Friday, June 1, 2018

Portfolio Update - May 2018

May was another volatile month, but it ended up in the green overall. My large stake in Facebook (FB) has again rewarded me with another solid month of gains. It really makes me think about selling and converting to dividend paying stocks, but I'm playing with house money at this point and I will continue to ride the wave. I think their potential to continue to grow is tremendous.

This May I saw my portfolio increase by $8,897.79 or 4.51%
My current portfolio value sits at $206,366.88

It was nice to see my portfolio continue to gain after all the volatility earlier in the year, but again I really don't care about the overall value as long as the companies continue to pay and grow their dividends. I do care that my non-dividend stocks continue to grow though, because one day I will probably start converting them to dividend paying stocks. 

I was only able to invest once this month as I'm building up my checking account balance to be able to purchase something expensive in a few months. 

The first and only purchase I made was on May 3rd, 2018. 

I purchased 25 shares of General Mills (GIS) for $41.07 a share. This company has gotten hit very hard and I picked up some more when I thought it couldn't go much lower. This purchase adds $49 of yearly dividend income to my portfolio!

I'm hoping to be able to purchase at least once this June, but will have to see how things progress.

All this volatility this year has led to some pretty crazy portfolio swings. Lets take a look at how my months have turned out so far:

January: $11,799.33
February: $-7,527.52
March: $-4,202.54
April: $6,020.14
May: $8,897.79

It is hard to see your money go down as it did in February and March, but you just have to remind yourself to have patience and that it will go back up. It presented great opportunities to buy more stock. When you have a good amount invested you will have bad months and good months, but it is still better than having your money in a savings or checking account earning a few dollars a month and not gaining any value. 

Let me know what you guys think! How did you guys do in May?

The portfolio page has been updated to include all of my stocks and additional holdings.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dividend Income Update - May 2018

May is starting to shape up as a solid month for my dividend income. It is still far away from June, but it is getting up there. Even after four years of dividend growth investing, my YOY (year over year) increases are still very good. I know they will slow down eventually, but my own investing and dividend increases have kept the number high. I'm so glad I found this strategy of minimizing spending and investing in dividend growth stocks. It has truly been amazing to see the results. 

Without further ado, here are my results for May 2018:

A T & T INC T $43.00

This month I received $249.48 in dividend income!

This is up from $186.06 for May, 2017.

This represents a 34.1% increase YOY!

It is amazing to see these kind of results after only four years of investing. This is a tangible amount that could be used to pay for my food bill for the month and more! Now, I'm not using the money to pay for bills yet and instead I use it to buy shares of other dividend growth stocks, but you can see how it is a solid  number. Can you imagine the amount of money I'd be getting if it was all in my checking or savings account? Maybe a few bucks a month? 

June should be an incredible month for me and I'm looking forward to sharing those results with you all as well. 

Let me know what you guys think! How did you guys do in May?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

There Are No Guarantees In Life

Nothing in life is guaranteed. One of the reasons why I love dividend growth investing is because it will allow me to retire early. I will be able to do anything I want at that point. I may still work, but I would find something that I truly love and wouldn't have to worry about the salary. The idea of working until you are 65 and then retiring is antiquated. Even with the average lifespan increasing, there is still a possibility of not making it until 65. I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but I'm just looking at the realities of life. My girlfriend's mom passed away before she was 55. She was healthy and it was just a freak thing that happened. I want to be able to enjoy life while I'm still young. Even if I ended up retiring at 50 I would be happy. That is still way better than 65.

Now how does this relate to dividend growth investing? Well nothing in life is guaranteed, but dividends can be very close to a sure thing. A lot of people I talk to about dividend growth investing always say, "well a company could stop paying a dividend at any time." While this is a possibility, the right dividend stocks will continue paying dividends well into the future. I then provide them with examples of certain companies that have been paying and increasing dividends for 10, 20, 30+ years. These companies include Proctor & Gamble (PG), Johnson and Johnson (JNJ), and 3M Company (MMM). There are many more, but these are just a few.

I also don't really care if one or two companies stops paying a dividend or cuts a dividend. That is where diversification comes into play. I've been investing for over four years now and I haven't had one company stop paying me a dividend. I've had a couple companies decrease their dividends, but they have continued to pay and some have started increasing their dividends again.

