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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review of 2017/Goal Setting for 2018

2017 has been fantastic and terrible all rolled into one. There were major changes with my career, some serious family challenges and the decision that 2018 will be the year that my wife and I buy our first house. In terms of personal finance I'm excited to say I was able to hit every goal I set in this young portfolio. 


The Job
I like to start with the good. The transition from being a teacher to a district administrator is one of the most difficult to make. Everyone wants an experienced administrator, because it's in many ways an entirely different skill-set than being a highly effective teacher. Managing children is completely different than managing adults. Many of the skills evaluating programs, teachers, hiring, budgeting aren't part of the day-to-day job as a teacher. I was lucky enough to become a first time administrator this year. Sure it came with some costs -- losing the direct interaction with the kids. What I gained is incredible. I get seat at the decision-making table and the ability to affect real change beyond the four walls of a classroom. I have people looking to me to make a difference, parents, teachers, and students. I feel like I'm planning five weddings every day, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

All that excitement comes at a cost -- time. I have less time for  everything. My kids are in daycare entirely too long. My house has never been messier, I have a mother with a terminal illness that I don't see enough, and by the time my wife comes home from work, I spent from work and then watching our children after work. It makes it clear to me why so many 20 and 30 somethings are trying to build portfolios that will let them retire in 10 years or less. Time is the one thing you can't get back. 


This has been huge for me. The new job came with a higher salary. I finally could pull my weight in terms of my finances. My post tax salary increased by about $1,000 per month. It's amazing what salary based healthcare will take out of a paycheck. Also that didn't mean I had $1,000 more to invest. Renting a townhouse, with two kids in a corporate daycare costs money. We had been dipping into our savings account (with investments we were still able to add to our net worth overall) a little in order to cover the bills. So $600 of that $1,000 went to a higher rent contribution. This allowed us to maintain our savings, gave my wife a little breathing room and pay the daycare increase. So surely I invested the other $400 per month? I wish. I did double my Roth IRA contribution, But I also invested in the teachers that worked for me. Little things like cakes for long-time teachers that moved onto new jobs, bagels and fruit salad during large meetings. Believe it or not when working with a large staff, that adds up. It's also important. I'm nothing without these people. If I want to be effective at this new job, I need to show them I appreciate them. Also I had to upgrade my clothing. The new job requires me to be in a suit most days, and they aren't cheap. I didn't mind this because the bulk of this cost is upfront. My Robinhood account which I use for my dividends continued to grow as well (somehow). I went from making a regular deposit of $40 plus whatever I could side hustle, to making a regular $50 deposit plus whatever I could side hustle. The side hustles always have been the bulk of my deposits into this account. It comes from a lot of different places: dividends, rewards card purchases,payments on old Lending Club notes (what a mistake that was), and frugality.   

Review of 2017 Portfolio Goals

By every measure I achieved my goals. I was hoping to grow my dividend portfolio to 4k. Barring a catastrophe in the next couple of days, I'm finishing the year with nearly $6,400. I set out to make $100 in dividends. I earned $151.39. I wanted two holdings of $500. This was mainly because I was getting too buy happy and way too many positions of 1-2 shares. I have 3. 


On the surface these goals seem modest. An 8k portfolio, when I already have nearly $6,400 and project for at least $210 in dividends without investing a dime, would normally be way too safe. At my current pace I easily make that goal. Same with the goal of $250 in dividends and a holding of 1k. I do hope I can shatter these goals, but I'm not changing them. The main reason is goal number 1 is a house. I'm very committed to not liquidating my dividend holdings for a deposit. I believe we have enough saved and our credit is good enough that it won't come to that. But without knowing exactly what my mortgage, taxes, moving costs, etc. I think it would be irresponsible to include a projection for 2018 that involves ramping up my investments at this time. 

I think something would also be amiss if I didn't include some non-financial goals. I want to continue to be a fantastic father to my two little ones. I want to carve out some more time for my wife. I've heard of too many relationships that end because of this. I'm not sure anything is a greater cost on finances, children, and myself then divorce or a bad marriage. I love my wife. I'm a product of a divorce. I don't want my children to go down that road.  This is probably the goal that needs the most work. I also want to continue to grow in this new position. I've wanted this for so long, I can't allow myself to fail. It's a ton of work, but it's a dream job. I also hope to continue blogging, it keeps me focused on my financial goals. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December Dividends

I'm going to keep this about December and not make the big end of the year/goals post. I'm still going through my thoughts there. But not surprising the year closed with another fantastic month. When all is said and done in December I will have earned 26.55. This compares to just $8.70. I was hoping for a record month but didn't quite get there. The reason being that Pepsi paid a dividend last quarter and is paying me again in January. I think the fact that this time last year, I was writing about hoping to crack the $10 mark and this year I'm on the verge of $30 speaks for itself. Here are my December dividends.

INN           .34
SBUX       .60
WFC         .78
ADM        .32
DFS        1.75
AMGN   1.15
TGT       6.20
EMR      2.43
JNJ          .84
UL           .84
O            1.06
FLO       1.70
CMP      3.60
DUK     3.56
GM       1.14
BAC       .24

Friday, December 22, 2017

Added to my 4 shares of O to my position

I generally don't view REIT investments as safe and stable. But O seems to be the exception. 21 years of dividend growth, monthly payouts, and 12% off it's 52 week high. What I love even more is long term leases with built in increases. Today I was able to grab 4 more shares at 55.68 per share. This is exciting because even it takes my dividend projections for next year to $210.54. That is if I don't make a single buy or dividend raise. This puts me well on track to achieve my goal of $250 in dividends in 2018. In fact I may need a more ambitious goal. Life is good.


Material presented on 'Dividend Seedling' is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is the opinion of the author (a social studies teacher and not a financial advisor). None of the information should be relied on or taken as investing advice or a recommendation to invest. None of the information or opinions expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or investment of any kind. Please do your own research before making any investments. Do not making any purchases unless you are prepared to lose your entire investment.

Additional Disclosure I long everything.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Done licking my GE wounds, Recent buy HBI

When I sold GE last month at 18 dollars a share it was a difficult decision. It was a loss. The company had a big name and a long history. Many were talking about this being the price to get in on. For the record I do believe GE long term will be alright. But they did cut their dividend. They have issues. There really isn't a clear vision going forward. There are cash flow issues. Largely they've been flat until the big drop. I have been trying to keep my emotions out of my investments. I think I've been doing a pretty good job of it. In this case my decision to sell my shares of GE came down to the emotions saying the opposite. I asked myself four questions... Would I invest in GE now had I not owned shares? The answer was no. Aside from the name and the valuation what reason do I have to invest in this company? The reasons weren't persuasive. What's the cost of selling? Nothing. Could the money be invested better elsewhere? Yes.

Today I bought 10 shares of HBI at 20.50 per share. At 2.96% the yield is better. At 30.9% the payout ratio is excellent. As is the 12.5% pe/ratio. It's a product that doesn't need to reinvent itself. People will always be buying socks, t-shirts, and underwear. The dividend has increased the last 3 years and is operating at discount being down nearly 15% over the last three months. Morning Star has given HBI a 5 star rating and 10 of 14 analysts rate HBI a buy or strong buy. It feels good to be buying again.


Material presented on 'Dividend Seedling' is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is the opinion of the author (a social studies teacher and not a financial advisor). None of the information should be relied on or taken as investing advice or a recommendation to invest. None of the information or opinions expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or investment of any kind. Please do your own research before making any investments. Do not making any purchases unless you are prepared to lose your entire investment.

Additional Disclosure I long everything.

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Dividends

Another double digit dividend month thanks largely to owning shares of T. $10.98 in total dividends and below is the breakdown.  Last year this time I had $3.71 in dividends. Life is good.

