Road To Financial Freedom. I am 33 years old of Korean origin and moved to the United States and I try to be frugal with my money so that a large portion of it will go towards my dividend investing. My dream is to be able to retire and travel with the passive income that I receive from my dividends in the future. I did a lot of research, which eventually lead me to dividend growth investing.
Its been a long time since I made a post. I believe the last post I made was back in January 2017. A lot has happened in my life.
First and most importantly I am now married! I got married earlier this year on May 7th, 2017 and it is the best thing to happen in my life!
Now that we are married, we’ve combined our income, savings, and expenses. Before we were married, we bought a house together back in March 2016 with a $230,000 mortgage. Since then, we’ve paid our mortgage down to $217,525. After obsessing over the amortization chart and the amount of interest that we’re paying, we’ve decided to do some research on how to tackle this debt.
On our conquest to find some answers to our debt, we’ve recently found a podcast that encourages people to get out of debt early by a guy named Dave Ramsey. Before we stumbled onto his podcast, we have never heard of this guy or any of the books that he’s written. We must have been hiding under a rock but better late than never I suppose!
Since then, we have been obsessing over his show which shows countless couples and individuals coming on to ask for help to get out of their debt based on their unique situation. However, our debt situation is not as nearly as bad as these callers who usually carry a $50,000 to $500,000 student loan debt, a car payment that is more than a quarter of their monthly take come pay while bringing in a household income of $40,000 a year!
First, both of us have 0 student loan debt with a very minimal car loan and credit card debt. To look further and to compare our situation with the 7 baby steps that Dave Ramsey is famous for to get people out of debt early, we started following his steps.
For those of you who don’t know the 7 baby steps it is as follows:
Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund.
Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball.
Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings.
Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement.
Baby Step 5 – College funding for children.
Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early.
Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give.
Baby steps 1 was already achieved as we easily have more than $1,000 in cash savings. Now for baby step 2, my wife’s 2013 Corolla is already fully paid for but I do have $3250 left over on my 2015 Honda Accord. Originally at the beginning of June 2017, my car loan was at $6980. Since then we have paid off using the debt snowball method by throwing our monthly earnings outside of our regular expenses at it. We expect to completely pay off the car loan by the end of July! We also have 0 credit card debt as well.
The biggest reasons for the change of mindset in regards to investing happened right after I was married. I started to think differently than I had compared to when I was single. Looking into the future and wanting to have children, I realize that my priorities are different. I believe that by following these 7 baby steps that my family and I will benefit the most in life by getting out of debt as soon as possible. Also it bothered the hell out of me that my net worth in actuality was in the negative territory after factoring in this massive mortgage. I hate being in debt and do not want to be a slave to the lender.
Now which lead me to one of the hardest decisions that I’ve had to make, to sell my taxable account to pay down our mortgage!
I know that there are many of you who disagree with our decision and would rather prefer to be invested in the stock market over paying down the mortgage early as possible. The on going debate over paying off the mortgage with low interest rate over the span of 15-30 years (30 years in my case) vs investing in the market is a hot debate. I believe that the right decision depends on the situation and for us we believe that paying off the mortgage early was the right choice for us. Our current mortgage is pretty low at 3.875% but owning our property out-right and having the peace of mind of not worrying about future mortgage payment is worth it to us. It definitely would give us the flexibility if one of us would lose our jobs in the future or when my wife decides to take off for a while and go part time while taking care of the kids.
We just love the idea of not having a monthly mortgage payment and rather only pay the property tax, HOA, and home insurance. Our current mortgage that includes our escrow + interest is $2199 a month but once we pay off that pesky mortgage, we estimate to pay around $926 a month instead. Once this is achieved, there will be so much more cash flow a month that we can max out our 401k and start to ramp up our taxable account again! Our ultimate plan is to pay off our mortgage in around 3 years.
We aren’t totally out of the market either as we are still funding our 401ks and the Roth IRA. I still have my dividend portfolio through my 401k plan through a brokerage link account with Fidelity that allows me to buy individual stocks. I’ve also increased my 401k contribution to 10% from 6%. My company matches 100% of 6%, which gives me enough to continue my dividend investing. My wife has also increased her 401k contribution to 7% from 6%. The extra amount after paying down our mortgage, we are funding the IRA account, which will fluctuate monthly. But our number one priority is to get rid of our mortgage as soon as possible!
