April Dividend Income

After 34 years of clocking in and out of work and religiously saving 10% annually in my 401K every year, in good times and bad, I have decided to share my monthly dividend income to show what regular saving and investing can accomplish.

For the month of April I made $3,909.49; an increase of 36.23% versus this time last year. I realize the year over year gain is slightly exaggerated as April of last year was the start of many a dividend cut or suspension but this is my largest April payout ever.

On the home front my expenses have remained the same which means my savings rate has stayed steady at 24.9%. I finally got my first dose of a COVID vaccine and will be getting the second shot later in May, glad to finally get this out of the way. I gave myself my 12th haircut in April, this has been one of those COVID things I had to learn how to do myself and now that lockdowns have been lifted this is one of the few things I think I will continue to do even though I can see a barber, I actually enjoy cutting my own hair.

In April I received dividend raises from 8 different companies and so many companies reported great earnings. Hopefully all of you got to experience the joy of getting a raise. As far as a watch list, there are no screaming value plays that jump out at me so I’ll continue to monitor a little over 50 dividend stocks for any opportunity that arises.  Unless there is a pullback, I plan on staying with small $200 buying lots for the foreseeable future.

DateSymbolCompanyAmount
4/1/21AGRAVANGRID INC23.13
4/1/21BEPCBROOKFIELD RENEWABLE CORP66.52
4/1/21PPLPPL CORP763.54
4/5/21WMTWALMART INC14.48
4/6/21IRMIRON MOUNTAIN INC480.3
4/6/21TUTELUS CORPORATION47.55
4/7/21BLVVANGUARD BD INDEX FDS LONG TERM BOND31.97
4/7/21MRKMERCK &CO. INC123.62
4/7/21VCLTVANGUARD SCOTTSDALE FUNDS LONG-TERM COR15.77
4/8/21HYGISHARES TR IBOXX HI YD ETF17.92
4/8/21MPWMEDICAL PROPERTIES TRUST INC179.68
4/8/21PFFISHARES TR PFD AND INCM SEC51.47
4/12/21GSKGLAXOSMITHKLINE ADR203.84
4/15/21APTSPREFERRED APARTMENT COMMUNITIES INC82.97
4/15/21AQNALGONQUIN PWR UTILS CORP180.89
4/15/21KBALKIMBALL INTERNATIONAL INC2.38
4/15/21LEGLEGGETT &PLATT INC69.85
4/15/21WPCWP CAREY INC554.17
4/16/21CPTCAMDEN PROPERTY TRUST12.73
4/19/21BCEBCE INC93.65
4/22/21PSECPROSPECT CAP CORP155.54
4/28/21AMNFARMANINO FOODS DISTINCTION INC31.95
4/30/21BGSB&G FOODS INC256.47
4/30/21BNSBANK OF NOVA SCOTIA25.94
4/30/21CMCANADIAN IMPERIAL BANK OF COMMERCE265.04
4/30/21OGEOGE ENERGY CORP133.63
4/30/21M1 FinanceM1 DIVIDEND GROWTH ACCOUNT24.49

Buys and Sells for the Week 4/30

IBM gave me a miniscule dividend raise of $0.01 per quarter but it was what I expected. Chevron surprised me with a 4% raise but it is such a small position for me that it barley moved the income needle. Earnings season is in full tilt and most companies are beating expectations, a couple that did not looked like buying opportunities. Here are my buys for the week:

  1. Unilever (UL) – increased position –  UL reported good quarterly numbers and luckily I bought before the numbers came out. Grabbed 3 shares @ $56.43 and a 3.38% yield.
  2. Kimberly-Clark (KMB) – new position –  KMB quarterly report was not the best and their forward guidance of just 1% growth for 2021 triggered a sell-off. KMB growth should return in the second half of 2022, decided it was time to finally initiate a position with a window to accumulate shares before prices rise. Grabbed 7 shares @ $128.76 and a 3.54% yield.
  3. Merck & Company (MRK)increased position –  MRK sold off after reporting lower than expected earnings but remained firm on their full year forecast. Why sell when the company is still confident they can meet their annual numbers? Grabbed 4 shares at $73.85 and a 3.52% yield.

Buys and Sells for the Week 4/23

It was a great week for growing income without a lot of investing as I received dividend raises from The Southern Company (SO) 3.13%, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) 5% and Bar Harbor Bankshares (BHB) 9.1%. I also received a bonus from Pfizer who decided to not reduce their dividend payout from the Viatris (VTRS) spin-off. I was not booking the VTRS dividend until PFE announced a cut so this is like getting an additional 3.4% dividend raise from PFE on top of the 2.6% raise from last December.

