Monday, December 27, 2021

Work work work work work


To be honest I haven't had 5 minutes to blog, it's been all work work work work work as Rhianna said and yes for the first time in my life I'm working between Christmas and New Year. Yikes! Or....is it?

Now you would think given I'm only coming up to 6 months as a FIRE alumni dropout that this would grind my gears in so many different ways and on so many different levels but...

I'm actually fine....

Honestly...

I don't feel bad because I know I'm on a mission, I can safely say I've been re-bitten by the savings bug once more. It's every bit as addictive as it was back at the end of 2017 but the difference now is I know exactly what I'm aiming towards whereas back then it was kind of a moving target..

You see, it's all well and good saving for retirement when you know exactly what it's going to look like, your accommodations, the cost of electricity, cost of your transportation....yadayadayada.. 

Fact is I kinda had an idea but the reality is it was actually impossible to know what the future looked like back in 2017, even after Oklahoma we really had no clue what our future financial requirements were going to be since we hadn't reached the Isle of Wight yet.

So.....now?

Yes! We know exactly how much we need to retire-retire. For good this time. So that is what we're working towards.

Savings rate is currently sitting at 85% so very exciting stuff once more. Love it to be honest.

Again the mission means we have nothing in common with colleagues who are using their income to purchase yet mo' chit.. (Inside Bangkok BTS Light Rail station joke anyone?) we're blazing a trail once more to raise cash and it's every bit as addictive as it always was with the same feelgood factor.

Not completely addicted though, we know when enough is enough (is enough..) and will promptly bail and return to normal service once that moment arrives and we have the funds for our final retirement property.

Done and dusted.

So already excited going into 2022 with quarterly savings goals, Isle of Wight home visit plans etc. 

I don't think we'll ever spend Christmas in the USA again, just can't see it. We really miss the family and friends we have in our established life back in the IOW and there is a house there fully furnished with car out front we can easily slide back into. Staying here made no sense on the surface of it, even just for the few days

We went down to Husdon, FL to hang out at an Airbnb and it was a balmy 80 degrees warm Christmas but in reality just didn't feel right. Just not the same as it used to be when we were here back in 2016.

That's even with the latest Covid calamities that are going on over there, hopefully it won't be like this next year... fingers crossed.

Aside from that for 2022 I just started giving the Wim Hof Method a go with the 2 minute cold showers and 20 minute breathing exercises per day to make the body more alkaline and oxygenated as well as improving the cardiovascular system. So far so good, I'll update more on that as next year progresses.

Apart from that I sold our monumental position in Hasbro (HAS) which has carried a stalled dividend for a couple of years now. Finally gave up waiting for a raise to keep up with inflation, time to bail.

With the ample proceeds I bought Huntington Ingalls (HII), Intel (INTC) and Prudential Insurance (PRU) nice bit of diversification there I thought. Military ships from Huntington after being spun off from Northrop, Intel for the chips shortage and better days ahead and Prudential for the simple reason I think you can't have enough high quality insurance companies.

Anyways back to work work work work work. Keep singing it Rihanna!!

Long HII, INTC and PRU.

Love to all and happy new year!

DD4L


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Well now that floating season is over I guess it was inevitable the free time would return to thoughts of getting the Savannah house finished so that we can get it on the market and free up the cash for other endeavors post-this tenure.

So that is how it's gone since October, when I get my 3 days off we've been scheduling the jobs that need doing like adding a cheap looking white plastic HOA-friendly fence, caulking and painting the daylights out of the place. A few houses have gone for sale in the local area and have gone into contingent pretty rapidly, a good sign. We're really just left with a couple of jobs that we can't accomplish ourselves like installing a new garage door and replacing 3 window panes that have blown seals. 

In fact the only downside is that upon sale we would inevitably return to one-bedroom apartment living for a our remaining time here just like Oklahoma all over again. But the upside would be a bank account full of the proceeds and that inner feeling that we'd feel like we're one foot out of the door all over again, can't put a price on that freedom.

There have been discussions at work about my taking a month off next july for a quick Isle of Wight dash to check on things and remind us how retirement felt again. Major issue might be the prospect of getting either myself or Mrs DD4L on the damn ferry again to get us to the airport and back here. USA house sold, money banked, motivation to return 0.