T          6.86
KMI       .50
ABBV  2.56
O          1.06

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Recent Sell GE

Sold 10 shares of GE today at 18 dollars a share. I will admit a good part of me did want to hold on and see if they reinvent themselves. But that's not part of my Dividend strategy. They cut their dividend, there are better investments out there. I'll look to invest that money elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Dividends

Happy Halloween everyone. I consider it a holiday every month when I get to count up this money I didn't have to work for. October is typically a light month for me and this month is no exception. Three companies paid me a total of $4.96. However, considering last year's that total was $1.58. This is definitely a more in the right direction. That puts my year over year growth at 213.9%. Slow and steady wins the race. Below are the stocks that paid me Dividends in October.

TIF $1.50
O    $1.06
GE $2.40

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Recent Buy T

Today I grabbed 6 shares of T for $33.70 per share. This was just a straight value play. I like AT&T long term because it is firmly entrenched in the wireless market. I also thought about Verizon today for the same reason. The cord cutting did make me a little nervous.  Time Warner deal and Direct TV purchase did add to their debt obligations. But it was also absolutely the right play.  Long term the amount of money AT&T has to invest in network quality and the content they can now offer, positions them to be in a place of dominance for years to come. So while the wired business is shrinking, their wireless business has plenty of room for growth. 

AT&T is in 52 week low territory and down 5 percent in the last week. MorningStar assigns them a 4-star rating and with a fair value of around $40. I was able to bring my cost basis down from over $39 per share to 37 per share. At 5.82% yield for a stock with 33 years of dividend stock and a 66% payout ratio. The payout ratio is a tad high. But for a PE/Ratio of 15.82 it was worth the value. And that yield is pretty sweet. 


Material presented on 'Dividend Seedling' is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is the opinion of the author (a social studies teacher and not a financial advisor). None of the information should be relied on or taken as investing advice or a recommendation to invest. None of the information or opinions expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or investment of any kind. Please do your own research before making any investments. Do not making any purchases unless you are prepared to lose your entire investment.

Additional Disclosure I long everything.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Money Stuck in Limbo

September 2006 was the first time I started thinking about retirement. A man in a suit sat me down with a bunch of funds made some recommendations and told me about the virtues of the  403b plan he was offering. Like 90 percent of the people in my district I signed up.

To be honest I didn't think too much about it after that. Whatever I put was just going to be a supplement to my pension. Hopefully I'd have a good chunk of change at the end. There was never any discussion of goals, where I wanted to end up nothing. This went on until I made my last payment July 2, 2015. During that time I deposited $10,175 which turned into $15,521.72 today. For nearly 9 years I didn't invest enough. For nearly 9 years I paid way too much in fees. For nearly 9 years I invested in mediocre funds combined with a 3% guaranteed interest (which why would anyone want to do in a long range fund)? What's worse is the penalties and fees that are trapping my money there at least until I'm 59.5.

In June of 2015 I opened a Betterment Account and begun looking at other options. In 2016 started buying stocks through Robinhood. Since I stopped blindly handing money to a guy in a suit, I have saved over 10k into dividend and retirement accounts. By the end of 2018 I'm confident I will surpass a fund I contributed into for over 9 years.

I'm not bitter. I do wish I knew then, what I know now. But at least that 403b fund allowed me to start putting away for retirement. I'm 15k better off today than I would be otherwise because I did start saving.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Graduating From a Compulsive Investor, to a Compulsive Funder

In my short journey into investing, one thing I've begun to realize is that self-awareness is an important component for success. What has been so surprising to me is how much of my personality comes through into how I invest. There is a part of me that is very deliberate and rationale. I know not to react to sudden changes in the market and sell when I should stay the course. But there is another side of me that needs to act and get things done. In my career these impulses have been both a strength and an Achilles Heel. If you need something finished fast, I move very quickly and efficiently. I get things done. But there have been times that I moved too quickly and made poor decisions.

The same has been true with me as an investor. When I started this DGI journey the plan was simple invest 30-50 a month through Robinhood and see what happens. Had I thought rationally and stuck to that plan I would have somewhere between $600-$1000 right now. My desire to build my portfolio led to at times weekly purchases. I would find a way to save $20 here or $30 this week just to grab an extra share of something. It's the reason why the DGI section of my porfolio is closer to $6,000 than $600. As my porfolio grows I realize that I can't treat the market like a game and I need to reign in my personality. The challenge is to do that without becoming that boring monthly $50-100 per month funder. A close friend of mine once told me no matter how much you make, that's what you're going to spend. He has a 6 figure salary and puts away very little. It's the reason I deposited $20 into my Robinhood account today for absolutely no reason. It's the reason why if a bill is a little cheaper or I'm able to cut an expense I make the deposit into my Robinhood account. Once my money goes into Robinhood it will be invested at some point, but there is no hurry.

This post has also made me realize how important this blog is to my investments as well. It forces me to reflect on my decisions and refine my approach. It has kept me focused on my long and short term goals and put in a layer of accountability. I now understand the quotation that "a goal unwritten is just a wish."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Recent Buy GIS

I have been following GIS for six months and finally today I pounced grabbing 5 shares at 50.76 per share. I realize that the General Mills brand isn't necessarily what it was 5 years ago. But certain numbers I just love.

3.85% Yield
13 years dividend growth
63 percent payout ratio.

All that are at a near 52 week low. All that for a 18.3 percent P/E Ratio. I realize this consumer staple may not be what it once was in terms of market share. But I don't see them going away anytime soon. Time will tell but this feels like a good buy.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Dividends

Its been a relatively quiet month for me in terms of investing. I doubled my Roth IRA contributions. But have been relatively silent in terms of individual buys. In fact this was the first month as a DGI that I didn't make a purchase. I did still make my normal deposits into my account. That said, September was very busy for me in terms of actual dividends.  A record $27.18. Lets put that in perspective last year I earned 6.63 in September. This year's dividends more than quadrupled that. So much motivation. What's even nicer is that by not rushing to make a September purchase, I'm in position to make a larger one if I see something I want to pounce on. Below is my dividend rundown.

WFC     0.78
UL        0.83
DFS      1.75
ADM    0.32
AMGN 1.15
TGT     6.20
EMR    2.40
JNJ       0.84
CMP    3.60
O          1.06
FLO     1.70
DUK    3.56
GM      1.14
BAC    0.24
PEP     1.61

Saturday, September 16, 2017

When Your Goals are in Conflict

Hello again. My posting has slowed as the school year has begun and I finally get to see a taste of how big the job is that I stepped into is. Being a district administrator for the first time I literally feel like I'm planning 5 weddings. But that is a story for a different blog. But until I catch on I expect the new job may limit my blogging. 

The purpose of this posting is in the next year my wife and I are looking to be homeowners for the first time. We make a solid income and both have made the job moves we were looking to make. The challenge is balancing my financial goals.

Do I put all of my income into my house fund. Do I give my Roth a needed boost. Or do I boost my Robinhood Account where I do all my DGI?

My salary boost isn't as big as it would normally seem because I boosted my contribution to the monthly expenses by $600 a month. My wife had been paying the bulk of the daycare costs for our two children. So this gives her some relief. 

My thoughts right now are to double my Roth IRA payments. I'm not taking advantage of the tax benefit. Even if I double the payment I won't max it.  Then the question is what to do with the rest. Right now I'm thinking that I will continue to make the same contribution to the house fund and boost my DGI contributions. The remaining salary I don't think is enough to make a significant difference in downpayment money. I think I will be able to secure a downpayment based on what we were pre-approved for last year. But I was hoping to have more. On the other hand I'm trying to build something with this investment strategy and it would be nice to plant a few more seeds.

Decisions, decisions.

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Dividends

I don't like to toot my own horn, but beep, ba-beep, beep. My first double digit non-quarter dividend month, 625% year over year growth. There is a lot to be happy about. This August, I earned 11.82 in dividends. To think last year that number was $1.63  Here is the breakdown.

