jungle Book is I think it has the coolest songs, a lot different format than other Disney movies. Do you remember “Bear Necessities” and King Louie, and the “King of Swing“?

 


Its funny, our smallest loves this song. Whenever she sees a monkey or gorilla she says, “oo-oo-oo”, like King Louie in the movie. She sounds just like King Louie in her own little baby way. And I follow up by tapping her on the chest and singing, “I want to be like you-oo-oo!”. She smiles and its nice to see I can still amuse someone with my singing.

I think another great kids movie with some cool songs is the “Princess and the Frog” flick. I guess the New Orleans jazz songs just make more of an impact then the other Disney cookie-cutter Princess movie songs.

Dylan says here favorite is Mulan and the song at the end called, “Be True to Your Heart”. We some how have evolved into a dance party at the end when this one comes on, with some silly kids dancing. ~Try it next time…no one is watching…and its tons of fun.

Our 2 year old woke up, half way through her nap, crying. It turns out her bottle might have been leaking a bit while she was sleeping and now she has this enviable dread-lock look going on with her hair. She is oblivious as to how hip she really looks as I plop her in the tub with some more renditions from the Jungle Book.

I see I am running on here and you really don’t want to bore you with a play by play of our do-nothing day.

So you know, Dylan is feeling better. It appeared to be only allergies. Do you know how I can tell  she’s feeling better? If you can picture, she’s kneeling atop the breakfast bar watching me make dinner with a little snoot running out of her one nostril. I am smacking some hamburger patties together (I’ll leave the catchy phrase for you to insert) in hopes of making some sliders for dinner. Dylan is mistaking my enthusiasm of whacking the burgers from hand to hand, but craving some attention, and says, “Daddy, I’m gonna bust you up!” My little monster. Who taught her that Drayton?

What has been your favorite kids movie?

Do you have a fav line that you ran around the house saying like “Boo”?

Let me know. We need a smile…..and some new movie ideas for their birthdays.

What Am I Doing Wrong?

This morning is my gym day. It was a good day! I am largely reduced to making it to the gym once a week now, with everything going on. So big gains are hard to expect. I hope to do some maintenance there and work on my running. I have been stuck in a rut though these past few months.

Back in October I broke a toe. So I couldn’t run for 2 months. Then came December and the holidays. Between the lack of running, being locked up in the house all week, and the fat we consume over the holidays I have put on 10 pounds! I never put on weight.

Today, however it was different. I hit the weights and felt strong.  I ran for the full 45 minutes without stopping. The calorie counter said I burned over 625 calories on the treadmill, although the weight scales still said I weighed the same. ~ at least it wasn’t MORE (again) this week!

So I came home and we did what we always do, go to our closest restaurant for a Saturday lunch. The manager at this Texas Roadhouse has basically adopted our girls. It started years ago when Dylan wouldn’t talk to her. The manager said, I’m going to make you talk to me yet!”  And so she ran back to her office took a picture of Dylan and then came back out producing a paper placemat with Dylan’s picture on it. They have been inseparable ever since.

When we come in every Saturday the manager gets to a point where she can stop what she is doing and corrals, now, both our kids. She’ll put one on her hip and holds the other by the hand and off she goes. The manager takes these two to do table visits, make corrections on the computer, into the kitchen and behind the bar, where another fan of the kids awaits. Dylan come out from the bar with a styrofoam cup full of cherries or oranges. They come out of the kitchen with bowls of marshmallows. And then she walks the kids to our car when we leave and buckles them in their seats. She is priceless!

Today was different though. Today Tammy came out with two large Christmas bags! She had been saving them but just too busy to ever bring them out over the busy holidays. Our youngest got a little cart to push with a tea set on it plus a  life-size doll. Literally. It is as tall as she is! Dylan, being in her Disney Princess phase,  got a Cinderella doll that dances in the bath and Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, sitting on a horse. It was awesome! And way too much!

Is it any wonder these two think the world belongs to them? When managers at restaurants spoil them too? You should see the treatment at Carrabbras, where all the staff know them too.

So we had a great time at lunch. While my legs were tightening up a little from the earlier run, I still had a great meal, the usual smothered chicken, loaded sweet potato, house salad plus the macaroni and cheese that our kids didn’t eat. (Along with some rolls with the yummy honey butter spread on them)

We came home, plopped the kids down for their naps and I took a nap, not before popping three pieces of chocolate, from the left over Christmas candy, in my mouth. I was pleased I ran better today but still frustrated that I hadn’t lost any weight. What am I doing wrong?

Bazjenga!

We sometimes like to end our day with playing a game with the kids before bedtime. Dylan’s cry to, “Play with me!” can only be brushed aside for so long. Dylan likes to build towers with her Legos so it only seemed natural that she would love the game of Jenga. She loves Candyland but she doesn’t do so well with following the rules in it. She must get that from her dad.

I pull out the game and set it up. About that time our favorite background TV came on, Big Bang Theory. Low and behold, what game do you think these nerdy guys are playing? Jenga! Has it really come to this?

 

Being a new dad, its sometimes really hard to watch all those “cool points” accumulated in our youth get brushed aside as we transition into geeks playing Jenga and with doll castles. Its tough trying to convert from “cool dude” to “cool Dad”. All that work is gone! But then I look down and instantly remember, its all about the kids at this point. ~ I say this as Dylan is talking to someone on her play phone….

“Hello? Drayton can you come over? We can have a picnic and play at the park!”

I mean she is really having a conversation on this phone that rings for her to answer!

Yesterday I was thinking how my wife and I always like to get away to some place warm over the winter. Those exotic vacations are gone for a while I accepted. We tried going to St. Lucia the first year Dylan was born. We left her with her grandparents, thinking it would be a great way for them to bond. After 4 days, of a 7 day stay in a luxurious Sandals resort, we both missed her so much that we were ready to come home. My point is, sneaking away without the kids is not really an option with these two cherubs.

This past summer we did manage to find a vacation where there was a little something for everyone, the family resort of Ocean City, New Jersey. It was a favorite resort of mine when I was little, complete with a great boardwalk with multiple amusement piers for youngsters, all sorts of junky junk food, putt-putt, candy stores and more. Do you know what was the deciding factor for us in deciding to jet up there?

Schoolhouse Rock!

 

The local community players were putting on a skit, revisiting lots of favorite kid anthems from the Saturday morning cartoon. Do you remember any of these? Conjunction Junction? We thought what a great event for us our kids to enjoy, subconsciously knowing they were too young to understand enjoy any kind of schooling. We still had our hopes though! Plus the geeks in both of us looked forward to hearing it.

So lets see, playing Jenga and silly kids learning shows for annual vacation highlights compared to watching Jason Bourne movies and snorkeling the Caribbean? Cool Dad 2, Cool Dude 0.

It is soooo all about the kids!

Bye-bye cool dude! My wife would tell you I wasn’t so cool to begin with …..

I wonder what Sheldon would do?

What are your favorite “Cool Dad” or “Cool Mom” activities or memories?

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