One of the key motivators for returning here though was the house we own in Cowes is a bit like a starter home. Correction. It IS a starter home. In fact it's like the starter home we bought many years ago and I don't want to sound too snobby but I just didn't see us living there for the rest of our existence. The problem was we didn't have the cash to upsize to a better place on the IOW with decent size garden, garage, driveway etc.

Yes yes yes I know it all doesn't sound very "Mustachian" of me to talk this way. What happened to minimalism? Living below your means? What gives?

Well it all works really well on paper until the point you actually retire and have to live there every.damn.day of your existence with the prospect of being there for the next 40 years or so? I think not. The question is do you want to spend the next 40 years watching your neighbor and his friends work shirtless on cars on a daily basis, spraying bumpers out in the street so that it looks like one has been murdered right there (think like spray chalk outline for a bumper?)

There's also the fact that you might be retired but your neighbors aren't and each one choose to start their vehicles at different times in a morning while they all head off to work as you're attempting to enjoy your lifetime of well-deserved sleep.

All bleating aside I just want to live in a place where I can safely say I'll live happily for the next 40 years or however long I make it on this earth.

Since all our money is invested to create income we didn't have the spare cash to upsize so selling the property here in the USA makes the most sense for a variety of reasons. The price has increased exponentially since our purchase back in 2015 but with it so have all the taxes and insurance due on the thing. Think cost of replacement, price re-assessment by the local taxing authorities and it all starts to get a bit too spendy/lofty/nose-bleedy on the overheads front to actually make it worth it anymore. 

Why don't you just up the rent accordingly though? 

True but the reality is I just don't see the place as worth the price it would have to be to make it pay. I just don't think the place is worth over $1500 per month. 

So we put the proceeds from this place towards the proceeds from the Cowes place and you've got a nice chunk of change to go find a "forever home" on the IOW... in theory anyways. No semi-naked gorrilla neighbors, no car parking tittle tattle, and definitely no listening to 5-point turns every morning as the first part of numerous morning cummutes.

In the meantime you work the job to replace the income lost by selling the USA house and invest it into another UK apartment where the taxes are paid by the tenant and insurances are in very low triple figures rather than quad, much prefer that situation.

So there you have it, in a nutshell that's the plan. 

Nice house to see us into retirement but the same income each month that we just left behind. 

Well maybe...........

I'm really considering the idea of sucking it up and taking dividends from my Roth/Traditional retirement accounts when we finish here and just paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty. 

Whaaaaaat? Paying tax when you don't need to? Why not wait until you're 59 1/2...it's only a decade away..why not just be patient?

When I first arrived here I think I caught the dreaded Wuhan Red death, had all the hallmarks, breathing difficulties, weakness and to be honest it gave me a bit of a fright. I mean I got the damn double vax but it still looks like it got me.

In that moment sitting there alone in a hotel room (Mrs DD4L was still in the UK back then while I "scoped the new job out") I really got my head around how short our lives actually are on this earth and how they can quite easily be cut short. In the depths of the Wuhan red death you kinda have that moment of uncertainty everyone has...

Am I gonna live.....?

Ok let's just see how we go. Then proceed to freak yourself out for a few days.

Sitting around waiting for a pre-determined (by a respective government entity) time to take your retirement funds just makes no sense around that scenario. Live for the now because there just might be no tomorrow, that's true freedom in a nutshell, it is to me anyway.

I could rig up a 72t I know but I just want to be able to control the income flow better and not be beholden to anyone else's idea of spending the money I worked so hard to earn. So paying the 10% penalty on the dividends it is, the principal untouched as usual.

Also started reading the forums again and re-establishing my mindset into countdown to finish mode along with my brethren over at Early-Retirement.org as well as stalking the webcams over at Nissi Bay in Cyprus and planning our future fall month vacations....delayed gratification all over again..

Anyways, off to consume the vegetarian Quorn version of Turkey day. Yum! lol.


Love to all,

DD4L 


   



Friday, October 1, 2021

Work, trades and floating...

Got to be honest not being sat near the usual type of work colleague in Corporate USA is strange, in a good way though to be fair. 

