November 2017 – Monthly Purchases (Fall Cleaning)

I did yard work almost every day this month. It felt great to get outside and do some projects I’ve been wanting to do for months. I did a little fall cleaning in my portfolio as well!

My dividend growth strategy has been in motion for a while now, but I had some stocks left over from my high-yield, tax-inefficient early days. I sold a lot of holdings this month and re-invested the funds into some of my favorite dividend growth stocks. This was a crazy month for me, and my portfolio looks a lot stronger now.

Sold Some Portfolio Clutter

I hope to have set myself up for years of dividend growth with this month’s moves, but I also cleaned up some of my “portfolio clutter.”

Sold 14 shares of CALM @ $43.51/share ($609.14)

Cal-Maine Foods was one of the first purchases I ever made a year ago. I mistakenly believed they had a high dividend yield, when really they had just cut it completely. I held onto it this long anyway because I got lucky with my entry price and believe people will always want to eat eggs! The one-year mark passed and I sold to minimize capital gains.

Sold 20 shares of CTL @ $15.38/share ($307.60)

Centurylink has been painful to own over the last year. I still love my Centurylink internet service at my house, but I guess that doesn’t translate to a good stock price. I purchased this early on based on high yield and “buying something I know and use.” The lesson here is that I really don’t know the nuances of a business like this! Also, I tried to catch a falling knife.

Sold 17 shares of OHI @ $28.01/share ($476.17)

I’m selling my REITs as part of my fall cleaning. I was initially attracted by their high yield. I’m not as fond of REIT dividends being taxed at ordinary income rates in my taxable account. I’ve also seen very little capital appreciation in my REITs compared with the rest of my portfolio. From now on, I will not include REITs in my portfolio.

Sold 29 shares of HCP @ $27.09/share ($785.61)

The juicy dividends offset some of the price loss in the past year, but I’m moving on from REITs. I like the buy and hold strategy, but would rather buy and hold other stocks.

Sold 14 shares of RCS @ $8.63/share ($120.82)

I originally picked this high-yielder out of a hat because I had a few dollars left over. I managed to come out ahead, but it was time to remove it from my portfolio and

Bought Some Portfolio Backbone

All the fall cleaning left me with substantial funds to play with. I generally bolstered holdings I already own, but I did open new holdings in Apple and Accenture.

Bought 7 shares of VTI @ $132.40/share ($926.83)

Another month of sticking to my goal of balancing individual stocks purchases with a broad market ETF (Vanguard Total Stock Market). I can’t wait for the last month in each quarter when VTI pays out its dividend.

Bought 3 shares of AAPL @ $172.66/share ($517.98)

Apple was maybe the most glaring omission in my portfolio. I recently took a trip to China and was amazed to see the brand strength there. Apple has grown their dividend recently and has a lot of room left to go if they choose. I may be late to the Apple party, but I feel good getting in now.

Bought 4 shares of AAPL @ $169.02/share ($676.08)

After some of my stock sales posted in my account, I immediately increased my Apple holding to among my highest.

Bought 1 share of DIS @ $103.45/share ($103.45)

Despite the uncertainty around ESPN, I still love Disney’s brand and think it is generally getting stronger. It is one of my favorite holdings already, and it was time to add a little to it.

Bought 1 share of CSCO @ $33.98/share ($33.98)

Cisco is becoming my go-to stock when I just have a few bucks left over or accumulate enough dividends. I’ve slowly picked up 9 shares in 8 purchases and am growing a nice holding.

Bought 5 shares of SBUX @ $56.59/share ($282.95)

I have a few holdings that I feel confident adding to any time, and Starbucks is one of those. I love bolstering these high dividend growth stocks!

Bought 4 shares of AAPL @ $169.02/share ($676.08)

Apple was maybe the most glaring omission in my portfolio. I recently took a trip to China and was amazed to see the brand strength there. Apple has grown their dividend recently and has a lot of room left to go if they choose. I may be late to the Apple party, but I feel good getting in now.

Bought 1 share of MMM @ $227.59/share ($227.59)

3M has been one of my best performers. I love their product diversity and believe they will be around a long time. It was easy to add another share of 3M.

