June 2016 Dividends – Another Personal Record

It’s time for my monthly dividend update and I’m happy to report that I hit another personal best.  June is a month when a lot of companies pay out dividends.  With $91.94 in dividends, I came close to hitting the $100 mark.  In fact, I thought I would cross $100 in June but NSRGY paid out in late May instead of early June like I anticipated.  Here’s a breakdown of my June dividends.

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
INTC $0.10
WMT $1.53
MSFT $0.55
UL $1.52
K $0.97
MCD $3.87
PEP $0.32
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
COP $2.65
CVX $11.40
JNJ $7.42
XOM $23.43
K $4.21
MORL $0.35
MCD $6.61
VLO $6.00
RDS $21.01

TOTAL: $91.94

May 2016 Dividends

Well, I just passed my two year anniversary and now it’s time to post my May 2016 dividends.  In May, I came in at $24.06 in dividends which is a small increase over May 2015.  Here’s the breakdown:

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
AAPL $0.06
HAS $0.54
SBUX $0.10
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
CLX $5.61
ATVI $0.26
AAPL $4.12
PG $6.25
MORL $1.39
HCP $5.73

TOTAL: $24.06

Dear Dividend’s Two-Year Anniversary!

balloons

Time flies when you’re tracking dividends.  It is hard to believe I’ve kept this blog going for two years now.  I know it isn’t always the most exciting blog but it really keeps me on task to follow my investing progress.  And who knows, my journey might inspire somebody else to work towards financial independence.  While two years of blogging isn’t setting any records, I’ve seen several dividend and finance blogs come and go over the past two years.  In honor of the anniversary, I’ll link back to my first blog post and also share this Warren Buffett quote from my first post:

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
– Warren Buffet

Investing in My Children’s College Funds: A Costly Mistake

tmp_14519-graduation-1316905668681565

While I’ve spent countless hours reading and writing about dividend investing I’ve been making a costly mistake when it comes to investing in my children’s college education.  With my eyes focused on my retirement accounts I’ve been blind to what’s been happening in my kids’ Educational Savings Accounts (ESA).  Recently, I woke up from my ESA slumber and made some changes for the better.

Years ago, I opened Coverdell ESAs for my kids with USAA.  Why USAA?  Because that’s where I kept my checking, savings, and insurance products.  I guess I was being lazy because it was convenient to keep my money at a one-stop shop.  Until recently, I never realized how subpar the investing options were with USAA.  Almost two years ago I discovered better brokerage services for my Roth IRA when I stopped funding my Roth with USAA and opened an account with Optionshouse.  What I failed to recognize at the time was that my ESA accounts I had for my kids could also do better outside of USAA.  Well, better late than never.  I recently found a better ESA option by switching to Charles Schwab.  Schwab has some great fee-free investment options that easily outperform the USAA mutual funds I was invested in.  Also, the available USAA funds that were performing well had investment minimums which prevented me from putting my kids’ college investment in any of the decent USAA mutual funds.  Luckily, I found Schwab and the minimum investment barriers were knocked down to a $1000 minimum.

Let’s compare the mutual fund I was using at USAA to the Schwab mutual fund I recently transferred my kids’ ESAs to.

OLD USAA ACCOUNT:

USCRX (USAA Cornerstone Moderately Aggressive Fund) : 5y = 2.45%, 10Y = 3.35%, Expense = 1.18%

NEW SCHWAB ACCOUNT:

SWPPX(Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund): 5y = 10.92%, 10y = 6.87%; Expense = .09%

Not only has the Schwab S&P 500 fund more than doubled the 10 year performance of the so-call moderately aggressive USAA fund, the Schwab fund’s expense is 1.09% less than USAA’s fund.  A mistake like this could result in thousands of dollars of missed opportunities over time.  Please learn from my mistake and do your homework when shopping ESAs.

April 2016 – Dividends

apr_2016

 

April 2016 dividends are in so it’s time to share my progress.  April was a lackluster month but I still brought in $5 more than last year.  This April I brought in $25.17 which brings my annual total so far to $150.88.  Here’s a breakdown of my April dividends.

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
KO $4.46
NKE $0.04
KHC $1.32
WMT $1.45
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
KHC $6.69
PM $5.48
MORL 5.73

TOTAL: $25.17

 

Looking ahead at May, I’m expecting another quiet month.  Things will jump up again in June though.  Thanks for stopping by!