Even with all the market turmoil over the past four months, these companies have continued to pay me. 

These dividends that continue to accumulate also mitigate risk if a company were to go bankrupt in the future. A great example is my first dividend investment in Verizon (VZ)

On March 14th, 2014 I bought 75 shares of Verizon for $46 a share. 

Verizon is a relatively boring company in the sense that they are not super innovative and cutting edge, but they have a good network and a lot of customers which means they have a good amount of revenue. They have a lot of competition and they don't usually stray too much from earnings estimates. 

The price of their stock has been very underwhelming up to this point, but I still believe in their long term value and their dividend is very attractive. 

When I first purchased the stock their dividend yield was around 4.65%

Their yield now is around 5% and my yield on cost is at about 5.10%

I like to keep track of all my dividends received per company and Verizon has paid me $720 so far! This is a huge number for four years of owning a company. This has guaranteed me a return on the stock. If tomorrow their stock price went to 0, I would have at least come out with $720. If they continue to grow and pay their dividend and stay in business for even just a few more years then I'll have an even higher guaranteed return. I'm betting they will be in business for more than a few more years though... 

This is why I love dividend growth investing. When you invest in these high quality dividend growth stocks you are basically getting a guaranteed return on your money. A lot of people are afraid of investing for fear of losing money. Unless you are investing in risky companies with no dividend then there really isn't a good chance of this happening at all. Can I say there is a 0% chance of this happening? No, but the number is very, very low. 

So far I've made close to $7,000 in dividends from all the companies I own. This is real money that I've used to buy more stock. This number will only compound and grow exponentially. Eventually, I will have made $40,000+ in dividends in just a few more years. Dividend growth investing is a real strategy that does work. If you invest in high quality dividend growth stocks you can create a real passive income stream that you can use to cover your expenses. 

What do you guys think? Let me know!


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Recent Buy: General Mills Inc. (GIS)

I was able to make a purchase right away in May, but I fear I may be able to make only one or two more purchases over the next couple of months. I have a very large and important purchase coming up for my girlfriend of four years. I'm sure you can guess what it is... I haven't really been saving up for this and need to start. I will use about half of my savings and then the rest will be put on a credit card that will have about 6 months left of 0% APR. 

One could argue that I should have been saving up for this earlier, but that would have meant missing out on many great buying opportunities. To be fair I've been trying to build up my checking account base value for quite some time now, but with the market being down for four months it has been hard to not invest.  One could also argue that I could sell some stock to pay for this, but I'd rather just not invest for a few months instead. I will still be contributing to my Roth 401k and my Acorns account. With my employer match this will still be around $800 a month into my 401k and about $100 a month into my Acorns account. 

With that being said, on May 3rd I was able to purchase 25 shares of General Mills Inc. (GIS) for $41.07 a share. This purchase adds $49 of yearly dividend income to my portfolio!

General Mills is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods. Its brand portfolio includes more than 89 other leading U.S. brands. Their products can be found in just about any grocery store you walk into. 

General Mills has really struggled lately as the shift towards healthier and more organic foods sweeps the country. However they already have many healthy and organic products already and will continue to shift in that direction if the market dictates so. They also recently purchased Blue Buffalo which is a natural and healthy dog food. Again, the pet industry is a large and growing industry which will allow General Mills to capitalize on their purchase of Blue Buffalo.

I feel that they are undervalued as they have been one of the worst stock performers over the past few years. 

Some quick facts about General Mills:
  • EPS of 2.877
  • P/E of 14.70
  • Dividend Yield of 4.63%
  • EPS growth as follows
    • 1 year - 6.7%
    • 3 year - (-0.6%)
    • 5 year - 3.3%
  • Dividend growth rate as follows
    • 3 year - 7.4%
    • 5 year - 9.5%
    • 10 year - 10.3%
  • Dividend Payout Ratio at 68%
Now the EPS growth hasn't been stellar, but this is a food company that has staying power.  There has been trends of eating healthier and going organic, but I believe General Mills will be able to shift in that direction as they already have many products that are healthy and organic. There has also been trends of eating out more, but eating out is way more costly than buying foods at the store and I don't think that is a lasting trend. People will figure out that advantages of preparing and cooking food at home. You also can't have a family and eat out every meal. 

