Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 Goals - 3rd Quarter Update


Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future.  Somehow the first half of the year is already over.  It seems like just a few weeks ago I was reporting on my progress for the first quarter and now another quarter is over and done with.  I think it's important to set specific, measurable goals at the beginning of each year to keep you focused and motivated towards hitting your goals.  It's important for them to be measurable so you can see exactly how you're progressing.  Back in January I set several goals covering budgeting, savings, investing, blogging, and personal goals, so it's high time I take a look and see how I'm doing.

2014 Budgeting Goals - 1st Half Results
Goal 2014 Amounts Status
Grocery spending < $200 per month $220.31 Needs Improvement
Restaurant spending < $110 per month $124.68 Needs Improvement
Average monthly expenses < $2,350 per month $2,641.54 Needs Improvement

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Intersection of Dividend Growth Investing and Financial Independence

Tired of working under fluorescent lights day in and day out?  Well besides winning the lottery the only way to get away from working 9-5 til 65 is to spend less than you earn and invest the difference.   Most of the blogs that I follow are focused on dividend growth investing and they usually have a tilt, heavy or light, towards financial independence.  Financial independence is the point where your savings and investments can provide enough monthly income to cover your expenses.  Now some people say it's just your base expenses (food, housing, utilities...) and others say enough to support your lifestyle.  It doesn't really matter what it is because the end goal is the same, cover your expenses through passive income.  The intersection of your expenses and passive income is the crossover point.  Once you reach that point serious congratulations are owed to you because you no longer require work and its income in order to support your lifestyle.  That doesn't mean you can't work but you now have the option not to.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekly Loyal3 Purchases

Back in August I started a new portfolio with Loyal3.  Loyal3 is a new brokerage that allows you to make purchases with no commission costs.  That's right, fee free investing.  Even better is that you can make the purchases with your credit card and earn cash back rewards.  For me that's an extra 1% yield on the first year's dividend.  It's a great way to dollar cost average into positions over time although they do have a limited selection of companies you can invest in.

Each week I plan to make small purchases in several companies to slowly build up the positions.  This allows me to get some capital invested every week, for free.  The valuations might not always be the best but it does help me to consistently build up my portfolio and dividend stream that will eventually allow me to consider early retirement.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Net Worth Update - September 2014

While cash flow is more important when it comes to financial independence, it's still good to look at the balance sheet too, which is why I provide these net worth updates.  The S&P 500 declined 1.55% during September and crossed the 2,000 mark for the first time.  Since more and more of my net worth is tied to the markets, there's a larger correlation between my net worth and the markets and for August my net worth rose with the markets.  As a dividend growth investor I'm not overly concerned with the short-term gyrations as long as the dividend stream remains in tact, but the markets' effect is noticeable.  I had just under $5,200 in after-tax savings from my paycheck, almost $800 in ESPP contributions, and just under $1,100 in 401k contributions counting the employer match.  The rest of the changes were due to dividends received and changes in the stock market.  All in all September saw a $1,573.43 decrease in my net worth.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Recent Buy

Whenever I make a new purchase for my portfolio I feel it's only fair to get a post written giving all of the juicy details. I want to be as transparent as possible with my journey to reach financial independence through dividend growth investing. Being open about the moves I make allows for better discussion with all of you and helps spread ideas around as well as letting me create my own "investing journal" to chronicle why I purchased a company in the first place and that way I can revisit if something changes and make the decision on whether to continue owning the company or not.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Weekly Loyal3 Purchases

Back in August I started a new portfolio with Loyal3.  Loyal3 is a new brokerage that allows you to make purchases with no commission costs.  That's right, fee free investing.  Even better is that you can make the purchases with your credit card and earn cash back rewards.  For me that's an extra 1% yield on the first year's dividend.  It's a great way to dollar cost average into positions over time although they do have a limited selection of companies you can invest in.

Each week I plan to make small purchases in several companies to slowly build up the positions.  This allows me to get some capital invested every week, for free.  The valuations might not always be the best but it does help me to consistently build up my portfolio and dividend stream that will eventually allow me to consider early retirement.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Weekly Roundup - October 4, 2014

Another week down and we can count off September as well.  The second half of September took the markets on quite a ride but with volatility increasing that usually means lower prices and better entry points.  I took advantage of the volatility earlier this week to initiate a new position in United Technologies (UTX) and add to an existing one as well, that write up is coming early next week.  I love when one month ends and another begins because that means it's time for dividend updates to be coming out.  That's honestly one of my favorite things, seeing how many of you are taking control of your future by investing today for tomorrow.

Other than that it was another work filled week which was honestly welcomed after the craziness of the past few months with Lucas, our son.  It was nice to get back into a semi-routine and have a sense of normalcy.  Plus it didn't hurt that I was able to actually write some posts here.  It's a nice little escape.  Other than that we're stuck in limbo with Lucas until Monday when we'll hear back from the FDA.


I know it's a bit old but it's interesting to see nonetheless.  The New York Times had an interesting chart showing the tax rates, across all levels, for companies in the S&P 500 between 2007 and 2012.  During that period 9 companies paid no taxes at all and 1 out of 7 paid less than a 10% effective tax rate.  The insurance and energy industries had the highest effective tax rates at 51% and 37% respectively.  Anyways, here's the link to the interactive infographic if you want to play around with it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Income Update - September 2014

I'm a big proponent of tracking every single penny that comes into your hands if you're really wanting to make a change to your finances.  Mental accounting is too difficult to keep track of and the mundane everyday expenses get forgotten.  Once you keep a detailed history you can see that you're really spending $400 per month on restaurants or $100 on coffee or whatever little expenses that are fine by themselves but add up quickly to destroy a budget.  This is why I like to keep track of all of my expenses to help keep myself accountable and looking to see what areas I'm just plain doing poor in.  If you want to improve your finances, then please track everything for a 3 month span and then take action to make positive changes.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Recent Buy

Whenever I make a new purchase for my portfolio I feel it's only fair to get a post written giving all of the juicy details. I want to be as transparent as possible with my journey to reach financial independence through dividend growth investing. Being open about the moves I make allows for better discussion with all of you and helps spread ideas around as well as letting me create my own "investing journal" to chronicle why I purchased a company in the first place and that way I can revisit if something changes and make the decision on whether to continue owning the company or not.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dividend Update - September 2014


September, like the end of most quarters, was an excellent month for dividends.  The majority of companies that I own make their payment to owners at the end of each quarter and I set a new personal best this month.  These dividend updates reflect all dividends that I receive through my investing pursuits and I hope can help inspire you to take control of your own finances and invest to build a passive income stream.  What you use that stream for is up to you, whether it's to fund early retirement, just provide some FI/FU money, or even to provide for an annual vacation; the key is that it can provide options and opens up all sorts of possibilities.  You can check my dividend income or progress page to see what dedication to an investment plan can give you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekly Loyal3 Purchases

Last month I started a new portfolio with Loyal3.  Loyal3 is a new brokerage that allows you to make purchases with no commission costs.  That's right, fee free investing.  Even better is that you can make the purchases with your credit card and earn cash back rewards.  For me that's an extra 1% yield on the first year's dividend.  It's a great way to dollar cost average into positions over time although they do have a limited selection of companies you can invest in.

Each week I plan to make small purchases in several companies to slowly build up the positions.  This allows me to get some capital invested every week, for free.  The valuations might not always be the best but it does help me to consistently build up my portfolio and dividend stream that will eventually allow me to consider early retirement.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekly Roundup - September 27, 2014

The past two weeks have been pretty rough.  Not due to the increased volatility but due to life in general.  My grandfather passed away almost two weeks ago and a week ago Friday was the funeral.  The man was one of the most kind hearted and loving people that I've ever met and it hurts so much to not have him with us anymore.  But I know he's better off because he's no longer suffering or having to deal with knowing that he can barely move on his own any more.  It still blows my mind thinking back on his life and how he was a World War 2 vet and just thinking of all of the changes that he witnessed in his life.  On top of that after things had settled down a bit with Lucas now we're back on another roller coaster.  Things are definitely looking better than before but he's still got a long journey ahead of him.  My wife and I both could definitely go for a bit of a normal and boring stretch.

