Friday, August 2, 2019

Back on track

A Year Ago
I'd like to take a moment and reiterate to the readers of this site what I am doing here and why I am doing it.  Back at the turn of the century, I did some trading (not investing, there's a difference) and made a bit of money, lost a bit of money.  My employer had a stock participation program (SPP) which I partook in to some profit as well.  As time when on, I bought some stocks and promptly forgot about them.  During the interim, I worked hard to eliminate all debt, and develop a lifestyle that made me a good steward of the funds I was given (disposable cars, abstain from subscription models, determine ROI, etc.) and suddenly had plenty of cash flow.  I had been feeding my 401k like most drones, and started to wonder why I couldn't make money in the stock market (I'm a reasonably smart guy).

The Trump economy was starting to get underway, and I was poised to be left in the dust.  I logged into my old brokerage account, and found $400 sitting in it, and I wondered why.  I owned a paper company that paid dividends.  It piqued my interest.  I started reading primers on investing (and trading) and long story short, learned about dividend investing.  Slow growth with cash just for hanging onto the stock, what could go wrong?  I liquidated all my stocks, borrowed against my 401k, and began my foray into dividend stocks exclusively.  That had to have a solid balance sheet, plenty of cash flow to pay the dividend, have to have paid out faithfully, and a clear direction.  After all, I wanted to own a company and invest in it, which is a far cry from the "casino" trading that is done.  It would be as though I am financing a business, but letting someone else do all the work.

The goal:  Work free income with raises that exceed cost of living.  I put $1000 into a stock, and I get (starting) $50 a year for the rest of my life, with that $50 increasing every year by 4-30%.  So that, when I retire, I receive income that won't count against social security income, and just have to maintain the stock by making sure the dividend isn't cut.  If it is cut, I pull out and invest into another.

This way I obtain independence and freedom, and can pursue other things, such as setting up my children with income from dividends when I pass on, I won't have to depend on social security, have control over my assets (which a 401k won't allow me to do), and pursue a ministry and philanthropy.

So far, I am 2 years in, have almost $100k in assets (by reinvesting dividends and NOT investing in my 401k) and am making almost $5k a year.  The goal is 30-50k, of course, but the snowball is getting bigger and moving faster!  In the beginning I could only pay my water bill, now I can pay all my utilities plus more (if I wanted to!).  Instead, I put more and more every month into the dividend stocks, which makes me more and more money.  When I read that dividend investing, while not sexy, is 99% successful, I didn't believe it, but now I do.  Know that if I lost my job today, I would be making $400 a month doing nothing, adds some security which just grows and grows.

My investing strategy is gauged different than a younger person's, as I am middle-aged and need to be a bit more risky, but I still am quite conservative compared to my co-worker who is about 10+ years older and chases yield a bit more.  I may discuss the finer points in a future post, but you can figure it out studying my past blogs.

Raising two kids gets a little complicated, and this year expenses for school were a tad steep.  Coupled with current debt for remodeling, our FCF (free cash flow) is getting a workout.  If it wasn't for the free cash flow, and ability to move things around, we couldn't make ends meet.  However, the FCF is there, and savings and retirement were impacted little if at all.

Purchases were down for July, since there wasn't a lot of downward action in the market for most of the month.  In fact, there was a lot of growth for my stocks.  It wasn't until August 1st (today) that I backed up the truck to buy several stocks that went on sale after the double whammy of a rate cut, followed by additional presidential tariffs.

Dividends Received: $113.28 (the low paying month)
WSO  $33.60
XEL  $17.42
MAIN  $22.55
KMB  $28.84

July Purchases:

IP      3
OKE   3
ORI    3
O       2

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Best June for the Dow since 1938!

It was a good month, in many ways.

Despite starting to pay down debt, I was able to move things around in my 401k to increase my taxable dividends by a moderate amount (and take advantage of some dips).  Normally, I would use this increase to buy more stocks, I will be using it to help pay down debt (for now).  My debt is interest free, and half of it is 401k loan (which isn't interest free, but the interest goes to me so - same thing!).  However, living completel
y debt free is such a great feeling, so I aspire to get back there as soon as possible.

My net worth got a nice boost not just from the market this month, but the remodel added 60% of the cost (per Dave Ramsey) to the value of the home.  I thought this was quite high, but since it included flooring and cabinets, it seems legit across several websites. 