The usual colleague invariably has some standard landscape incorporating wife, kids, SUV or two perhaps maybe an ego-midlife crisis car, jumbo mortgage and all the accompanying stress of being overburdened with finance. Right now that's not what I have though. Per my last post I have a semi-FIRE colleague who pretty much shares the exact same mindset as mine which I can vouch is very rare in this corporate world.

So how is that playing out? Well invariably we'll break from work to hold the occasional discussion along the lines of "what the fk are we doing here?" these are the thoughts you tend to have in those quiet, alone moments where you realize you've actually come back to work. Yes, you're working when in reality you don't honestly need to.

Now granted our days only overlap once per week, (I work Mon-Thurs and he does Thurs-Sunday) but it has become something I look forward to, not just because Thursday is my end of the week even though yes that helps but just being able to talk to someone on the same page is very refreshing.

We both still agree there's no point being out there traveling the world right now, it's just too restrictive to even be bothered. If you're gonna be free...be FREE, not kinda-ish free.

There is even some goading into "do you think you'll work the full 4 year contract?" with the agreed response that it feels like a heck of a looooong time in a short life.

It's a job not a jail though, we could both leave tomorrow and not bat an eyelid. I remark it's a good problem to have, deciding the day you know you'll quit again. Not many in the whole place have that option.

Our boss on this project is also due to retire at 62, he said this week he's looking at Jan 2023. I joke we could all share a big retirement party, then we kinda feel guilty about the place losing 3 employees on the same day. Only briefly though so maybe that will turn out how it goes.. nobody among us wants to be left holding the baby.

I also think about Cowes sometimes. 

I mean there's a paid off house over there newly remodeled, fully furnished with a car outside ready to go...would take zero effort to simply up and go and resume our old life. So there is zero job insecurity stress.

It's not so bad of a gig though. But definitely think it's my last ever. Ever ever. No more this time..done kind of job. Once I know we can head back to Isle of Wight and go travel over the winter months unrestricted we'll be right back at it. When is that? Not a clue. Honestly, I don't know who can answer that.

But Friday, Saturday and Sunday aren't so bad though. 1st of October and I'm still in the swimming pool with Mrs DD4L sunbathing nearby.

No Ironman swim training, no 100 metres butterfly, just floating on my back. That is all. Get in the water and just lie there staring up at the clear sky and occasional cloud. Same as I did back in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Cambodia or wherever we've been the last few years with winter sun. Almost to the point I'm falling asleep.


















House here is almost completely de-renter-ified now and feels more like our home again. Still need to put up a small fence but for the most part that's about it I think. Hopefully if we last out the 2 years we can avoid capital gains and sell it to put the proceeds towards a bigger place back on the Isle of Wight, we'll see.

Trades-wise it's been a strange old month with some re-shuffling going on. Unfortunately we got shaken out of Farmland Partners (FPI/B) Preferred's when they announced a mandatory conversion over to the common with a lowly 1.5% yield. Time to move on which is a real shame because I was getting used to indirectly owning farmland, with a 6.7% yield. Only have LANDO left now which is kinda sad.

With the proceeds of Farmland Partners we pivoted over to Arbor Realty's new ABR/PRD and PRE issues. Not paying quite as much as our outgoing Farmland yield at 6.375 and 6.25% but hopefully much longer call dates going into the 2025 time frames. 

Also sold out of Singapore Telecoms (SGAPY) and PPL after a few years of ownership, the latter is about to experience a dividend "reset" pretty soon due to the sale of it's UK business so we're getting out ahead of the drop this time. Maybe PPL is solid long term business after it rights itself longer term and becomes a purely US utility it's just preferable to switch to building on the Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (PNW) position for now.

Anyways that's all for now. Back to floating...

Long ABR/PRD, ABR/PRE and PNW.

Love to all,

DD4L




Friday, September 17, 2021

Long time no see....


Hey!! Long time no see....you never call, you never write. You treat this place like a damn hotel...

Interesting how life has it's twists and turns.

Well we finished all the work off on the Cowes place on the Isle of Wight which was awesome, really it was nice to finally get it done and dusted.