It will be a huge battle for the next few years but I know that we can and will do this! Between our salary and bonuses that we each receive yearly, there is a very good chance of paying off our mortgage in 2 1/2 years! It also really depends on our expenses and living a more frugal life.
So far my taxable account was sold at $45,126. Once we pay down the principal of our current mortgage balance of $217,525, it will go down to $162,525. This instantly saves us $177.61 of interest per month! I’m also thinking of starting an amortization page to keep track of our mortgage to the day we pay it off. I hope you guys check in occasionally to follow us on our journey. I cannot wait until the day that our mortgage is paid off so that we can allocate all the cash flow back into our taxable account.
Its been a long time since my last update as I was busy with work and personal life. The 2016 year has come and gone and my portfolio as grown quite a bit since then.
The biggest decision that I’ve made in 2016 was to sell my gold mining stocks for a profit. After the peak prices at the end of 2016, there was a sharp drop which inclined me to unload my gold and silver miners for a hefty profit. I used those profits to take new positions in three companies in the taxable account. Those companies include, SJM (Smuckers), MKC (McCormick), and CHD (Church & Dwight).
I decided that I could not stomach the volatility of the precious metal price fluctuations anymore, so I decided to stick with my goal of slowly accumulating shares of high quality companies that pay dividends. I am usually an impatient person but dividend growth investing has the best strategy for someone like me. Below is the list of the three new companies in my taxable account!
Not only has my taxable account grown since my last blog update in July of 2016 but my 401k has grown as well.
The 401k account has grown from $7,525.52 to $11,928.66! This is a brokerage link account from Fidelity that my employer offers. My company matches 100% up to 6% of my salary, so I contribute the full 6% to my 401k. The match from my company is the amount that I transfer into my brokerage link to build my dividend portfolio. The other half I keep in an index fund.
I’ve also added many companies that I already own in the taxable account in the 401k. I try to find new companies and differentiate them but these companies are so solid that I don’t mind having them in a tax advantage account. My plan is to have no more than 15-20 companies in the 401k account. The taxable account will be limited to no more than 30-35. It would be fun to compare the progress of each portfolio based on the number of companies. I say this because some people believe that concentrating on less number of companies will have the highest return overall, but only if you choose the right companies. It could however backfire if you choose the wrong companies since you have less in the portfolio to be well diversified. But that is another debate, perhaps for another time. Only thing I can do is test this theory out myself.
There is another portfolio addition to this blog and it is my fiance’s IRA portfolio. She started her portfolio just around the time I made my last blog update in July 2016. She contributes a few hundred dollars into this account and maxes it out at the end of the year ($5,500) and her portfolio has already amassed $8,932.79! It is fun watching the three portfolios accumulate dividends every month, especially knowing that we will use these three accounts to retire in the future.
Its already the end of January of 2017 and I’m already ahead in dividends compared to last year. To be fair the 401k and Suzie’s IRA did not receive any dividends but the taxable account as already grown more than 53%! It will be an exciting year and I already cannot wait until 2018.
There you have it for the first month of 2017! It will be an exciting and interesting year as I can compare against 2016.I will have to set new goals as well.
Its been a while since I’ve made an update but I’ve made some significant changes to my Dividend Liberty Application. You can download the latest version on this page for free. A few major changes includes:
Added the ability to cache stock information. Dramatically increases the speed of the application after initial load.
Changed the design of the application. Instead of a horizontal view it is now a vertical view.
The generated Excel sheet now includes formulas for the annual dividends paid column (calculated from the shares multiplied by annual dividend paid from the stock).
Cached Stock Information:
Before the update, every time the user double clicked on a stock, the application would ping Yahoo Finance to gather the stock’s information. Now with the cached features, this is done before the initial load of the application. All of your stock’s information in your list before the application loads will be cached for use. This dramatically speeds up the overall experience.
