Category: Dividends

I think it’s important to celebrate wins on the path to your ultimate goal, no matter how small. Sharing my dividend income results with you readers gives you some insight to what is possible as you begin your journey.

My ultimate goal is to be able to live off of the passive dividend income from my investments, so I can just stay at home and play video games. Here is the money I made in June 2015 without lifting a finger.

WMT – $5.91
CVX – $9.73
EMR – $7.58
MCD – $9.43
LMT – $7.56
BP – $30.43

Total: $70.64

Compared to the dividends I earned in March ($64), I’m seeing some progress, but part of that is the odd timing of this quarter’s Walmart dividend. However, if I compare the individual dividends, I can notice some small compounding even though none of these companies have had a dividend raise in this time frame. The big increases should come in December, by then all of the dividend raises will be due (in theory).

The stocks I currently own all seem to be on a March, June, September, December payment schedule.

I think it’s important to celebrate wins on the path to your ultimate goal, no matter how small. Sharing my dividend income results with you readers gives you some insight to what is possible as you begin your journey.

My ultimate goal is to be able to live off of the passive dividend income from my investments, so I can just stay at home and play video games. Here is the money I made in April 2015 without lifting a finger.

KO – $8.25
WMT – $5.88

Total: $14.13

Compared to the dividends I earned in January ($0), it’s an obvious improvement.

I think it’s important to celebrate wins on the path to your ultimate goal, no matter how small. Sharing my dividend income results with you readers gives you some insight to what is possible as you begin your journey.

My ultimate goal is to be able to live off of the passive dividend income from my investments, so I can just stay at home and play video games. Here is the money I made in March 2015 without lifting a finger.

MCD – $9.35
CVX – $9.63
EMR – $7.52
LMT – $7.50
BP – $30.00

Total: $64.00

Compared to the dividends I earned in December ($20), I’m already seeing some serious progress. I’ve more than tripled that income, progress in an early portfolio is always so impressive sounding. Sadly, with the changes to our goals for 2015, it will be a while until we can see this grow again.

The stocks I currently own all seem to be on a March, June, September, December payment schedule. So I didn’t see any dividend income for January and February.

Disclaimer: First thing’s first, I’m the realest. I’m also not a financial adviser, so anything I say here is just my opinion, and you’re responsible for your own money and returns.

With that out of the way, My goals for this year have changed recently. Some back story: My wife has student loans that are small enough that they could be paid off within a year. In the past, I had been of the opinion that the interest rates on the loans were low enough, that we would do better by making the minimum payments and continuing to invest in dividend stocks. Over time, the growth of the stocks and dividends would offset the expense of these minimum payments on the loans.

However, these loans are becoming a bigger burden than the money they represent. In the past few years, my wife has changed her name, and we’ve moved across the country. These changes, are causing the debt collector to start pestering my wife and her family for information on a regular basis. She makes her payments on time and consistently every month, so this behavior is completely unwarranted. As a result, this small amount of debt is creating a disproportionate amount of stress to her and her family.

So, we’ve decided that instead of trying to reach our goal of saving $18,000 this year, we will make an effort to 1) pay off her student loans, and 2) contribute $5,500 to my Roth IRA.

I traditionally make all of my investments in a taxable brokerage account, so this may sound a bit surprising that I would be making this change. I decided that there might come a day that I regret not taking advantage of the yearly contribution limits. Or so I thought…

My retirement strategy is to live off of dividend income from my investments. Dividends have favorable tax treatment, if your income puts you in the 10% or 15% income tax brackets, qualified dividends are taxed at 0%. Non-qualified dividends are taxed at the same rate as your income.

“What’s a qualified dividend?”
A qualified dividend is a dividend received for a stock you’ve owned 60 days before and 60 days after (without selling) the ex-dividend date. So, if I buy JNJ today, and it’s ex-dividend date is in 60 days, if I don’t sell those shares for another 121 days, that dividend will be taxed as a qualified dividend.

This is important because it means whether I put my money in a taxable brokerage account or a Roth IRA, they will both be taxed at 0%. Since I don’t plan on selling, I don’t care about the difference in capital gains tax. (This is all on the assumption that my income in retirement is under the cut off between 15% and 25% income tax rates, and that these rules are maintained)

I’ve already made 1 contribution to my Roth IRA, and now I regret it, because I’ve put limits on the usefulness of that money, with no benefit.

Instead, I will be putting the rest of my contributions in a traditional IRA, because I’m currently in a higher tax bracket than I would be in retirement.

What about you? Are you maxing out your Roth IRA, IRA, or avoiding them all together?

I think it’s important to celebrate wins on the path to your ultimate goal, no matter how small. Sharing my dividend income results with you readers gives you some insight to what is possible as you begin your journey.