Only one problem, what next? Now that we're fully vaccinated we should be ready to fly to Bali and hang out for a few months right? WRONG. Big wrong in fact. You might have some freedom locally but for the most part the world is still a no-go zone. Indonesia is closed for business, so are most places we'd want to visit.

So when you sit down and think about it retirement kinda blows in these circumstances. Well in our opinion anyways. All the freedom in the world but still feeling like you live in a damn open prison only thing missing is the ankle bracelet. 

When I retired early the whole master plan was to travel while we were still young enough to do it. If you can't travel when travel was your main aim what really is the point though? I mean I really love working on houses but once that job is done it begs the question...like we pondered earlier...what next? I also love running, cycling, day-to-day retired life with Mrs DD4L but I liked the travel part a heck of a lot at this stage of life, that was the advantage of not working. See places anytime through the year while the world was working.

So we decided to live out one of our earlier blog posts and.....fk it let's head back to Savannah!

I interviewed over Webex back on the Isle of Wight, got my old job back in aerospace and here we are. 

Living that exact blog post from earlier. Irony is not lost on us.

So how's that working out for us? Well only 2 months in but actually not too bad so far to be fair. I'm actually working with my old lead who, about 2 years after I retired kinda laid himself off, scooted off to the Philippines where he surfed for a year or two as an early retiree. Ironically (again) he cut his retirement short to come back to the exact same office as me since the world was locked down and he figured what the heck? May as well work for a bit until the pandemic blows over..

When we compared stories I had no idea how similar our paths actually were, in fact his mantra is actually "the moment it all opens up again I'm getting the fk outta here and sailing the South Pacific" he knows he belongs retired just came back to replenish the funds while world travel is strictly limited. 

The.exact.same.conclusion.....

Do I like working again? Well this time I'm pure production aircraft support with zero politics working for someone who leaves us all alone 99% of the time so for now not so terrible. Also only working a 4 day week helps a lot, thursday evening I'm outta there and the weekend begins.

Did we feel good kicking out our long term tenant who funded part of our lives for the past 5 years? Nope. Like complete assholes truth be told.

Did we enjoy buying cars again in order to drive to work? Nope. But this is Coastal Georgia so nobody's catching public transport or riding the Schwinn here ("hehehe, he thinks it's a Schwinn" - Brad Pitt Burn After Reading) Not unless certain death under the wheels of a lifted Tundra is the plan.

So yeah I set us a 15k budget each and bought a 2015 Honda Fit for work and a 2016 Mazda CX-3 for Mrs DD4L to get around without relying on me. Cars are extortionate here so negotiation is critical, to be honest I feel like we were lucky to get what we got for the money.

Housing-wise we're now back in our old Savannah rental making it homely again. Mortgage-free with the steady wage coming in. The figures on this place are about in line with the previous blog post written on the same subject.

For how long will we be here? No idea. The current contract is 4 years duration assuming the world doesn't fall apart again and cut us short. In that instance I suspect we're back to Cowes and the old place again but at least this time around we know what our alternative option is, unlike last time when Covid first hit.

Weird as it sounds too I actually feel like I'm on vacation again for the most part, at least for 3 days of each week. We hang by the pool to get out of the oppressive Savannah heat or work on the house, go out with friends in Savannah. Life isn't terrible to be fair.

I fully expect to miss my freedom as always but the problem will always come back to how free are we all right now anyways? To me it feels like not very, don't know about your situation?


If I'm not free I may as well be back working on improving the quality of my FIRE situation, build up more funds and have more passive income for when all this eventually blows over. However long in the future that turns out to be.

That's still the big unknown, Covid is rife here in Savannah at the moment and showing no signs of abating, this could still take years to be honest. 

So in the meantime just keep plugging away and see how it goes. 

Hope you're all keeping well...

Love to all,

DD4L



Thursday, May 13, 2021

The train now leaving on platform 3 will be......running over DD4L








Pretty much sums up how I'm feeling as I type....

Yesterday evening I had the 5G chip implant blow dart/injection to the arm aka Covid vaccine numero uno. 

So yeah feeling mightily second hand right now. 