With all the action this week I still found time trade, here are my buys for the week:

  1. Algonquin Power & Utilities (AQN) – increased position –  My fidelity brokerage account does not allow a DRIP into AQN and have to remember to pick up some additional shares on occasion to compensate. Grabbed 12 shares @ $15.94 and a 3.89% yield.

Buys and Sells for the Week 4/16

New York Stock Exchange New York New York 1

Week started off well with a couple dividend raises from Procter & Gamble (PG) and Artesian Resources (ARTNA). Still small pockets of value in the market just not the screaming buys they were compared to this time last year. Here are my buys for the week:

  1. Oil-Dri Corp. of America (ODC) – increased position –  Prices retreated on this micro-cap. Not a bargain basement sale but good enough for this market. Grabbed 5 shares @ $34.50 and a 3.01% yield.

Buys and Sells for the Week 4/9

Markets trading at all time highs. Value is hard to come by and continuing to keep my buys limited to just $200 lots. Here are my buys for the week:

  1. Merck (MRK) – increased position –  Big pharma sector is not participating in the S&P 500 climb and MRK is no exception. Grabbed 2 shares @ $75.70 and a 3.43% yield.
  2. Unilever (UL) – increased position –  UL seems range bound in the $50 range and I have a very small position, good time as any to add shares. Grabbed 3 shares @ $56.60 and a 3.34% yield.

I Did Not Let College Impact My Retirement

I currently have 2 kids in college and one that graduated last year.  When I mention my 3 kids and college most people assume I am struggling financially.  The truth is, it has not impacted me at all and my children have taken on minimal to no debt. The success of this is based on two simple factors; 1.) planning for this moment and 2.) educational choices made by my children.

First let me quickly describe my children’s educational choices.  Even though they all chose different colleges, all three children had three things in common:

  • Commuted to college which saved ~$60K of on campus living.
  • Attained a semester’s worth of college credits while in high school which saved $5-$6K in tuition.
  • Assumed responsibility for paying back their own debt.  

My oldest graduated with $12K in student loans, my middle child is on a path for $20K in student loans and my youngest is on target for $0 in student loans.  Even with these factors, one would still assume I saved or borrowed quite a bit to pay for my children’s education to keep their borrowing so low.  However, you would be wrong.  It again comes back to planning which started as soon as my children were born.

My wife and I started planning for our children’s college back in 1999 as even then there were fears of how to pay for college and how much of a burden it was.   I witnessed how college costs were burdening older co-workers and family members, I refused to be in that position.  I knew being in my 50s that ramping up savings for that final retirement push had to be my main priority and not college debt, so I had to save immediately for college.

Back in 1999 we did not make a lot of money but knew the power of time and compounding was on our side.  But before we jump into the investment piece, I thought it would help to understand exactly how much we invested into college and for that I will use my youngest son’s current position:

  • $8,000   Used Car
  • $837      Laptop
  • $4,850   U.S. Saving Bonds
  • $3,105   Educational IRA
  • $16,792 total investment for each child ($7,955 for actual tuition)

When you amortize this over 18 years it really was not a big investment.  Of course, ~$8K is not enough to cover 4 years of tuition, the secret really comes down to the Education IRA.  One of the most hyped-up college savings vehicles is the state 529 plan, but when my wife and I looked at our state’s 529 offering it had horrible investment options and fees.  Instead, we chose an Education IRA or Coverdell Education Savings Account as they are formerly called.  An education IRA allows you to choose any investment, but it did come with an annual contribution limit.  For us it was perfect, we did not make a lot of money, so the contribution limit was not a concern and we had the freedom to invest in anything. It is important to note, today’s state 529 plans have drastically improved their investment options and Education IRAs no longer have this advantage.

We chose to go with T. Rowe Price and selected a balanced fund called the Capital Appreciation Fund (PRWCX).  We initially opened the account in December 2002 with a $500 deposit and then there was a change in the tax code that increased the annual limit to $2000 so we made a large deposit in February 2003.  After that we made small contributions up to 2007 to bring the total investment to $3,105 and made no contributions after that. Here is the total return of that investment which has been a buy & hold strategy for the last 18 years. (note: the black line is my investment and the green line is the total return)

That ~$3K investment has ballooned to $23K with an average annual return of 10.44%.  Combine this with the U.S. Savings Bonds, which are now worth $8,853, my son has a total of $32,232 to pay his tuition bills. Since he chose to attend community college his first 1 ½ years, his remaining tuition is approximately $30,000 after he transfers to a 4-year college. 

Hindsight being 20/20 I should have invested more into the IRA and less into the U.S. Savings Bonds, but you will have to forgive me as investing in the 2000s was not the best of times and I was hedging my bets.  Regardless, the story is college does not have to be expensive if you invest early and let compounding do its magic.   Because of this I did not have to take out a second mortgage on my house and I can concentrate on providing my wife a retirement she deserves and not being a financial burden to our children.

