Dividend Growth Investor – why I’m living off dividends and distributions

A short while ago on My Own Advisor I wrote a controversial post about the intent to live off dividends and distributions from our portfolio.  I know some investors don’t agree with my approach and I can see why. Readers have mentioned the following to me:

“The trouble with a “live off the dividends” approach is that I’d have to save too much in order to create my desired retirement income. For example, I’d need to save between $2.5M and $3M in order to generate $90,000 per year in dividend income. Alternatively, I could get the same $90,000 per year by simply withdrawing from a portfolio of $1.45M (assuming 5% annual growth and the portfolio lasts 30 years).”

“Some of the big banks’ income funds have proven to have unsustainable distributions.”

“Your universe starts to shrink if you demand an average dividend rate of 4% or higher from your stocks. I prefer to own everything and withdraw dividends plus retained earnings (in the form of capital gains) as I see fit. The way I see it, I’m living off retained earnings whether I get them in the form of dividends or capital gains. I don’t see why I need to limit myself to dividends in order to preserve capital.”

No doubt this is a polarizing topic and this article might not help the issue – but here goes.

For me, living off your dividends or distributions is something we’re striving for, for these reasons:

  • There are simply too many unknowns about the future. Having ample capital for our financial future will give us many options, including the option to retire early and convert to a total return approach if we really want to.
  • If we are able to keep our capital intact we don’t need to worry as much about when to sell shares or ETF units, there are less decisions to make, and consequently there will be less transaction costs and portfolio manipulation.
  • Saving and investing this way is my form of forced savings – there is motivation.

I recently caught up with a few dividend investors to ask them some questions about their financial freedom journey, including any plans to “live off dividends and distributions”.  As part of this series, here is what Dividend Growth Investor said.

I have been focusing my attention particularly on dividend paying stocks since 2007. I live in the Midwest in the US. My site is Dividend Growth Investor.

I am mostly a buyer of high quality dividend stocks, with solid competitive advantages. My holding period is forever, as long as the dividend is at least maintained. I tend to concentrate my efforts on stocks which grow earnings and dividends, which provides outstanding total returns over time. I only focus my attention to stocks with sustainable dividend payments. I am also a firm believer in diversification across sectors and geographic locations. I hope that my blog will serve as an inspiration for my readers and that it would change their financial lives for the better.

What is your investing goal?  Do you really intend to live off dividends or distributions?

My goal is to generate a sufficient stream of dividend income, which grows above the rate of inflation over time.  I will achieve that goal by investing in dividend growth stocks, such as the ones found on the list of dividend champions. I will likely achieve the goal of earning more dividends than expenses around late 2018. I do not expect to have to “spend” principle.

Why does this approach work for you?

I find it easier to model dividend income than total returns. Dividends are a more stable component of total returns than capital gains. This makes it easier to track how I am doing relative to my goal. The amount and timing of capital gains is unpredictable, which makes it difficult to make projections using a total return centric only approach. Since dividends are more stable, it is easier to just spend them, and leave the capital intact (so that money can compound and maintain purchasing power over time).

Will you eventually “eat” your capital and if so, how?

I do not expect to sell assets in order to pay for my expenses. I plan to live off dividends in retirement.

In old age, I will start donating assets to relatives and charitable causes.

I believe that index investors who withdraw more than 4% from their portfolios will increase their risk of running out of money in a traditional 30 year retirement span. During the time of the 4% rule studies, the average yields on stocks and bonds was around 4% or more. So in situations like today, when average yields are around 3%, a safer withdrawal rate would be around 3%. Astute readers would notice that the success of the 4% rule has been based on the yields at the time the study was done. Given the low yields today, an investor who reduces their withdrawal rate to 3% would do well.

How close are you to realizing your retirement goal?  What are your assumptions about your savings rate, your portfolio value and your rates of return needed?