All for the greater good though right? The greeeaaaatttterrrr goooood (Cue the village scene in the Hot Fuzz film)

Given we're in England we get none of the whole zero side effect spoilt USA champagne on the lawn Pfizer/Moderna/JNJ variants. Nooooo we get the free one, the Payless Shoe Store equivalence. But it's free so, y'know, suck it up buttercup.

We have the AstraZeneca veritable side-effect salad 5G chip blow dart variant so that we spend a couple of days trying to normalize an existence when you feel like you've been hit by a train/morning after spending the evening consuming numerous inexpensive and vastly different alcoholic beverages. 

Then I go back and repeat process in July for the second one. If at first they don't succeed....they get a second chance to see you off. Joking..joking....joking.

Not complaining at all...honestly. I understand what's going on in India and how lucky and privileged I am to even have a vaccine when numerous folks the world over are not so fortunate.

To be fair I didn't have much time for the MSM tinfoil hat fear angles, while I was at the vaccination clinic and they're getting into the bones of the whole blood clotting explanation my inner impatient Dividend Nomad was chomping at the bit "yeah yeah yeah, let's get this done so we can get out traveling again" 

In fact I can just as easily picture my epitaph reading the same statement "but he just wanted to travel again..."

Anyways, back to business.

The last of the soil mountain is currently stacked up in the corner of the yard but I'm going to the dump today even in my present heavily weakened state (I booked it, I'm going!)

Friday we have delivery booked for a tonne of aggregate so that I can get on with the patio and path.

For the past week we have been bleaching and painting the fence in a Masala Curry light orangy brown which I'm confidently informed will "calm down" in the fullness of time.

Then next week we should be good for laying turf and our little garden oasis is pretty much complete and ready for an enjoyable summer.  









Also replaced rotten wood and re-painted the shed brown and moved it along half a meter to the left to facilitate relocating the dryer to it's own little room which just needs power running to it now:-











Recent work has not been without it's grisly injury though..

For the longest time maybe we've been tempting fate such that a resetting of the old "0 days without an accident" sign was somewhat an inevitable really. I'm way too periodically clumsy for it to be any other way.

Really made up for lost time though, darn nearly sliced my thumb off via the following butchering device (Jigsaw from the Saw films would have been proud) :-

It was one of those moments where since you haven't been injured for years the shock really hits you pretty quickly. Cold sweat, sitting out the hard pain, sleepy feeling....repeat until gauze and tape can be found and attempts made to stop the bleeding. I think it hurt more because it went right through the thumbnail then carried on cutting. Fkkkk!! AAAAARRRRGGHHH!!

How did it happen? Well..I was cutting away a rotten fence post that had been screwed to the fencing panel from the inside of the latter so the screws were inaccessible. (if that makes any sense) Had no choice but to hack the post down in sections using my friend the now infamous "bastard" saw and unscrewing it by rotating each sawed section manually to free it. It was only on the very last lowest section that bastard saw worked his way through my thumb. 

Sooo close, nearly got away with it.

Anyways new post is now concreted in (mid pic) and we're good to finish off the fence all the way to the wall. Then we won't have to see the neighbors gas bottles and assorted clutter as we enter the garden..











Hopefully by next post we can show pics of the completed back garden!!

Didn't make any trades this week, most of the portfolio has seen an insane run-up, particularly Northrop (NOC) which is constantly proving itself King of the Quality Dividend stocks with monster earnings. But on the subject of "other dividends" we now have allocated parking and electric gates added to the Southport rental property. Very swish. Hope the tenants welcome the new additions.









We also did the Isle of Wight rounds to check out the new "babies" be they pigs, birds and in this case Guernsey calves. The pic above is of a calf at Briddlesford Farm we affectionately nicknamed Buckie due to his extremely cute natural underbite. Big awwww. Awwww. Seemed particularly partial to ear rubs.

Will definitely head back to see him again soon.

Love to all,

DD4L

 


 


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Uncoiling complete...I think..


Ok maybe this one can be filed under some kind of psychology post perhaps. 

I can honestly say I've had what might be called a notable phase change in the last 2 weeks, in particular I'm referring to my mental state. 

It feels like a downshift has happened.