Bought 2 shares of TRV @ $267.04/share ($267.04)

Travelers Companies exceeds so many of my metrics and it gives me good exposure to the insurance industry. I am always tempted to open a new holding in Aflac, but decided to grow my Travelers holding a bit more. I am sure I won’t regret it. 13 years of growth, 2%+ dividend yield, and about 10% dividend growth per year. Only a 32% payout ratio. This is a no-brainer.

Bought 1 share of V @ $110.79/share ($110.79)

Visa is another no-brainer. It has gone up nicely in value since I first bought it, but it seems to always go up in value. Glad to strengthen my Visa holding!

Bought 5 shares of Low @ $79.04/share ($395.20)

Another one of the best dividend growers out there – 55 years running and 20%+ dividend increases recently. I don’t spend much in retail, but a lot of it is at hardware stores.

Bought 1 share of HRL @ $33.20/share ($33.20)

Along with Cisco, Hormel Foods is one of my go-to stocks when I have enough dividends accumulate or a few dollars left over after some purchases. 51 years of dividend hikes, great growth lately, and a 42% payout ratio. These all sound good to me. I’ve now picked up 10 shares in 9 instances and they’re turning into a significant holding for me.

Bought 5 shares of ACN @ $146.50/share ($732.50)

Accenture has been on my watch list for the longest time and I’m glad to now see it in my portfolio. 13 years of dividend growth, about 9% dividend increase per year, and 49% payout ratio. Accenture helps businesses do what they do better and works with 75% of the Fortune Global 500.

October 2017 – Monthly Purchases

I made two large purchases this month. The first was Vanguard’s Total Stock Market ETF (VTI). The second was Northrop Grumman (NOC). This continues my objective to offset individual stock picks with a total market index fund.

8 shares of VTI @ $131.10/share ($1,048.76)
1 Share of CSCO @ $33.82/share ($33.82)
3 shares of NOC @ 295.11/share ($885.33)
2 shares of MGA @ 54.40/share ($108.80)
1 Share of CSCO @ $33.34/share ($33.34)

October was a slower month for my dividend income. Nevertheless, I made two Cisco (CSCO) purchases using dividend income for the month. My CSCO holding is getting closer to the size of some of my other holdings, and it was funded all with dividends.

VTI is a no-brainer choice. I like to increase my VTI holding each month if possible.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) is my newest holding. 1.34% dividend yield, 30% payout ratio, and dividend increases for 13 years in a row. Its dividend growth rate has hovered around 12% for the last five years consistently. This fits all my requirements. I already own Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, but adding NOC gives me a little more diversification in the aerospace/defense sectors.

Magna International (MGA). Last but not least, I had some money left over and decided to bolster an existing position. I chose MGA.

September 2017 Monthly Purchases

I focused on my quest to balance my individual stock portfolio with a broad market index fund.

At the end of September, my taxable portfolio is roughly $44,000. $9,250 is in VTI and $34,750 is in individual stocks. I’d like to keep growing my VTI holding for the near future. This month was a good step in that directions.

I also received my first VTI dividend this month! That will help me stay motivated to keep adding to it.

7 shares of VTI @ $126.52/share ($885.68)
8 shares of VTI @ $128.48/share ($1,027.88)
1 Share of HRL @ $30.98/share ($30.98)
1 share of HRL @ 31.78/share ($31.78)
1 share of CSCO @ 32.59/share ($32.59)

September was a great month for my dividend income. A lot of it was reinvested into VTI through a DRIP. I took the rest and strengthened my HRL and CSCO holdings a bit. I’m looking forward to the day when these are equal to my other holdings in my portfolio. The great thing is that those positions will be almost fully-funded just by dividends.

Another encouraging sign is that 5% of my total September purchases were funded by reinvested dividends that I didn’t have to work for.

August 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

After this post, I will be all caught up until September is over. It’s been fun looking back. I thought I might learn some lessons, but the realization that I didn’t max out my Roth IRA in 2016 is still making my stomach feel uneasy. It’s been a great experience going back through my purchases and reasonings.

My portfolio began with an approximate yield of over 4%. Today, it’s closer to 2.7%. I’m still very happy with the current return I get in the form of dividend payments, but I am more more enthusiastic about what my dividend payments will be in 5 years or 20 years. I think I’ve laid a good foundation and am making proactive steps towards someday having a nice retirement.

August seemed to be a quiet month. I had some house maintenance come up which required spending money on something other than investing. Very sad! However, not investing in home maintenance will cost me in the long run. I also am saving up for a few more big purchases in the future, and my investing slowed down a bit.