March 2016 Dividends – A New Record

clover

My monthly dividend update for March sets a new personal record.  I really enjoy adding up my dividends each month and watching the numbers grow.  While March was a record, it could have been better if COP hadn’t reduced its dividend.  I understand nothing is guaranteed and I knew COP had some risk when I bought it because it didn’t have a long dividend track record like JNJ or KO.  Other than the COP dividend cut, I’m pleased with my March dividends.

LOYAL3 Account

INTC $0.10

UL $1.37

K $0.97

MSFT $0.55

MCD $3.87

PEP $0.30

Roth IRA

COP $2.63

CVX $11.27

JNJ $6.91

XOM $22.60

K $4.19

MCD $6.56

MORL $0.37

RDS.B $19.82

TOTAL $81.51

This beats my previous personal best from June 2015 which was $80.88.

February 2016 Dividends

valentinechocolate

 

February is coming to a close so it’s time to report my monthly dividends.  In addition to monthly dividends, I also purchased some Valero Energy (VLO) stock.  The addition of VLO should add approximately $18 to my 2016 annual dividends.  Energy stocks are down and VLO was near a 52-week low so I decided to pick up some for my portfolio.

FEBRUARY DIVIDENDS

ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
AAPL $3.74
CLX $5.57
PG $0.70
PG $5.44
MORL $0.40
HCP $5.62
LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
HAS $0.49
SBUX $0.10

TOTAL: $22.06

The $22.06 I received in February 2016 is almost $7.00 more than what I received in February 2015.  While it is a small increase it is an increase nonetheless.

 

 

 

January 2016 Dividends

 

cash

January flew by quickly but it is time to report my monthly dividends again.  January was mostly a quiet month but I did add some more RDS.B to my portfolio.  Energy stocks have taken a beating so I grabbed some while it was down.

Here’s my January 2016 dividends:

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
WMT $1.42
NKE $0.04
PEP $0.30
DIS $0.17
KHC $1.32
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
MORL $6.84
PM $5.42
KHC $6.63

TOTAL: $22.14

 

 

 

A New Year – January 2016

newyear

 

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is now history.  With the calendars flipped over to January 2016, there’s another year of dividend investing in which to look forward.  Before I post my dividends from December 2015 and my year end totals, I’m excited to say that Loyal3 has finally released an Android app.  I’ve made a couple of purchases using the Loyal3 app for Android and it works great.  This was long overdue but they released an easy to use app to make investing even easier.

Now let’s take a look at my December 2015 dividends and 2015 year end totals.

DECEMBER 2015 DIVIDENDS

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
INTC $0.09
K $0.97
MCD $3.87
KO $4.20
UL $0.55
MSFT $0.55
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
COP $7.69
K $4.16
JNJ $6.86
XOM $22.39
CVX $11.13
MCD $6.51
MORL $0.40
RDS.B $8.54

December ’15 Total: $77.91

That is more than a $50 increase from my Dec 2014 dividends.

Finally, let’s take a look at the entire year of 2015.

2015 YEAR END TOTALS

Jan $19.43
Feb $15.46
Mar $44.06
Apr $20.30
May $21.96
Jun $80.88
Jul $15.71
Aug $28.27
Sep $73.27
Oct $15.15
Nov $30.53
Dec $77.91
TOTAL $442.93

My total in 2014 was $97.09 so my 2015 dividends were approximately $350 more than the previous year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cord-Cutter Shows

Okay, I’m going a little off topic here but I thought I’d share some shows that I like that don’t require cable or satellite television services.  About four years ago, I decided to cancel my DirecTV service.  When I called to cancel, they had offered me an amazing deal to retain me as a customer.  It was almost too good of an offer for me to say “no” but I stuck to my guns and decided to become a “cord-cutter”.   I ordered a RokuHD at the time and signed up for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.  All three subscriptions were, and still are, cheaper than my satellite TV subscription.  I also went old school and hooked up an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to receive local channels in HD.  At first, it was a challenge (mostly for my wife) to say goodbye to some of our regularly watched shows.  For me, I missed out on Monday and Thursday NFL games since those weren’t broadcast OTA.  While Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon had limited programming at the time, they’ve done a lot to improve their selection.  Even better, they’ve taken great strides to produce their own shows (similar to what HBO does) and have churned out some quality programming.  Four years ago, cord-cutting was a bit of change for me.  Today, I really think that streaming, on-demand shows are here to stay and we’ll one day wonder why we used a DVR to record TV shows for viewing.

