Bert said I’m good with words… you can probably guess when I’m talking and when Bert is talking. If you can’t make sentences out right, you know who it is. Enough jabbing, let’s get to where I’ve come from…
Who am I? I am just an Italian guy from Akron, Ohio, right? My life all started living in a home where money was always the center of every problem. Whether it was not being able to afford this or that, keep up with the “Jones’” as one would say or able to experience vacations, treats or the slightest piece of a luxurious thing. This chip on my shoulder will follow me throughout my life, first in a haunting way, to motivating and now to accomplishing the path I have set.
As I started to grow older, with my own life experience, it all clicked in around age 20 for me. At this point, I had saved and saved from all my employment (I began working at age 13, below minimum wage might I add) throughout highschool, paid for everything throughout my life (gas, extra things with friends, girlfriend activities, etc) and was paying what I could for college outside of financial aid and scholarship, when I realized – I began a love/passion to make sure when I become my Mom’s age, that I’ll be taken care of. It was because of what I had seen, witnessed and experienced growing up – that I knew I wanted to do something about this and earlier on. I read financial books from the library, was an accounting major at the time with plans on an MBA in finance as well. I was building my financial literacy on investments, on rates of returns, stock market, bond market, commodities, derivatives – you know it, I was all over it. All of this information between the ages of 18 and 20, too young people would say? Heck, looking back, I wish I had that knowledge many years before then.
Here I am at age 20 and I had $4,000 to use towards investments. I’m in my business computer lab, it’s February 9, 2009. Stock markets have been absolutely crumbling during the financial crisis and people obviously were jumping out of the market. Lesson 1 – do the opposite of what the majority of people are doing. Knowing this lesson from my books I have read, I decided now was the time to get into the market as I felt it hit its trough, with valuations looking very appealing on companies and 52-104-156 week lows looking absurdly “not real” (however, I missed the absolute bottom on March 6, 2009, 25 days late, dammit!). I’m in the lab and opened an account through a brokerage I had seen online and read reviews on. I won’t tell you the sad part to the story as I debated between a fund and a technology company that was trading at their lowest point in two years and I loved their products – can anyone guess? I chose to invest into the fund, as I felt I wasn’t that experienced in the investing game yet and the fund paid a dividend once per year and gave a capital gain distribution. Therefore, I opened a Roth IRA and contributed $1K to a mutual fund and another $3K into series I inflation bonds, because I thought heck, interest rates and inflation have to come back soon (and here I sit 5 years later receiving a 1.88% interest rate on those… I mean, I guess that’s on par with the S&P dividend yield, right? I shake my head, the hell was I thinking).
I contributed to that fund until August 2011, a combined total of $3,125 over the life of this retirement fund. From those 2.5 years, a lot happened. Big things happened. I received my bachelor’s in accounting from The University of Akron, interned at a public accounting firm and accepted a full-time offer for Fall 2011, worked at 2 parishes (running one) and worked at a start-up, all while earning my MBA in finance, as well as passing 3 out of 4 parts of my CPA, with the final part being passed in November 2011. To come back to the first statement, I gained a sufficient amount of knowledge to do many things. 1 had transferred the fund I was invested into, to a less costly (expense ratio was much less) mutual fund that followed the S&P 500 that paid out quarterly dividends instead of annually, and the yield was much higher. Lesson Number 2 – good luck beating the S&P in consecutive years (luckily, I was able to do this from 2009 – 2012, with me falling short 2% in 2013, couldn’t hack that 5th year…). I also stopped making contributions to that mutual fund. That amount has grown by itself now to $6,307 as I am writing this page on 5/15/2014. It has doubled due to increase in value and.. wait for it… dividends being consistently paid out, increasing year over year and reinvested into more shares. My dividend income went from $37.99 in 2011 to $99.57 in 2013, to which 2014 is projected to be $112.30 or a 13% increase, not bad for doing absolutely nothing, right? However, during that period I also opened a newer/cheaper brokerage, which we will have an article about at a later date, that is cheaper to trade, offers free DRIP, etc.
Today, I have 4 accounts: One brokerage holds: Individual taxed account and a Roth IRA account, one brokerage holds the older Roth IRA and then one last brokerage holds my Roth 401K through my employer. I am invested into 2 mutual funds, 1 ETF and 21 individual companies. This has been an amazing journey, to where saving is more critical than how much you earn. Essentially you can make $100K and spend $80K with only $20K left or you can make $50K spend $20K and have $30K – who is more wealthy or has more wealth to buy income producing assets? Exactly. My goal is to retire by 40 at the worst case scenario, and by retiring I mean heaven forbid I am doing something that I absolutely dislike. I currently am an external auditor for a top ten public accounting firm and for the most part I enjoy what I do and love my clients. However, with my knowledge and background I am a dedicated, die hard, no ifs and buts about it – A Dividend Investor or, what we like to call – One of the Dividend Diplomats, here blogging on this page.
I have preached and preached the beauty of dividend investing to classmates, friends, family members and co –workers, some hop on board, some listen and take notes if they choose to, others who want to find out – it goes in one end and out the other. I can whole-heartedly say one thing – those that have followed the strategy have performed extremely well.
I am 3+ years into my professional career and I continue to surprise myself day after day, month after month and year after year. I am constantly pushing myself to new limits in hopes of reducing the amount of time working on the wheel and to be able to spend time giving back to those regarding what I love doing – teaching on investments, helping those in need and being able to touch/make someone’s life easier. If it wasn’t for the people I talk to about investing, such as Bert and a few other individuals, I would not be as motivated, grounded or dedicated in a way that I am today. I’m excited for what’s to come and I look forward to what more I can & will learn. Please join myself and Bert on our journey’s to reinvesting our way to retirement!
Lanny – one of the diplomats