March Dividend Income

After 34 years of clocking in and out of work and religiously saving 10% annually in my 401K every year, in good times and bad, I have decided to share my monthly dividend income to show what regular saving and investing can accomplish.

Last month I received my annual review and after several paychecks with the new raise I was able to increase my weekly investment into my M1 Finance account by $10.  This improved my annual saving rate from 24.6% to 24.9%. Not a massive increase but it always feels good when I can save more than I did yesterday.

2021202020192018201720162015201420132012
401K11%10%10%10%10%10%10%10%10%10%
Brokerage4.5%4%3.7%1%0.8%0.5%  0.7%0.2%
Roth IRA9.4%8.3%5.4%1.9%      
Total Saving Rate24.9%22.3%19.1%12.9%10.8%10.5%10.0%10.0%10.7%10.2%
10 Year Personal Annual Saving Rate

For the month of March I made $4,238.43; an increase of 27.51% versus this time last year. From now till August I should be seeing significant YoY increases as that was the bulk of the COVID cuts from last year. This month would have been slightly higher but my BEPC dividend did not credit my account until April 1. This was kind of odd as I received my BEP dividend on March 31, maybe BEPC had border crossing issues from Canada to the U.S. 😊.

Overall market valuations continue to remain high. I kept my buying for the month limited to $200 lot buys to keep invested. I have been receiving dividends at a faster rate than reinvesting and unintentionally building a pile of cash.  Going into April I have no favorites on my watch list and instead will monitor a little over 50 dividend stocks for any opportunity that arises.  Unless there is a pullback, I plan on staying with small $200 buying lots for the foreseeable future.

DateSymbolCompanyAmount
3/1/21 ALEALLETE INC$126.00
3/1/21 PSXPHILLIPS 66$25.30
3/1/21 SJMSMUCKER J M CO$4.04
3/3/21 FASTFASTENAL$11.35
3/4/21 BLVVANGUARD BD INDEX FDS LONG TERM BOND$13.47
3/4/21 CMICUMMINS INC$37.67
3/4/21 DFSDISCOVER FINANCIAL SERVICES$11.40
3/4/21 VCLTVANGUARD SCOTTSDALE FUNDS LONG-TERM COR$13.97
3/4/21 VLOVALERO ENERGY CORP$35.28
3/5/21 HYGISHARES TR IBOXX HI YD ETF$18.66
3/5/21 PFEPFIZER INC$222.81
3/5/21 PFFISHARES TR PFD AND INCM SEC$50.84
3/8/21 SOSOUTHERN CO$60.78
3/9/21 JNJJOHNSON &JOHNSON COM$175.26
3/10/21 CVXCHEVRON CORP$21.77
3/10/21 IBMINTERNATIONAL BUS MACH CORP$143.97
3/10/21 UPSUNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC$227.85
3/11/21 MSFTMICROSOFT CORP$61.03
3/11/21 PRUPRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL INC$471.27
3/12/21 MMM3M CO$56.89
3/12/21 WBAWALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC$43.15
3/15/21 AVAAVISTA CORP$131.16
3/15/21 FAFFIRST AMERICAN FINANCIAL CORP$145.13
3/15/21 NWLNEWELL BRANDS INC$25.56
3/16/21 DUKDUKE ENERGY CORP$58.50
3/17/21 ULUNILEVER PLC SPON ADR NEW$9.36
3/18/21 BHBBAR HARBOR BANKSHARES$43.91
3/18/21 PSECPROSPECT CAP CORP$155.54
3/19/21 CMPCOMPASS MINERALS INTERNATIONAL INC$137.52
3/19/21 RRYDER SYSTEM INC$52.38
3/25/21 QCOMQUALCOMM INC$153.82
3/26/21 BPBP PLC SPONSORED ADR$8.26
3/26/21 KHCKRAFT HEINZ CO$9.20
3/26/21 LMTLOCKHEED MARTIN CORP$5.20
3/26/21 WMWASTE MANAGEMENT INC$41.50
3/30/21 TROWPRICE T ROWE GROUPS$16.44
3/31/21 ARCCARES CAPITAL CORP$470.39
3/31/21 BPYUBROOKFIELD PPTY REIT INC CL A$50.85
3/31/21 GATXGATX CORP$53.15
3/31/21 GRMNGARMIN LTD$61.81
3/31/21 NEWTNEWTEK BUSINESS SVCS CORP$397.89
3/31/21 PEPPEPSICO INC$52.18
3/31/21 WEYSWEYCO GROUP INC$24.85
3/31/21BEPBROOKFIELD RENEWABLE PARTNERS PARTNERSHIP$266.35
3/31/21M1 FinanceM1 DIVIDEND GROWTH ACCOUNT$34.72