What a difference a week or two makes.  The markets were quite volatile this past week with the DJIA having 100+ point moves every day.  I didn't invest a whole lot of capital but I did add to my position in Emerson Electric and there's still a few more companies that I'm looking at for potential purchases.  What companies have you been buying or looking at for purchase?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent Buy

Whenever I make a new purchase for my portfolio I feel it's only fair to get a post written giving all of the juicy details. I want to be as transparent as possible with my journey to reach financial independence through dividend growth investing. Being open about the moves I make allows for better discussion with all of you and helps spread ideas around as well as letting me create my own "investing journal" to chronicle why I purchased a company in the first place and that way I can revisit if something changes and make the decision on whether to continue owning the company or not.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekly Loyal3 Purchases

Last month I started a new portfolio with Loyal3.  Loyal3 is a new brokerage that allows you to make purchases with no commission costs.  That's right, fee free investing.  Even better is that you can make the purchases with your credit card and earn cash back rewards.  For me that's an extra 1% yield on the first year's dividend.  It's a great way to dollar cost average into positions over time although they do have a limited selection of companies you can invest in.

Each week I plan to make small purchases in several companies to slowly build up the positions.  This allows me to get some capital invested every week, for free.  The valuations might not always be the best but it does help me to consistently build up my portfolio and dividend stream that will eventually allow me to consider early retirement.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Net Worth Update - August 2014

While cash flow is more important when it comes to financial independence, it's still good to look at the balance sheet too, which is why I provide these net worth updates.  The S&P 500 was surged 3.77% during August and crossed the 2,000 mark for the first time.  Since more and more of my net worth is tied to the markets, there's a larger correlation between my net worth and the markets and for August my net worth rose with the markets.  As a dividend growth investor I'm not overly concerned with the short-term gyrations as long as the dividend stream remains in tact, but the markets' effect is noticeable.  I had just under $4,700 in after-tax savings from my paycheck, $700 in ESPP contributions, and just over $960 in 401k contributions counting the employer match.  The rest of the changes were due to dividends received and changes in the stock market.  All in all August saw a $11,444.94 increase in my net worth.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekly Loyal3 Purchases

Last month I started a new portfolio with Loyal3.  Loyal3 is a new brokerage that allows you to make purchases with no commission costs.  That's right, fee free investing.  Even better is that you can make the purchases with your credit card and earn cash back rewards.  For me that's an extra 1% yield on the first year's dividend.  It's a great way to dollar cost average into positions over time although they do have a limited selection of companies you can invest in.

Each week I plan to make small purchases in several companies to slowly build up the positions.  This allows me to get some capital invested every week, for free.  The valuations might not always be the best but it does help me to consistently build up my portfolio and dividend stream that will eventually allow me to consider early retirement.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekly Roundup - September 13, 2014

Another week has come and gone.  How do the days keep flying by so fast?  All the more reason to reach financial independence as early as possible and start to recapture some of the ever-fleeting time that we have.  With no appointments this week that means it was time to get back to work.  Honestly I was glad to get back into a normal routine again after the whirlwind that was August.  One thing that I really like about my job is that there's a lot of downtime but I still get paid.  Who doesn't like that?  Yesterday three of the guys that I work with and myself went golfing at a course near where we're working.  It was a great day for golf as the temperature wasn't too hot considering we're in south Texas.  The front 9 went quite well but the back 9, not so much.  Considering I haven't golfed in nearly a decade I thought it was a pretty successful round.  And even better is that I got paid as if I was working but was out on the golf course.  That's a win in my book.

