Sunday, February 24, 2008

The tax refund cometh

For once I filed my tax return in a timely fashion and now I'm reaping the reward. I already have my refund! It was direct-deposited into my ING savings account on Friday. Now the question is what do I do with it? Well I already used it all up (or rather, it's partially used up and partially scheduled to be used up on Monday).

My tax refund was bigger than I expected -- about $1100 total. I put $700 in my Scottrade account, $100 in my emergency fund, and $300 in the Sharebuilder account I set up for my nieces and nephew. In one fell swoop I took care of presents for their birthdays and Christmas! Of course I still have to get them tangible presents, but they can be pretty cheap and thus easy to pick out. For instance, my nephew's birthday is next week and I bought him a jigsaw puzzle of the cover of a Beatles album.

The shocking thing is that the account now has almost $700 in it (including the $50 opening bonus). Granted, that's to be divided between the three of them, but it's a not insignificant chunk of change! Seeing that large figure really validated this idea to me. I could have bought $600 worth of stuff and today there would be hardly anything to show for it. Certainly most of the presents I've bought for them in the past have been put away or forgotten.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Buying patiently

I haven't done much trading in the last few months. I haven't sold anything despite the market falling and showing no signs of stopping. It's a liberating feeling to not be tied to the whims of the market.

I bought some shares of Washington Mutual while it was down (it's still down). I suspect that it will survive, or be bought by a larger bank, and in a 5 years the credit crunch will be a distant memory.

I also bought some more shares of AAV while it was down (it's also still down). It's mysterious in the way it moves, but I think the future for natural gas is strong. In 5 years we'll see if I'm right!

It's interesting to look back and think about the profits you could have had, while also trying to remember what you thought at the time, your hopes for the future. I could have (and desperately wanted to) sell AAV when it was up 40%, but at the same time I thought, well I don't need the money, and 40% is peanuts compared to what it can do over the long term. I still think that's right, although wouldn't it be nice to get both!