Here’s what I came out with in August 2017.

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

1 share of CSCO (Cisco Systems, Inc.) @ $31.51/share ($31.51)

The dividends keep slowly piling up and I keep slowly buying CSCO/HRL/PFE when I accumulate around $32 of dividend payments. My CSCO/HRL/PFE holdings are starting to actually pay me significant dividends themselves. The power of compounding interest!

1 share of CSCO (Cisco Systems, Inc.) @ $31.74/share ($31.74)

Another happy customer buying CSCO/HRL/PFE. If anyone has any other suggestions for good dividend growth stocks around $30/share, please leave them in the comments. This has been a great strategy while avoiding trading fees with Robinhood.

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $33.45/share ($33.45)

This was a good month for dividend payments. I was again able to pick up another share in my HRL/CSCO/PFE collection.

1 share of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company) @ $41.93/share ($41.93)

Again! The dividends just keep coming. Another purchase of a low cost share in a good dividend growing company. Only this time, it was ADM instead of HRL/CSCO/PFE.

18 shares of SBUX (Starbucks Corporation) @ $52.97/share ($953.46)

This is a fun one. The average age of companies in my portfolio is probably around 100 years old. Starbucks is a popular recent addition to the dividend growers club. It fits my requirements – sustainable 1.83% yield and 49% payout ratio. It’s going on 6 years of dividend growth, and increases are typically around 25% each year. We will see if I am late to the party, but I am excited to be invested in a company that has terrific dividend growth potential, as well as share value potential too!

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $34.29/share ($34.29)

I’m seeing some significant income from dividends that is gradually increasing each month. The result is a growing holding in my low share cost trio of HRL/CSCO/PFE.

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $30.98/share ($30.98)

It really seems like every few days that enough dividends roll in to pick up another HRL/CSCO/PFE.

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $31.78/share ($31.78)

For a month low on new contributions, my dividend income is actually picking up some of the slack, and I picked up another low cost HRL/CSCO/PFE.

July 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

My portfolio continued to grow, powered by new contributions. Every $1,000 invested produced about $25 in dividends per year. If my hourly wage amounts to about $50/hour, then every $2,000 invested will replace one hour of my time per year. I’m totally hooked. Here’s what I came out with in July 2017.

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $33.96/share ($33.96)

The dividends seem to be rolling in a little faster and I keep picking up my trio of HRL/PFE/CSCO depending on if any of them are going through a dip in price.

2 shares of CINF (Cincinnati Financial Corporation) @ $72.05/share ($144.1)

Another opportunity to average down a bit in my initial investment, I picked up two more shares of CINF. I don’t mind when I see long-time dividend payers/increases drop a bit in my portfolio as it gives me an opportunity to pick up those future dividend payments at a discount.

2 shares of BA (Boeing Co) @ $205.83/share ($411.66)

Boeing just chugs along and I watch my initial two investments grow in value. I only regret not buying more shares earlier on! Only one way to fix that – buy more shares now in this great company.

2 shares of EMN (Eastman Chemical Company) @ $85.58/share ($171.16)

I like EMN and I’m not sure why. I won’t pretend to know their business inside and out, but I do like what I see of them and their dividend. Sometimes to get exposure to different industries, you have to delve into some that you don’t fully understand, right?

9 shares of VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) at $124.59 ($1,121.35)

I’m playing catch-up big time in my goal to equalize my VTI holding value with my total dividend growth investment value. As long as I have my emergency fund fully funded, I might as well park my money in VTI long-term.

8 shares of VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) at $124.56 ($996.48)

Operation VTI Catch-Up continues. It does feel good that my largest taxable holding is actually made up of hundreds of holdings.

8 shares of VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) at $126.29 ($1,010.32)

Operation VTI Catch-Up continues, again. I can scarcely contain my excitement if you can’t tell. I can’t lie, VTI is boring, but I feel great about it. Can’t wait until it’s the same size as the rest of my taxable investments.

1 share of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company) @ $41.13/share ($41.13)

My VTI sits in my Vanguard account, but meanwhile my Robinhood account continues to spit out dividends. I like my PFE/HRL/CSCO low share cost options, but I’d like to slowly build ADM as well if I have enough available.