Finally, ABBV dropped 14% on the news it was buying Allergen!  I was only able to snag 4 shares before it bounced back by half of that.  Early next week I hope to buy more.  General Mills also dropped 7% and has bounced back a little, but I was out of cash, not to mention I already have enough GIS for now.  ABBV is in my sights right now, until I own 4+%.

One thing I've noticed is that although I have money going to many different places, the cash flow allows for a little chaos.  I get to feel how AT&T feels with their debt, chaos, but substantial cash flow.  I think this is important:  Have no debt, have a plan for your money, and have a lot of free cash flow to funnel where it is needed.  Not doing this leads to unnecessary debt, unnecessary purchases, and unnecessary opulent lifestyle changes.

Dividends Received: $572 (the high paying month)
QCOM      $40.30
MAIN      $27.50
HD      $24.48
MCD      $18.56
ORI      $18.80
MAIN      $22.00
IP      $39.00
JNJ      $20.90
TGT      $32.64
CVX      $16.66
SO      $34.72
ADM      $8.75
WEC      $7.67
WTR      $6.35
401k Taxable $255.78

June Purchases:
IP  4
WSO  2
OKE  2
CVX  1
MCD  3

Friday, May 31, 2019


There was a game I used to play back in the day on the BBS's (dialup 300 baud modem days) called Tradewars.  You would go around "space" (I say that loosely, it was a text game) and trade between planets, building up your ship(s) and sometimes encountering opposition.  It was a pretty fun game, but not as fun as dividend stocks.  This month wasn't as fun as usual, though.  Mainly because I'm in a spot where I need to spend money due to our move and remodeling, so I don't have as much cash on hand as I would like.  There have been great dividend stock opportunities here in my accumulation stage I would like to take advantage of during this Tradewar with China (and now Mexico).  The good news is I didn't limit my normal contributions like the previous month, but going forward things will be tighter than usual.  The important thing is that I keep the flow of money consistent to take advantage of the drops.

All of my stocks are headquartered domestically, but many are global, not immune to the TradeWar.  ADM particularly is a stock I would like to take advantage of next week.  "International" Paper, or IP, is another one to accumulate.  Both are great companies, but Mr. Market doesn't think so at the moment, so some good deals with higher yields.  This war could last a month, or it could last 10 years.  While it will strengthen the domestic economy in the long run, it won't be without casualties.  Vigilance is the watchword for any investor out there.  Quarterly earning trends will be a focus area for many of these companies that deal with China.

I've been moving money out of my 401k's BrokerageLink into the taxable dividend generating area of my 401k to the fullest (I found the limit) to increase income and ease some of the debt I've been accumulating for the remodel.  The Brokeragelink netted some profit, but was not the great thing I thought it would be.  I thought I could reinvest the "ETF" dividends where I wanted to, but they gave me no control.  They also only allowed ETF investment, when I wanted to invest in individual dividend stocks.  Nope.  Not allowed.  I'm not going to waste my time with it anymore.

The good news is the debt is interest fee for at least a year to 18 months.  The bad news is they want us to start paying it down.  I have no fears we will pay it off, I would just prefer to do it in my time.  I am looking at fee free balance transfer zero interest credit lines for the long run, but for now I would like to take advantage of the current zero interest situation as long as possible.  Just need to move a few things around.  My wife had mentioned taking a job at home, and we may look into that more just to pay down the debt sooner than later, and then I can get back to the business of investing into retirement.  In the end, this is probably a good time to take on some debt, as the market is still priced quite high for most of my stocks, and instead of stockpiling cash for a downturn, I'm dropping money into the house for resale value instead.  Not a great ROI, but better than bonds!

My net profit in my brokerage dropped from that brief 20% profit at the end of April to 15% at the end of May.  Easy come easy go :)  At this point there is no end in sight for the TradeWar, so I don't expect a rebound anytime soon.  In the meantime I'll just buy the deals where I can find them.  I did make the $4k annual income goal, though!

FAST had a stock split this month, which wreaked havoc on my tracking app for a week, but my Google spreadsheet took it all in stride.  My first stock split since I started dividend investing, I hope it allows small investors (like me) to get in on it.

