I’m excited! I haven’t written one of these articles in a long time and it feels great to be back in the game. My last purchase of Emerson Electric was significant for a few reasons. There is the obvious significance that I now have a cost basis over $3,000 for an individual stock for the first time. It is a powerhouse position in my portfolio and will be a great foundation stock in my portfolio for many years to come. But more importantly, this last purchase helped me accomplish/defeat on of my 2015 investing goals! Let’s see which goal I conquered and how I was able to do so in the first nine months of the year.
When I set my investing and personal goals at the end of the year last year, I tried to set goals that were challenging, yet attainable. At this time, I had come off of my most successful investing year which saw my portfolio’s market value increase from $17,311 to $48,857 and my projected dividend income increase from $750 to $1,940. I wanted to take the insane route and try to match the growth rates from last year, but unfortunately, that was not possible. Using my current salary at the time and an average savings rate (which I began calculating for the first time last year as a part of the Dividend Diplomats’ Savings Challenge), I settle on trying to invest $15,000 in “New” Capital during the year. What is “New” Capital and why did I specify versus just calculating the increase in my market value/cost basis? New capital represents investments from funds that were transferred from my net pay to my savings account. This amount excludes 401(k) contributions because I would be making those contributions regardless. So after my calculations were completed, I thought $15,000 would represent the perfect balance of challenge/attainable and would get that dividend snowball rolling to allow the power of dividend re-investing to perform its magic.
If $15,000 was supposed to be a challenge, how was I able to cross the $15,000 in “New” Capital mark after only 8.5 months in 2015? Come on Bert, I thought these goals were supposed tough (as I talk to myself). Trust me, at the time I set it I knew it would be close. The key to achieving this goal was through the crazy career path I have lived through during 2015. When I left my position in March, I received a pretty nice salary bump and was getting paid more frequently (Every two weeks versus 2 weeks per month. Trust me everyone, it makes a difference). A salary increase allowed me to comfortably increase the amount of cash that is directly deposited into my brokers account ($400 per paycheck vs. $250 per paycheck), which in turn allowed me to invest a lot more on a regular basis. The results have been huge and the results are finally starting to show. With the increased salary, I was able to establish larger than typical positions in Norfolk Southern, Archer Daniels Midland, and Johnson & Johnson in the second quarter.
I was also provided with a nice jolt of income in August when I switched jobs for a second time. While I took a decrease in salary, I received a signing bonus and invested it almost immediately and it is higher than where I was when I set my goals originally. Plus, I am much happier at my job now than I was when I left the first time, and there is not a price on that. These recent change allowed me to build two of the larger positions in my portfolio, 3M Company and Emerson Electric. Both of which I have purchased in the last couple of months while at my new job.
There is one other quick item to note about the position I just left. I had extra free cash flow each month because the company had an odd 401(k) policy that resulted in me not being eligible to receive a 401(k) match until 2017, which was based on of 2016 contributions. Very strange. I know how important a 401(k) contribution can be, but since I wasn’t eligible to receive a match until 2016 I decided to not contribute anything to the plan and instead use the funds to fuel my individual investing portfolio. If I weren’t such an active investor, there is no way I would have done this. I must say though, having an extra X% of your income to invest in individual stocks was a nice little treat. Don’t worry guys, I am back to investing in a 401k again and you will see that section of my portfolio begin to increase again beginning in October.
So now what? Now that I have invested this total should I just stop investing for the year and spend the rest? Obviously, you know I am kidding. Similar to what Lanny did last year when he crushed his first projected dividend income goal, I revised my goal and set a new target for the last three months of the year. Even after I switched jobs, I kept the practice of setting aside $400/paycheck, or $800 per month, to invest in the market. So automatically, I will invest another $2,400 in the market. For the purposes of pushing myself, I am going to try to invest another $5,000 in “New” Capital during the year. So now, I am going to strive for $20,000 in “New Capital” in 2015.
These should be a fun few months now that the market has taken a downturn which, as Lanny demonstrated in an article last month, can provide dividend investors with some amazing opportunities to buy discounted stocks. I still don’t own the five companies on my “Always Buy” list for 2015, so I have some targets in mind for how I would like to allocate my capital. Plus, with recent events, I may just have to pick up shares in the companies on my September Watch List as their stock prices continue to fall…and fall….and fall as they have since we published the article. Hopefully the market conditions continue and I will force myself to transfer as much cash as possible into my account to take advantage of the current downfall. All I know is that I really want to cross that $20,000 benchmark and I am going to do whatever it takes to get there.
Lastly, and most importantly, I couldn’t have done this without the encouragement of all of you in the dividend investing community and Lanny. Reading about your accomplishments, investments, passive income ideas, and stories encourage me to find a way to achieve financial freedom as soon as possible. There is so much to life and I want to make sure I can enjoy as much of it as possible, especially since I will be getting married next year and starting a family before I know it (Wow that was scary to write out). So thanks everyone for the encouragement. I couldn’t be a part of a better community! Now, back to the grind. There is still plenty of work to be done in 2015. I still have six more goals to knock out.
Have you been able to accomplish any investing goals? If not, are you on track to do so? Do you think $20,000 is a high enough mark or would you suggest higher? Any suggestions on completing my other goals?