Another issue that caching resolves is the errors for calculating your stock’s information due to Yahoo’s server being down. This would cause the application to be unusable until the server is back up. Now if Yahoo is down, the previously cached information would be used. Also, once the server is back up and the next time you launch the application (also have the option to refresh yahoo while the app is running), the application will update the necessary information with the latest information.
The third advantage from caching is the speed of moving your stocks in and out of your my portfolio section. It is almost instantaneous now since it reads the data to make calculations from the cached file instead of making the live connection to Yahoo Finance.
One disadvantage is that it takes a bit longer than usual on the initial load of the application. The reason being is that on the initial load, the app is connected to Yahoo’s server to gather all the relevant information for your list of stocks and to update the cached file respectively. For example, if EPS for the stock hasn’t changed then it will not update that information in the cached file. The same loading time goes up when you add a new stock or updating stock information.
I’ve changed the design so that the application will be used vertically instead of horizontally. The reason for this change was when I realized that the application would not be view-able in every resolution. I noticed this when I was developing on my 27″ monitor with a high resolution then in the middle of the day, I jumped to my 15″ monitor. I realized that the application could not fully fit onto my screen. I resolved this issue by stacking the “My Portfolio” section below the “Not In Portfolio” section. I thought the result was a more pleasant experience as your eyes did not have to span across the screen as much in this view.
Another major change is that now the application will show you the live version of the total portfolio cost basis and annual dividends. Also the table will show you the cost basis of each stock, weight, annual dividend, and quarterly dividend.
Generated Excel Sheet:
I’ve made some changes to the generated spreadsheet where the yearly dividend amount paid to you is now a formula calculated from the number of shares column multiplied by the annual dividend received by the stock column. The reason why I did this was to take into consideration of the user so that they can reused the excel sheet. Now the user will be able to plug in and change their number of shares and the yearly dividend amount paid will be calculated due to the formula. I thought this excel sheet could be useful to the users who can generate this spreadsheet and plug it into their blogs instead of trying to update their existing spreadsheets manually. I plan on using this feature to generate my excel sheet and to plug it into the “My Portoflio” section of my blog. I’m currently using a free version of WordPress so I can’t use any plugins to include an excel sheet but in the future I will opt to use it. I hope to get some feedback with this application, thanks everyone!
June has already come and gone and I’ve made some new purchases! I’ve also made changes to my 401k plan to start a brokerage link account to buy individual stocks.
I purchased 14 shares of MO (Altria) @ $67.47 for a total of $944.58. I’ve always wanted to own some Altria and I’ve finally done it! From my research, I don’t see a reason for me to wait until this stock has gone down in price because in viewing the history, this stock almost always never go down in price! Well except for the 2008 crash of course but then every stock went down during that time. I myself is not a smoker but even if I don’t believe in the product itself, it doesn’t mean that it will not do well in the future. I have friends who tried quitting and it is nearly impossible!
My second purchase (actually, July 11th) was in BF.B (Brown Forman). I bought 5 shares of BF.B @ 98.11 for a total of $490.55. I wanted to add more consumer staples and since I’ve already have beverage companies such as PEP (PepsiCo) and KO (Coca Cola), I wanted to buy an alcohol beverage company. Strong brand recognition such as Jack Daniels is all I needed to hear to invest in such a company. I think that the United States will have some hardships coming in the future and I’m trying to build my strength with consumer staples. People will want more alcohol during the next recession, possibly a depression! BF.B is also a dividend aristocrat with a low yield of 1.38%. With the low payout ratio of 26.82%, I think BF.B is a great growth stock.
Now the next two stocks that I bought is inside my 401k account. I recently started a new job back in the middle of March of this year and I found out that my company offers a brokerage link account from Fidelity. So I sold off a lot of my index fund and transferred over to buy some more dividend stocks! I decided to mimic my taxable account but added a couple of new stocks. I bought 8 shares of CLX (Clorox) @ $137.20 for a total of $1097.63. I really wanted to initiate a position in CLX for the longest and finally did it in my retirement account. One advantage is that I will not have to pay tax on the dividends received!