May Dividends Received: $306.56 (the mid paying month)
FAST $12.04  
O           $10.17  
PG         $31.33  
OKE       $38.06  
NNN       $36.50  
MAIN   $22.00  
HRL       $8.61  
ABBV       $26.75  
ABT        $6.08  
APD       $17.40  
MA         $5.28  
T              $55.59  
GIS        $36.75

May Purchases  
ADM   12
IP        4
O         3
FAST   5

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

QCOM and Benchmarks

Qualcomm is now my largest holding, thanks to Apple and QCOM making nice.  Apple tried to use Intel as leverage against Qualcomm, however, QCOM in the end makes the superior product, and Apple needs to use QCOM chips for 5G.  In the end, Apple wins, QCOM wins, Intel loses.  I only see QCOM going up from here, so I probably won't be adding to my position for some time.  The tech sector is so volatile, though, so I may find some dips here and there.  It is nice to have a 56% gain on a stock in a month, but I have no doubts that it could drop just as fast.

My biggest regret this month was ADM.  Archer Daniels reported earnings and dropped 5%.  I had no more cash on hand due to limited funds this month thanks to the move.  A week later it is up 7%.  Missed opportunity!  I did find a few other good purchases though.  All in all, it has been quite a profitable Q1, which is unusual.  The market is getting dangerously close to the Euphoria level, so I am bracing for impact.

A positive benchmark was hit this week with my net worth, and also with my stock profits.  My profits hit the 20% profit mark, which it couldn't maintain May 1 at the open, but it was nice to see it turn gold for one night on my spreadsheet.  I should be hitting the 4k benchmark soon for annual income.  It may seem like not a lot after 2 years of work, but it should start to grow faster and faster as dividends increase and as I continue to add more.  Also, it is nice to know that whatever happens, I'll be getting a 4k bonus year after year.  My charts also show that by October I should be close to 5k a year.  The snowball is starting to gain some traction.

April Dividends Received: $108.83 (the low paying month)
WSO      $30.40
XEL      $17.42
MAIN      $22.00
KMB      $28.84
April Purchases:
TGT  4
ORI  3
IP  4
WTR  3
CVX  1

Friday, March 29, 2019


Moved in!  We decided to pay cash for an older home and make it how we like it, versus buying a new home with everything already installed.  We are looking at flooring and cabinets, replacing doors, and a few other small things right off the bat.  The nice thing is, we have most of the cash up front (pulled from 401k for home purchase), but a lot of these places offer 6 months to 2 years same as cash.  I will use as many of these as possible, and drop most of our cash back into the 401k to make some more money, then pull it out at the last minute to pay off the improvements.  I might wait for the market to have another December drop (if possible) before returning the 401k loans (buy low, sell high - which is essentially how the 401k loan process works), or if I feel that the China deal will happen I'll try to get that money back in, because I expect the market to rocket up.

In the meantime, in anticipation of not dropping money into the brokerage for the month of April for possible expenses, I fronted most of April's savings in March, hence the large amount of purchases.  If things stabilize, I'll just take it as a bonus to the brokerage.

The home will be remodeled with the intent of it being a furnished rental at some point (or long term vacation/business rental).  The community is a planned community, so they have many activities and facilities for the residents (golf, pools, tennis, etc.).  This will be a possible additional income generator.

A lot of changes, but the market keeps paying out divvies and moving up.

March Dividends Received: $541.84

QCOM  $40.30
HD  $24.48
ORI  $18.20
MCD  $15.08
MAIN  $21.45
IP  $26.50
JNJ  $19.80
ADM  $8.05
TGT  $30.08
CVX  $15.47
SO  $32.40
WEC  $7.67
WTR  $3.50
Taxable 401k          $276.76

March Purchases:
SO  2
WSO  4
IP  17
ADM  2
WTR 10
ABT  2
Happy Investing!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Moving Money Around

I'm in the process of buying/selling a home, which will hopefully be completed by the end of March.  Some things I've done I'll list here.

Selling:  I'm moving closer to my job.  With the advent of Uber and Waymo, owning a car isn't as big of a deal.  Our family may downsize to one car if this current one dies ($4k convertible which I've owned for over 7 years and 100k miles - not a bad deal) and I'll just use the trendy transportation so I don't have to worry about maintenance, insurance, registration, etc.  I will miss the fun of a convertible though, so this may not happen.  One thing I've learned is don't own a large house.  You limit your market to only large families with limited lending abilities.  Whereas a smaller home will work for families, singles, couples, and the seniors.  Less upkeep, lower taxes, and better investment returns.  Our home has been paid off for quite a few years, so that helps.