T:          $6.86
KMI:     $0.50
O:          $1.06
ABBV:  $2.56
SBUX:  $0.50
INN:      $0.34

Life if good.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sometimes the best moves are no moves

I have a little less than $50 in my Robinhood account right now. A combination of dividends and money from a Lending Club account I am phasing out. I have to admit I was ready to pounce on all kinds of options. I had about 7 different ideas of what I could add a share of. With the little dip in the market there were plenty of chances to lower my cost basis. But I had to be honest with myself. The reason I had 7 ideas, was because I didn't really have one. I had scanned a few metrics and read a little on each of them. But the reason I was considering adding a share, was more the desire to add a share than anything else.

But I can't react to every tiny dip in the market. If something isn't jumping out at me, there is no pressure to buy just because I haven't in a while. It's hard because I want my money to be working for me and not sitting in a bank or my Robinhood Account.

What I've noticed about myself is that at this stage of my young DGI career is that I don't panic when it comes to the selling side. If anything I need to learn to sell sooner in some instances. But I can be an impulsive buyer. I'm an impulsive person by nature. So I must constantly remind myself to be more patient and to properly research before jumping in. As long as I'm using Robinhood, I will be making a lot of small buys. But I want to make sure, I'm taking the proper time to think and research and not pouncing on the flavor of the day.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Recent Buy SBUX

Today I grabbed two shares of Starbucks for $55.60 per share. I wish I had more money to spend here. But some car repairs and lower summer salary (because of my family leave), have left me a little tight this month. My new administrative salary kicks in next month and I'm hoping to have more to invest then. This is about a 14 percent decline from it's 52 week high. SBUX has raised it's dividend each of the last 6 years. The yield is a little low at 1.80 percent, but with a 48.3 percent payout ratio there is room to grow. Starbucks is a Morningstar Wide Moat stock with a 4 star rating. Currently 27 of 33 analysts rate Starbucks a buy or Strong buy. The average price target of the 27 analysts is $64.87.

But what I really like about Starbucks is it's ability to adapt it's model. They have traditional stores kiosks, and beverage trucks. They offer premium high end coffee as well as smoothies and new food options. Starbucks has more company owned stores than there competitors and it seems that they are constantly innovating and altering their model. They have rapidly expanded into Asia and have a strong brand recognition. What I see with Starbucks is a decent valuation with room for sustainable dividend growth over the next few years.

Disclosure: Long SBUX


Material presented on 'Dividend Seedling' is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is the opinion of the author (a social studies teacher and not a financial advisor). None of the information should be relied on or taken as investing advice or a recommendation to invest. None of the information or opinions expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or investment of any kind. Please do your own research before making any investments. Do not making any purchases unless you are prepared to lose your entire investment.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July Dividends

Another month of dividends is in the books. This July I brought in $4.15 total. That may not seem very impressive on the surface. But this is the first month I can look at my year over year progress. In those terms this small time investor is very happy. In 2016 I earned 0.94 in my first dividend month ever.  This puts my year over year growth rate at 293 percent. What even nicer is that both stocks I owned in 2016 increased their dividends since last July. I received a 9.9% growth rate from Disney and a 4.3% growth rate from GE.  Ironically I've bought a lot of GE lately and GE was the first share I ever bought. However, I won't see any new dividends from my latest GE buys until next quarter. Here is the dividen breakdown for July 2017.

TIF $1.50
O      $.85
GE    $.24
DIS $1.56

Disclosure: Long everything.


Material presented on 'Dividend Seedling' is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is the opinion of the author (a social studies teacher and not a financial advisor). None of the information should be relied on or taken as investing advice or a recommendation to invest. None of the information or opinions expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or investment of any kind. Please do your own research before making any investments. Do not making any purchases unless you are prepared to lose your entire investment.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Some More Dollar Cost Averaging with GE

I love going bargain shopping. Just hoping I'm finding value and not a value trap. Purchased 2 more shares of GE today @25.81 per share. I think I will be looking elsewhere for the near future. But overall I'm happy with the GE buys this month. 

Disclosure: Long GE

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Finance Lessons From Dad

It has been nearly two years since my father passed. There was a lot to admire about the man. I can't remember him ever raising his voice. He was born in 1930 near the start of the great depression. He served in the Korean War. Despite not having a college education he was intelligent and street savvy. Along with his brother he built a construction business that thrived in the 1970's and 1980's.

He made a lot of money. He owned horses, boats, bought stock, and ate at nice restaurants. He gambled quite a bit. He was able to accomplish this in spite of heart problems that plagued him for more than 45 years and eventually led to his death. He wasn't the father of the year. He married three times. Did not provide the emotional support my older half siblings needed.  He left the state when I was 12 to move to warmer weather and escape two ex-wives and other issues in our home state. After 12, I spoke to him frequently on the phone. Didn't visit him enough.

I'm not bitter about the relationship it was largely a positive one. He didn't provide much for me financially. But partially because his court settlement didn't require him to do so.

My mother is and always was a spender. I think he justified not turning money over to her in that he didn't think it would be used for the right things. Perhaps there was some truth for that, but he left her with more of her fair share of the financial burden. In the end he didn't plan better in terms of supporting his children and himself. The way I see it there are three lessons that can be learned from his mistakes.

1. Not Planning for a Rainy Day -- As a child of the depression, I'm surprised he didn't do better here. However, in his defense I don't believe he thought he would live as long as he did. His business did so well in the 1980s. Business was booming and the stock market was taking off. He got caught up in it and enjoyed it. He retired and left his business to my brother. I think he hoped the business would continue to boom and he'd get a piece. My brother wasn't cut out to run the company and it went bankrupt. Soon after the market dried up and he was out of luck.

2. Not Investing in What You Know -- When my dad moved down south I think he felt he was too old for construction. To be honest he was. But he was also too old to run a fast food franchise. This is something he knew little about, but still went in with a partner and bought one. According to him his partner was lazy. The franchise wasn't doing well really at any point. Then his heart started acting up again. He was forced to sell his stake in the franchise and took a big loss. He did meet a woman and get married for the third time. She stayed by him for over 20 years and took care of him in the end. So there is a happy ending. But he was largely depended after that and spend he latter work years as a telemarketer.

3. Not Investing as Much In Financial Independence as the Kid's College Fund -- In my heart I believe my father was naive and not malicious. As a child I was shown the thousands he had saved for my college each year. I believe he felt this was money to give me a start. That if he gave it to my mom, it would be used differently. He built a very nice college fund for me. But then went broke and had to use the money. In the end I received a thousand dollars towards my tuition and $2,000+ in a savings bond from when I graduated. It was there I learned the power of compounding. I believe it was purchased for $500 when I was around 3.

As a child I did receive one finance lesson and three pieces of financial advice. The lesson was his giant jar of pennies. He would take me to work with him and let me keep whatever pennies I could roll as a kid. It taught me the value of hard work. But also that there were better ways to make money than rolling pennies and that education was probably the way for me to get there.

As for the advice:

1. To make any money in stocks you need at least $25,000. Probably true during his day of expensive brokers. But you can tell from the nature of this blog, I'm taking a different approach.

2. Read books of highly successful people and follow their blue print. I believe there is some validity there. With the internet it is so easy to make those connections.

3. Any fool can make money. It takes a real man to keep it. I'm working on it dad. I miss you every day.

I don't fault my dad for his choices or his circumstances. I had an amazing childhood in many ways. I was lucky to have the opportunity to go shark fishing on his boat. I was fortunate to have a great listener that I could come to for advice. There was a lot that I learned from him. I'm grateful for the time I had with him. But I want more for my children. It's why I'm planning for my own independence. I want to build a stable future for myself and my posterity.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Grabbed two more shares of GE

I put out a limit order today for 2 shares of GE at 25.88 and got it. I feel like I'm doing the limbo. This stock keeps going lower and lower,  seemingly without reason. There has been a change in leadership that is welcome. There is a 3.69 percent yield at current levels and a payout ratio of 58.9 percent. There was some speculation about the dividend, but it appears to be safe. In fact they are paying down debt. Morning Star gives them a 4 star rating.