5 shares of MGA (Magna International Inc. (USA)) @ $48.06/share ($240.3)

MGA turned out to be a great buy back when I pulled the trigger on this holding. 5 more shares will make this a slightly more substantial holding and I plan to increase that over the future.

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $33.16/share ($33.16)

The dividend payments continue to fall into my account’s cash balance. I’ll just keep loading up on HRL/PFE/CSCO.

2 shares of NDSN (Nordson Corporation) @ $125.90/share ($251.80)

The more I look into Nordson, the more I like it. They are like a smaller 3M. I’ll bolster this position a bit with two more shares.

4 shares of BTI (British American Tobacco PLC (ADR)) @ $69.25/share ($277)

I previously held RAI, which was bought by BTI. In the course of this aquisition, RAI holders recieved shares of BTI as payment. I loved RAI, but I have a large holding in MO and am not trying to increase my exposure to this industry. I will sit on these shares but probably not add to them.

June 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

June 2017 was a busy month for me! I made quite a few purchases, but only added one new holding in CAH. The rest of my purchases were just to strengthen my existing holdings. I even sold some early purchases (F, APU, BUD, BP, and ORI) to further align my portfolio with my dividend growth strategy.

At this point, I was entirely enjoying building a dividend growth portfolio. I couldn’t get enough. I would read every blog I could find. I kept coming across one idea that didn’t exist in my portfolio, but did make a lot of sense…

ETFs and Mutual Funds

I have no upper hand when it comes to picking a stock. I look for good dividend histories, realistic and healthy yields, and healthier payout ratios. I don’t dwell on entry price and I don’t predict market behavior.

How could I reconcile that I was picking stocks, yet had no advantage to picking stocks? Broad-market ETFs were the answer. I prefer ETFs over mutual funds because there is no minimum initial investment, but the expense ratio is still very low. My choice of ETF is the Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI). VTI isn’t necessarily a dividend grower, but it pays dividends and generally increases dividends over time.

VTI exposes me to stocks I normally pass by, like Amazon, Facebook, Nvidia, energy stocks, and many others. My goal is to have about 50% of my taxable account in VTI and the other 50% in individual stocks. I have a little bit of catching up to do.

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

Sales

41 shares of F (Ford Motor Co) @ $11.04/share ($452.64)

I no longer cared as much about the high yield. I took a $45.10 loss on F over the last eight months, but am happy to take the tax deduction and move the funds into a dividend grower.

12 shares of APU (Amerigas Partners) @ $44.18/share ($530.16)

My experiment with high-yield MLPs came to an end. I couldn’t wait to close this position after it cost more in tax preparation than the dividends even produced. I believe Amerigas is a leader in its industry, but I will stay away from MLPs in the future.

14 shares of BP (British Petroleum) @ $34.18/share ($487.91)

I am already heavily invested in energy through my Roth IRA (VGENX). I also happen to work in the energy industry. I reduced my energy exposure and shifted the funds towards lower-yield, higher-growth dividend stocks.

5 shares of BUD (Anheuser Busch InBev) @ $113.27/share ($566.36)

I sold BUD for nearly what I payed for it and shifted it into companies with more predictable, increasing dividend payments.

5 shares of ORI (Old Republic) @ $19.77/share ($98.85)

ORI’s dividend increases are slow or non-existent. This simplifies my portfolio by one more stock.

Purchases

24 shares of VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) @ 124.75/share ($2,994.00)

I consider my dividend portfolio as a savings account that will eventually pay out regular income that I can live off of. VTI is much more boring than buying Visa or Microsoft, but I like boring. The market is at all-time highs, but it has been at all-time highs for quite a few years now. I’m comfortable adding to VTI any time and with any amount. I’m trusting in the greater hive mind of the entire market with VTI. Most likely I’m no smarter than the collective market!

1 share of PFE (Pfizer Inc.) @ $32.78/share ($32.78)

My dividend payments are coming in steadily. I wish I started dividend growth investing a long time ago. At first, each dividend payment was $2-3. Now, many of them are $7-10 each.

I picked up another share of PFE. I love thinking that each share bought with dividends will produce its own small dividend. And those dividends will eventually produce their own small dividends. It’s sort of like a Mandelbrot Effect.

4 shares of IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc) @ $136.50/share ($546.00)

IFF already made up a chunk of my portfolio, but I wanted to roughly double it. The price tag was quite a bit higher this time around, but it’s better to get in the market than to wait and try to time the market. I have no problem buying companies at their all time highs.