Buying: In many cases, older is better.  A late 70's and 80's home will have a settled foundation, won't have issues with asbestos and lead, and usually won't be an "assembly line" home (i.e. quality construction).  We will be paying cash for the home using the income from the home we are selling, and will go in and tear up the place, replacing and installing flooring, cabinets, and the niceties our HOA will let us get away with (fireplace?).  We also opted for one of those "planned community" homes, that has activities and recreation and pools I won't have to take care of personally.  We plan on turning it into a long-term rental in 6+ years, and perhaps long-term vacation rental in 3-4 when we go on vacation.

How does this affect my investments?  Well, other than a home that will not cost me any loan interest, I am able to borrow against my 401k for "home purchase".  This allows me to borrow more for a longer period (less monthly payments) once again paying interest to myself only for a $50 origination fee.  I am able to allow the cash flow to the dividend stock account to go uninterrupted, and not pull from my account for anything.


My taxable 401k dividend income has been reduced, since part of it was cashed out for the loan.  While I was able to compensate (and then some) with non-401k stock purchases, this may or may not be detrimental to my overall net worth.  I think it will be ok, as I am "selling" while the market is at a high, and I will look to repaying much of it when the market dips.  I am trying to just have cash on hand for closing costs and upgrades, but if I have money left over after all of that (end of March or April), I'll probably pay down my original 401k loan that I used to start my dividend investing adventure over a year ago.  This will reduce my total repayment amount each paycheck, and recoup much of the taxable dividends I am currently depriving myself of.  I also see this is a way to not have all my dividend eggs in one basket, since a huge amount of my dividend income (from a single source) is this 401k holding.  Loyal readers will notice I do not count the worth of the 401k stock to my cost/profit, since it is not really a liquid asset.

I also incorporated a double-blind LLC in New Mexico for under $200.  The reason for this is two-fold.  Primarily, it is to mask my identity from public records (I'm not keen on being searchable) by using it to purchase my home (easier when you pay cash vs. funding).  Secondly, when i do decide to start renting the property out, I can merely transfer the LLC to a tax friendlier state like Nevada or Delaware and already be in business.  It will be instrumental if I decide to really upgrade the rental via a ROBS (Roll-Over Business Startup) with my 401k.

That being said, let's look at February in the rear-view mirror:

February Dividends Received: $290.59
GIS 36.74
T 55.58
MA 5.27
APD 17.39
OKE 37.83
NNN 35.49
ABT 5.43
O 10.14
HRL 8.6
MAIN 21.99
ABBV 16.04
PG 30.1
FAST 9.88
Interest 0.11

February Purchases:
T         10
ADM    5
GIS     20
WSO  15
HD       3
OKE     2

February Sales: (surprise!)
ETN     4

I sold off Eaton (industrial) and bought WSO.  Why?  Laziness, mostly.  ETN, while a good company, changed their HQ to Ireland from USA, and in doing so, causes my broker to report earnings LATE in the tax season.  I can't wait around for my refund, especially this year with the home purchase, to file, so I opted for a higher yielding US company.  I don't want to waste time re-doing my taxes over a few dollars in dividends.  

Watsco is renown for passing profits onto shareholders, so they have a very high dividend payout percentage.  However, they have raised their dividend twice in the past year, so I though I would take the chance.  They are an HVAC parts company.  While i don't expect any major sales going forward, I am aware of what happened to KHZ last week, and this could happen to any company, not just Buffet's.  

Keep them dividends coming!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Back in the Saddle

Just got back from 8 weeks out of  the country a few days ago.  I missed out on the December downturn, but I do have a lot of powder saved up for earnings season.  I've already made a few good purchases, with a good chunk of cash still on hand.

A colleague of mine saw the light on dividend investing, and dropped $200k in at the end of December after the downturn - he is already generating about $1k a month.  His portfolio of 10 is a bit riskier, but he is a bit older than me so it is for good reason.

I'm looking forward to a better, if not ho-hum, year of good dividend increases and buybacks to increase share value.  A deal with China wouldn't be too bad either to help with the ever increasing strong dollar overseas.  In the meantime, I am looking to gobble up some more of my utilities which are unaffected by tariffs and often forgotten, but crucial during the polar vortex era.

This update will include December and January.

December Dividends Received: $530.09
401k Taxable $262.43

December Purchases:

TGT 10

January Dividends Received: $75.74
January Purchases: