Dividend Reinvestment Plan

I have heard about dividend reinvestment plans (or DRIPs) for a long time. By buying as little as one share of stock and reinvesting the dividends, you can end up with a whole lot of shares of stock. Sort of. Actually I almost always reinvest my dividends and distributions from mutual funds, which is where most of my money is invested, but I have never bothered doing that with stocks. I think the main reason is that I plan on selling the stocks as soon as they go up (typically 20%) rather than hold on to them for a long time. But sometimes they don’t go up very fast and I end up holding onto them for a lot longer. One of those that I have had for quite a while is Coca Cola. I think I bought them after they had years of great increases, and Coke did nothing much for the next few years. It always had a nice quarterly dividend, but for the 30 shares I owned, it was about $7 a quarter. The nice thing about Coke stock is they didn’t seem to be affected as much by big market downturns, dropping about 20% during the mortgage meltdown compared to 50% or more for most stocks. Last year the stock split and I was well over my 20% gain. Meanwhile the dividend had gone up and that same batch of shares is now giving me $17 per quarter, a 2.6% yield, more than I get with bonds.
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Lotto Fever!

Today’s projection for the PowerBall jackpot jumped to $600 million. Because the odds are so ridiculously bad, all of the money that people who lost in previous weeks could eventually store up and make playing the lottery a good investment. Like if you could pay $1 on a dice roll and win $10, that would be totally worth it (the 10 to 1 payoff is greater than the 6 to 1 odds of losing). So I looked up the odds of winning PowerBall: 175 million to 1. Even though it costs $2 to play, winning $600 million for an investment of $2 seems like it works pretty well. It’s a 300 million to 1 payoff and the odds are 175 million to 1.
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Cracked iPod Screen

On Thursday night, I dropped my iPod Touch as I was getting out of the car. Although it wasn’t much of a drop, the screen was shattered. The iPod still worked and the touch screen was still responsive, but there were a lot of cracks towards the top and bottom of the screen. I didn’t want to try a repair myself since it involves using a heat gun to melt the glue that holds the iPod together. But I knew that a repair would cost a fraction of what a new iPod would cost. I started looking around online for different services and it seemed the going price was $80-150. One problem is the LCD display and the glass touch screen are fused together, so you have to replace them as a unit. The screen alone is about $45 if you want to try the repair yourself. There are a number of places online where you can mail the iPod in and they mail it back. But that would mean a week or so without the iPod, plus the additional cost of shipping. One of the places said they offered same day service for walk-ins, but they were in Texas. I wondered if there were places in Atlanta that could do the repairs. One nice thing about the iPhone and the delicate screen is that there is a pretty big market for repairs. I found out about a guy who you can email and he gives you an appointment time to meet him at a bar in East Atlanta and fixes it at your table. He has a professional looking website and the reviews are positive, one saying he was able to replace the screen on an iPhone before the customer could finish his beer. One problem was the website didn’t mention iPods, just iPhones, and the other problem is how can you guarantee the repair? Do you take it back to the bar if it doesn’t work? A friend at work said I should take it there just to have the story. But I’m telling the story anyway.

I ended up finding a place in Chamblee called Phone Fixation that does all kind of phone repairs. I called them and they said they had the iPod screen in stock and it would take a couple of hours. If I could get it to them early Saturday, they could have it by the end of the day. Instead I took it in Friday night and then picked it up today to make sure they had enough time. The repair was only $80, which seemed pretty fair. It seems to work just fine. The screen tint is a little yellowish now, so I don’t think the quality is as good as the original, but it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.