I expect that my annual dividend income will exceed annual expenses around late 2018. My assumptions are that I will invest money in companies yielding 3% – 4% on average that grow dividends by approximately 6% average per year. At a 3% yield in 2018, this would translate into a portfolio value that could support me over 400 months or 33 years. At a 3.50% yield, the portfolio value could support me for 342 months’ worth of monthly expenses.  At this stage of the game, most of the gain will be driven by investment performance. However, I try to save at least 50% of my income, and then try to find ways to increase that income.

Any last words you wish to share about your approach?

The most important thing that an investor can do is develop a strategy that they can stick to through thick and thin.  This means dividend investing or indexing or another strategy.  Otherwise, the investor will risk selling at the most inopportune times, effectively undoing years of compounding. Continuous education is also very important. Having conservative expectations, and building some margin of safety in your approach is important as well. It is important to think realistically what could go wrong with your investments and how to protect yourself from that, rather than merely rely on historical investing data.

Thanks to Dividend Growth Investor for sharing some insight into his strategy to live off dividends – the first investor in this series.  I’ve been following his blog for years and he’s getting closer to his goal – I hope he hits it in 2018.  The goal of living off equity dividends (or distributions) can be a prudent strategy but it’s not for everyone and dividend investing also has risks.  Only you can decide what is right for you.   I encourage you to consult a financial professional in the form of a fee-only advisor if you need help with your financial plan.

Share your thoughts on this article – I’m always happy to hear from you!

My name is Mark Seed and I'm the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, we're inching closer to our ultimate goal - owning a 7-figure investment portfolio for semi-retirement. We're almost there! Subscribe and join the journey. Learn how I'm getting there and how you can get there too!

54 Responses to "Dividend Growth Investor – why I’m living off dividends and distributions"

  1. This passage seems incorrect:

    “At a 3% yield…could support me over 400 months or 33 years. At a 3.50% yield…could support me for 342 months…”

    Part of the reason he needs to live off dividends is his very end goal: “In old age, I will start donating assets to relatives and charitable causes.”

    Besides shedding dividend-paying assets lowering his “old age” income, and the tax issues, if a person has no desire or capacity to donate and/or leave an inheritence, then their whole portfolio and retirement income structure changes.

    Would also be interesting to know more about his personal life, as saving 50% of income is highly unattainable for the majority of people/households.

    I like that he mentions utilizing forward thinking & problem solving strategies rather than assume your money will continue to do what that big chart picture of the stock market hanging on every bank advisor’s wall has done.

    Reply
    1. Thanks for the comments SST. I’ll let DGI speak to his math. It seems he will draw down his portfolio by that statement.

      I agree 110% – ignore what the banks tell you and point to regarding those fancy charts!

      Reply
  2. It’s always interesting to read about another persons approach and rationale behind it. Seems like DGI has a good plan that works with his current situation and will meet future goals. I agree with having a well thought out plan with conservative assumptions, and margin of safety. Although everyone’s perception and ideas on these varies.
    I believe in following a plan but also being flexible enough to recognize if it needs to evolve to different realities.

    Some of the same things struck me as SST had commented on. And yes Mark ignore the bank charts. Good points by all.

    Reply
    1. Same Deane. I enjoy reading other investors’ take on things. I don’t always agree with them, but I learn this way.

      There is no substitute for a well-thought out plan. That goes for most things I find. It doesn’t guarantee things will work out in life but the process of planning and knowing how to do it is very important.

      I appreciate your insight. Good luck to DGI on his journey. 2018 isn’t far away.

      Reply
  3. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for including me in you series.

    Hi SST,

    Let’s assume I need $1,000/month ( nice round number, not what I need though). This is equivalent to $12,000/year in dividend income. If the portfolio generates $12K/year, and yields 3%, it is worth $400K. This is equivalent to 400 months of living expenses. If that same stream of $12K is from a portfolio that yields 3.50%, the worth is ~$342.8K. At $1K/month, this is equivalent to roughly 342-343 months.

    Saving 50% or more of income is quite possible if you monitor the big expenses such as housing, transportation, taxation and food expenses. When you do it for a few years, it becomes a second nature. My goal in life is not to be like everyone, but to live my life the way that is best for me.