With all of that said, I feel like sharing a short list of shows that I enjoy via streaming.  You may or may not like these but we all have different tastes.  If you have any recommendations, please add them to the comments section.

 

  1. The Walking Dead  – An obvious cable hit, Netflix has all but the most recent season.  If you can wait for the most recent season to be added to Netflix and avoid any spoilers, you can see this on Netlfix.  If you can’t wait for Netflix, you can purchase the most recent episodes on Amazon Prime.
  2. The Man in the High Castle – I didn’t really know what to expect from this Amazon original series and I’ve never read the book.  This isn’t the best series I’ve seen but I enjoyed watching the first season and I heard that a second season has been approved.  Even better for me is that my kids actually watched this with me and were hooked.
  3. 30 for 30 – If you’re a sports fan, Netflix has a ton of 30 for 30 shows.  Some are better than others but I’ve found a few to be enjoyable.
  4. Bloodline – I haven’t seen the whole season on Netflix yet.  I watched a few episodes but my wife finished it without me.  I haven’t gone back to finish the series but the few episodes I saw were pretty good.
  5. Virunga – Interesting Netflix documentary in Africa showing a part of the world that most of us will never see.
  6. Making a Murderer – I’m a sucker for documentaries and so far this one has my interest.  I haven’t watched all the episodes yet but the first few kept me wanting to watch more.  This is an unbelievable story that I’ve never heard before so I’ll likely be watching the entire season Netflix.

These are just a handful of shows that I’ve found entertaining as a cord-cutter.  I’m sure I missed some but this was a spontaneous blog post so I’m just going from memory here.  Thanks for stopping by.

November 2015 Dividends

As I posted last month my life has been very busy.  It seems even finding time once a month to review my dividends and post to this blog has become a challenge.  Nonetheless, the dividends keep arriving.  My November 2015 dividends ($30.53) nearly doubled my dividends from November 2014 ($15.74).  While I’m glad to see the improvement since last year, I’m really looking forward to December 2015 which is looking like it will be my second best dividend month since I started investing in dividends.

Here’s the breakdown of my November 2015 dividends:

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
HAS $0.46
KHC $1.32
SBUX $0.10
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
APPL $3.72
PG $0.69
CLX $5.54
PG $5.39
KHC $6.58
MORL $1.29
HCP $5.44

TOTAL: $30.53

October 2015 Dividends

Life has been busy lately but the dividends still show up every month even if I don’t always have time to monitor them.  October was lower than I expected as it looks like KHC’s dividend will be in November.  I was expecting KHC in October based on the old KRFT dividend calendar but apparently the payout dates have changed.

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
KO $3.73
NKE $0.04
ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
PM $5.35
MORL $6.03

Total: $15.15

September 2015 Dividends

football

September has passed as we enter one of my favorite times of the year.  The season of Fall has started and along with it come many great holidays and traditions.  American football is under way which provides some mindless entertainment for me to enjoy occasionally.  Also, a barrage of holidays is approaching to enjoy with the family: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s eve/day.  While I look forward to the upcoming holidays, I also look forward to watching dividends trickle in.  September is one of my better months of dividends so I’m extra pleased to share my results.  Let’s take a look.

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
INTC $0.09
WMT $0.42
UL $0.52
MSFT $0.47
K $0.97
MCD $3.70
PEP $0.30

ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
COP $7.57
JNJ $6.80
XOM $22.17
CVX $10.98
K $4.13
MCD $6.17
MORL $0.44
RDS.B $8.54

TOTAL = $73.27

Last year in September I brought in just less than $14 in dividends so my September 2015 dividends are nearly $60 higher than a year ago.  Progress continues.

August 2015 Dividends

August is behind us so it is time to look at another month of dividends.  I brought in $28.27 during August.  In August of 2014 I brought in $9.45 which means my August dividends increased by approximately 3-fold since last year.  Here is the breakdown of my dividends for August:

ROTH IRA

Symbol Dividend
KHC $6.05
CLX $5.50
AAPL $3.70
PG $6.04
MORL $1.05
HCP $5.36

LOYAL3

Symbol Dividend
HAS $0.49
SBUX $0.08

AUGUST 2015 TOTAL = $28.27

I JUST GAVE MYSELF A $2,170 RAISE

raise

I’ve been recently inspired by the book Your Money or Your Life and have taken a deeper look at my expenses. Added to that, my wife recently lost her job so we’re tightening up our spending to account for the lost income. The loss of a second income may be a blessing in disguise because it has forced us to really examine where our money is going. I’ve read plenty about “wants” versus “needs” but I haven’t always put it into practice very well. By eliminating a handful of “wants” I’ve essentially given myself a $2,170 annual raise. There is also another factor which has led to changes. I just had my blood pressure checked and it was the highest I’ve ever seen it. I’m trying to make some changes to my eating habits to include a reduction in caffeine. Cutting back on caffeine has helped cut my spending as well.