It's not my favorite stock in the world. I'm not going to mortgage the farm to buy GE. But at this value and yield, I'll find room to grab a couple of extra shares here and there.

Disclosure: Long GE

A Portfolio I Didn't Choose, Would Have Never Planned, but Absolutely Love.

A financial planner would have warned me against it, thankfully it wasn't really their choice (or mine for that matter). My children's combined college fund is currently 8 times my retirement savings. It is more than 5 times my house fund. It is a larger sum than my wife and I make in a year. Looking back on it, I wouldn't have planned it any other way.

This was a choice my mother made. The same mom that had a reputation for being terrible with money most of her life. The mom that showered me, and everyone else with gifts, when she had nothing. The same mom that lived most of her life in credit card debt, squandered multiple gifts and bailouts, and until recently lived paycheck to paycheck. This is a mom that had the vision to make an incredible financial decision, that keeps me responsible, accountable, and motivated, while providing for my children's future and supporting an early retirement. Turns out she is pretty good with money after all. 

About a year ago she came into a very large windfall. Members of my family were secretly taking bets about how long until she was in debt again. There were some reasons for initial concern. Within two months of receiving the money she spent half of it on a large house without selling her first one, along with a fancy new car.  Went on a European vacation. What she did next was interesting. She was extremely generous with us.  Then sold her old house and slowed her spending. Her generosity was incredible, but it came in a way I didn't immediately understand or appreciate. I was thankful don't get me wrong. But the help came in a way that provided mild short term financial relief.

The first thing my mother did was payoff my remaining student loan debt. About $10,000. That freed up  $250 per month for me.  This allowed me to increase my rent payment $250 a month and relieve some of the financial burden from my wife. We had our second child on the way. We were wondering how we were going to afford quality daycare without dipping into our savings. I had just finished a graduate program which freed up another $500 a month which was being applied to that. So with this help and the $500 not being applied to the graduate program, we had $750 plus cost of living increases to apply to child care. Suddenly it seemed more manageable.

My mother could have given us more money easily. We never asked. We respected it was her money and her choices. We realized we were old enough to take care of our own bills. But at the same time it was difficult not being able to put much away. And I feared a bunch of presents we didn't need, while we were struggling to pay the bills. That had been the way the money had gone in the past. A good chunk of money is being spent that way still. But if the rest of it goes that way it is fine, because of a second action my mom took.

The second generous thing my mother did for us was essentially taking care of college for my two girls. She opened two 529 plans with lump sum deposits in their name. Some of my family members (especially my in-laws) didn't understand this. The money could have been used to buy you a house. Buying a house at that point would have been the worst decision we could have made. My wife and I were both at points in our careers where we were looking to jump jobs. Tying ourselves down to a house would have limited our options. We may have also bought something larger than what we needed. And we then would have had to buy adult furniture. Something that isn't needed with two messy toddlers.

The 529 plans did three things for us.

1. It kept us frugal and ambitious: I wanted to be able to provide my children with a certain standard of life. I needed to achieve a certain salary to get there. At the same time I loved the current role I was in. The financial pressures I felt, gave me an added incentive to move forward with my career and begin investing more money.

2. A better start for my children: I think at one point my wife and I were paying around $1,100 in combined student debt. My children will graduate debt free. They even have the option of working to earn scholarships and applying that money to a house. I'm really going to work to instill the concept of school being work and using their 529 plans as an opportunity to be paid for their efforts.

3. A simpler retirement path: The path to retirement just got a whole lot easier. Step 1: Buy a house. Step 2: Achieve money needed for financial independence. In 17 years my children will both probably be in college. I will be 55 years old. I don't believe, I could think about retirement with a college bill of 80-120k per year hanging over my children. Barring a market disaster my children will have no college debt. I have a third small 529 plan that I started before my mom received her money. I still contribute $25 per month just to keep growing it. This money will be used to help supplement graduate school or something not covered in the initial plan. If it is not needed, I will just let it continue to appreciate and possibly convert it to a 529 for future grandchildren. It's amazing to be able to think about a potential college fund for a grandchild started 25-30 years before they were born. 

In conclusion: The gift applied this way, has kept me motivated, frugal, and simplifies things down the road.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Betterment versus Vanguard Target Fund for a small Roth IRA

 I'm currently weighing a shift from Betterment to Vanguard Target Fund for my Roth IRA. I was wondering if anyone has made a switch from Betterment to Vanguard and what there thoughts were.

My retirement strategy is a combination of three things.

1. Pension: I have a pension plan that I'm 14 years away from qualifying for. There is a caveat. I can't collect the pension until I'm 59.5. But I would have the option in 14 years of retiring early and knowing that money is coming down the road. I don't think I want to retire in 14 years. But it would be nice to have the option.

2. Dividend Growth Investing: Just knowing my personality, I will find more money to save with this style of investing. I like the control that comes with it, and the research behind it. I also like the predictability that comes with it. That you can produce a certain income while keeping a principle of stable blue chip companies that should appreciate over time.

3. Low Cost Index Funds: At my core I'm an educator and not a finance expert. I've learned a lot. But a year of being a dividend growth investor doesn't make me an expert. On my budget I also know that I'm not going to achieve the level of diversification investing in individual stocks that I can by putting a good junk of my money in index funds. (I also have a good chunk of change trapped in a Roth IRA from back when I was young and dumb).

Right now I'm weighing option No. 3. I currently have my Roth IRA and a portion of my house savings in a Betterment account. Both accounts have been performing well. The original plan was to wait until I had 10k in the Roth IRA and switch into a Vanguard Admiral fund. Right now I'm not paying a lot to Betterment. It's only .25% in account fees. The combination of the house fund and the Roth is over 10k.  But the Roth is less than 10k. My question is would I be better off not paying the management fee and moving my IRA to a Vanguard Target Fund? It would also allow me to take advantage of Tax Loss Harvesting in my Betterment house fund. It doesn't seem like I'm paying very much at all to Betterment. But my thoughts are why pay any fees that aren't necessary.

Please share your thoughts? Should I make the move now. Or wait until I have more saved and move into an admiral fund.

My worst buy ever, and first negative experience with Robinhood

I've been told it is a rite of passage. Almost every new dividend growth investor goes out and chases a high yielding risky stock hoping to make a quick buck. I was no different.

So when Frontier Communications came around last year, I dove in. It was a small company trying to expand with a large buy from Verizon. Analysts were super positive about them. I believe one even had them projected to go to $9 a share. Even the cynics looked at FTR like a high yielding bond. At five dollars a share I figured why not. Take a dip and grab a yield boost, it was over 8 percent.

Then the problems started. Debt, less than average earnings, and rumors of a dividend cut. I didn't care I had a relatively stable 8 percent yielder. I attributed the earnings to acquiring the new accounts and growing pains. The price dropped to $3 per share. I decided to wait it out. Then came the dividend cut and $2 a share. I thought hard about selling but decided to ride it out. Then $1.14 per share. At that point I decided it was at rock bottom and I'd just wait it out. After all where else was I going to get the high yield for that money.

I knew the 15-1 reverse split was coming. But I figured I'd get a fractional share and wait it out. Wrong. This was my fault I should have researched it more. My shares got sold. For a little over a dollar a share. The money is tied up in Robinhood for a few weeks. Annoying but also my fault.

The good news is it wasn't a large investment. It's why I got my feet wet slowly with stocks. A total cost basis of just 58.62. Now worth a dollar in change. In a way it was time to rip the band aid off too. I should have sold a long time ago. And honestly I can think of a better place for the $12-13 dollars I have left.