    I do not understand the paragraph where you talked about old age. If I have money left over in old age, I will give them away. It is incredibly risky to tell yourself that you will die penniless because I do not know when I will die nor how my investments will do. I am not a fan of methods that require perfect precision.

    Reply
  4. On thing to add to giving money away.

    When I discuss old age, I mean events several decades away from today. I discuss how I will become FI from dividends around 2018. However, this dividend income will grow over time. So if the portfolio generates $30,000 in annual dividend income in 2019, chances are that it will generate more in 2029, 2039 etc.

    I do agree about investing with a plan, but also being flexible about investing. We all know that past performance is not indicative of future performance.

    Reply
  5. re: “Saving 50% or more of income is quite possible…” if you live in America. Average cost of living in Canada is ~30% higher than in the US. I can only assume that single people, high income earners, and DINKS, would have the easiest time achieving the 50%; those with low income and/or dependents, not so much.

    Thanks for the math run down. Basically your main plan is dividend-centric but if need be, you can and will use capital. With that said, I see nothing wrong with devising a retirement income plan which utilizes capital to zero.

    Reply
  6. I agree that using a strategy that you are comfortable with is very important as avoiding behavioural errors (such as “the big mistake”, panic selling) is the most important element in investing. For me, I’m uncomfortable focusing on just dividend paying stocks, as you end up with a less diversified, and therefore riskier, portfolio than with indexing. I also can save less with indexing – saving 50% of my income is not desirable for me – and as I have no legacy goals, I don’t want to die with a big pile of money.

    Reply
    1. I’m also uncomfortable with just stocks, which is why I hold ETFs as well – I like the extra diversification. Capital gains however are not guaranteed so I prefer dividends since when they are paid, it’s real cash and something I know I can use to cover expenses.

      I think attempting to “live off dividends” is a great way of forced savings.

      Reply
  7. Very interesting to read what other DGI are doing. Sounds like we’re on similar page when it comes to dividend investing and using dividends for expenses in retirement. Great stuff.

    Reply
  8. With the advent of the TFSA and the recent increase in the contribution amount, the potential for living off investment income becomes more obtainable. Having this income generate no taxes helps a LOT. A problem arises when we are not assured of the rules going forward. The limit may come down, there may be a cap, there may be a change to ‘means testing’ in regards to OAS and probably a hundred different variants that could come into play. Having said that, my plan always included pillars. DB pension for the main one, CPP is irrelevant due to integration. OAS could be there but might not be due to clawback. RRSPs and now TFSAs will be large pillars. And last but not least, part time income earned in retirement. This last one is turning out to be more significant than I had thought. It is turning out that I don’t need any income from the RRSP but will take some anyways just to get some out in the lower tax bracket.

    Reply
    1. I agree Lloyd, although the Libs and NDP if elected will clawback the TFSA room. I suspect at some point there will be a limit/ceiling imposed on the TFSA. I would be fine with that.

      You’re thoughts about “financial pillars” are very much aligned with mine. I want to have a few of them: government benefits, workplace pension, side-income and of course personal investments. This would be good diversification in my opinion.

      Thanks for your insights.

      Reply
  9. Mark, I agree that capital gains are not guaranteed, but neither are dividends. They can be cut or eliminated. They fell safer because they are less volatile than stock prices. In 2008, dividends didn’t fall much overall, because the down turn was short lived, but in the 1930’s, the S&P dividends fell 50%. Over the long term, it’s the same thing whether you take returns from your investment as dividends or capital gains. The day you receive a dividend your stock drops by the same amount as the dividend (the market then takes over, so your stock may close up, down or the same). If you sell the same amount of your investment as the dividend, you end up at the same place in terms of the value of your investment. All that, not withstanding, I think a mix of stocks and ETFs is a great way to go and we all need to go with a strategy we are comfortable with.