The second stock that I bought was HRL (Hormel Foods). I bought 19 shares of HRL @ $35.81 for a total of $680.39. Again this stock has a low yield but the payout ratio of 40% will allow this stock to have great growth in the future! The rest of the stocks in this portfolio is very similar to my taxable account, which is shown below:
I started my 401k brokerage link account with a couple of gold and silver mining stocks, ABX (Barrick Gold) and SLW (Silver Wheaton). Well SLW is technically not a miner but they work with silver miners. I already have positions in my taxable account with EMR (Emerson Electric) and WMT (Walmart) but I’ve decided to add them because I find that these two companies are currently under valued. JNJ (Johnson & Johnson) is a bit over priced but I wanted to initiate a position and just because it has reached the 52 week high does not mean that it will not go any higher! I wanted to buy a position in T (AT&T) but I decided early on to chase growth rather than high yield with this account.
I hope to add more in the later half of July and in August. Every day I’m tempted to sell my Gold Miners and to add different dividend stocks from its profits but I will try to hold off a little bit longer before doing so!
Before I go into gold and silver miners and my own personal investment strategy, I am not advocating anyone to follow my strategy nor to load up on gold mining stocks.
I haven’t made a post since my last buys but I wanted to talk a little bit about my gold and silver mining stocks and the status of my strategy of holding the miners to sell for a hefty profit to fund my dividend portfolio.
I own ABX (Barrick Gold Corp) and GDX (VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF) and so far in 2016 both are up significantly. My initial ABX position is up more than 200% and GDX is up almost 100%! I bought 150 shares of ABX@$7.095 back last October 2015. Since then I bought more shares because even at a much higher price now, I still believe that the price of gold is on a new bull run. Currently ABX sits at $22.21 a share. This price could easily double or triple as the world’s central bankers continue to devalue their currencies. Not to mention that back in 2008-2009, the price of gold rallied in a low interest rate environment.
Now there are many talking heads on the mainstream media saying that due to the outcome of Brexit, the Federal Reserve or specifically Janet Yellen would use it as a perfect excuse to cut rates back to zero. Yellen could potentially cut rates into the negative territory! Once that happens I expect physical gold and silver, and miners to significantly rally. Actually, the first person to say that the FED will start cutting rates with QE4 is from Peter Schiff. I heard him back late last year calling that the FED might not even raise interest rates but to cut them. I follow him regularly and listen to his podcast and to me his reasoning makes the most sense from any economist out there.
As of this writing, the 10 year Japanese and German bonds are yielding negative returns. I expect something similar to happen here in the United States. Can you imagine paying the banks to eventually hold your cash? The future plans from banks is to charge you small fees (regardless of having a minimum deposit on a linked savings account) to give you the ability to hold your cash. When we reach that point and I think that we will, people will want to park their cash into safe havens such as physical gold and silver, and miners. Not to mention dividend safe haven stocks. Funny thing happened after the decision of Brexit. Companies such asCloroxand AT&Tshot up in just two days. I suspect that many investors sold their risky assets especially in the financial sector and mitigated into these companies. I expect the same to continue in the future months ahead.
I have a few regrets for selling too early. I sold 114 shares of SIL (Global X Silver Miners ETF) @ $16.2579 back in February 2016 for a loss. Currently SIL sits at $45.95 a share! This sell was necessary as I used the funds to buy an engagement ring to propose to my now fiancé! The only regret is that I should have sold another asset. But what is done is done and I should look forward to the future than to dwell in the past. Same goes for my NEM (Newmont Mining Corporation) and GG (Gold Corp) holdings.
My original plan was to be levered up on gold and silver mining stocks for rapid growth so that I can sell it for a hefty profit and to fund my dividend portfolio. So far the plan has come into fruition. I’ve invested a total of $5,232.28 into gold miners and currently it is worth $10,148.81, a +$4,916.54 increase in 7 months! If I had not sold my other miners, I would be up higher than $10,000 in profits. So as of this writing, if I were to sell my miners, I could potentially invest $4900 more into my dividend portfolio. I could add more to my current positions or buy 5 new companies. It sure is tempting to do that right now but I believe that gold is just starting on a bull run. I plan to hang on longer and one day perhaps a couple to a few years from now, I could potentially profit more than $20,000 if ABX and GDX continues its run!