The yield at these levels was too good to pass up and I'm willing to buy more if it continues to drop. 

This might be my last purchase until July or August, but I hope to free up some cash in the next couple of months. 

Let me know what you guys think! 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dividend Income Update - April 2018

April is one of my lower months in terms of dividend income. It is included with those other three months (Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct) that are my four lowest months of the year. I don't buy stocks based on the months so this is just how it has worked out. Most companies end up paying dividends in March, June, September, and December. Thus my results are usually skewed with those being my four largest months by far. 

Nevertheless, what I really care about is year over year (YoY) increases. As long as the months continue to grow at a solid rate then I will be happy.  

The companies that paid me this month are as follows:

HP INC. HPQ $9.47

This month I received $188.90 in dividend income! 

This is up from $137.75 for April, 2017. 

This represents a 37.13% increase YoY!

Now again this is one of my slowest months in the year, but the YoY increase is great. I know these YoY increases will start to slowly go down, but if I can continue getting numbers close to this I will be happy. 

This progress is proof that anyone really can do well from dividend growth investing. Even if I didn't invest another dollar I would still have YoY increases just because these companies are routinely growing their dividends. These increases tend to be anywhere from 5-20% a year depending on the stock. 

With the continued market weakness I may even be able to beat those YoY increases just because my money is going farther now. As the market declines the yields all rise and I've been able to double down on stocks I bought 3 years ago for cheaper prices and (you guessed it) higher dividends. 

How did you guys do in April? Let me know!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Portfolio Update - April 2018

Another stagnant month this year as the market volatility continues. Luckily for me Facebook (FB) had a good quarter and recovered a good amount back from the losses due to privacy concerns. The increased market volatility makes it hard for investors who are looking for short term gains or investors who make their money day trading stocks. However, for those of us who are in it for the long term this represents a continued opportunity to pick up shares at a discount.

After two months in a row of my portfolio decreasing in value, I finally saw a positive gain. Never before have I had a decrease in my portfolio's value until these past two months. It is pretty incredible that I went 4 years without seeing a decrease in the value of my portfolio. 

This April I saw my portfolio value increase by $6,020.14 or 3.14%
My current portfolio value sits at $197,469.09

It was nice to finally see my portfolio go back up after two months of decreases. However, I really don't care about the value of my portfolio as long as the dividends continue to be paid and continue to increase. Guess what? I haven't suffered any dividend cuts in these three months of market volatility and in fact I've seen a large number of dividend increases. This just goes to show you that this is all just short term noise that doesn't affect long term goals. 

I was fortunate enough to invest twice in April and raise my dividend income. The first purchase I made was on April 2nd. I purchased 5 shares of 3M Company (MMM) at $210.70 a share. Unfortunately they got hit hard after their earnings and the stock has retreated about 8% since then. But, I've always wanted to own a piece of this company and finally pulled the trigger and will think about buying more at these discounted prices. 

The second purchase I made was on April 6th. I purchased 15 shares of Dominion Energy (D) for $66.90 a share. Again, this has been a stock that has been beat up lately and their current dividend is just too good to pass up. This is an essential energy company that has real staying power. They provide energy for many different regions, but the one big region is here in Northern Virginia. I use Dominion Energy because I have no other choice in the matter. I need electricity and they are the only option. 

These two purchases added $77.30 to my yearly dividend income! My purchasing power has simply been increased due to the market volatility. I welcome the volatility with open arms because of this. If two monthly purchases can routinely add this much dividend income per month then I will be reaching retirement much earlier than anticipated!

Let me know what you guys think! How did you guys do in April?

The portfolio page has been updated to include all of my stocks and additional holdings.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Recent Market Volatility

With all the recent market volatility I wanted to quickly share my thoughts on the matter. It can be very hard and very stressful for an investor when the market is volatile. If you have a lot of money invested you may cringe when the market drops and the value of your money drops with it. However, dividend growth investors should welcome market volatility with open arms. 

Why do I say this? 

In terms of the history of the stock market - every drop, decline, recession, weakness, etc. has always been followed with an up tick in the overall market. If you had bought into the overall market 5, 10, 15, 20+ years ago then you would understand this. For first time investors this can be a difficult thing to process. If you invested in January of 2018 only to see your money drop the following months you may swear off the market and sell at a loss. However, investors need to have patience with the market. Patience can be a hard thing to come by though, especially in our fast paced world.

Many people are afraid of the stock market for these reasons. The news channels and networks try to strike fear into people and they use buzz words to make it sounds like these market drops are so terrible. They talk about "biggest drop since..." or "the market fell sharply" or "$ billions in market cap have been erased"

This is all because the news outlets knows what sells and people see these words and continue to watch and listen. If you are a long term investor you really shouldn't have anything to worry about. These periods of weakness offer great opportunities for investors to average down. If you can take advantage and buy stock during these periods of weakness then you can effectively make your money go further and decrease the time to retirement.

The one thing about dividend growth investing is that I never really intend to sell stock. What I mean is that I'm not going to build up a large sum of money in the stock market and then sell off my shares and live off the profits. Many people in retirement do just this and that's why they care if the market drops significantly or not. Can you imagine retiring in January only to see the market drop for the next 3 months? It wouldn't be a great sight that's for sure. 

That is why I really love dividend growth investing though. In these 3 months of market volatility not one of my stocks has cut or reduced their dividend. In fact I've had a plethora of stocks actually raise their dividends by 4% or more! These are stocks that have seen their prices reduced significantly and that means their yields have gone way up. 

There are so many stocks that are now undervalued in my eyes. A lot of these stocks are in the consumer goods section. I believe stocks such as Kimberly Clark (KMB), Johnson and Johnson (JNJ), Proctor & Gamble (PG), 3M Company (MMM), The J.M. Smucker Company (SJM), General Mills (GIS), and The Clorox Company (CLX) are just a few of the great companies that are currently on sale. 

They all offer tremendous dividends and most of them have increased their dividends recently. Their stock prices have taken a beating and their yields are at all time highs. It is really hard to imagine these companies not existing 5-10 years from now since they provide such essential products that are used every day. 

I'm continuing to buy and I hope the market continues to be volatile while I pick up shares at a discount. Investors (not just dividend growth investors) should welcome weakness with open arms. Dividend growth investors will see the yields rise and get them to financial freedom that much sooner. 

The only caution I would have is to not invest a large sum of money at once. This is because no one really knows which direction the market is going to go. It could drop more or it could push forward to all time highs. My best advice is to always be investing. If you can invest 1-2 times a month at a lower amount then you will catch the market at its highs and its lows and eventually the market will go up. 

What do you guys think? How do you handle market volatility?


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recent Buy: Dominion Energy (D)

The second purchase I made this month came right after the first. The market has been volatile, but the most important thing is getting money into the market as often and as fast as you can. There is no point waiting days or even months to try and see if the market will go lower. I try to find stocks that are undervalued or that I think are a good value relative to the market. You can always find value in the market even when it was at all time highs. It may have been harder, but there were still good buys out there. 

On April 6th, I was able to buy 15 shares of Dominion Energy Inc. (D) for $66.90 a share. This adds $50.10 of yearly dividend income to my portfolio! 

Some quick facts about Dominion Energy:
  • EPS of 3.38
  • P/E of 19.45
  • Current yield of 5.08%
  • EPS growth as follows
    • 1 year - -1.9%
    • 3 year - 14.6%
    • 5 year - 6.3%
  • Dividend growth rate as follows
    • 3 year - 8.1%
    • 5 year - 7.5%
    • 10 year - 7.6%
  •  Dividend payout ratio at 89%
The utilities sector has gotten hit hard recently with many names performing very poorly this year. However, all of these companies boast generous dividend yields and will be fine in the long term. I'm actually a customer of dominion energy in northern Virginia. They serve a large number of customers in northern Virginia and will continue to do so going forward. This area is growing rapidly and their business will continue to grow. I don't see any competitors taking over the space anytime soon. 

This was probably my last purchase until June, but I'll keep you guys posted. 

Let me know what you guys think! What have you guys been purchasing?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Recent Buy: 3M Company (MMM)

I've made two purchases this month to conclude all my purchasing for the month. I was able to continue to take advantage of market weakness and get shares at a discount! This company has been on my radar for a long time now and I was happy that the market weakness offered a good opportunity to get my hands on it. Every buy is on step closer to financial freedom and it feels absolutely amazing. I look forward to purchasing more and more stock as I know it will get me closer and closer to that sweet freedom. 