    Reply
    1. Agreed, dividends are not guaranteed however when they are paid, it’s very tangible. Some stocks I own did cut their dividends over the last year but I also had many that grew their dividends. In 2008-2009, you are correct, the dividends didn’t fall much and some stocks increased them right out of The Great Recession.

      I guess what I’m saying is over the long-term, “living off dividends” is going to provide me/us with options in retirement. This is good thing for us.

      Reply
  10. I believe as long as you have a plan then go for it. I also agree with being able to stick through the thick and thin of it. More mistakes can happen when panic sets in. Most people just ride retirement day by day so it can’t be all that bad for people who actually put some thought into how it’s going to or hoping to play out. I was also wondering how he was able to save 50% of his income. That’s awesome!

    Reply
  11. Hi Grant,
    “I also can save less with indexing – saving 50% of my income is not desirable for me – and as I have no legacy goals, I don’t want to die with a big pile of money.”

    You do not know the actual returns on your investments over your investing timeframe. You also do not know whether your investments will do better or worse than mine. You might believe you will do better than everyone else, but you are forgetting that past performance is not indicative of actual future performance. So you cannot imply that you need to save less because your investment returns will be somehow miraculously better than someone else’s – you do not know that. As a result, you cannot really determine if you will die with a pile of money or whether you will die while sweeping the floors of the local Wal-Mart – there are a lot of unknowns.

    I focus on things I can control. I cannot control the rates of return on investments. However, I can control my savings rate, and the types of investments I make. I can also remain humble and flexible, and to keep learning as much as possible about investments. I can try as much as I can to eat healthy and exercise. I believe that success is a personal choice, and it is determined by maintaining the right attitude that will tilt the odds of success in my favor.

    The higher the savings rate, the less money a person needs in retirement. The higher the savings rate, the quicker it takes to accumulate enough money for retirement. If I save 50% of income, I can retire in less than 20 years. If I save 75% of income, I can retire in less than a decade.

    Reply
  12. I disagree that a dividend growth portfolio is not diversified. I speak from a US perspective. If you speak from a Canadian perspective, I agree that the stock market is exposed to commodities and banking. You lack the diversified international companies that US has.

    If you look at the list of dividend champions, you can see representation from a lot of sectors. In addition, most US dividend growth stocks have operations all over the world.

    I do not believe that diversification for the sake of diversification is a smart move. For example, I am fine never owning a single share of Alcoa (AA) for example. The dividend fluctuates and is not safe enough to live off.

    Reply
    1. You will definitely get some arguments from indexers about the lack of diversification. Most indexers will say you need at least 100 stocks to be diversified and even then, you’re not owning the market which is the best way to guarantee returns.

      I’m a fan of dividend investing, as you know, but I can also see the merits of passive index investing. With indexing you get the good stocks and bad stocks but at least you don’t need to figure out which ones are which.

      Reply
  13. “The trouble with a “live off the dividends” approach is that I’d have to save too much in order to create my desired retirement income. For example, I’d need to save between $2.5M and $3M in order to generate $90,000 per year in dividend income. Alternatively, I could get the same $90,000 per year by simply withdrawing from a portfolio of $1.45M (assuming 5% annual growth and the portfolio lasts 30 years).”

    I disagree with the statement above, as it is outright incorrect. If you believe that you can “safely” withdraw 6% of your portfolio by using index funds, you are wrong. Based on the studies of historical withdrawal rates, there is a very high chance of failure when you withdraw more than 4% of your portfolio of index funds. If returns are not as good as I think they will be, and I miscalculate amount of money I need and I spend too much, I risk being penniless at an old age when I have fewer options. This is an insane gamble since one never knows how long they will live, how their portfolio will perform. As a result, you can never really time your death and know you will have spent the last penny before you die.

    I do not want to outlive my money in retirement. There is nothing worse than being old and frail, and having to spend 40 hours/week on your feet working a menial job.

    I do agree that people who do not want to pick stocks, or who do not want to spend any time on their investments, would be served fine in index funds. This probably covers 80%+ of the population out there. However, I do not think it is prudent to spend more than 3% – 4%/ year when they are retired.