Here’s how I did it:

1) Stopped buying energy drinks

I stopped visiting the convenience store on my way to work to pick up my morning energy drink. These drinks cost between $1 and $2 depending on the brand. Let’s say I saved $1.50/day on Mondays-Fridays for an average of 20 working days a month. That comes out to $30/month or $360/year. Yikes! I’ve been spending more on energy drinks than I made in dividends last year.

2) Goodbye afternoon soda

Another caffeine habit I had was buying a diet soda every afternoon so I could have a caffeine boost to make it through the afternoon. The vending machine at work charges $0.90 per soda. That comes out to about $18/month or $216/year.

3) Canceled streaming music service

My family really likes Spotify. I was paying about $11/month but now that times are tighter, Spotify has to go. Spotify offers a free but limited service that will have to do. Also, with Pandora, iHeartRadio, and local radio stations, life will go on. No more Spotify saves another $132/year.

4) Switching from coffee to green tea

I typically have a cup of coffee from our Keurig when I wake up each morning. I usually have one cup on work days and 2-3 cups on weekends. I’ll be conservative and estimate 30 cups of coffee per month. Due to my recent blood pressure wake up call, I’ve decided to cut down my caffeine intake by switching to green tea. This is a smaller cost but also a healthier change. The K-cups of coffee I’ve been drinking average about $0.40 per K-cup and the green tea I’ve switched to averages about $0.20 per packet. That’s a savings of $0.20 per day, $6 per month, or $72 per year.

5) Pack a lunch

My coworkers go out for lunch nearly every day. I would frequently either join them or venture out to the local sub sandwich shop. Now, I’ve been packing my lunches and limiting myself to only eating out for lunch 1 day per week. I’m estimating this is saving me at least $10/week or $520/year.

6) Pest Control

When we bought our house we signed up for a bi-monthly pest control service. This was costing an average of $42/month. Once our contract ended, I canceled the service and bought my own jug of bug spray for about $8 at Walmart to spray our house’s foundation, windows, and doors. I’ll probably spray every other month so I expect the jug to last 4 months. That averages out to $2/month on the DIY spray saving me about $40/month or $480/year on pest control.

I’m finding other ways to save money that aren’t as easy to tabulate such as buying cheaper brands at the grocery store and passing up a purchase at the store that isn’t needed. But looking at my 6 easy expense cuts, let’s calculate my projected annual savings.

  • Energy drinks = $360/year
  • Sodas = $216/year
  • Spotify = $132/year
  • Coffee = $72/year
  • Lunches = $520/year
  • Pest Control = $480/year

TOTAL = $1780/year

 

That’s not too bad for a few minor changes. Also, I was conservative on some of these estimates. For example, those morning trips to the convenience store for an energy drink would sometimes lead to an additional $1-$2 spent on a snack. The interesting part to me is that none of these expenses stood out on their own to me until I really took a look at them. The $0.90/day for a can of soda seemed benign but it was costing me $216/year.

To further magnify the importance of saving $1,780 in a year, let’s compare this to dividends. For example, if I wanted to receive $1,780 in annual dividends from JNJ I would have to purchase approximately 590 shares of JNJ. That would be close to owning $59,000 worth of JNJ stock at the current stock price. Another way to look at this saved money is comparing it to the amount of pre-tax earnings I would have to bring in through my job. Depending on where you look, the average U.S. federal income tax is around 16%-20%. I won’t give away my tax bracket but let’s assume an 18% income tax rate for this calculation. Based on an 18% income tax rate, I would have to earn approximately $2,170 to cover my $1,780 in savings. So in essence, I’ve given myself a $2,170 raise.