On April 2nd I was able to buy 5 shares of 3M Company (MMM) for $210.70 a share. This adds $27.20 of yearly dividend income to my portfolio!

Some quick facts about 3M Company: 
  • EPS of 9.17
  • P/E of 23
  • Current yield of 2.50%
  • EPS growth as follows
    • 1 year - 12.4%
    • 3 year - 7%
    • 5 year - 7.7%
  • Dividend growth rate as follows
    • 3 year - 11.2%
    • 5 year - 14.8%
    • 10 year - 9.4%
  •  Dividend payout ratio at 59%
This is a tremendous company that makes a ton of different products. I'm really happy with this purchase and the ability to add a high quality dividend growth company at a discount. As I write this the stock is already up 4% since I bought it. Now, again I don't really care about price as long as the dividend grows and is a good rate relative to the price. 

Let me know what you guys think! What have you been buying this month?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Dividend Income Update - March 2018

I have to apologize as I have been very busy with work and life this past month and it has been very hard to find time to write about my dividend progress. Nevertheless I want to continue writing and posting to try and help others achieve financial freedom. While the market continues to be volatile I continue to buy shares of high quality dividend growth companies.

March was my best month ever in terms of dividend income. It was truly incredible that in only 3 years time I've able to record nearly $500 in one month from dividend income. That number IS a tangible number that can help pay bills or for now simply reinvest in the market!

The companies that paid me this month are as follows:


This month I received $494.40 in dividend income! 

This is up from $331.44 for March, 2017. 

This represents a 49.17% increase year over year!

This was truly an incredible month and I'm already looking at close to $550-600 for June! Again, this only took me 3-4 years to achieve and it is incredible the power of dividend growth investing! I can't wait to see where the numbers are in a few years! 

I've already added two stocks in April which I'll write posts about, but that will most likely conclude my buying for this month. The market has been super volatile lately, but all investors should have patience and be happy that you can buy shares at a discount. There are a lot of stocks out there that are at year lows that are sporting generous dividends! 

How did you guys do in March? Let me know!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Portfolio Update - March 2018

I haven't been able to update this blog as I'd like as work has been super busy lately and I haven't had much time to write. I'm still following dividend stocks and actively investing though! This is just another reason why I want to reach financial freedom as early as I can. Having to worry about the stress of work and not having time to do other things like write blog posts is really not ideal. 

With that being said, March was another brutal month for investors and for me as well. I own a lot of Facebook and they got hit hard because of the privacy scandal. I believe they will be fine long term though and think it presents a good opportunity for anyone looking for a non-dividend stock to purchase. They have no competition and have an incredible user base. They also have many other apps that are very popular. 

This March I saw my portfolio value decrease $4,203.54 or -2.15%

It's not fun to see your money go down, but this just presents a good buying opportunity if you have capital to invest. I'm in this for the long term and I will rarely ever sell any stocks so the short term noise does not concern me! As stock prices decrease, dividend yields increase! This means my money is earning me even more while the market is down. 

I was able to make two purchases this month during days that the market was down. On March 7th, 2018 I was able to purchase 14 shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) at $73.90 a share. This stock has been beaten up lately and I think this is an excellent price for the company. On March 8th, I was able to purchase 6 shares of Home Depot (HD) at $176.80 a share. Again, the market was down and I've wanted to Home Depot for a very long time. They are an excellent dividend growth company and I'm happy to join the team. Overall this added a total of $67.84 of dividends to my annual dividend income. The snowball keeps growing!

This was my 2nd month ever that my portfolio value decreased in a month. I'm not worried since I'm here for the long haul and this just presents great buying opportunities. I'm going to be able to buy another two times in April and hope the market continues to stay lower since the dividend yields are propped up! 

Let me know what you guys think! How did you guys do in March?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Recent Buy: Home Depot Inc. (HD)

I knew I was going to be able to make at least two purchases this month, but I wasn't sure when that would be. Well because of continued market turbulence, it was relatively early in the month. It's just too good of an opportunity to pass when the market  takes a dip. When the market goes down it provides two excellent opportunities. The first opportunity is that the dividend yields all go up. The second opportunity is that the return on principal is much greater. I'm a long term investor so I'm not too worried about the price of a stock as long as it continues to pay and raise dividends. 

