January 2021 Trading Review

The market in January had a strong start before Game Stop mania threw a wrench into things. I actually participated in the craziness in a very small way. I sold a call credit spread that was WAY in the money for a few days (like… $300 in the money!) Since it was a defined risk trade I had no problem waiting it out. In the end I was probably the only person on that $GME trade that ended up with a $10 profit. I think most were were up or down 100x, 1000x or more than that. As the dust began to settle, $SPY retreated a bit and closed the month down 1.0%.

My total profits from trading were $2,623.63, another best ever month by 13%! That was a 1.5% total portfolio return from options trading. Not bad for a month where the markets were in the red. My total portfolio value across all accounts – which includes options trading profits, current stock & options positions, contributions & withdrawals for extra mortgage principal payments – was up 0.6%. I did contribute $6,000 into my ROTH IRA in January, but that isn’t included in the returns for the month. In January I closed 71 trades with a win rate of 96%*.

(* That win rate is a bit misleading because it doesn’t count positions that were assigned as losses. The only way I get a loss according to my tracking is if I close a position with a negative net credit. I took assignment on 3 trades. If those 3 are counted as losses, my win rate comes down to 92%.)

I continue to split my accounts between two strategies. One is to trade mostly credit spreads and naked puts in margin accounts and the other is to sell cash-secured puts & covered calls (i.e. “the wheel” strategy) in non-margin and IRA accounts. As I wrote in my January update of my mortgage pay off, I am starting to do some “poor man’s covered calls” as well. The goal for the margin accounts continues to be to 1) raise cash to increase trading capital and 2) run through my mortgage pay off strategy. The other accounts are reinvesting the profits into stock positions for future growth or passive income via dividend stocks.

Biggest Winner

My favorite part about writing these monthly reviews is looking back at what was my biggest winner and loser. Since I am doing so many trades in a month, each trade is closed and put behind me quickly. It’s only because I keep detailed records of each trade that I can look back and learn what’s working and what isn’t.

My biggest winner for January came from a poor man’s covered call on $AAPL. On January 26th I opened a $100 strike June 2022 Call LEAP contract for $49.50 ($4,950 total). I’m bullish on Apple going higher. This contract gives me almost 18 months to be right and gives me a break-even of $149.50. I then sold a covered call at $152.5 strike for the January 29 expiration for $1.85 per contract ($185 total). Due to the frenzy around earnings (which Apple killed by the way with quarterly revenues topping $100 billion!) the premiums were pretty rich even for such a short dated contract. I closed it two days later (one day before expiration) for a net credit of $178.34. This was all in an IRA, so it’s all mine to keep!

I will continue to sell covered calls at $150 or above to generate income from that LEAP contract and hope I don’t get assigned. If I do, however, I know I will make a profit because my break-even is at $149.50. I may occasionally sell credit spreads if I think there is a chance the stock price could blow past my covered call. Selling a spread is more likely to allow me to roll the position up when I move it out because of the long call as extra “protection” allows me to widen my spread.

You can see my LEAP is in the red at this point. With 16 months remaining in the contract, however, I’m still feeling pretty good about it.

Biggest Loser

I’m going to consider a cash-secured put that I was assigned at expiration on as my biggest loser for January. It was a January 29 short Put on $SBUX at the $99 strike that I sold on January 7th. I collected a $1.25 credit ($124.34 net commissions), but was assigned while the shares were trading at $96.79. Therefore, at assignment, I was down a net $96.66 ($1.2434 – $99 + $96.79). Looking at the chart below you can see I had a comfortable margin of safety until it really dragged down just before expiration.

Fortunately, I happen to think Starbucks is a fantastic business and was not worried at all by the assignment. I immediately sold a covered call that, as you might expect from looking at the rebound at the beginning of February, is now in the money and looking like I will get assigned in the other direction now! This one was also in an IRA so no tax-man to collect on all these trades.

2021 Goals

Another great thing about writing these blogs is that they hold me accountable. In my December review I posted some goals for the year. Here’s a look at how they are going so far:

  • Contribute $6,000 to my ROTH IRA. CHECK! I already funded my ROTH IRA in the first few days of the new year. Now the trick is to put those dollars to work!
  • Build $100/month in passive income, primarily from dividends. I want to finish 2021 with a forward looking $100/month in 2022. I am now tracking my dividends separately from my options trading. I collected $55.97 in January. The biggest contributor to that was a quarterly dividend from $SPY.
  • $10,000 in non-W2 income. It will take $833 per month on average to hit this. Adding the $55.97 from dividends and $751.86 from my taxable accounts puts me at $807.83. Very happy to be at 97% of the monthly goal in January!
  • Increase our 401k contributions. I have increased my contributions to hit the maximum $19,500 by the end of the year. My wife’s contribution has remained the same so far. We’ll see if we are able to maintain that throughout the whole year, but we are off to a great start.
  • Increase net worth by 30%. A 30% net worth increase for the year will take a 2.21% compounded monthly return. For the month of January our net worth was up 2.51%. So we’re on track! As I wrote in my post where I set this goal, an increased savings rate, at this point in our accumulation phase of growing our wealth, has a dramatic impact on our net worth. As we grow our net worth we will be more subject to market conditions (assuming we have a decent amount of our wealth in the stock market, for example).
  • Reduce mortgage length by 1 month. Not there yet, but we are chipping away at it with another $35 extra principal made from my mortgage pay off strategy. We currently would need to make another $610 in principal payments to reach that goal.