My annoyance with Robinhood isn't the sell. It's the communication or lack there of. The day it happened I got an update in the Robinhood newsfeed that FTR had a reverse split and money would be returned to my account in a couple of weeks. FTR was moved to my watch list. There was no e-mail like I get for every purchase or sell. There is no place on the site for me to even look up what is going on with this reverse split or sell. I can't even remember what the sell is for or if they told me in the first place. I just have to wait a few weeks and find out what went on. The is honesty not a huge deal for $12 or $13. But down the road what if it is $500-600? I accept the blame for what happened is on me. But I need to know what is happening with my money. It shouldn't pop up once in my newsfeed and then have no place for me to view it.  Overall I'm treating it as a lesson learned. But if Robinhood is going to take an action which involves returning money for my shares. I should have at minimum an e-mail, but there should be some way of tracking what is going on. Even if it is just a pending tab that says "FTR had a reverse split. Your money will be returned to your account within two weeks." It shouldn't go away after one view.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Doubled my stake in GE

This is a little silly, since I only owned 3 shares before today. But factually accurate. I double my shares of GE. It came down to just a pure value play. I liked GE at 27 per share. I like them better at 26. I was able to first grab 2 shares at 26.12. I then put out a limit buy order for a 3rd share at 25.99 and I got it. Not sure why I was so concerned with saving 0.13 on the last share in retrospect. But it worked. I do like the flexibility that no fee trading gives me to dollar cost average.

Disclosure: Long GE

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Recent Buy O

Added another share of O to the portfolio. Grabbed a single share at 55.72. Just another chance to add a little yield and bring down the cost basis.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Goal Assessment

With half the year over, now is a nice time to reflect on the progress I've made towards my 2017 goals. I'm happy to say I'm shattering them. Full disclosure, I did benefit from $1,000 gift from my mom that I invested entirely. But even if I didn't include it, I would be on pace to make my two main goals of $4,000 portfolio and $100 in dividend income.

My portfolio is currently valued at $4,657.14 and is on pace to break $5,000 for the year. My salary is only going to be increasing with my promotion, so I believe I will easily shatter $5,000. Unfortunately that promotion doesn't kick in until the end of August, and I'm going to pay the price for contributions not made to my summer pay (due to family leave) So July may be a little tight.

My second goal was to earn $100 in dividends. Well I'm certainly on my way there $65.75 at the halfway point. Which is great because I own more shares at the now then I did when I started. So I should easily shatter that goal as well.

My third goal was to have two holdings of at least $500 and I was able to accomplish that already with my shares of Target and AT&T.

I definitely benefitted from an unexpected gift. But I believe I was on pace to meet 2 if not all three of my goals without it. I think I will begin making some initial goals for 2018, which I will revise as I get closer to the New Year. I will continue to try and make smart achievable goals. One of these goals is to along with my wife buy our first house. This in the short term may be the reason why I don't really push my Dividend Investment goal for 2018.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June Dividends

Oh how I love quarter months.  This month I earned $23.93 from dividends. This is a new all time record for me. My previous record was 21.12 from March. Here is the run down:

WFC        .76
UL           .77
AMGN  1.15
EMR      2.40
TGT       6.00
JNJ         0.84
CMP       2.88
O             0.63
DUK       3.42
FLO        1.70
GM         1.14
BAC       0.15
FTR        0.48
PEP        1.61

Loving the progress each quarter. I'm excited for next month because last July I collected my first Dividends. So this will be my first time that I can compare my progress from the same month in a previous year.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Recent Buy GE and rethinking strategy for the summer.

My very first purchase of my Dividend Journey was a single share of GE. I knew very little at the time and the purchase was largely symbolic. GE was a company I knew and had a price I could afford. I felt like they were a company that would be around for a while. At the time I was trying out  Robinhood to see if I liked it. I only had $30 to invest. So I thought why not. Had I been give the opportunity to do it over I probably would have picked something else. In fact I almost sold the share twice this year, simply because I had not plans to add to it.

But then I did. This was a pure value play here. I got two shares of GE@ $27.54 per share or $55.08 The share price is relatively low for GE. There is some positive buzz around GE right now since Jeffrey Immelt stepped down. The consensus 12 month price target is close to $32. Morningstar gives GE a four star rating. The payout ratio is at 58.9 percent and the yield is a solid 3.50% The P/E ratio is a high for my liking but also near a 52 week low for GE. This signals to me the stock is undervalued. I don't love this stock overall, but at this price I'll take a nibble.

Summer Thoughts:

In other news I think I need to remind myself to be a more patient summer investor. The combination of not having to bring a lunch to work, no dry cleaning and less driving has left me with a little extra cash this month. Also being a quarter month has contributed to the flow. I've found myself with a little more cash week to week, which has contributed the the flurry of very small buys. I'm okay with it because I've mostly added to existing positions and brought down my cost basis. But being reflective, I think it might have been a better strategy to settle on one position and enter a little stronger. Especially since was spreading out a relatively small amount of money.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Recent Buy T

Not much to see here. Just grabbed another share of T at a bargain price.  1 Share of T@37.96

Income Matters

A lot of the talk on Dividend blogs is about frugality and investing a certain percentage of income. A quick look at the shared portfolios and other stories out there, will show incredible results. But I think it is equally important to look at ways of increasing your overall income. No matter how frugal you are, if your salary is capped, you will be limited. Last night I was promoted to a supervisor role increasing my salary by 50 percent starting in late August.

So how can you increase your investing pot? One of the safety officers in my school is famous for side hustles. He works during the day as a safety officer at a lower wage than the teachers. But he also works as a doorman at night and does Uber.  Overall he takes home a better salary than most the teachers around him.

For many in this world the DGI is the alternate income stream. Cut out unnecessary expenses and invest it in blue chip companies that grow their dividends. I'm 100 percent on board. But I have big ticket items like childcare and my wife's student loans that aren't going away in the near future.

I  have a career that I love. I'm not looking to retire in 5-10 years, I have too much left to give.  So my focus has been moving into a career in administration. Tonight that dream was realized when the Board of Education approved me as a supervisor.  A perk of this is that it comes with a significant salary increase.

Sadly I don't see it impacting my dividend growth investing too much in the near future. Though I do expect to make  increases. My wife has been paying more than her fair share of our bills.  With the salary increase it is time for me to step up here more. Additionally my pension payments, and health insurance spike with the increase.

So what is the plan. 

1. Pension boost -- I'm entering my 12th year as an educator. The magic number is 25 years. Once I have that service time, I'm guaranteed a pension with benefits starting at age 59.5. Now I won't be 59.5 in 13 years. But at least I will know that I have some sort of steady payments coming when the time comes. The formula for figuring out pensions for someone that started when I did is Average Salary of the last 5 years X # of years worked/55. This is a significant pension increase.

2. Double ROTH IRA. I haven't been taking enough advantage of tax free money down the road. I've been using Betterment here because it is simple. Once I have enough money, I may invest directly with Vanguard. Investing partially in index funds allow me to achieve a level of diversification that individual stocks won't allow.

3. Continue to build my DGI account. I don't think short term there will be a significant increase in my buying. But with a higher income, I'm sure I will be investing more as well.

But overall life is good. I'm moving into a challenging career that excites me, and I'm a lot more financially stable. It's nice when accomplishing career goals can also lead to better financial stability.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Planted a couple of more seeds CMP and ADM

There is no secret why I love CMP. I have been nibbling for quite a while. This was just a chance to add a share at a discount. Purchased 1 share @64.90 Which brought down my cost basis for a 3.5% yielder at a 16.316 percent P/E ratio. The number one mineral is salt used to de-ice roads and in pools. 