However, being able to buy a stock at a discount will provide me a margin of safety in the future. 

If the stock doesn't perform well and I need to sell, then I won't have lost as much. Perhaps I won't lose anything and come out even all because I was able to buy at a discount in the first place. Long term investors should welcome market weakness with open arms. Unless it is the apocalypse or world war 3 there really shouldn't be cause for concern. The market will go back up and if you are able to take advantage of the weakness then your money will do twice as well once it does. 

On March 8th I was able to buy 6 shares of Home Depot Inc. (HD) at $176.80 a share. This adds $24.72 of yearly dividend income to my portfolio!

Some quick facts about Home Depot:
  • EPS of 7.39
  • P/E of 24
  • Current yield of 2.33%
  • EPS growth as follows
    • 1 year - 14.7%
    • 3 year - 16.2%
    • 5 year - 19.8%
  • Revenue growth as follows
    • 1 year - 6.7%
    • 3 year - 6.7%
    • 5 year - 6.2%
  • Dividend growth rate as follows
    • 3 year - 23.7%
    • 5 year - 25.1%
    • 10 year - 14.7%
  •  Dividend payout ratio at 55%

Even with such a mature company, Home Depot has continued to grow at an impressive rate. Their dividend has also grown with it as well and there is plenty of room for it to continue to grow in the future. 

Home Depot has been on my list forever and it rarely ever takes a dip to allow for a buying opportunity. This is an incredible company with staying power. They provide essential products for home improvement. They are the world's largest home improvement retailer. If you need to do any work on your house or apartment where do you go? You could order items on Amazon, but what if you needed it right away? Companies and contractors building and remodeling homes can't afford to wait for products to ship even if its a day or two. They also sell a lot of large items that would be too expensive to ship.

A company like this is not going away anytime soon. Building/remodeling homes is an incredible industry that will be around for a long time. 

Let me know what you guys think! What have you been able to buy with recent market weakness?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Recent Buy: Exxon Mobil (XOM)

I've been able to continue to take advantage of market weakness and sector weakness as well. It's hard to say that I want the market to go down, but it really benefits one long term when it does. Price and yield are inversely correlated so if the market goes down all the dividend yields go up. This means my money is worth more and will earn me more dividend income. I've been able to save up some money this month and will be able to purchase stock at least two times.

My first purchase this month was 14 shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) at $73.90 a share. This adds $43.12 to my yearly dividend income!

I have been watching Exxon fall for quite some time now and figured I had to pick up some more. Exxon is the largest of the world's big oil companies. This is a great company making tons of money off a vital resource that will be around for awhile. Alternative energy is coming, but it is going to take awhile before we are able to completely switch off of oil. Also, Exxon will have the resources to easily switch into another energy solution if need be. 

Exxon is now one of my larger positions at 51 shares. I really don't think you can go wrong with such a great company. Their price has been hit hard lately, but they will eventually recover. It is hard to find such great companies paying you a 4% yield so I had to pick up some more. 

Some quick facts about Exxon:
  • This is a company with revenues of $237 billion in 2017 and an estimated $298 billion in 2018
  • EPS of 3.23 (They have been hurt by the price of oil, but they are slowly recovering)
  • Dividend Yield of 4.15%
  • 3 year dividend growth rate of 4.3%
  • 5 year dividend growth rate of 7.0%
  • 10 year dividend growth rate of 8.4%
  • P/E of 22.91
Now their dividend growth rate may not be stellar over the next year or two, but the current yield will make up for that at this point. 

They will continue to increase their efficiency and remain one of the largest companies in the world. Oil is not going away anytime soon and even if it does they will be well suited to switch to the next energy resource. 

Let me know what you guys think! What have you guys been buying?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Portfolio Update - February 2018

February was a brutal month for investors and even as I write this post the market continues its trend downward. However, I'm a long term investor and this is just short term noise. It actually prevents some great buying opportunities and I don't mind when the market is down. If I can invest during periods of weakness then I can increase my purchasing power. 