10 shares of MSFT (Microsoft Corporation) @ $71.60/share ($716.00)

It was time to cement Microsoft as one of my favorite companies to own. I relied on previous research and didn’t spend too much time researching this time around. I felt great adding these shares.

2 shares of PFE (Pfizer Inc.) @ $32.23/share ($64.46)

I had a few bucks left over after buying MSFT. I went with PFE this time. My PFE holding is starting to become significant, just from buying 1-2 shares at a time.

7 shares of V (Visa Inc) @ $95.62/share ($669.34)

After buying Visa last month, I couldn’t wait to buy some more. I could buy Visa every month.

1 share of PFE (Pfizer Inc.) @ $32.78/share ($32.78)

Another addition to my low share cost trio of PFE/HRL/CSCO. All good dividend growers and solid companies.

1 share of PFE (Pfizer Inc.) @ $33.01/share ($33.01)

Dividends keep piling up and I keep adding shares of PFE/HRL/CSCO.

7 shares of LOW (Lowe’s Companies, Inc.) @ $76.56/share ($535.92)

I already owned a nice holding of LOW and decided to add more. Share prices had just taken a hit and it seemed like a good time to buy more of the company that has been increasing dividend payments for longer than my lifetime.

8 shares of RSG (Republic Services, Inc.) @ $64.30/share ($514.40)

I believe in RSG and the waste industry and wanted to make it one of my larger holdings.

2 shares of HAS (Hasbro, Inc.) @ $110.76/share ($221.52)

My inital Hasbro investment was a bit on the small side, but it quickly became my best return on investment. I added more even though I thought the share price was high. I’ve learned to love companies at their all-time highs. They must be doing something right.

2 shares of CSCO (Cisco Systems, Inc.) @ $31.84/share ($63.68)

Another addition to my PFE/HRL/CSCO trio. These are growing into substantial dividend payers for me.

10 shares of CAH (Cardinal Health Inc) @ $79.64/share ($796.40)

My only new stock holding of the month (aside from my new ETF focus). I’ve had my eye on CAH for a long time. They had a dividend increase coming soon and I got in before it was announced. The previous increase had been a whopping 16%, but the coming increase was a (slightly) smaller 3%. I believe the healthcare industry has perpetual upside as time goes on, so I will happily continue to hold and add to this holding. As of Sept 2017, the yield is 2.75% and the payout ratio is 37%.

3 shares of DIS (Walt Disney Co) @ $106.78/share ($320.34)

Disney has performed well for me, but I hadn’t added since my initial purchase. I was turned off by the small yield and worries about their ESPN branch. The price had pulled back a bit from highs, and I decided I needed to bolster my Disney position. I believe Disney will be around a long time. That is a company I plan to hold and add to.

1 share of KO (The Coca-Cola Co) @ $45.02/share ($45.02)

With a little bit left over after my DIS purchase, I decided to add one more share to KO. I know it may not have the massive growth potential, but I feel great anytime I invest a little more money into a company like KO.

8 shares of VVC (Vectren Corp) @ $58.68/share ($469.44)

Another one of my earlier investments, I had been watching VVC’s share price grow the whole time. I love the saying, “Water the growers and pull the weeds.” I’m slowly building all my initial ~$500 investments into $1,000 holdings.

2 shares of EMN (Eastman Chemical Company) @ $84.87/share ($169.74)

I made my weak initial investment in EMN into a slightly stronger one.

7 shares of VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) @ 125.20/share ($876.43)

Another no-brainer “catch-up” contribution to VTI.

May 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

My dividend growth portfolio was really taking shape. I spent a lot of May bolstering my current porfolio with some heavy contributions, but I also picked up a few new stocks. Here’s what I came out with in May 2017.

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

1 share of RSG (Republic Services, Inc.) @ $63.04/share ($63.04)

I still feel great about the future of waste handling. Another no-brainer investment into a position I already had established.

2 share of CINF (Cincinnati Financial Corporation) @ $70.98/share ($141.96)

Another company I already owned, but wanted to own a bit more of. Not only that, but the price had dropped substantially from when I first bought it at $79.99/share. I picked up a few more shares.