My ultimate goal is to be able to live off of the passive dividend income from my investments, so I can just stay at home and play video games. Here is the money I made in December 2014 without lifting a finger.

MCD – $9.35
CVX – $9.63

Total: $18.98

So close to $20 I can taste it! In fact, if these companies raise their dividends next year (like they have for several years), I can easily break $20 in December 2015 without investing another dime. This would require each company to raise their dividends by about 6%, which is not ridiculous to expect.

I look forward to January 2016, when I can compare the dividend income of December 2015 to this post and reflect on the progress I’ve made through the year.

Last week, I bought 25 shares of Coca Cola (KO) for $42.04 per share. I covered some of the reasons that I love Coke in another article (Taking a sip of Coke). At the time of this purchase, the PE ratio was over 23, the payout ratio was over 68%, and the yield was 2.9%. These statistics might seem unfavorable based on my usual entry criteria. However, this is a company that we miss having in our portfolio, and technical indicators on its stock chart are not indicating the price will get much lower in the near future. The reason these stats look this way is their EPS is lower than when I wrote the previous article ($1.93). I have no reason not to expect growth next year.

This is a case where I would rather buy a wonderful company at a mediocre price than a mediocre company at a wonderful price. Additionally, its dividend is poised to be raised next year, which should push the entry yield for this purchase over 3%.

It’s also important to keep track of where this purchase puts me in terms of my goals.

This is one more company on the path to 10 companies, putting me at 4/10 for that goal.

This is (at current yield) $30.50 per year, putting me at $226.42/$500.00 for the annual passive income goal. Almost half way there!

It also works out to $2.54 per month, which certainly isn’t much, but every little bit adds up. It puts me at an average of $18.86 per month, almost 20% of the way to my $100/month goal.

At the beginning of 2014, I was looking into other strategies used by investors seeking financial independence. One of the strategies I came across was the “Dogs of the Dow.” In a nutshell, this strategy is to invest in the 10 highest yielding blue chip stocks out of the 30 that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The idea being, that companies of this caliber should only have a high yield if they are significantly under priced. So around January 7th, I decided to make a google portfolio to track how I would do if I invested roughly $1000 into each company.

At the beginning of this year, the Dogs of the Dow list included T, VZ, MRK, INTC, PFE, MCD, GE, CVX, CSCO, and MSFT. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve owned or still own positions in all but 2 of these companies. So far this year (not much left). Someone who invested in these companies would not have had bad returns. They would have seen capital gains to the tune of 11%, the bulk of which was from MSFT, MRK, INTC, and CSCO. Additionally, someone with an evenly distributed portfolio of $10,000 would have earned over $310 in dividends which works out to net gains of about 14-15%. For reference, the S&P 500 has had a YTD return of around 11% and my personal portfolio has had about 14%.

So, based on the past year, someone who doesn’t enjoy screening stocks and just wants to pick from a small list of quality dividend paying companies would have had some solid returns going with the dogs. I don’t recommend blindly trusting a list of companies that anyone gives you. How someone else evaluates whether a stock is a good buy or not may not properly align with your beliefs. However, considering the 2 companies on the list that I have not owned in the last year were 2 of the bigger winners from the list, I have to admit that the strategy seems legit.

What’s your take on the Dogs of the Dow?

I have finished moving into my new house. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the backyard to make it into something that not only looks beautiful, but provides food for me and my family. My primary project is making a self-sustaining ecosystem in the form of a pond (with freaking sweet waterfall of course!). We also plan on planting apple trees and berry bushes. It’s a lot of work now, but in the future, I’ll be glad I made these sacrifices today. Does this sound familiar? Building a passive income portfolio full of dividend growth stocks is very similar philosophy. Sacrificing today for a better tomorrow.

There is a Chinese proverb I really like: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Planting a tree that will bare fruit means taking the time and energy to dig a hole, watering it diligently, and pruning where needed. You must work hard on the front end, but after it has had time to grow, you will be able to harvest fruits and berries without any extra effort.

Digging the Hole

Our most precious possession is time, so it is hard to dedicate it to things that we may not enjoy. Maybe it’s digging a hole, maybe it’s meeting new people, or maybe it’s your job. Many times, the things we don’t enjoy doing now are the things that will reward us in the future. Instant gratification benefits us today, but fills us with regret (or nostalgia) every day after, but delayed gratification is regretful today, but benefits us every day after.

As much as you might want to splurge and buy a new TV this weekend, the joy it will bring you is only temporary. In a year or 2 you will want a newer TV with a bigger crisper screen and cool new features. Alternatively, use that money to buy shares of Target (TGT). The great thing about dividend growth stocks, like Target, is that your very first dividend payment will be the lowest one you should ever receive from it. If you’re reinvesting the dividends, the next payment will be a little bit bigger. Then when the dividend distribution is increased next year, it will grow even more. So in 2 years, you’ll want a new TV, just like you would if you had already bought one, but you also now have a passive income stream that will keep growing throughout your life.