This will all lead to me being able to retire even earlier than expected. I welcome market weakness because I don't plan on selling stocks and dividends and price are inversely correlated. When the price goes down the dividend goes up!

This month I saw my net worth decrease by $7,527.52 or -3.70%

This is all due to the market having a rough month and the value of my stocks decreasing. I'm hoping to deploy some fresh capital (about $2k) in the market this month and hopefully I can capitalize on the market weakness. 

On February 6th, 2018 I was able to purchase 13 shares of AFLAC Incorporated (AFL) for $83.90 a share. This was a day when the market was down and I believe this was a good price for a great dividend company. They have been on my radar forever and I decided to pull the trigger to add this great company to my collection. Overall, this will increase my yearly dividend income by $27.04

This was my first month ever that I've seen my net worth actually decrease. It is hard to see your money decrease, but I can't complain given that it has steadily increased for the past 4 years now. I look forward to investing while the market is down and capitalizing on the current weakness. Even if the market continues to fall I will just continue to buy!

Let me know what you guys think! How did you guys do in February?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dividend Income Update - February 2018

It has been almost two weeks since I've posted anything. I haven't forgotten about this site, but I've been out of town and then had a minor dental surgery. This was an unexpected expense that has set me back a little in terms of investing, but I should recover in March with some fresh capital.

This is now my second post tracking my monthly dividend income. It really helps to track your dividends each month to see just how well you are doing. It also provides motivation to invest more to try and beat your own personal records. At this point the only way my months would stop increasing is if I started selling stocks. Even if I stopped buying stocks the monthly dividends would continue to grow. That is the power of dividend growth investing!

The companies that paid me this month are:
  • AbbVie (ABBV) -  $26.27
  • Apple (AAPL) - $7.56
  • AT&T (T) - $43.00
  • CVS Health Corp (CVS) - $6.50
  • Enterprise Products (EPD) - $15.30
  • General Mills (GIS) - $7.84
  • Kinder Morgan (KMI) - $4.50
  • Main Street Capital Corp (MAIN) - $4.94
  • Omega Healthcare (OHI) - $21.12
  • Proctor & Gamble (PG) $11.03
  • Starbucks (SBUX) - $9.90
  • Verizon Communications (VZ) - $57.82
  • Williams-Sonoma (WSM) - $8.58

This month I received  $219.86 in dividends.

This is up from $161.89 for February 2017

This represents a 35.8% year over year increase!

Now I would like to get January and February up in terms of dividend income, but I don't buy stocks based on their payment dates. It can be hard because my biggest months by far are March, June, September, and December. These months will eventually catch up though through investing and growing dividends. 

I've run into some unexpected costs these past two months so I'm a little behind in my investing schedule, but I have some fresh capital that will be available in March and I should be able to invest around 2k or so. 

March is looking to be my best month ever and I'm expecting around $500 or so in dividend income. This is truly incredible! This number only took 4 years to reach and is a value that can actually be used to pay off significant expenses or costs. 

The power of dividend growth investing is truly incredible. If I can achieve these results in a short amount of time then so can anyone! I can't wait to see where the dividends are in a few more years. They will be close to covering a majority of my expenses each month. 

Let me know what you guys think! How did you do in February! Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How to Save Thousands of Dollars Now

When I first started along my path to financial freedom I became very good at saving money and finding new ways to save money. You don't have to make a lot of money to retire early. You simply just need to save a good portion of your income. I see a lot of people who make a lot of money, but end up spending most of it anyways. Who cares if they make more money than you if you can save just as much? 

I found that there are an endless amount of ways to save money, but there are a few things that are really powerful and I wanted to go over a couple here.

1. Make your breakfast/lunch/dinner
This may be hard for some people to do, but it really does add up. I've done the calculations before and my breakfast is around $1 every morning, my lunch is around $3-4 every day and my dinner is also around $3-4 every day. I would say I eat pretty well too and have a good amount of fruits and vegetables. This all adds up to around $8 a day. Food is the easiest thing to change. If you could even just bring your lunch a few days a week then this will really add up.

Just one meal out for lunch or dinner can easily run you $10+ a day. If you compare my $8 a day with someone who averages around $22 a day then you get a $14 difference. Lets multiply this by 300 days because I don't always make every meal. 