The second buy 1 just a single share of ADM at 42.43. A solid 3 percent yield with a 48.5 payout ratio. So it is safe for some time. 41 years of Dividend growth and just a 17 percent yield.  It's a consumer staple that is down 5 percent in the last three months. So it looked like a good entry point.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Recent Buy DFS

I initiated a position today in Discover Financial Services. A lot to like here. It's trading at 10.1 times its earnings. DFS is down 16% over the past three months and is currently trading at a discount. The yield is a little low at 2% but it has put together 6 years of growth and a Payout ratio of just 20%. The average price target for DFS is 77.02 and 20 of the 28 recommendations are a Buy or Strong Buy. Morning Star gives the stock a three-star rating. Additionally Discover has a reputation for customer loyalty and in addition to being a credit card also acts as a bank and is involved in student loans. I think there is a lot of upside here. 

I was able to get 5 shares @58.89 per share.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Nothing like zeroing the spare cash in the Robinhood Account. Recent buy T

It's a fantastic feeling to know that all of the money in your brokerage account is working for you. I'm not writing about the money that you have waiting to pounce should the market dip. I mean the left over change in the brokerage account after a buy. One of the drawbacks to Robinhood is that I can't buy fractional shares. I understand the reason behind it. With free trades they need to make money somehow.

But by chance today I notice that T is trading at 38.85. Which is lower than my overall cost basis. I look in my Robinhood account and there is 38.83 in there. So I decided to put out a limit buy for 38.83 just to see what happened.

There it is one more share of T for 38.83. I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May Dividends

I love the end of the month. Not only is it payday. But it is time to added the money I didn't have to work for. This May didn't disappoint either. After a very slow April, my shares of T got me started off right this month. Overall a total of $8.51. Not bad considering it wasn't even a quarter month. I'll think of it as a free burrito.

        T  $4.90
ABBV $2.56
   KMI  $0.50
        O $0.21
    INN $0.34

Added Another Share of O

If I liked O earlier this month at nearly $57 per share, I like it even more @ 55.14. Grabbed another share before the end of the month. Brought down the cost a little bit and added another monthly dividend. Slow and steady going to keep building.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Recent Buy O

I knew when I bought a single share of O a couple months ago that this was a position that I was going to add to this position. When the stock fell 3% on Thursday below 57, I felt I had a good entry point. So I made another small buy of 2 shares @ 111.94 or 56.97 per share. Not bad for a 4.1% yield for a very stable REIT that has a very stable collection of Tenants (Pharmacies, Fedex, Dollar Stores, Theatres) with long term contracts. On top of that I love the monthly payouts and the dividend growth history. I don't really see REITs ever becoming a huge part of my portfolio. But I can definitely see myself continuing to add to this position in the future.

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Dividends

I followed up a great March with a super slow April. I earned $1.80 on:

GE:   0.24
O:     0.21
TIF  1. 35

Free money is free money. I will take it.

Recent Buy T

I added to my position in AT&T today by buying two shares at 78.32.

With a 19.169 P/E ratio and a 5% yield I'm excited to add some more passive income. The payout ratio for T is at 67.1 percent which isn't ringing any alarm bells for a stock with 32 years of growth. There isn't a lot of growth. But the price dropped to the point where I wouldn't mind taking a nibble.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Eleven Months from this Coming Thursday I Bought my First Stock.

On May 23rd, 2016 I bought my first individual stock a single share of GE at 29.49. Armed with the knowledge I had from reading a couple of blog posts from Dividend Mantra and some a couple basic articles about Dividend growth investing, I decided to get my feet wet. I had no clue where it would take me. I think it's safe to say the extent of my knowledge was:

1. Look for a stock with a decent yield but not so high that that it signal volatility.

2. Invest in a blue chip company that you are confident will be around a while.

I essentially knew nothing and knew it, but was eager to learn and was excited that the Robinhood App gave me the opportunity to do this without losing my shirt. I budgeted $30-40 per month to invest and I figured I would see what happens.  Less than a year later my portfolio is nearly 4k.

What have I learned?

I've learned a little bit about different sectors, how companies make money, and some of the financial metrics to look for. For instance stocks in some sectors may carry higher debt than others, so that it is important to understand that when looking at the financial reports.

In general I have improved my screening process.

1. I've learned about the importance of Dividend Growth versus just have a good dividend. I now target stocks that have had a minimum of 5 years of dividend growth. But I really prefer better growth.

2. Value is important. I typically look for stocks that are undervalued and have P/E ratios of under 20. I learned that P/E ratios are useless for REITs and that FFOs are the way to go there. Just like shopping it's better to buy low and not overpay for a stock no matter how strong it is. Forward P/E ratios and price targets can also be nice indicators of where a stock is moving. I also try and look at 1 year and 5 year ranges to get an idea of how the stock has performed over time.

3. Payout Ratios tell an important story. A low payout ratio below 60 is a good signal that the company can continue to payout it's dividend going forward.

4. Plan on holding the stock. With sales come taxes. Lots of transactions especially for a novice like me increase the likelihood of impulsive behavior and mistakes. Times to sell are if there if you suspect the company is in trouble long term, they cut their dividend, or you believe they are greatly overvalued. But as a general rule if you get in at a good price and the dividend continues to grow it makes sense to hold.

5. Morning Star and Google Finance are valuable tools to get information. I also look at my blogroll frequently as well as Seeking Alpha. I think when looking at Blogs and other articles to not just take the information as gospel. Second guess everything you read and do your own research. Especially if you are reading this blog. Often times when people talk about a recent purchase, they don't mention the negatives. I've seen high respected bloggers and even professional publications talk very positively about a purchase, that turned out terrible.  But for a novice like me it helps to understand why people made the investments they did and what information they used. I often look at these decisions as the initial ideas

6. It's okay to follow a stock for a while, don't be in a hurry to pull the trigger. Do your homework and try to get the best value. I read somewhere that the stock market transfer's money from the patient to the impatient.

7. Don't fall for the yield trap. Luckily this mistake was only for a little bit of money. But I totally drank the Frontier Communications Kool Aid. At $5 per share it was cheap. Some experts (I believe Prudential) set Price Targets as high as $9 a share. Jim Cramer wasn't crazy about it, but said it was alright kind of like a bond. I figured wow if I can grab an 8 percent yield with a chance to nearly double in a year, I can make a small investment and boost my short term yield, and am only taking a moderate risk for a potential reward. Well fast forward a few months and the stock is around $2 a share and there is talk the yield is in trouble. In general I try to target stocks with yields between 2.5-4 percent. I will go a little lower in yield if the company is stable, there is room for growth, and they are growing their dividend and the payout ratios are low.

8. Write down your goals. A goal unwritten will never be achieved. It helps to have a mission. Once I started writing down goals the money poured into my Robinhood account. I set certain ground rules. I wouldn't compromise my Roth IRA, daycare, mortgage, savings, or credit. But every other dollar I could spare would go to this. This meant any cost savings I could come up with (switching car insurance, buy cheaper groceries, going out less, extra projects at work, unexpected money from family went straight to the Robinhood account.

How I got here:

I started out 11 years ago as a blind sheep. New teacher taken in by an insurance agent for a 403b plan. I went with the nice salesmen that my entire school was using. I fell for it all. The 3 percent guaranteed interest within the plan. The high fee, average performing funds. The $30 per year fee for my account being under 25k. The ridiculous surrender fee/tax policy that insures my money will be with them until I change jobs or turn 59.5. I used to be bitter, but in retrospect better putting my money here than nowhere.

A couple years ago I made the smart choice to stop funding my 403b and opened a Roth IRA through Betterment. I knew enough to know I wasn't an investor. I didn't have enough money to buy multiple Vanguard Funds on my all. I am still paying advisor fees, but I know I'm not getting ripped off, and I'm far more diversified than I could have been on my own. I also have another joint fund with my wife through Betterment for our house savings. I believe that index funds will always be a significant part of my portfolio. There may come a time when I leave Betterment and balance my index funds myself, but I'm not there yet.