Since we're about 2 months away from the 1 year anniversary of my last employment finish date it looks to me like it takes this old body a total of 10 months to uncoil from the stress and rigors of full time employment. 

Hmm interesting statistic....well....it is to me anyways.

So how have I been feeling up until now then? Well doctor I didn't know it but by comparison I still think I was stressed to some extent for that period. In fact I know that for a fact. Not stressed in the conventional sense of the word where you're out and out fight or flight but some half way house between there and my recent chilled out state. 

Stress basically seemed to come in waves, ups and downs depending on the situation. It was worse when in employment and under the gun to get a job finished but post-employment I was still feeling it in the stomach if there was any drama items in my life.

Now though? Well don't seem to mind even what could previously have been deemed one of the heaviest of stressful items.

Case in point..last week I logged into the UK Inland Revenue Self Assessment site to register for this year since I'm back to being tax resident here, only to discover I had a 100 GBP fine with interest penalties accruing since I hadn't filed for last year.

What the fk?!? Sht!!Fk!! Then headless chicken routine..

Well that would have been my usual response in work time conditions since my BS levels would already have been off the charts before any news. Now it produced a little bit of a rush and then I got on the phone to someone up in Newcastle and it was dealt with straight away, the fine is now gone. I was US resident for last tax year but I needed to tell them that since they apparently aren't mind readers. Who would have thought?

Point is it was only really that instance that showed me that I'd turned a corner on the whole uncoiling deal, coping with the curveball crap life sometime throws up was a lot more straightforward and relaxed.

Looking at history I'd say the roughly 10 months uncoiling was about right for my previous incarnation too, the Dividend Nomad years. That time I finished in December 2017 and started to feel this phase shift to a kind of cruising altitude when we were in Cyprus which was about October 2018. From there on I felt this same relaxed feeling.

10 months again..

So yeah it looks like based on my limited experience in this area that's it. 

Like I say good to know. i.e. if I ever take a stressful job it takes me exactly 10 months to climb down off the ledge and stop experiencing underlying stress.

No idea if this is the case for everyone out there, we humans may work differently from a biological perspective after all. I know some folks retired years who are just highly strung by nature and fly off the handle for no good reason.

Anyways, psychology case study complete for now.

From a trading perspective I also did something I've never done before.

I sold some Williams Sonoma (WSM) exactly half of it in fact at the $180 price. No dividend cut, no bad earnings, quite the opposite in fact. 

Reason being the valuation was sitting insanely in the green after it was bought in the depths of March 2020. To clarify I didn't sell out of it I was just taking a little off the table and redeployed it in adding to the existing position in British American Tobacco (BTI) at about $38.

I still am a believer in WSM, now as much as ever but I just sometimes don't like doing nothing when it looks like a company is heavily overbought and I can use the proceeds for another stock that can be set to work boosting our dividend income a little. 

Did the same in the Roth account but that time used some WSM proceeds to buy AGNCP which is a mortgage REIT Preferred with a roughly 6.4% yield.

Finally now that the work on the house is drawing to a conclusion I've been scouting around looking to maybe replace it with some kind of a side hustle. Never been a fan of the idea in the past since I've always viewed it as reversing any retirement psychological feelings. Also don't want to take something on that would undo all this newfound uncoiling good feeling, the preference would be something that would just keep my brain active.

Not rushing into that idea though since the extra income isn't really that important. Will see how it goes.

Love to all,

DD4L


   

Thursday, March 4, 2021

I love it when you call me BPOPO...


Well...Groundhog Dave has had his restful, non-stock trading 2021 peace broken once more....boooo!

To be fair with the market now back up to nosebleed levels I've not had much to say on the subject of dividend stocks in quite some time so maybe it's a good opportunity to earn my keep for a change. Not that the market for stocks is any better at the moment, prices still do look pretty high across the board so still really sitting back and receiving the dividends makes the most sense to me.

So what stirred me from my restful place?

First up was our slow, steady and (as far as I thought) old dependable position in People's Bank (PBCT) which is being bought out by M & T Bank Corporation (MTB) at a price of 0.118 per share. Looking at the math on this eventually if we did nothing would mean a 50% dividend cut in the final product since MTB is paying 2.71% versus PBCT's 3.76% bearing in mind our buy-in price.