Potential savings:  $4,200 a year
This assumes a $14 a day difference compared to someone who eats out once or twice a day. This could even be higher as food costs some people closer to $30 a day. Think about this over a couple years and you are looking at a large sum of money.

It may be hard to make your own food, but there are so many benefits to it. You will end up eating much healthier and you will save a lot of money. You can also save a ton of money on groceries if you shop at low cost places such as giant, harris teeter, and trader joes. We get a lot of free coupons just for being part of their member program which is free to join. We have also found that any Buy One Get One deal at Harris Teeter is actually buy one half off. This can end up saving you a lot of money. 

2.  Get rid of your car (or get a cheaper, gas friendly car)
This could also be hard for people to do. I'm not advocating you get rid of your car because you may need it. I have a car, but it is a 2006 Honda Civic with 90k miles on it. I've had the car since 2006 so it is fully paid off. My car insurance is only $45 a month and maintenance and gas costs are very low at this point. 

If you have a car that isn't paid off yet then you are probably paying around $300-400 a month plus another $100 or so a month for insurance. If you can afford to completely get rid of your car or settle with a cheaper car than you could potentially save yourself around $400 a month. 

Potential Savings:  $4,800 a year

3. Move Somewhere Cheaper
The three biggest expenses are rent/housing, transportation, and food. These may not always be the easiest things to change, but even just a little change goes a long way. Our rent would be considered very high at $2,360 a month. We live in a highly populated area with a ton of jobs. The salary makes up for it a little, but we understand that if we move somewhere else we could end up saving a good amount of money. We are looking at moving this upcoming fall to try and save around $200 a month. 

A tip for trying to save money on rent is by moving in the off months. During the Fall/Winter rent usually goes down or they usually offer free months of rent. If you can set up your schedule to sign a lease in those months then you can score some big savings. 

Potential Savings: $2,400 a year (This could be huge if you could move somewhere much cheaper) 

4. Join Free Rewards Programs/Use Coupons
The amount of free stuff/discounted stuff we get is incredible. Join every reward program you can and make sure you ask if there are reward programs. Once you sign up make sure to put in your birthday, because they will send you free things on your birthday. 

I probably received around $100 of free stuff on my birthday just because I was signed up for their rewards programs. I even got a free month of bagels from Panera and I'm still not sure why they did that. 

Grocery stores tend to give some great deals out for their members as well. Every Saturday we tend to get anywhere from 1-3 free items from either Harris Teeter or Giant. They do this almost every Saturday and all you have to do is join their free member program. 

There are tons of good rewards programs out there and I can provide a thorough list of the ones I use if you guys are interested. 

A good example is OpenTable. This is an app that allows you to make reservations at restaurants. The app is free to use and you collect points for every reservation you make. Now it may take some time, but once you collect 2,000 points (100 pts per reservation) they give you a $20 gift card. 

Potential Savings: $1000-2000 a year (harder to calculate, but if you use the rewards programs and coupons effectively then you can earn a lot of free stuff)

5. Get a credit card with a good rewards program
I will write a post about how to use credit cards effectively, but if you get a good credit card with a good rewards program then you can essentially travel free a lot of the time. Your points that may be worth $100 can be used for $200 worth of travel. This is why its always better to use them for travel as opposed to giving yourself cash back. 

I really enjoy all of the Chase cards and would recommend just about any of those to anyone looking to get a credit card. Considering how often you may need to travel you can end up saving a lot of money. 

Potential Savings: $1000-2000 a year (will depend on how you use your points)

These are probably some of the biggest ways to save money. There are hundreds of other ways, but these are some of my favorite and most utilized ways. The total potential savings per year from these five items is around $14,000 a year

Want to retire early? This would be a huge step in doing so. If you could free up this amount of money and invest this in dividend growth stocks over a couple of years then you would be on a fast track to retirement. 

I've learned that people don't like making changes or they think it is too hard to change. One of the ways I've worked around that is making many smaller changes instead. I'm not saying you should stop eating out every day, but maybe start with only eating out 4 times a week instead of 5 and work your way down to 1 or 2. 

If you can make many small changes then they really add up to a much bigger change. This potential savings could have you retiring 5-10 years early. Wouldn't it be worth it to be able to cut your retirement age back by that much? 

Let me know what you think! What other ways do you guys like to do to save money?