I received $422.15 in taxable March 2020 dividend income. This is my second-best month ever, but it’s vastly overshadowed by the market’s performance. It’s been a humbling month, and a reminder that I’m in this for the long haul. I expect it to be a grind, and am actually fortunate to get this buying opportunity in my first few years of investing.
Sadly, my total portfolio value is less than the total I’ve put into it over the last few years. I’m still completely confident in the companies I’ve chosen, and the drop hasn’t really bothered me too much. I’ve suffered one dividend cut (BA), and can envision it happening more. What a bloodbath!
In other news, I qualified for my company’s 401k (after six months of employment). I’m starting contributions immediately with the goal of maxing it out for 2020. That will actually exceed my average contributions so far for 2020, but my taxable portfolio may have to feed off reinvested dividends for the next few months. My personal rule is to prioritize tax shelters, then add anything left over to the taxable account after.
These are not earth-shattering raises. I’m realizing there’s no easy path to financial independence. Dividend growth investing is a way to get there, but it was never meant to be fast with 20% growth every year.
I also changed my VTI % raise calculation. I had previously used a 1-year rolling average, but changed that to a 3-year rolling average. My goal is to smooth out the variations a bit more. With my new method, I have a 0.92% quarterly increase my my VTI dividend – I’ll take it.
I did retroactively change the VTI dividend hike formula for previous months and years, so my Forward Dividend Income chart will reflect that.
Forward Dividend Income
My first dividend cut (BA). I had to plot a negative axis for this one. A lot of people saw this new coming ahead of time, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. Boeing is having a difficult time, but they fit the template of company I want to hold on to. Either way, it’s quite the learning experience.
My chart wasn’t built for dividend cuts. The March 2020 positive (from raises, reinvestments, and contributions) outweighs the negative (BA cut) by a net of about $8. The green and yellow lines use the net calculations.
The good news for the month is that I have a nice reinvestment amount every three quarters! My original goal was to contribute $1,000 per month, and my reinvestment is covering a good portion of that now ($422 this month). This will be important when I shift more contributions into my 401k for the rest of the year.
Purchases – AWR, HRL, CINF, VTI, LOW, TRV, MCD, RSG
Purchased 3 shares of American Water States (AWR) @ $87.46/share
I couldn’t resist the urge to pick up a few chunks of shares this month. It’s tough to buy when the market is going down 5% each day, but my strategy is to buy in whenever I get some cash, regardless of what the market is doing. These three shares strengthen my favorite new holding.
Purchased 0.23 shares of Hormel Foods (HRL) @ 43.49/share
Gotta take advantage of my new ability to pick up fractional shares for free!
Purchased 6 shares of American Water States (AWR) @ $91.17/share
Speaking of MDT’s dividend increase streak, AWR is on its 65th year of increases. It is new to my portfolio, but I built on top of my starter AWR holding with a few more shares this month. I’m glad to have finally taken the plunge.
Purchased 0.31 shares of Cincinnati Financial (CINF) @ $94.49/share
I haven’t added to CINF in a while, and smaller fractions makes it a bit easier. Great dividend history – this is a holding that has weathered multiple downturns and has kept increasing their dividend.
Purchased 7.98 shares of Vanguard Stock Index (VTI) @ $129.52/share
I picked up six shares from new contributions, and almost two more just in reinvestment. That’s pretty significant! The snowball is rolling nicely.
Purchased 0.82 shares of Lowe’s (LOW) @ $72.16/share
I lamented Lowe’s low yield for a long time (ironic ticker symbol). I held onto it for the dividend increase history, and also the low payout ratio. Even after falling from over $126/share, the payout ratio is still a safe 35%.
Purchased 2 shares of Traveler’s Insurance (TRV) @ $84.5/share
The no-fee fractional shares were fun, but I did make a contribution this month that allowed me to build up a few of my holdings. I like having some insurance representation in my portfolio.
Purchased 2 shares of McDonald’s (MCD) @ $149.46/share
No matter what happens, I think McDonald’s can survive it. While a lot of restaurants are adopting the to-go model, McDonald’s has it already mastered.
Purchased 1 shares of Republic Services Group (RSG) @ $74.06/share
Another thing people will always need handled – garbage. RSG’s dividend has increased for 10 years, and is still under a 50% payout ratio. I see this as a nice buying opportunity.
Head on over to my portfolio page if you’d like to see what companies pay me in other months!