    Reply
    1. I also think anyone with a larger than 4% withdrawal rate on their capital runs risks….

      Most actuarial studies I’ve read state equity returns in the range of 5-7% will be “normal going forward”. This is why living off dividends in appealing to me, it’s a mindset, a form of forced savings and offers the ability to manage my portfolio with a bit more control; i.e., hopefully eat capital when I want to and not because I have to.

      Reply
  14. Mark:
    For me the question was “Can dividend growth investing generate sufficient income so one will be able to live off the dividends or that the growing dividends will help offset rising cost during retirement.” In my case the answer was YES.

    I am retired and living off my dividends and I don’t have an investment of $2-$3M. My portfolio should generate $100k by yearend (or close to it). I also do not have any high yield stocks or ones that do not have relatively safe dividends.

    Many of the concerns mentioned above really depend upon what ones objective is for retirement and ones life expectancy. Most investors want sufficient income during retirement so that they can live the life they want, the problem is how long will one live and what unforeseen expenses may upset your requirements. Who knows! So for me the best plan was to find an investment strategy that would meet the first goal (providing enough income) and allow my investments to continue to grow even during retirement, even if there is a large pile at the end. I’d rather leave a large pile (even if it’s heavily taxed) than find us in a Low Income gov’t assisted home.

    The other point that many seem to overlook or don’t understand, is the yield their portfolio could generate in the future, assuming they invest in solid dividend growth stocks. If one invests regularly, reinvest the dividends, can take advantage of markets dips and the companies you own increase their dividend, the yield on your investment will grow! Over your investment period you could easily exceed double digit and it will continue to increase even in retirement.

    When people mention living off dividends, they often just look at current yield. If the current yield of your stocks is 4% and one wants $20,000/yr they say you need a $500,000 pile. But what if your yield is 6% on your investments and it’s generating $20k? You’ve only invested $333,333.

    Reply
    1. Henry, you’re probably a rare breed 🙂

      I trust you when you say you don’t have the $2-$3M portfolio, and neither will my wife and I. Ever. Our goal is to have $1M eventually and that should be “enough” money. I figure that will generate at least $30k per year (conservatively) in dividends. It will be tax-free and tax-advantaged money as well.

      If your portfolio is churning out $100k per year that is amazing….

      To your point, this is why we reinvest dividends religiously: we can take advantage of markets dips; and compounding – money that makes money will make more money. I’m already seeing it at work in our portfolio which is very exciting.

      Thanks for your detailed comment.

      Reply
      1. Why is your goal 30k on a one million dollar investment? Something isn’t adding up for me. Most companies have current yields higher than that, but even if we take your 3% or lower, after 10 years your yield on cost will be AT LEAST 5-7%. Let alone 20 years. It’s very likely that your average yield on cost will be higher than 7%. Have I achieved it? No. I’m trying though. I’m just trying to understand your 3% number though. It doesn’t add up.

        Reply
        1. I aim for a yield on my portfolio of 3 to 3.5%. That is because I have a variety of yields on my stocks from the 1% range to the 6% range. You tend to get higher growth the lower the yield and visa versa. My current yield is 3.43%. Last year my dividends grew by 11.1%.

          Susan

          Reply
        2. Hey Nima,

          Great question. You’re right, most companies have yields >3% or so, my dividend yield should be at least 3% or more here in Canada.

          The yield on cost is not a great metric since this can apply to any investment (ETFs, mutual funds, etc.) – what you paid (cost) vs. what it’s yielding over time (i.e., yield on cost).

          Ultimately what matters to me is the dividend income I can tangibly live from. That is not yield on cost. That is current yield based on the current dividend income delivered by any stock.

          I hope that helps.

          Reply
        3. I should add Nima: my $30K per year goal is based on my non-reg. and TFSA accounts ONLY. I hope to draw down my RRSPs after we are debt free and own $1 M across our portfolio. So, $30K from non-reg. + x2 TFSAs and then RRSP withdrawals on top of that should be enough for our retirement needs and wants.