1 shares of BA (Boeing Co) @ $183.78/share ($183.78)

After doubling down a bit on CINF, I went the opposite direction on Boeing. I originally picked up a few BA shares for $158.70, but Boeing is one of those companies that you will always have to buy at a high. I felt good doing this with Boeing.

4 shares of RTN (Raytheon Company) @ $158.14/share ($632.56)

Another company that enjoys remarkable steady appreciation, I knew I would always have to buy at all-time highs if I ever wanted more of a piece of this in my portfolio. I pulled the trigger and have continued to watch it perform for me.

13 shares of TXN (Texas Instruments Incorporated) @ $79.32/share ($1031.16)

I love Texas Instruments! I am probably a bit low on technology stocks, but I had my eye on TXN for a while. It screams the word “healthy.” In Sept 2017, its yield is 2.37% and payout ratio is 48%. It has shown few signs of slowing down in the last five years and I look forward to adding more to this holding in the future. Their most recent dividend hike was a staggering 32%. We will see what the next one holds.

1 share of CSCO (Cisco Systems, Inc.) @ $33.35/share ($33.35)

As I sat on my computer looking for something to do with my few remaining funds, I read into Cisco. I also looked around and saw Cisco stamped on almost every network component my computer was hooked up to. Not only are they a clear leader, but they also have a high 3.57% yield with a nice 53% payout ratio. I was surprised to look at their recent dividend increase history and find some massive increases. We will see if they continue along this line. Similar to PFE and HRL, the share price is in the low $30 range which is great for when my dividends pile up enough to add another share. PFE, HRL, and CSCO holdings will be funded almost entirely by dividend payments from the rest of my portfolio!

3 shares of HD (Home Depot Inc) @ $156.03/share ($468.09)

Another no-brainer addition to a company I already held. I only had two shares before, so it’s good to see a more substantial investment into one of my favorite companies.

1 shares of MSFT (Microsoft Corporation) @ $68.08/share ($68.08)

This portfolio is getting easier! More and more, I can add shares to companies I already own and feel good about. My Microsoft holding is one of my favorites, so why not grow it by another share?

1 shares of PFE (Pfizer Inc.) @ $32.34/share ($32.34)

I still had enough left over from this deposit to pick up another share of PFE. I’ll continue to buy PFE, HRL, and CSCO one share at a time since I pay no commission and they are low share prices.

5 shares of V (Visa Inc) @ $92.59/share ($462.95)

This is exciting for me. I never would have considered any stock yielding below a 1% dividend yield in the beginning. I feel great about this Visa purchase though.

I look at this purchase as another big step toward building a long term, dividend-paying portfolio.  I wish I began this journey years ago, but luckily I still have many years ahead of me to let dividend payments and share price grow. Visa looks to be one of the best in both those departments.

Yield is at 0.63%, and payout ratio is at 19%. Visa’s share appreciation is the definition of steady, and I believe it has room to grow as more transactions occur online across the world. Visa’s business model is scale-able too. As their business increases, they don’t necessarily need to make more products to handle the new customers and transactions.

I can’t wait to hold Visa and add to it as time goes on.

April 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

If March was a quiet month, April was an exciting month. I started paying more attention to tax shelter options. Older, wiser people have always praised the Roth IRA, and I realized I hadn’t made any Roth IRA contributions for 2016. This was my last chance! Here’s what I came out with in April 2017.

Missed opportunity 🙁

While compiling this month’s information, I learned that I did not max out my 2016 Roth IRA contribution. I only put in $2,000 of the possible $5,500. Why was I investing in my taxable account when I had an un-maxed Roth IRA account just sitting there? This is sad, but it’s part of the reason I’m doing this blog. I want to hold myself accountable, and this is one of those moments. This was a major oversight on my part.

I may have had some excuses relating to fronting job expenses and being short on available cash in April. But to think I’ve missed out on $3,500 earning dividends tax-free is painful. I got caught up watching my taxable account grow and wasn’t fully considering every possible way I could make my money grow faster.

I have come a long way in the last few months. I will never make taxable investments as long as I have room in my Roth IRA. Great learning experience for me! It’s like a punch in the gut now!

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

Roth IRA

7 shares of LMT (Lockheed Martin Corporation) @ $268.95/share ($1,889.65)

LMT was on my radar. When I think of companies that will still be going strong when I die, I think of Lockheed Martin. That is the kind of company I want to be heavily invested in, so I used valuable Roth IRA space to make my largest single investment yet. A 2.4% yield and 58% payout ratio (as of Sept 2017) is just what I want, and the most recent dividend increases have been in the double digits. I’m excited to own a little bit of LMT!