The markets have started to stumble a bit which is music to my ears.  I added to my position in Deere & Company this week as well as continuing to add to my Loyal3 portfolio.  I even got a few raises this week as well which is always a welcomed bonus.  I'm looking forward to the markets continuing to decline and hopefully open up a lot more value.  One company that I'm really interested in right now is Emerson Electric (EMR).  I already own a small position in them and would like to add more if the share price dips a little bit.  Other companies that I'm interested in are some of the oil majors (Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP) and Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and YUM Brands.  What companies are starting to catch your eye for potential purchases?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Income Update - August 2014

I'm a big proponent of tracking every single penny that comes into your hands if you're really wanting to make a change to your finances.  Mental accounting is too difficult to keep track of and the mundane everyday expenses get forgotten.  Once you keep a detailed history you can see that you're really spending $400 per month on restaurants or $100 on coffee or whatever little expenses that are fine by themselves but add up quickly to destroy a budget.  This is why I like to keep track of all of my expenses to help keep myself accountable and looking to see what areas I'm just plain doing poor in.  If you want to improve your finances, then please track everything for a 3 month span and then take action to make positive changes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Recent Buy - Nothing Runs Like A Deere

Whenever I make a new purchase for my portfolio I feel it's only fair to get a post written giving all of the juicy details. I want to be as transparent as possible with my journey to reach financial independence through dividend growth investing. Being open about the moves I make allows for better discussion with all of you and helps spread ideas around as well as letting me create my own "investing journal" to chronicle why I purchased a company in the first place and that way I can revisit if something changes and make the decision on whether to continue owning the company or not.

I Got a Raise!

Two raises in fact!  No it wasn't from my employer but rather these raises came from two of my employees.  Both of them have been working hard this past year and decided to shoot me a little bit more cash every quarter.  That's dividend growth investing in action and eventually with more increases and continued investment will allow me to consider early retirement.

Yesterday, Phillip Morris (PM) increased the quarterly dividend by 6.4% from $0.94 to $1.00 per share.  Since I own 62 shares of PM that's an extra $3.75 coming my way every quarter or $15.00 extra every year.  This increase marks the sixth annual dividend increase by PM and the current yield is now 4.75%.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Weekly Loyal3 Purchases

Last month I started a new portfolio with Loyal3.  Loyal3 is a new brokerage that allows you to make purchases with no commission costs.  That's right, fee free investing.  Even better is that you can make the purchases with your credit card and earn cash back rewards.  For me that's an extra 1% yield on the first year's dividend.  It's a great way to dollar cost average into positions over time although they do have a limited selection of companies you can invest in.

Each week I plan to make small purchases in several companies to slowly build up the positions.  This allows me to get some capital invested every week, for free.  The valuations might not always be the best but it does help me to consistently build up my portfolio and dividend stream that will eventually allow me to consider early retirement.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekly Roundup - September 6, 2014

This past week was trying to say the least.  Nothing much to report on the financial/investing front but lots of things changed with Lucas, our son set to join us in late December.  We haven't updated the BabyLukeBlog.wordpress.com site yet for this week but hopefully we'll get the chance to do so this weekend.  Ever since finding out that my wife was pregnant I've felt my priorities shift a bit and even more so after finding out there were complications that our little boy will face.  I don't expect anything to change too drastically in the next 6 months to a year, but after that there might be a job change on the horizon.

This weekend should be a pretty fun one.  Today our plan is to go meet up with some friends that have a lake house a few hours from here and spend the day out on the lake, bbq-ing, and having a good time with some friends.  Sunday is looking like we'll head back home kind of early but that's just so we can get back to civilization and watch some long-awaited NFL games.  It's the first full weekend of games and I'm quite excited.  Football is by far my favorite sport to watch on tv and even better when you can watch the games with friends.  And that's exactly our plan.  My wife and I are both looking forward to a relaxing weekend to kind of clear our heads from the whirlwind that the last month has been.  Unfortunately it's looking like Monday will bring another drive back to work but honestly I'm looking forward to that as well to get back into a normal routine.  Anyone else have some really kickass plans for this weekend?