Not only is the plan working but the gold mining stocks have maintained my portfolios balance. I’ve invested about $24,600 into my portfolio but currently it is up to more than $33,500 total! Gold miners outweighed my losses when the rest of my dividend stocks went down from my Initial buy. Many people sell and hold cash in their money market account and wait for a fire sale on dividends when the market plunges but my strategy is to hold gold miners instead. History has shown gold mining stocks to significantly rise in such events and I plan to cash out at that moment and buy up the dividend stocks at a fire sale! That would shave off years of buying dividends.
I truly believe that the gold prices of $1900 an ounce from 2011 is going to look very cheap compared to where it’s headed. If you read the history of Homestake mining (ABX bought Homestake out since December of 2001) during the Great Depression on my site, I think something very similar will occur in our future. If so, we will see gold miners become ten baggers (up 1000%)!
Another nice thing about these mining stocks is that they do pay a dividend. If a depression does hit, the mining companies could potentially surge so much so that their yield could sky rocket as they did in the great depression. The past won’t dictate the future but sometimes history does repeat itself.
I’ve finally added some new stocks! I’m very excited since its been over 6 months since my last buy! I started out this early afternoon and bought 4 shares of PepsiCo @ 103.3794.
The reason why I bought PepsiCo is due to the international exposure and the health brands. I just love what Pepsi manufactures. I see some of their brands every day and I know that they make great products. Products such as Quaker, 7Up, Mountain Dew, Brisk, Gatorade, Ruffles, Fritos, Lays, Cheetos, Lipton just to name a few.
After adding PepsiCo, I took a look at my portfolio and POT (Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc.) caught my eye again. I decided to do some research on how Potash was doing and found articles about its revenues and their dividend cuts. This was old news because the article was written back earlier this January. I decided to sell the shares and instead bought Verizon (15 shares @ 51.162). I should have done this from the very beginning.
I know that Verizon is not considered a dividend aristocrat but it has been raising dividends for nearly a decade now. I believe that it will be one by the time I’m near retirement. Hopefully I will be able to add more stocks each month for the rest of the year. Please check back for more updates!
Invest $3000 more in 3 new stocks by end of December. Failed!
Post a blog with updates once every month. Failed!
Well 2016 is here (well it’s been here for the past 2 months) and it looks like I have failed almost all of my goals. The only success that I’ve had was to get initially started in investing my dividends.
My first failure was to keep my expenses at $600 a month. There were some months that I did meet this goal and even got under budget but ultimately I had important things come up.
As for the second failure, which was directly related in result of the first failure, I could not invest $3000 more by the end of the year in 3 new stocks. Life changing expenses came up in my personal life and I even had to resort in selling my Silver ETFs (SIL). Sometimes life changing events that allows you to grow in your personal life are more important than money.
As for the final failure, I have been tentatively monitoring, updating my portfolio, and reinvesting my dividends but I’ve failed to update my blog once a month with new content. This blogging thing is a new experience for me but I hope to update my blog with new content as much as I can this year.
Now I have to write up new goals for myself to set for this year and even a simple thing such as this can be complicated. I should think very carefully of what goals I want to reach and make sure that it is realistic as well.
ED (Consolidated Edison, Inc) – $9.10 (.142 shares)
KO (Cocal Cola) – $7.26 (.167 shares)
ABX (Barrick Gold Corp) – $3.06 (.343 shares)
GG (Goldcorp Inc) – $1.31 (.114 shares)
Since I’ve only started collecting in October of 2015 and not able to meet some of the ex-dividend dates, I hope to collect $700-$800 for the year 2016! I plan to add more dividend stocks to my portfolio but my budget has been taking a hit lately due to a recent purchase of a house with my girlfriend.
I’ve recently sold my SIL(Global X Silver Miners ETF) because I needed the funds. It was painful to do so but some things need to be done to take care of business. I plan on not selling any of my current holdings in the future.
