My Dividends

Welcome to my Dividends page.

This blog is about saving and investing my way beyond a $1 million portfolio and we use dividend paying stocks to help fund our semi-retirement plan. 

I believe owning dividend paying stocks may help your portfolio and your behaviour with investing too.

Millennial Investing


Q&A with Mark: What is your dividend income goal?

It was earning $30,000 per year from taxable and TFSA accounts.

Fast forward into 2023, we’re investing beyond that milestone for semi-retirement. 

Backing up though, that number was chosen because for many, many years, that number/that income per year, without any debt to start semi-retirement with, would cover most of our basic expenses from our taxable accounts and TFSAs to help “live off dividends” in semi-retirement.

That means income from our portfolio would cover basic expenses like food, shelter and taxes. 

This is what I mean by basic expenses: 

Key expenses Currently Monthly Current Annually Semi-retirement comments ~ end of 2024
Mortgage $2,240 $26,880 We anticipate the mortgage “dead” before the end of 2024.
Food/groceries $800 $9,600 Although can vary month-to-month!
Food – dining/takeout $100 $1,200  
Shelter (home maintenance/expenses) $800 $9,600 Represents 1% home value per year, increasing by 3% inflation.
Home property taxes $500 $6,000 Ottawa is not cheap, increasing by inflation.
Home utilities + internet/TV/cell phones, subscriptions, etc. $400 $4,800  
Transportation – x1 car (gas, maintenance, licensing) $150 $1,800 May or may not own a car long-term!
Insurance, including term life $250 $3,000 Term life ends in 2030, will self-insure after that without life insurance.
Totals with Mortgage $5,240 $62,880  
Totals without Mortgage $3,000 $36,000 As you can see, once the debt is gone, we’ll be in a much better place for financial independence!

We figure we need to account for more things in life, like inflation and buffer too. This would be too strict. 

So, add in more spending, other buffer (~$1k per month or so) and that makes our budget closer to $4,500 per month without any travel and without any major capital expenses over time. 

Back to the $30,000 per year original goal – we need to align our semi-retirement plan with our portfolio income and drawdown plan.

This is some thinking on that subject – how and when to withdraw from your RRSP and TFSA.

Starting in 2023 we’ve changed our projected annual dividend income (PADI) reporting approach for the better…to be more clear. 

This is our update and chart below as of January 2023.

January 2023 Dividend Income Update

Here is February 2023 and I will update you more going forward:

February 2023 Dividend Income Update


Q&A with Mark: Why do companies pay dividends?

When a corporation declares a dividend, the company’s retained earnings decrease and its current liabilities increase. When the cash dividend is paid, the corporation’s cash account decreases. 

So, dividends are not magical. Dividends are not free. Dividends don’t fall from the sky. 

Dividend payments directly reduce a company’s earnings.

But…usually stable, well-established companies that make higher profits over time tend to make regular dividend payments. You really can’t fake them for every long!

Companies use dividends to pass on their profits directly to shareholders. They certainly don’t have to but many companies do. A few reasons come to mind for me:

  • Reason #1 – it is core to company strategy. Potentially there are no current companies to acquire, maybe company debt is under control, and/or there is already a healthy stream of cash to begin funding new company products or services. Thus, as part of company strategy to reward shareholders – the board of directors feels it’s simply one of the best things to do with company profits over time.
  • Reason #2 – the company is on sound financial ground. Most companies that pay a dividend, especially long-term (as in decades) have a stable business model. Companies that grow their dividend tend to have great, rising cashflow. As an investor, it’s to your advantage to own shares in a company that makes large profits, consistently, with time. A reliable dividend is essentially one very good sign of business strength. This is because unstable companies cannot divert profits directly to shareholders for very long.
  • Reason #3 – they want to attract investors. This is akin to company strategy. Some investors are more speculative and like risks (note: this is not me). Dividend-paying companies can attract a certain type of investor; one who prefers cash in hand versus the hope of capital gains. Such investors like the idea of earning income from their investments the same way people go to work to earn an income – it’s more dependable. Over time the work is performed by their portfolio. The portfolio will pay out MORE income over time if you reinvest dividends and/or you hold such dividend paying companies long enough whereby dividends are increased by the company every year or so. Companies know there are investors out there who put a bias on income generated from their portfolio over growth.
  • Reason #4 – companies know investors like optionality. You see, in a perfect world, all businesses would allocate capital in a way to perfectly maximize the return on that capital. This would be done so reinvested money would go back into the business in way that pays off immensely for the shareholder (by increasing returns over time AND by continually reducing the company’s tax burden). But you should know by now we don’t live in a perfect world. This means shareholders have over time demanded a dividend – for the purposes of “optionality”. Shareholders like optionality – and dividends provide that optionality – to give investors the choice to increase or decrease their exposure to the business. Reinvested dividends therefore, take advantage of that optionality, to increase exposure.  Dividends taken as cash, do not.

Dividends (and distributions) are therefore one very important part of an investor’s total return. 

Don’t take my word for it. See below:

Honest Math - Dividends


An investor could technically create their own dividend income stream by simply timing the sale of their stock shares. There is nothing wrong with that.

Ultimately total return matters. 

Dividend Slide


Q&A with Mark: Why do you love dividends so much?

A few reasons come to mind…

  1. Income just happens without selling shares. Our portfolio just works for us and my behaviour. 
  2. Optionality – I can reinvest the dividends and/or distributions paid as we wish. 
  3. Canadian dividends are farily tax-efficient in a non-registered account, to a point. This makes this taxable account a great home for Canadian stocks. I/we use our RRSPs to hold mostly U.S. assets. 
  4. “Living off dividends” to some degree can help reduce any income worries about when to sell shares during any market downturn of 20% or 30%. You can of course make your own dividends.  
  5. Earning dividends is a great complement to our buy and hold approach using low-cost ETFs that focus on capital gains. You can read about my favourite, best, low-cost ETFs to ride market returns here.


Q&A with Mark: what is your semi-retirement plan?

I strongly believe in Financial Independence, Working On Own Terms. #FIWOOT.

So our semi-retirement income plans could look like this but I will keep you posted!

  1. Work and earn part-time income.
  2. Live off dividends from taxable accounts.
  3. Make slow, methodical RRSP withdrawals.


Q&A with Mark: what is your semi-retirement drawdown order?

Assuming this is our plan:

  1. Work and earn part-time income.
  2. Live off dividends from taxable accounts.
  3. Make slow, methodical RRSP withdrawals.

…then our drawdown order looks like this:

“NRT” = Non-Registered (N) then RRSPs (R) then TFSAs (T).

What does that mean?

N – Regarding non-registered accounts

  • We intend to work part-time in our 50s and “live off dividends” to some degree from this account. 

R – Regarding RRSPs/RRIFs

  • In our 50s and 60s, we’re going to do something unconventional – we’ll start withdrawing assets, slowly, from our RRSPs. This will help smooth out taxes over a period of decades given other assets we hold. Based on account values now, our RRSP assets should last into our early 70s.   

T – Regarding TFSAs

  • We don’t intend to touch our TFSA assets in any early retirement.
  • We will let our TFSA assets compound over time.
  • By our early 70s, with part-time work done, with taxable assets likely sold, and most of our RRSP/RRIF assets likely depleted as well, our plan is to live off income from mainly any government benefits (CPP and OAS) and TFSA income/withdrawals. The latter will be tax-free!


Q&A with Mark: What about your government benefits?

We’ll take Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and/or Old Age Security (OAS) at likely age 65 or later once those RRSP assets are nearly gone.

Here are some reasons why you should consider deferring CPP and OAS payments.  


Q&A with Mark: What Canadian stocks do you own?

As part of my/our hybrid investing approach, we own a number of Canadian dividend paying stocks for rising dividend income and growth. 

I own most of the stocks many of the big Canadian ETFs own. I have done so for well over a decade now. 

I use low-cost ETF XIU to skim the index:

XIU December 31, 2020

I/we like owning “TULF” stocks. What are “TULF” stocks???

  • T” = Telecommunication companies.
  • U” = Utilities.
  • L” = Low-yielding dividend growth stocks with growth potential.
  • F” = Financials.

Examples in our portfolio:

  • “T” for Telecommunications companies (Telus (T) and Bell Canada (BCE)).
  • “U” for Utilities (Fortis (FTS), Emera (EMA), Capital Power (CPX)).
  • “L” for Lower-Yielding companies (Canadian National Railway (CNR), Waste Connections (WCN)).
  • “F” for Financials (Royal Bank (RY), TD Bank (TD)).

Basically, I buy companies that people need.

People borrow money and want to buy houses, so I own banks.

People need insurance, so I own insurance companies.

Last time I checked, people want to heat and cook in their home(s), so I own energy companies.

People love their internet and cell phones, so I own telcos.

I think you get the idea by now…!


Q&A with Mark: What U.S. stocks do you own?

As part of my hybrid investing approach, we also own other assets, beyond Canadian dividend paying stocks. 

We do own a few U.S. stocks:

  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
  • Procter & Gamble (PG)
  • BlackRock (BLK).


Q&A with Mark: What is your Asset Location?

I/we own mostly Canadian dividend paying stocks inside our taxable accounts and inside our Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs).  Why?

Canadian dividend-paying stocks receive favourable tax treatment from our government – they are eligible for the Canadian dividend tax credit if held in a taxable account (meaning, outside TFSA and RRSP accounts).

We own Canadian stocks for income and growth. 

I/we own mostly U.S. dividend paying stocks and ETFs in our RRSPs. Why?

Like I wrote above, I hold a few U.S. blue-chip stocks for U.S. dollar income and long-term growth.

Unfortunately U.S-dividend paying stocks do not receive any favourable tax treatment from our Canadian government.

So, I keep U.S. stocks inside an RRSP or LIRA (Locked-In Retirement Account) to avoid paying any withholding taxes (15%).

Some notes on that:

  • U.S. stocks held within RRSP or LIRA or RRIF = no withholding taxes.
  • U.S. stocks held within RESP or TFSA = pay 15% withholding taxes. (I don’t do that.)
  • U.S. stocks held unregistered accounts = pay 15% withholding taxes (which is recoverable at time of tax filing).

If you hold U.S. stocks in a taxable account:

  • There is 15% U.S. withholding tax off the top AND
  • because U.S. dividends don’t qualify for the Canadian dividend tax credit, you’ll pay tax at your marginal rate on the full amount of the dividend. U.S. dividends held in a non-registered account are taxed like interest income. So, if you’re going to hold any U.S. assets in a taxable account – hold stocks that pay no dividend and very little dividends or distributions.  Thankfully, for U.S. stocks in non-registered accounts, you get a credit for the amount withheld when you file your tax return.  This credit can be applied against Canadian income taxes so in most cases that leaves you square—providing your Canadian tax rate is at least 15%.

If you want to learn how to switch Canadian $$$ to U.S. $$$ for less – learn about Norbert’s Gambit here.

I/we own Canadian REITs in either our TFSAs or RRSPs. Why?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are companies that invest in real estate assets and distribute their income (primarily from rent) to shareholders, usually in the form of dividends, return of capital, and income. While it depends on the REIT, if the REIT distributes a portion of their income as return of capital, interest, capital gains or dividends, each portion will be taxed accordingly. 

Keeping REITs inside a TFSA or RRSP avoids this tax complication.


Other Asset Location Articles!

Check out this article about taxable investing and what to hold where.

You can get U.S. income from British ADRs tax-free using this method.

Here is how to get U.S. dollars from Canadian dividend paying stocks.


Looking for more dividend inspiration?

For years, I’ve been inspired by one of Canada’s oldest and most trusted dividend investing sites, Million Dollar Journey. Check out that resource for the best dividend stocks to own and how dividend investing can be part of your get wealth eventually strategy like mine.

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