So how many hours would a person have to work in a year to accumulate $2,170? I won’t use my real salary in this example, but let’s use the median U.S. hourly wage of about $25/hour. It would take approximately 87 hours of work to earn $2,170 if a person is making the median U.S. hourly wage. That is more than two weeks of work when considering a 40-hour work week just to pay for some “wants” that mostly provide short-term satisfaction. Also, most of my spending cuts should drastically reduce my caffeine intake.

I think this exercise I just went through can really put one’s spending into perspective. I owe gratitude to the authors of Your Money or Your Life for changing my mindset. I hope you can find some “wants” to eliminate that will help reach Financial Independence.

July 2015 Dividends

My July dividends are in and to my surprise they fell under $20.  It is really due to a technicality due to the KHC (Kraft Heinz) dividend changes.  Although the payout was scheduled for 7/31, for some reason OptionsHouse recorded it on 8/1/15 while Loyal3 still captured it on 7/31. I track my dividends on when they show up in my accounts so I’ll keep the OptionsHouse KHC dividend in August.  Not a big deal really.  I’m splitting hairs if I start worrying if a dividend lands on 7/31 or 8/1.  While it would have been nice to keep my monthly dividends above $20, in the end I’m really looking at my annual returns as a better gauge of my progress.  My July dividends totaled $15.71.  As a comparison, in July 2014 I had $11.91 in dividends.

Here’s my July 2015 dividends breakdown:

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
PEP $0.30
NKE $0.04
KO $2.10
DIS $0.16
KHC $1.27
ROTH IRA (OptionsHouse)
Symbol Dividend
PM $5.19
MORL $6.65

Top Dividend Stocks at LOYAL3

https://i2.wp.com/assets.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/files/2014/02/loyal3_logo.jpg

I’ve been a fan of LOYAL3’s fee-free investing services for a while now. My first fee-free transaction at LOYAL3 was in October 2013 and I’ve been using them ever since as one of my investing tools. LOYAL3 has added several stock offerings since I first started and currently their list of companies stands at 67 available publicly traded companies. Out of those 67 companies, 43 of them offer dividends. 6 of the 43 companies that pay dividends are considered Dividend Champions (companies with 25+ years of dividend increases). Here is a list of all dividend-payers at LOYAL3:

LOYAL3 DIVIDEND PAYING STOCKS

Symbol Dividend Yield %
FTR 9.25
MAT 6.55
STOR 4.81
ANF 3.94
MCD 3.54
BUD 3.49
INTC 3.42
KO 3.26
K 3.04
UL 2.94
PEP 2.92
KSS 2.91
WWE 2.89
KHC 2.88
AEO 2.85
VIAB 2.84
BBY 2.83
TGT 2.79
MSFT 2.7
WMT 2.68
AMC 2.58
GPS 2.56
DPS 2.46
SC 2.45
LB 2.41
HSY 2.37
NOK 2.36
HAS 2.31
M 2.06
DNKN 1.97
YUM 1.89
VFC 1.72
AAPL 1.67
MDLZ 1.62
TWX 1.6
RL 1.58
SBUX 1.12
DIS 1.11
QSR 1
NKE 0.99
FOX 0.91
ATVI 0.88
PVH 0.13

LOYAL3 DIVIDEND CHAMPIONS

Symbol Dividend Yield % Years of Dividend Increases
MCD 3.54 39
KO 3.26 53
PEP 2.92 43
TGT 2.79 48
WMT 2.68 42
VFC 1.72 42

You can see that LOYAL3 has some good choices for dividend investors that would like to avoid brokerage fees while having the ability to buy partial shares (starting at $10 minimum). I hope to see LOYAL3 add some more Dividend Champions like JNJ or PG but for now they have enough options to keep me satisfied.

Note: Dividend yields retrieved from Dividend.com and Dividend Champion data retrieved from DripInvesting.org

Navigating Job Hunting Hell

hunt

It will soon be one year since I started my current job and I’ve been thinking about the process I went through to find my job. Also, since I’ve been with my company I’ve seen several people leave (some by choice and others have been let go) and I always think about how terrible I’ve found the job hunting process. I think “hunt” is an appropriate word to use when looking for a job. Hunt is an aggressive term that truly reflects the pursuit that often takes place when in search of a new job. Now, some people are in fields where they are the ones being pursued and the employer is the hunter. I’ve heard and read stories where people have had multiple job offers and were able to use offers from multiple employers to work out the best compensation and benefits package. While I wish that was the case for me and my career, I’ve always been the hunter and not the hunted when it comes to the job search. Also, some of you have put yourselves in great positions where you are self-employed, semi-retired, or completely retired.  I yearn to be in a similar situation as Mr. Money Mustache.  However, because of my personal situation, past debt accumulation, and my ongoing struggle to improve my Mustachism, I still need a consistent paycheck with benefits to support my family.