          My dividend income updates focus on the non-reg. and TFSA accounts only and always have. Stay tuned for my January 2019 update in the coming weeks.
          https://www.myownadvisor.ca/december-2018-dividend-income-update/

          Reply
  15. When one talks about Capital or “living off capital”, what are you referring to? Is it what you’ve saved and invested over the years or is it the current Market value of your investments. If the latter, one had best hope for a continuous rising market or you may not be able to draw down what you need.

    With growing dividends one can feel much more secure.

    Reply
    1. I suspect what they mean, or what I mean at least, is they must draw down their capital in order to live/fund expenses. This means investors will be dependent upon what capital gains they receive. Unless you have a modest cash wedge, this just seems risky to me although maybe I don’t appreciate the value a total return approach can bring. I probably don’t!

      Reply
  16. An important note seems to be missing from this discussion: DRIP.

    If a person were to reinvest all dividends over the period of their working/saving life, then they may not need to i) save 50% of their income, and/or ii) save for the entire duration — they let the dividends do the work before and during retirement.

    Admittedly, I haven’t done any calculations on this yet, but the inclination is that the above two points are valid to some degree.

    Reply
  17. Mark:
    “Our goal is to have $1M eventually and that should be “enough” money. I figure that will generate at least $30k per year (conservatively) in dividends. It will be tax-free and tax-advantaged money as well”

    I think the real objective should be Income! How much income does your saving generate. I’m sure if you review your income annually, you’ll see it growing considerably more than inflation (even ignoring Total Return).. Even if you stopped adding funds, I’m sure your income would continue to grow. That’s what I think investors should concentrate on. Save as much as you can, add to those savings when you can and I totally agree with SST & Lloyd (drip & tfsa, but only with the best DG companies). I do not feel diversification is necessary or that all sectors need to be covered, but that’s just me.

    Reply
  18. Good stuff. Living off of dividend or other passive income will allow us to do something that we love and passionate about. I can’t wait till the moment. Until then, I got lots of work to do. 🙂

    Reply
  19. Mark and DGI,

    Thanks for sharing!

    I’m with DGI all the way on this one. Capital gains come and go. But dividends tend to keep on coming… and growing, no less. Dividend cuts just aren’t that much of a factor if you’re properly diversified across every economic sector with multiple holdings per sector. I currently have 70 holdings. Even if two stocks completely eliminate their dividends, my income wouldn’t even be phased once you factor in even modest dividend growth from the rest of the holdings. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited to know that I’ll be living off of dividend income solely within the next five years or so. 🙂

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. The indexers will argue capital gains are largely predictable in the long-term, and, with dividend investing, unfortunately you have to know what stocks will perform well in advance. Just paying devil’s advocate Jason…

      Now that piece said, investors who are willing to diversify their stock holdings over time and follow a disciplined investing plan (and not let their behaviour get in the way) can also be successful. This you know from your own journey – one I wish you well on.

      Reply
  20. Mark, I think you hit the nail on the head – capital gains are predictable in the long term, but not in the short term, so dividends feel safer as they are less volatile. Therefore with indexing, you need some cash or fixed income to deal with sequence of return risk due to short term capital gains volatility. But with a dividend focused strategy you have to pick the right stocks, and the research is quite clear on this – about 98% of professional and non professional investors don’t beat the market, but due to overconfidence most of feel we are in the 2% that do. It’s called the Lake Wobegon effect, the mythical town where everyone is above average. Of course, many DGI investors do very well, so I’m not knocking the strategy, but I think the research shows that indexing is the more efficient strategy.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Grant, and yes, I feel this way: capital gains are quite predictable in the long term, but not in the short term, so dividends feel safer because it’s a tangible part of total return.