Watering Diligently

For most things to grow, you must nurture them to make sure the growth is healthy. Plants need water, relationships need attention, and your portfolio needs fresh investments for diversification. If your portfolio is to heavily weighted in one company or one sector, you run the risk of that company/sector facing hard times where dividends must be cut. By diversifying, you encourage natural growth and mitigate risk. I don’t believe in needlessly diversifying in bad companies just for the sake of diversification, the same way you wouldn’t try to plant an avocado tree in the tundra in case your apple tree doesn’t work out.

Prune Where Needed

It can be difficult to trim the branches you’ve worked so hard to grow, but when it comes to berry bushes, you have to prune the branches that have already produced berries, because the empty branches are the ones that will produce next year. The philosophy here is that when you can identify something that will no longer be benefiting you, it’s time to cut it. In an ideal world, the companies you invest in will never reduce or cut their dividends, but you need to be ready to sell them if they do. I like to say that if you buy smart, you’ll never need to sell, but things can change over several years. The stocks you buy should only be companies you are willing to own for 10+ years. It’s important that you can distinguish between a dividend cut and basic under-performance. If you sell a stock just because it is under-performing, you’ll miss out next year when they get their act together and over-perform. The only time to sell a dividend growth stock is if the dividend payment is going to be less than it was last year.

Somehow, the time of the month for this exercise always sneaks up on me. We’re now looking at the returns after 4 months.

The purpose of this exercise is to compare a focused approach to investing in quality dividend paying companies to using a fund of cherry picked stocks selected by experts. At the time I started this comparison, Kfund1 was composed of my personal holdings in MCD, MSFT, MRK, WMT, JNJ, and LMT, all of which are also part of the Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund (VDIGX). KFund2 was composed of my personal holdings in PEP, PG, WMT, KO, XOM, CVX, MCD, and MMM, all of which are also part of the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund (VDAIX).

Below are the 2 Vanguard dividend funds I have and the change in value they have seen in the past 3 months.

VDIGX
up 6.40% (last month 5.78%)

VDAIX
up 6.75% (last month 6.17%)

Gains seem to have slowed down a tad, but what’s important to note here is that the returns are still up from last month.

Now let’s see how the individual companies that I own did in that time.

KFund1
up 6.66% (last month 7.20%)

KFund2
up 7.69% (last month 8.86%)

So my individual holdings actually went down in value compared to last month, which is unfortunate. However, if we’re still just comparing returns, the individual holdings are still ahead. These results do not surprise me as funds are intended to minimize risk. The asset management probably attributed to the continued gains during a down month, but at the cost of overall high-end returns. Like Warren Buffet, I consider myself an optimist when it comes to American business. While we all like to avoid losses, in the long run the market will continue to rise. This is why avoiding risk is not a priority for me while investing in big established businesses with proven performance and a track record of continuously rewarding shareholders.

One month ago today, I started my new job. So as you can imagine, I didn’t manage to get around to comparing the funds. However, this will be the 3rd month I’m comparing, which is a substantial benchmark for comparison. This means, I will have 1 quarter’s worth of dividends contributing to the returns of these investments.

The purpose of this exercise is to compare a focused approach to investing in quality dividend paying companies to using a fund of cherry picked stocks selected by experts. At the time I started this comparison, Kfund1 was composed of my personal holdings in MCD, MSFT, MRK, WMT, JNJ, and LMT, all of which are also part of the Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund (VDIGX). KFund2 was composed of my personal holdings in PEP, PG, WMT, KO, XOM, CVX, MCD, and MMM, all of which are also part of the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund (VDAIX).

Below are the 2 Vanguard dividend funds I have and the change in value they have seen in the past 3 months.

VDIGX
up 5.78%

VDAIX
up 6.17%

Not too shabby. I don’t like comparing results to major indexes, because major indexes don’t reflect the cost of a Doritos Locos Taco from Taco Bell (Yes, I eat these every week). A 10% yearly return is far better than you see in any savings account or treasury bond these days. With over 5% in 1 quarter, breaking 10% for the year seems like a low ball goal.

Now let’s see how the individual companies that I own did in that time.

KFund1
up 7.20%

KFund2
up 8.86%

Unlike my comparison 2 months ago, My investments actually significantly outperformed the funds. I think a big part of this success is due to JNJ, MCD, and MMM, each of which have seen at least 7% gains in the last 3 months.

I’d love to continue reporting on this comparison, but with the house hunt accelerating, I fear I may need to sell some of these positions to make the down payment. We’ll see though. Stay tuned.