So, if you’re like me and need to work for a company then you’ve probably been through the pain and agony of job hunting. Everyone is different and most of you will or have had different job hunting experiences. I’ll detail what worked for me and hopefully there is something here you can take away and use on your own job hunt.

1. Build Your Résumé

There are many websites out there that will provide you with résumé examples. I think I eventually chose an example from Monster that I liked.  I recommend searching for a template or sample résumé that you find visually appealing. The way I look at it, if it catches my eye then hopefully it will be eye-catching to an employer. I prefer a clean format that is easy to read and quickly highlights your strong points at the top of the résumé. There is varying advice on whether your résumé should be one or two pages long but I chose one page. Again, my opinion is that if I had to sift through a stack of résumés, I wouldn’t want to read two pages. You should be able to capture your most important strengths and experiences on one page. Also, my career field looks for certain certifications so I list those at the top. Sometimes, showing that you have the proper credentials will at least get your foot in the door for an interview. Another point on résumé layout is choosing chronological-based or experience-based format when detailing your previous work experience. I chose a hybrid where I chronologically listed my most relevant work experiences for the position for which I was applying. One final note, once I built my résumé I considered it my baseline résume. Later, as I applied for certain positions I would make minor tweaks to it as necessary based on the job opening.

2. Search for a Job

After putting together a baseline résumé, it is time to search for a job. I remember the days when I would have to actually walk into a business and ask for a job application and provide a printed résumé. I also remember going to the classified ads section of the local newspaper to see who was hiring. In today’s world of job hunting, the internet is the place to go. The internet makes job searching convenient and can even expand your search location if you’re willing to move. However, the convenience of the internet is a double-edged sword. While it makes job searching as easy a few clicks of the keyboard for you, it also makes it just as easy for potential competition. This leads to an increased number of applicants for jobs which increases the chances of your application and résumé being lost in a sea of applications. To improve your odds and not waste your time, I recommend only searching and applying for jobs in which you meet at least some of the minimum qualifications. Usually, a job listing will have a section of minimum qualifications in it. If you have none of the minimum qualifications, then you might want to move on with your search. If you know nothing about computer programming but decide you’d love to have a job as a software developer with Google, then go for it but you’re probably wasting your time.

My job search tool of choice is Indeed. It is the Google of job searching. There are other sites such as CareerBuilder, Dice, and Monster available but Indeed has most of the same jobs you’ll find at these other sites. My preferred method was to search Indeed and then save or email myself all of the jobs that I was interested in and felt I had a reasonable chance of obtaining. This is probably the easiest part of the job hunting process. If you can use Google, you can search jobs. It is all the work that goes into the résumé, job application, and interview process that will make you suffer. While Indeed is a handy tool, I also recommend going directly to the websites of companies you’d like to apply to and see if they have any listings that might not be on Indeed. Indeed is not the be-all and end-all job search tool. Also, keep in mind that many job listings are not really openings. Many companies continuously list jobs so they can keep a fresh pile of applications ready at all times. This is frustrating as a job hunter but it is part of the game.

4. Apply for a Job

Once you have searched potential job openings, it is time to apply. This step of the job hunt is not necessarily difficult but it can be tedious. Most companies have an online application process where you’ll fill out your information (name, address, email, etc), list your work experience and education, and attach your résumé and cover letter. Before submitting your résumé, I recommend changing your baseline résumé to match the job description as much as possible. Some online application sites are easier than others. Sometimes I felt that maybe the employer purposefully used a difficult application site to weed out applicants that were easily frustrated. I didn’t record my time spent on applications, but this was probably the most time consuming step while I was job hunting. There is a lot of advice out there on the internet about this but I would just say be sure to take care of the obvious issues such as spelling. I’m sure there is an article on the web that just talks about the importance of spelling and grammar when applying for jobs. I guess some people need to be told this but hopefully most people applying for jobs have figured this out.