A year and a half ago I discovered Lending Club and began investing there. I didn't want to start an IRA with them, because I believed it was a major commitment to essentially lend strangers money over the internet. I have managed a decent return with them. However, the taxes come through as earnings and not investments. I also don't like that unlike stocks you can't really pullout your money and invest in something else. 

So when I learned about the Robinhood App, I stopped investing in Lending Club and have been transferring money from Lending Club to Robinhood once a month as I receive my payments. The Robinhood App has been incredible for me. I remember being 7-8 years old and father watching the stock ticker. He was heavily invested in Merck at the time. It was the 80s and it seemed everyone was making money. I remember him explaining to me about brokerage costs and how you needed at least 25k to invest in individual stocks if you wanted to make money. With a house savings, a 529 plan for my girls, daycare costs for two, and student loans, I am not going to have 25k to invest any time soon. Even though my wife and I have an upper middle class income. But DGI has been a blessing so far. The biggest benefit is that is the only investment, that has caused me to look for more money within my own income. I invest money I would have otherwise spent. Even if Betterment invests my money better than I do myself, I'm better off continuing to DGI. The reason is simple. 11 months ago I found 30-40 per month I could invest. Had I put it in Betterment best case scenario I would have invested $440 to this point. Instead I've invested over $3,500. Which is why I will continue to make both investments going forward.

What I have to learn.

Plenty. There are still plenty of basic financial metrics and terminology that I don't fully understand. I've only held individual stocks in a bull market. I know I put a lot of emphasis on getting good value when I buy. I do believe that is important. But I also know that there are times to buy without getting the greatest value. I also would like to gain a better understanding of when to sell. I would like to learn more about evaluating REITs. I think this summer I'm going to read at least two investing books to just increase my understanding of the markets in general.

Going forward.
 I'm excited, a lot to look forward to down the road. I'm on a path to make more money. Daycare and student loans will be coming off the expenses starting in about a year. All of which means more money to invest. I'm also excited to continue to learn and grow as an investor.  


Monday, April 10, 2017

Added another share of CMP

I added another share of CMP @68.60. I was able to bring down my cost basis per share and build on one of my small positions.  Nothing too exciting. Just continuing to plant those seeds.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Dividends the Month I've Been Waiting For (RECORD MONTH)

It's hard to believe I've been at this for less than a year. I'm excited to report that March was a record month for me.  My entire 2016 I earned $23.19 in a little over 7 months. My previous record Month was December 2016 I earned $8.73. I'm excited to say I shattered that record! This March I earned $21.12 in dividends, nearly matching my 2016 totals. Quarter months are the best. It is so motivating to see this progress.

Here is the breakdown of my March dividends:

WFC:      .76
AMGN  1.15
TGT       4.80
EMR      2.40
JNJ           .80
CMP       1.44
UL            .69
DUK       3.42
FLO        1.60
GM         1.14
BAC         .15
PEP        1.51
FTR        1.26

Hope March was as kind to everyone as it was me. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Added another share of TGT yesterday.

Keep this short and sweet. added another share of TGT yesterday at 54.50. Was able to scrape some more money together and I saw a chance to bring down my cost basis a little.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Recent Buy CMP

I was able to add a share of CMP today at 69.50. This brought my overall cost basis down from 71.07 per share to 70.55. In this market I'll take a 14.5 P/E ratio for a 4.15 percent yield. Most of what you look for in a dividend growth stock is here. It has 14 years of dividend increases and just recently increased it's dividend this quarter from .695 per share to .72 per share. That's a 3.60 percent increase. The one thing that it's missing is a good payout ratio. At 84% the payout ratio is high. But not enough to keep me away. Morningstar currently rates Compass Minerals International as a 4 Star Stock with a fair value estimate of $91. This is a company that produces minerals including  salt, fertilizer and sulfates. The salts they produce are used in road deicing and swimming pools. They've been around since 1993 and I think there will be a need for the minerals they produce going forward. One reason for the low price for Compass minerals is the mild winters have cut into profits. I don't think we've seen the end of snow.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recent Buy O

I had been wanting to add Realty Income Delaware to my portfolio for sometime. I really didn't have a ton of cash to open a new position. But I wanted to continue my streak of making at least one buy a month. So I had two choices I could add to something I already own or buy something I plan on adding too. In the end I was looking at TGT, CMP, and O. TGT is already my largest position by far so I decided against adding another share. So it came down to a choice between CMP and O. In the end I chose to buy a share of O. I barely have any REITs and this is a dividend machine with over a 4 percent yield. I got a single share at 57.95 yesterday.

Hopefully I'm able to scrape enough together for another tiny buy this month.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why Ownership Matters

I love my job. I put a lot of passion and energy into it. I'm fulfilled when I'm able to make a difference in the lives of the students I have the privilege of serving. But at the end of the day I'm collecting a paycheck for the services that I provide. In some ways buying stocks or making other investments are similar. You spend time, energy, and money choosing your investments with the hopes of getting some payment or return.

However, there is a significant difference. When I buy stock I own it. No matter how much I love my job, it will never belong to me. I can always be terminated or reassigned. I don't have the ability to hand my job to my children.

The stocks I buy are mine. I have to live with the results of my choices in terms of how much value my investments gain or lose. But I can pass them to my children. If I don't like the decisions a company is making or the direction it is going in, I have the power to pull my money out and invest in something else.

For those that seek to one day live entirely off of dividends I get the appeal. There are no strings attached to that money. No one can require you to be in the office at a particular time. There are no bosses. There is no need for an alarm clock and you can travel as you please. What I love about investing is that instead of working for, the money is working for you. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Recent Buy TGT just 1 share

I watched Target tank today after they announced their earnings. After a debating it in my head I decided to take a small nibble on today's dip. I had my reservations. First there is a general concern about the retail sector as online competitors cut into their market share. Target is currently my largest position and I wasn't really looking to increase it. However, if I liked the value I was getting from Target at 65.07 per share, then 58.54 is even better. The consensus was that the 12 percent drop today was an overreaction. So this was a chance to take a tiny nibble of Target and lower my cost basis some. I just bought in at a 4.09 percent yield for a dividend aristocrat with a P/E ratio of 10.46. I'll take it. Just another tiny seed for the portfolio.

Monday, February 27, 2017

February Dividends a little Early.

My last dividend from February arrives tomorrow from INN. But I couldn't help but get a head start and report on it. As of tomorrow I will have earned $5.73 for the month of February. I believe this is my 3rd highest month of all time. I'm extra excited because next month projects to be my highest dividend month ever. Below is a list of my February dividends.

 T     $4.90
KMI $0.50
INN  $0.33

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I finally decided to throw up a long range goal and it's ambitious

So like many other people, I've read some of the literature and decided to begin dividend growth investing. I started out really to try and learn how to invest and build a portfolio in my Robinhood account. As I've begun learning a little bit about how to invest, I've been investing more. I had been setting short range investing goals. But I had been reluctant to set a long range goal this was pretty much a hobby. But as I have become more committed to investing I realize that I should have a long range target for this money.

The first thing I ruled out is a desire to retire early. I have a ton of respect for those that are attempting to do this and I see the appeal. However, I love my job, it brings me a lot of fulfillment. I'm less than 14.5 years away from qualifying for a full pension and benefits. I then have to wait until I'm 59.5 to collect. Though pensions aren't what they were used to be, and I do believe my pension is going to face some cuts in the coming years, 7% of my salary goes to my pension and it will be a significant portion of my retirement income.

Of my addition income I have been splitting my money between a Betterment Roth IRA and a Robinhood account. My hope is to have an even split between my funds and stocks to supplement my pension. The magic number for each is 400k for a total of 800k in the next 22 years. The number is ambitious and despite the fact that I'm currenty putting away less than 1/4th of what I need, I believe I can get there.