That’s a wrap on January. We are off to a slightly slower start than January so we’ll see if I can close the gap for another record breaking month. If not, no sweat. I’m trying to stay on a consistent path of progress and not looking for home runs.

Disclaimer: I am long $AAPL, $SBUX and $SPY. I am not a financial advisor. This is not investment advice. Please do your own research before investing in anything discussed herein.

I Just Rolled My 401k Into an IRA

Earlier this year I left my job to take a similar role at a company with a better location and hopefully a bit more upside growth potential (and a little bit more money, of course!). In just over four years there, my 401k had grown to nearly $40,000. I let it sit there for the past six months while I considered how I wanted to proceed. Once the COVID-19 induced pullback happened shortly after I left, I was reluctant to move it since I would have to close all my positions at a big loss. The account balance dropped down to about $31,000, which was actually a negative overall invested return at that point (i.e. I had contributed more to the 401k than it was currently worth)! I felt the market would recover most of its losses fairly quickly (I was right… and am happy I invested extra cash in our taxable brokerage accounts during that time) and was concerned some of that recovery would happen while I moved funds around. So there it sat for about 6 months.

I considered rolling it into my current employer’s 401k plan so I could keep it all together. The other benefit to doing this is that I would have a larger amount in my 401k to take a loan out against in case I found the right deal I wanted to pull the trigger on and needed some extra resources (I know most of the literature out there says 401k loans are a bad idea, but I’m not considering it to buy a truck or an RV! This would be exclusively for buying assets like rental properties.).

One thing I don’t like about the 401k’s is that I don’t have that many options to invest my money. With an IRA, I can pick and choose my investments. And in the event I get tired of picking and choosing, or I’m unhappy with my performance, I can always just put my money in some ETF’s or just buy the same mutual funds I used to have in my previous 401k.

As I started to see the power in options trading for increasing portfolio returns, I began to lean much more favorably toward an IRA. I considered rolling it over into a Roth, but my household income is still below the maximum income limit to contribute to a Roth, so I still have the option to fund a Roth going forward without paying a large tax bill now for the rollover. If I ultimately open up the Roth, I will definitely discuss my strategies for that account as well. For now, it’s just another traditional IRA. A final point that I think is worth pointing out is that my wife and I still have 401ks that we contribute to regularly, which gives me more freedom to invest this portion myself.

How I am investing ~$42,000

After the bounce back from the COVID-19 panic, my portfolio climbed back, and eventually comfortably surpassing its previous highs, to almost $42,000. This past Friday morning I opened my account and to my delight found the wire transfer was complete! So much cash! So many possibilities. Without going into too many gory details on how I plan to trade this account, here are the trades I made in day 1:

  1. I bought SPY, QQQ and IWM. These are my reference point. I think it will be fun to always check these holdings to get an idea of where I would be if I had just invested all my cash into one of these (or all three) index funds. The bar has been set!
  2. I sold a put on AAPL. As long as I’ve know what a cash-secured put was I wanted to “write a put” on Apple! Finally I have the resources to do so. I sold the November 20 $106.25 put for a $170 credit. I immediately bought one share of Apple at $120.31.
  3. I sold a put on O. REITS are on my wish list for this account, including O first and foremost. I sold the November 20 $60 put for a $128 credit. I then bought 2 shares of Realty Income at $60.56.
  4. I sold a put on SBUX. Starbucks and Apple. A match made in heaven. I sold the October 30 $85 put for a credit of $100. I then bought one share of Starbucks at $88.70.
  5. I sold a put on T. I sold the November 6 $26.50 put for $45 and then, you guessed it!, bought one share of AT&T at $27.46.

I now have two-thirds of my opening balance put to work, with $1,1512 in long stock, $28,677 being held as collateral, and an extra $75 in cash generated. Things are off to a fine start!

$1 Million Portfolio

Here’s my pie in the sky: turn ~$42,000 into $1 million by the time I retire (which we will say will be 30 years from now). Since my wife and I both have 401k’s, we won’t be able to contribute to this account going forward, which means I will have to do all the heavy lifting myself. In order to do this, I need to achieve a CAGR of 11.2% (or 0.89% compounded monthly). A lofty goal indeed. Let’s see what happens!