NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Options are generally the province of investment pros. But don't think they can't be used by the rest of us in simple and fundamental ways that can protect your portfolio of generating cash.
One strategy to get some cash while protecting yourself from a correction in the market would be to put a collar on an S&P 500 ETF. One of the most popular of the ETFs that track the S&P 500 is the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) or the State Street Global Advisors S&P 500 (SVSPX).
This strategy assumes that you already own the S&P 500. If so, sell the December 175 calls for about $3.17 (per share as of the close on Thursday). There are 100 shares in each call contract, so at $3.17 per share, selling the December 175 calls would net you about $3,170 per contract. In this part of the trade, you are selling another investor the right to participate in the upside of the S&P 500 at a level of 1,770, about 5% from Thursday's level (a traditional covered call writing strategy).
Next, buy the September 150 puts for $1.87 (last trade on Thursday). This gives you the right to sell the SPY at 1,500 to the seller of the put. If the market drops, the value of the put will rise correspondingly (less time-value deterioration, which is currently minimal, and why the strategy is cheap to execute).Combining the buys and sells will net $1.30 per share (or $1,300 per contract). Should the S&P rally another 5%, you risk the chance of getting called away, and losing the upside past 5%. (Of course, you can always buy back in.) If the S&P drops, the increase in the price of the put will protect you.
Note the put option date, which expires in September, is shorter than the call option date, which expires in December. Accordingly, it's critical to look the position in early September and unwind positions if needed. Also worth bearing in mind: I've simplified this by putting a collar on the market at large with the S&P 500. The strategy can work wonderfully well with individual stocks, too. Important Disclosure: Gary Goldberg Financial Services does not provide tax services. The content of this column is meant to foster a conversation between investors and their advisers and should not be viewed as tax, legal or investment advice. Follow @Opursche This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.