      I think investors who are passionate about Canadian stocks can likely mirror the TSX with about 20-30 blue chippers. This is because the pool of dividend stocks in Canada and large companies, is rather small. However, the problem comes with U.S. stocks and generating index-like returns. That is a challenge so you are right, it comes down to some luck and stock selection and many holdings to match the index.

      If folks don’t even want to try…to match the index…they certainly don’t have to. Just hold 2-3 ETFs 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  21. Hi DGI,

    It’s not about the returns. It’s about that fact the with indexing you spend down the capital in retirement, so you do not have to save as much as a strategy that does not.

    Diversification is the only free lunch in investing, so you might as well as well get as much of it as you can. A globally diversified portfolio of index funds will maximize this free lunch.

    I agree that 6% is too much to take from a portfolio in retirement. 4% is safe, which can be increased to 5%, using a number of strategies, if the markets perform well early in retirement.

    Reply
  22. I started to live off my dividend portfolio in 1999. I was withdrawing 4%, so the withdrawal included capital. Then along came 2000, then 2008. I now live off just my dividends. I do not wish to be old and broke.

    Reply
    1. Coming close to 20 years with this approach Susan. Well done and very impressive. We have a long ways to go to get to our savings goal but with every passing month we are inching closer towards it. I think this approach will give my wife and I financial options as we age. I like that. We’ll see. It’s only a plan. Time will tell if we are successful?!

      Reply
  23. I prefer the living off dividends ideal as the main goal. If circumstances change after you set your goal or after retiring you can always lower your expectations (if your absolutely forced to) down to the draw down method.
    One major advantage of the dividend method is if you own 25 stocks and a couple companies cut/eliminate their dividend, the increases of the rest may well make up for the decrease. However, in a serious downturn in the market most if not all of the stocks will decrease in market value. This leads you to sell off a higher percent of your portfolio for the same standard of living.
    Also, dividend stocks most years will increase their payout faster than inflation. This allows a person retiring at 45 to have a serious cushion in income by the time they are in their 60’s and 70’s. A cushion they can then put toward a purpose other than themselves, whether it be family, friends or charity. Why not have a goal to improve your life by being financially free at an early age AND be able to improve the lives of those who need a boost?

    Reply
    1. Thanks for your comments Andrew. I see “living off dividends” being helpful for two key reasons. One, it’s a form of forced savings. I like the mental-side of this approach, meaning, once I invest this money it’s money I never have to work for again. Two, if in fact we can save enough and that money makes enough, we withdraw capital on our own terms. I’m sure we’ll draw down the capital but I like having financial options as I get older.

      Reply
  24. By the way, I never had a year when my dividend income was lower than the previous year. Yes, I have had companies cut dividends but always some wouldraise them and of course some dividends would stay level. This often happened in bear markets. However, my overall dividend income has never declined. Basically I invest in good companies, but I have probably been lucky also.

    Reply
  25. Great to hear Susan. For younger DGIs like me, this is music to my ears. While two of my 32 stocks eliminated 100% of dividends in the year because they were Oil & Gas high yielders fallen on tough times, I fretted initially but interestingly, the one that stopped dividend last year due to a minor issue renamed itself (VER) started paying dividends again at a good rate. These were my speculative players. The core dividend players continued to pay and increase, so net was there was a modest increase in my YOY overall dividend income. So, instead of an 8% increase I would’ve got if there were no cuts, I got something like 4-5% annual increase – not bad. I have reduced my ‘speculative’ players to 5% of my portfolio (from earlier 10%), so the DGI predictability will hopefully increase in the future.

    Susan, It is inspiring to hear your story with DGI for such a long time. Can you share your current portfolio holdings so we can learn about the diversification you have and the quality of holdings you favor? How did your total return hold up compared to SPY during the period? Mark, thanks for bringing to light such wonderful DGI real life practitioners.

    Reply
    1. No worries Susan for the delay. Very interesting.

      Not surprising we own many of the same companies in Canada. I suspect there are only about 40-50 stocks worth “buying and holding” in Canada. Most of those stocks are in the TSX-60 or XIU. Otherwise, probably best to index everything else.

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