Sunday, May 31, 2015

My weekly Stock List (6/1)

My watch list for upcoming week:

My favorite out of this list is BNS

What do you think about my list? What stocks are on your watch list? Please share.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Weekly Stock List (5/10)

If I sell one of my stocks I might have cash to buy a new one.

My stock list didn't change much since last posting.

Mostly Canadian stocks right now.


What are you planning to buy this week? Please share.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Can you afford a college for your child? Sharing our experience...

This year my daughter is going to college. I do not want her to get loans, we were not qualified for FAFSA and I saved some money in 529 account.

She didn't apply to any local colleges because she wanted to go away from home.

In this post I will share our experience. We live in Texas, so it might be different in other states.


As I learned an application for college starts in Freshmen year! yes. Not a real application, but scoring your points for scholarships and automatic admissions. It all starts with ranking. I grew up in Russia. I wish I knew this when my daughter just started high school.

 Pre-AP/AP classes vs Regular 
Make sure your child get most challenging courses and do well in these classes. If your school offers Pre-AP classes versus regular always try to encourage your child into Pre-AP instead of regular, because an A in a regular class actually equivalent B in Pre-AP class.

Although be careful and do not let your child to pick hardest classes, especially if your child struggling. Like for example, my daughter is not very strong in Science and Math, but for some weird reason she decided to take Pre-AP Physics and AP Chemistry at the same year plus Pre-Calculus. It was her junior year. On top of this she was on Tennis Varsity team, which means she skipped lots of days of school for tournaments. She tried her best but she didn't do well during this year. We could avoid this, if she would take just one science class instead of two.

AP classes might be counted as a college credit but they are very challenging. So consider your child's strengths. My daughter took as much AP classes as she could. My son, who is upcoming freshman, probably will not take any of AP classes. I know how much of an effort it took for my daughter to study for these classes.

If your school offers dual credit classes from a local college, make your child take them. They are counting as college credits but they are not counting toward ranking. 

These are very important tests, make sure your child takes them seriously. Find a tutor, if you need one or classes and good books to study. Make your child to take these tests 2-3 times. It makes sense to try both because some kids can do really good on SAT but not ACT and visa versa.

Unless your child is really really good and plan to play college sport, you might get scholarships. I saw lots of very talented kids just got burnt out and stop doing sport at all. When my daughter started on varsity tennis team as a freshman, she wanted to be a professional tennis player. So tennis was her priority. By the end of sophomore year she got her reality check and realised that tennis can't be her priority but by this time she lost some of points on her GPA ranking.

Extra curricular activities
Find your child strong interests and try to follow it through the high school.
Make sure your child join clubs, he or she likes. Consistency is the best. Also if your child already have some preferences for his future, you might consider to sign him/her up for summer camps for this area of interest. Like for example Galveston A&M has a great Marine Biology camp. 

Make sure your child is being realistic. My daughter applied to 14 Universities. She got accepted to most of them except Rice, Stanford and Duke. Looking back I understand I could narrow down her applications to maximum 7 or even 5. She spent lots of time filling out applications and creating essays. I think if she applied to less, who knows she could get better results. If you know you can't afford private colleges, don't think they will give you a "full ride" or "assist" your financial needs. Your view and colleges view of your financial situation is very different. My daughter got generous scholarships from multiple private Universities  but the difference was too much comparing to public schools. 


if you have rental properties, brokerage accounts and any investments except 401K YOU WILL NOT get any money from FAFSA!!! It was just waste of time for me. But if you have a huge house, which is paid off and 401K, you actually might qualify for FAFSA. You don't list your personal house value.
Rumors: Someone told me that if your child works, he or she can apply independently for FAFSA. We might try this next year. 

CSS Profile
This is a separate financial portal if your child is applying to private schools. It was just a waste of time and money for me.

This might be your best bet. Look around and apply to as many as you can. Also if you dont want to spend much on your child education, start asking around which colleges actually give scholarships.

529 Account
I don't know if it's good or bad to have one but I am sure happy I set up one for my kids when they were little. I automatically put $50 a month and added some money from relatives they got for different holidays. I am glad I have this account. This is going to be my major source of payments. But actually regular brokerage account could work too. Yes, you kind of save on taxes by investing in 529 Account but if you have money in a regular brokerage account invested in  trustworth dividends stocks, you can use your money any way you want while with 529 account you are limited on usage of your 529 money.

Veterans Benefits
In Texas if you or spouse served in military check if the school your child plan to attend accept Hazelwood Act. 
"The Hazlewood Act is a State of Texas benefit that provides qualified 
Veterans, spouses, and dependent children with an 
education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, 
including most fee charges, at public institutions of higher 
education in Texas. This does NOT include living expenses, 
books, or supply fees." 
It looks like this benefit might go away soon. Houston Chronicle just published an article this week saying that Texas Senate is taking steps to limit this program. So probably soon we will not have it.

Community Colleges
Community colleges are much cheaper option, but some kids like my daughter doesn't want to go there. She thinks it would be not challenging enough for her. She wants to try new place and live a real college life.

Our Outlook

As I said before we were not qualify for FAFSA but we were lucky that among all schools my daughter applied to, there was the one, which offered her Academic scholarship, which will almost cover her tuition. Then she applied for additional "Freshman business Scholarship" through the school and got this one too. So for the first year her tuition is covered by scholarship. I will pay for her room and board from her 529 account and she will work during the summer to add to this amount. She has enough  AP credits to cover almost a year of college. I plan to pick the minimum meal plan because she is planning to visit home some weekends (the school has buses) and she can eat breakfasts in her dorm room. 

Some list of schools she or her friends applied and get or not get scholarships:

UT Dallas - very generous on academic scholarships. This is where she is going to. She got full tuition covered by academic scholarships. 

University of Houston - very generous on academic scholarships. Lots of my daughter's friends got full tuition covered by academic scholarships. Also they give good scholarships for transfer students. 

UT Austin - no my daughter, no her friends got any scholarships.

A&M - no my daughter, no her friends got any scholarships.

Private Universities she applied

St. Edwards University (Austin) - half of tuition scholarship was offered, the highest possible scholarship. Waived application fee.

Baylor University(Texas) - half of tuition scholarship was offered. Waived application fee.I learned that Baylor is very picky with accepting AP classes scores. 

St. Johns University (New York) - half of tuition scholarship was offered.Waived application fee.

TCU (Texas) - half of tuition scholarship was offered.

SMU(Texas) - half of tuition scholarship was offered.

University of Miami - half of tuition scholarship was offered..

University of Tampa - half of tuition scholarship was offered..Waived application fee.

George Washington University- half of tuition scholarship was offered. 
As I mentioned above I am just sharing our experience and I hope it can help someone who as clueless as I was last year, even if I read books and attended colleges tours and sessions at my daughter's school.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

April Passive Income Progress

I started tracking my passive income summer 2014.

2014 Passive income
June           $261.00
July            $209.67 
August       $235.62 
September  $212.97
October      $140.37
November  $207.05
December   $377.91

2015 Passive Income
January   $167.44
February  $279.29
March      $397.80

I did not do much transactions in April. I only bought shares of JNJ. 

I received dividends in April:


My dividend income 2014 vs 2015 so far:

Year to date$1,295.20
Year to date$702.56

Additional passive income or free money from different financial institutions:

I earned an interest                         $23.40
points on my Amex card                 $9.26
points on my Discover card             $9.05

I received a gift card from Palais Royal $10.00       

My total financial passive income for the month of April was $202.48

At this moment my goal is to have $1k in monthly passive income from dividends and other financial institutions.

Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts and progress.