This is not to say M&T isn't a high quality company, it most definitely is but right now or at least until we reach full conventional retirement age when the full cavalry arrives, it's still preferable to buy a little bit higher yield whilst trying to retain a high quality level.

With the resulting cash from the transaction I decided to open up a new position in Franklin Resources (BEN) which is a new name for the portfolio. Yield sits at about 4% which is more in line with the outgoing PBCT with a nice long dividend growth history from all the way back in 1982. Not too shabby.

Payout ratio is a little on the high side at 70% but bearing in mind the pandemic I'm cutting some slack on that metric as long as I can see better growth times ahead. Plenty of opportunities I think since the Franklin family of funds includes Templeton, Fiduciary Trust, Darby, Balanced Equity Management, K2 and LibertyShares brand names.

Is it as cheap as I'd like? Well it bottomed at about $16 last year so it's not too terrible a valuation increase from there at my $26 buy-in price. To be fair though the portfolio has been a little spoiled with all the March 2020 lows so we just have to re-calibrate to "real life" prices now. Those levels are basically unicorn events so it's critical to understand that when making newer purchases.

Also starting to see some movement on the redemption front on some of the Preferred's, all par for the course unfortunately. Pun intended...

Gladstone (GAIN) has just set up to replace their monthly Preferred GAINM with what is being provisionally touted as GAINN. Rather than wait around I decided to get ahead for a change and sell while we're sitting above the $25 par redemption value. 

I flipped those proceeds immediately into the final of the three Preferred options for Popular Bank Inc, another monthly payer! Yay!! Since I already own BPOPM and BPOPN it now made sense to grab BPOPO, sounded a bit Biggie Smalls to me hence the title of the post.

Since it's a bank this is non-cumulative unfortunately which is a bit off-putting versus GAINM which was cumulative. (Gladstone would still be on the hook for back-payments should they ever stop paying a distribution in hard times)  

The reason I like Popular though is a combination of solid earnings, low payout ratio for their common divided which I use as a metric indicator on how reliable the payments are, that and these issues are Perpetual so hopefully less prone to the regular calls like Gladstone has been. Obviously nothing is ever guaranteed but it's been feeling like we can never really rest easy on the income from Gladstone with the calls constantly being expected in this lower interest rate environment. Good for the company, not good for our income stream dependence.

Apart from that there is still their GM Motors old Austin facility that still isn't being re-used just yet, their biggest asset. Maybe just the right time to replace them with a bank. Still have GAINL though for now but we'll see how that plays out.

House-wise I've taken advantage of the mild February weather on our little island to get outdoors and start digging the foundations for the patio ready for spring. Been a good long while since we've had the luxury of a garden to work on so quite the novelty, especially after apartment living for so many years.  

Finding I definitely have a soil surplus here so might have to come up with some ingenious way to get rid of some of it..

Apart from that we had the Covid pandemic land right on our doorstep! Yikes. 

With having our son and his girlfriend living with us this was always a risk the delicate ecosystem so should have been expecting the "she's positive" statement at some point.

Nope. Still an insane shock.

We pretty much stood like two deer's in the headlights then proceeded to run around randomly bleaching pretty much every corner of the house in blind panic mode with our two family members restricted to their room for the 10 days.

We held our breath for our own testing but luckily they came back negative for both of us. So then just 10 days of marigolds and waiter service to the upstairs bedroom and we were all back to normal.

It's pretty strange to truly be in quarantine house-arrest style without the daily exercise and I have to be honest and say I didn't like it one bit, really missing pure unadulterated freedom now and am getting really ready for this vaccine process to get to us. Allegedly we're on for this month but it all depends on how fast this island is getting through the older folks before us.

Like I say, truly can't wait to get this whole thing behind us and get roaming the globe again. Will always appreciate the freedom and take full advantage of it from here on in.

Vietnam? Bali? Turkey? Oh for the Dividend Nomad days when we had these choices...

Long BPOPM, BPOPN, BPOPO, BEN and GAINL.

Love to all,

DD4L

(Image at the top of the post is the last one taken of Biggie by photographer Barron Claiborne)