46 shares of JNJ (Johnson & Johnson) @ $121.80/share ($5,609.80)

I later made my 2017 Roth IRA contribution and went all in on JNJ. I will later reduce my exposure to single stocks through the use of ETFs, but I am very comfortable parking a large sum in JNJ. I already owned a small amount in my taxable account, and now I don’t feel the need to contribute more to that until I catch up on my other companies I’d like to be more invested in.

Taxable

1 shares of PFE (Pfizer Inc.) @ $34.17/share ($34.17)

Another “bookmark” share. Since Robinhood doesn’t offer drip yet, I like having a few solid companies in the low $30 share price range for when my dividends accumulate. I’m not sure if PFE gets the credit it deserves. It is a high 3.6% yielder but only has a payout ratio of 50% in Sept 2017. It has been growing its dividend at a healthy 7-8%, although has been gradually slowing the last few years. Healthcare products seem to be high-risk, high-reward. I have no expertise in that area, but I like exposure to it. I am happy to build PFE over time and let one of the industry giants do what it does best.

1 share of ORI (Old Republic) @ $19.96/share ($19.66)

My last ORI purchase before selling it two months later. It just doesn’t have the dividend growth I’d like. I’ll focus on CSCO/PFE/HRL when I have some money left over from larger purchases.

14 shares of MO (Altria Group Inc) @ $71.70/share ($1003.80)

I decided to double down (or triple down?) on my recent MO purchase. MO is one of those companies with an amazing dividend history, and I wanted

1 shares of MSFT (Microsoft Corporation) @ $65.78/share ($65.78)

I had enough left over after the MO purchase to make a small increase in my Microsoft position. Another investment which is practically a no-brainer! Seeing my initial $400-$500 positions grow bigger makes me excited for the future!

15 shares of ABBV (AbbVie Inc) @ $64.03/share ($960.45)

It was time to start a new position in one of everyone’s favorite dividend growers. I decided to go big with ABBV. Over the next few months, this would be one of my biggest returns on initial investment. Like they say, it doesn’t count until you sell. And I have no plans to sell ABBV. In Sept 2017, it has a strong 2.95% yield but only a 46% payout ratio. I’m glad I got in when I did!

18 shares of WFC (Wells Fargo & Co) @ $53.61/share ($964.98)

I still thought I lacked exposure to financials, and decided to go with Wells Fargo. It had just gone through a rough period (false accounts), but I believed it was still a leader in its industry. I’ve actually had bad personal experiences with Wells Fargo, but am going to try to remain impartial in my investments. In Sept 2017, it has a nice 3.04% yield, but only a small 38% payout ratio. It fits those metrics for me, but its growth is on the small side of what I’m looking for. I’m hoping this will be another company that will be around when I die, and I will continue to hold and collect dividends.

7 shares of TRV (Travelers Companies Inc) @ $122.24/share ($855.68)

Another expansion for my portfolio into the financial/insurance sector! I had Travelers bookmarked with a single share, and still liked it just as much as when I first came upon it. I added seven more shares to my initial single share, making it one of my core holdings.

12 shares of MGA (Magna International Inc. (USA)) @ $41.49/share ($497.88)

I am not a big fan of the automakers, but I love this auto maker supplier! MGA has a short, but strong dividend history. I have good confidence in MGA’s 2.13% yield and tiny 19% payout ratio and plan to gradually add more shares as time goes on.

9 shares of PFG (Principal Financial Group Inc) @ $65.11/share ($585.99)

Another step into the financial industry, I love the 3% yield and 36% payout ratio (as of Sept 2017). On top of that, PFG has recently been increasing its dividend every quarter. I’m interested to see how PFG shakes out for me long term and will consider adding more.

 

March 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

What a quiet month!! I was setting money aside for my Roth IRA purchases. I also fronted some of my own money for reimbursable work expenses. Here’s what I came out with in March 2017.

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

1 share of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company) @ $44.37/share ($44.37)

I had ADM on my watchlist and accumulated enough dividend income to buy a share as a sort of bookmark for later. I have a good feeling about ADM. It’s a 3% yield, but only 50% payout ratio (as of Sept 2017). I’ll want to add more to ADM later. As the world population continues to grow, we are going to need more food. ADM will continue to benefit from that.