Dividend Liberty Application Release (Windows)
I’ve recently released my Dividend Liberty Applicationfor free! You can download it here. The technical manual can be found in one of my blogs, https://dividendliberty.com/2016/02/03/dividend-liberty-application-release/. I hope this application can help others in managing their dividend portfolio, keep track of pay dates, dividends expected to receive, the generation of excel files for your own usages, and many more! I plan to update the application in the future to add new features and I hope that you guys can give me some feedback.
Latest release can be downloaded on this page! It is Windows 7 compatible. At this moment, I’m not sure if it is compatible with other versions of Windows but I would much appreciate it if you guys can test it out and give some feedback! Once you get to my google drive page, just hit the download image! I’ve been using this application for the past 2-3 months and it has been very useful! You can find the technical manual below!
Here is the new application! The application now connects directly to Yahoo and it will retrieve the information live!
The “Portfolio Options” are the options for the right hand side of the application (My Portfolio).
Under the “Portfolio Options” we will go through the “Get Cost(s)” option first. You can highlight each stock (hold Ctrl+ mouse click) and select “Get Cost(s)”. The app will show you the costs.
The next option “Get Dividend(s)”, will displays the monthly, quarterly, and yearly dividends for the selected stocks.
Show Sector Percentages
The “Show Sector Percentages” displays the count and percentages of the sectors that you have in your portfolio.
Generate Excel Portfolio
The “generate excel” option will generate a spreadsheet of the information in your portfolio section of the application. Under the “Edit Columns” option, you can select the columns that you want in the spreadsheet as well as renaming the column. In this case, I selected all of the columns to show for my excel file.
The “Calculate Results” displays the total dividends for the monthly, quarterly, and annually. It also displays the total cost of your portfolio. The total cost is what you have spent on your portfolio (not current market value).
Non Portfolio Options
The “Non Portfolio Options” are the options for the left hand side of the application.
Next To Purchase
The left hand side are stocks that are not in your portfolio. If you select an individual stock, you can check the “Next to purchase” check box to flag that stock for future purchases.
If you would like to see which stocks are your next purchases, you can select “Highlight Next Purchases”. By doing so, the app highlights all the stocks that you want to purchase next and displays how many have been saved. You can elect to move them over if you have purchased them to the right hand side.
Show Sector Percentages
The “Show Sector Percentages” option displays the percentage and count of all the sectors in the left hand side of the application.
I’ve recently been working on my dividend application and made some big updates. You can download the latest version from this page. I’ve finally implemented a simple function in the program that allows the dividend application to get all up to date individual stock information such as the market cap, annual dividends, dividend yield, ex-dividend date, pay date, p/e ratio, open price, current price, 52 week range, and days range!
Using the example below, when double clicking on the stock symbol “ED” shows the popup information. All the information shown is up to date and the only part that needs to be edited manually is the symbol, stock name, and industry. I could retrieve the stock name automatically but I prefer to name it a little differently than the results from Yahoo.
The right portion of the popup is the shares. I removed the ability to keep track of your buys and sells as it was getting overly too complicated to track and calculate this data. I wanted to keep this application simple and to mimic my current portfolio. However, it does have a date of when you first bought in but you can update the costs and shares to reflect your current portfolio.
Another change that was made was to show the current market value in the calculated results based on the live share price. Also the annual dividend and yield is calculated based on the live values as well.
Pay Date Feature
What I really like about this application is the pay date feature because it provides a really convenient way to see the stocks that is expected to pay dividends for the specified month/year. When pressing the pay date highlight button, it automatically selects all the stocks that are expected to pay a dividend for that month/year. It also shows the results of how much to expect for this month.
For example, I’ve selected the date of December 2015 and the results are shown below. It looks like I have 7 dividends to be paid for a total of $64.74 in the month of December. This feature also includes a breakdown of each individual company’s dividends. I find this very useful especially if you mix and match future stocks you might want to buy and see how it fits in your portfolio.
The last changes made to the application was the theme but I’m still trying to find better ways to design the layout. For now this application is for my own personal use as it connects to my database on the cloud interacting with my list of stocks. But I plan to change that so in the future, it will be a self sustaining application within your computer (Windows). Please check back for regular updates as I will eventually release this application for free on my site for anyone to use!
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