In the next couple of years a huge daycare which is currently over 2k per month begins to come off the books. Thanks to an amazing gift from my mom college is basically taken care of for both of my children. So I won't have those costs on the back end. I'm on track to be an administrator in the next couple of years and fully expect my salary to jump 30k or more. I also have a good chunk of change sitting in a high fee 403B account that I plan on rolling over as soon as I change jobs or turn 59.5.

So why 800k split. I believe I could retire safely at any point after qualifying for my pension and have my pension plus 24k per year. Even with a very conservative estimate for my pension this would allow me to retire comfortable before the age of 60, if I were to choose. This now gives me a target to shoot for. It also let's me budget my spending based on the goal. I have found myself getting extremely frugal so I can invest. This isn't a bad thing. But I would like to make sure that I'm making my decisions based on a savings goal. I don't want to deny my family a vacation, or not enjoy life because I'm trying to invest as much money as possible. Having this new target should help keep me balanced.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Biggest Fear is Becoming too Attached to Investing. Why an End Goal is Key.

In the 1980s my father made a lot of money. He was a mason contractor and there was plenty of construction to be done. He lived an exciting life. Big stock investments, owned a boat, horses, frequented Atlantic City. The gravy train didn't last. His health failed, he retired and moved down to Florida. He met a great woman that helped take care of him. And in the end he needed her. He left his business to my brother, who was a great worker, but didn't run the company the way my father did. The income stream he was hoping to get from my brother dried up. He then made a bad investment in a fast food franchise. He had no experience in food service. He became sick again and had to sell at a big loss. In the end he had some disability benefits and social security, he got by paycheck to paycheck. But he didn't live the life he had in his younger days.

I'm sure if he could have done it over he would have made smarter decisions with his money when it was coming in. I certainly hope to make better choices when it comes to money. But I do understand his mindset. The 80s were so lucrative he didn't think the money was going to stop. And, the other extreme can be equally devastating if not worse. Too much of a focus on saving and you may deny yourself life's pleasures. Which is why I think many dividend growth investors set goals they want to achieve. They want to retire at a certain age or achieve a certain number in annual dividends. I think these goals are very important. Without them there is a danger of not stopping. Putting off retirement indefinitely, dropping dead at your desk. In the process never taking your children on vacation. This came to mind because I realized I don't have a long term investment goal. And it is something that I have to work on. I know I'm always going to be frugal. But I don't want to live a life solely to see how much money I can raise.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two More Recent Buys

For a moment I got to step into the future of what life may be like in a 2-3 years when my childcare costs begin to disappear. I spent the second half of my mom's generous present and made two more buys:

1. 4 shares of DUK@ $311.32 or $77.83 per share.

2. 4 shares of ABBV@ $243 or $60.75 per share.

I was excited to add some diversification to my portfolio. I have not had not bought any utilities and I feel like it will add some stability and yield. I chose Duke Energy because it has a 10 year history of raising dividends and a solid yield of 4.38%. The payout ratio of 72.9% leads me to believe there is still room to grow its dividend. Duke Energy is the second largest utility in the United States and currently sports a 4 star rating from MorningStar. This coupled with the fact that it is 11 percent of it's 52 week high, leads me to believe there is some room for growth. The debt to asset ratio of 1.1 is not bad for a utility. Electricity doesn't seem to be going anytime soon so I'm happy with this buy. I don't think I'm going to go nuts with utilities in the near future. But in a market where there isn't a lot of value I will take it.

As for my ABBV buy it was all about the discount. The pharmacy industry has been down and I've been nibbling. I've grabbed a share of both AMGN and JNJ not that long ago. What I got with ABBV was a little more bang for the buck in terms of yield. I read that Abbvie has 10 late stage clinical trials and many of them have the potential to be major earners. The payout ratio of 46.6%  for a dividend yield of 4.2% was exciting. The dividend has been growing quickly over the past three years as well with a growth rate of 12.8%. Hopefully this trend will continue.

It was nice to go on that mini spending spree. Now it's time to go back to grinding it out each month. But they say slow and steady wins the race.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Largest Buy to Date TGT

An unexpected gift just help breathe some life into this portfolio. My mother has been one of my strongest supporters. I've always been pretty open with her about my finances. She knows that I have a decent income stream between my wife and I. But she also knows with two small children in full-time daycare and my wife's student loan we have a lot of short term costs.

This past week my mother gave me a check for $1,000 with the only condition being that I invest the money. Recently I took my first step by purchasing 8 shares of Target at  $520.56 or 65.07 per share.

What I like about Target is it's cheap, has a strong dividend, and very long record of dividend increases. Do I think it should be my heaviest weighted investment? Probably not. I have some concerns about the retail sector. However, my portfolio is so small I don't see it as a concern.  As I continue to invest my portfolio will come into balance.

What I like about Target:

Payout Ratio: 47.5% plenty of room for more growth.
Dividend Growth: 49 years
P/E Ratio: 11.8 percent
Div/Yield 3.6

It's also nice to know that I have a good chunk of change to invest. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

January Dividends

January was a solid opening to the year. Opened the year with $4.66 in dividends. That's a solid month considering that last year I earned $23.19 over 7+ months of dividend investing.  I know the overall amound isn't much. But it's still $4.66 that I didn't have to work for. Can't wait to watch this build over time. Below is the list of this month's dividends.

PEP 1.51
TIF 1.35
DIS 1.56
GE 0.24

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Best Part of Dividend Growth Investing is the Desire to Contribure More.

I have an addictive personality. As a child it was video games, a teenager it was athletics, in college it was my school newspaper. Most recently it has been my career. I have devoted many hours to each of these interests and got a tremendous amount out of it. I'm ultra-competitive even when I coached middle school students.

The latest focus of my energy has been investing in dividends. Though I only have a limited amount to invest, it is a perfect match for my personality. And I know it will payoff in the long run. The reasons are not what you may think. The majority of my investments still go to my Betterment Account. And to be honest in terms of strict return I may be better off putting all my money there. The fees are low and the truth of the matter is that most investors don't beat the market.

What dumping my money in Betterment doesn't give me is control. It doesn't allow me to apply a specific investment strategy. So therefore my investments are very steady with a modest increase each year.

My Robinhood account is completely different. The X-Factor for Dividend Growth Investing is that I find money that I didn't know I had. In order to find the money to invest I pass up on other pleasures like buying clothing, eating out, or making other unnecessary purchases. The results are more investments. The more I put in, the more I will be able to take out in the long run.

Of course I could apply the same method of frugality and invest the money into funds. But for me at least I don't see myself having the motivation to do it.

Recent Purchase JNJ

I almost made it out of January without a buy. It would have been my first month without a purchase since I started dividend growth investing in May. It's not that I didn't have the money. I made my regular deposits into my Robinhood account. I just didn't see a lot that was cheap. And what was cheap, wasn't screaming buy. My thought process was that since I only had around $100 to invest anyway, why not hold onto it? I could make a larger buy for something I was more interested. But just as the month was about to end I changed my mind. 

I've been wanting to own JNJ since I started dividend investing.  The price has either been too high or I haven't had the money. This month nothing really interested me that much. So when I had enough for a share @113.08 I jumped all over it. With a P/E ratio of 19.8 is just about fair value for a stable company with an excellent track record of dividend increases. The payout ratio is only 54 percent and the one year price target is $124. I don't think I got the greatest deal in the world. But for some stocks fair value might be the best you can hope for in this market. One thing I do want to get away from is buying a single share of many different stocks. It's not that I don't want to be diversified, I just want to start building larger positions. With JNJ I'm okay with starting a small new position because it is a foundation stock that I can see myself adding too over time.

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June Dividends

I love quarter months and June didn't disappoint. 18 companies paid me 55.23 in dividends. This is the second time I've cracked the ...