1 share of HRL (Hormel Foods Corp) @ $34.80/share ($34.80)

A few more dividend payments rolled in and I was eager to make them earn me money as fast as possible. I went back to an earlier purchase. HRL seems poised for big growth in developing countries, and is also positioned well for the growing protein diet movement. HRL also has one of the lowest share prices for what I consider a strong company, and that lets me buy single shares as soon as my dividend payments add up to enough.

February 2017 Monthly Purchases (looking back)

My dividend adventure continues. This is not the most exciting adventure. It’s actually on the boring side! But, for every $100 I put into dividend growth stocks, I get a few bucks back each year to put into more dividend growth stocks. My strategy is boring but I am really starting to see progress toward my eventual goal of replacing my regular income with dividend income. Here’s what I came out with in February 2017.

I am writing this looking back from September 2017.

2 shares of MMM (3M Co) @ $175.94/share ($351.88)

I felt great about 3M after my original purchase and strengthened my position on it. It’s nice to have some no-brainer companies to invest in. I am still looking to start new investments with new dividend growth companies, but I’m starting to consider bolstering my existing investments too.

1 shares of TRV (Travelers Companies Inc) @ $118.03/share ($118.03)

I had very little exposure to the financial/insurance industry, but had my eye on Travelers with its very safe 2.4% yield and 37% payout ratio (as of Sept 2017). After buying a few 3M shares, I only had enough funds for one share of TRV. I went ahead with the purchase as a sort of “bookmark” for later. At the time I bought this share, the most recent dividend increase was about 10%. Later in the year, TRV would have a 7.5% dividend increase. Still good.

3 shares of EMN (Eastman Chemical Company) @ $78.57/share ($235.71)

2.4% yield and 27% payout ratio (as of Sept 2017). I love low payout ratios! EMN has been increasing their dividend by double digits the past few years. They still have a lot of room to grow if they wish to. They provide chemicals for a number of industries such as construction, industrials, and agricultural. All industries I am confident will continue to grow with the world’s population and require more of Eastman’s products.

2 shares of HD (Home Depot Inc) @ $137.43/share ($274.86)

I love Lowe’s, but I personally like walking into Home Depot more. I don’t know why, maybe it is the orange color on the logo? They are really the two leaders in their industry, so why shouldn’t I own both? Similar to Lowe’s, Home Depot has a lot of the metrics I look for. In Sept 2017, dividend yield is 2.23% and payout ratio is 49%. Home Depot doesn’t have as much of a dividend increase history as Lowe’s, but who really does? Shortly after this purchase, I was rewarded with a massive 29% dividend increase! I should have bought more!

7 shares of MO (Altria Group Inc) @ $71.62/share ($501.34)

Along with JNJ and KO, MO is one of the stalwarts of the dividend growth investing world. I had to get in on it. I believe “vaping” will continue to grow, and the weed industry has been exploding the last few years. I believe MO will benefit if the current legalization trend continues. There is a lot of bad press (rightfully so) about smoking, but I believe MO is run by the best of the best.

8 shares of MSFT (Microsoft Corporation) @ $63.58/share ($508.64)

I can’t believe it took me this long to buy into Microsoft! At the time I am writing this, Microsoft has grown into my very top holding. I recently read an article that described Microsoft as a new sort of utility company. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are unquestioned industry standards. They are keeping right up with their competitors in the cloud movement. They’re building a steady dividend increase history, and with a 2.07% yield, they are still at a 49% payout ratio (as of Sept 2017). There is nothing I don’t like about Microsoft, and I will continue to buy and hold!

1 shares of FLO (Flowers Foods, Inc.) @ $20.53/share ($20.53)

With a bit left over from this deposit, I picked up another share of FLO. Big yield and big payout ratio. Not quite in line with my style.

1 shares of FLO (Flowers Foods, Inc.) @ $19.16/share ($19.16)

After a few dividends rolled in, I had enough to pick up another share of FLO. Again, big yield and big payout ratio. This will be the last FLO purchase for a while. I use Robinhood and instead of DRIP, I pick up shares of different companies when my dividends amount to enough. I will later trend towards CSCO, PFE, and HRL as I like these dividend growers and their share cost is in the low $30 range.