4. Hope and Pray

Now is where you hope and pray that your application and résumé catches the interest of an employer. Many companies have a Human Resources department that will sift through applications before the hiring manager even sees them. If HR is the first line of review, it is even more important that your application and résumé have been tailored to fit the job description. HR doesn’t always understand the specific details of the position and will look at the minimum qualifications and credentials. If all goes well, HR will see you as a potential fit for the position and contact you for additional pain and suffering.

Interview

For many people, including myself, this is worst part of the job hunt. If the employer is interested in your application they will contact you for an interview. I had three rounds of interviews for my current job. The first interview was with my supervisor, the second interview was with two of my coworkers, and the third interview was with HR and my supervisor. This isn’t the typical order. Usually, the first interview will be with HR or a recruiter with some basic questions. If all goes well with the first interview, often times there will be follow-on interviews.

Early on in my job hunt, I really underestimated the importance of preparing for an interview. I thought I could handle an interview by not rehearsing answers because I didn’t want to come across as some robot with canned responses to interview questions. After some of my first interviews, I realized that I really needed to seriously prepare for them. I should note that all of my interviews were over the phone because I was working overseas and was applying for jobs back in the U.S. One benefit of a phone interview is that you can have your notes ready in case you blank out on a response. However, one disadvantage is that you can’t read the interviewer’s body language which makes it difficult to interpret whether they like your responses or not. Once it clicked with me that I wasn’t the best interviewee, I put some work into my interview preparation. I searched online for the top questions asked and then wrote down and practiced my answers. When I practiced my responses, I would work off of some key points to form my responses so that my answers sounded somewhat natural. I also went on YouTube and watched a lot of cheesy videos on answering interview questions. I have to say practicing for an interview was torture, but it did help me in the end. Most seasoned interviewers know that applicants practice their responses so they’ll be looking for sincerity. Also, some jobs (particularly technical jobs) are really looking at your technical expertise but will ask the fluff questions to make sure you get along with others and won’t be a troublesome employee. With several interviews (but no job) under my belt, I could tell that I was getting better with my interviews. After interviews, I would write down the questions that gave me difficulty and then practice my responses for my next opportunity. A lot of interviewers will ask the same crap such as your three strengths/weaknesses, tell me about a time you…, and blah blah blah. The interview sucks but unless you’re a natural at interviews, I recommend you practice for them as much as possible.

6. Land a Job

Because I was applying for jobs while I was overseas, it added to the difficulty of finding a job. I was working long hours, had crappy internet service, and was not available for in-person interviews. After countless applications, a handful of interviews, and no job offers, I finally struck gold. In fact, the hunt was heating up with two employers inviting me back for follow-up interviews. If you’re asked for a follow-up interview, this means the employer is interested but you really need to step up your game because chances are you’re not the only job seeker in the follow-up interview rounds. With the job I eventually landed, I had a good feeling after the first interview with my supervisor. Most of his questions were focused on my work experience and there weren’t too many fluff questions. Based on his feedback, I felt like I had a good chance at receiving a job offer as long as I gave my best in the next two interviews. After two phone interviews and one Skype video interview, I was offered a position. I was excited to receive the offer because I really liked the conversations I had with my soon-to-be supervisor and coworkers. They seemed like good people that liked their jobs. HR called me with the offer and this is where I really have a weak spot. I had a salary range in mind and their offer was within that range. Instead of making a counteroffer, I accepted the employer’s first offer. Perhaps I could have asked for more but I’m really bad at the counteroffer process. When it comes to a job offer, I’ll have a range in mind and if they are below the range, then I’ll ask for more. I wish I was better at asking for more but I’m not. In the end, I was happy with the salary offer so I took it. You can research salary ranges online to give you an idea of what to expect. Ultimately, make sure the pay is something you can live with because it will be hard to focus on your job if you’re upset with what your employer is paying you. Also, sometimes it is difficult to ask for a raise once you’ve started working and your best opportunity for more money might be with your first salary negotiation during the hiring process.

Insider Knowledge

I’ve learned a few things about the employer’s perspective when hiring applicants. I haven’t hired anyone yet but I’ve been part of conversations with supervisors that are hiring. Here are some tidbits I can pass along for you job seekers.

You’ll find a ton of articles online about what I think of as obvious job hunting advice: brush your teeth, comb your hair, take a shower, and use your manners. Now, most people do all of these but some people are just weird in my opinion. I’m not perfect, but a lot of people lack basic social skills and can come across as strange, rude, or not too bright in interviews. Amazingly, some of these people make it through the gauntlet and still find jobs. Once you get through the labyrinth of the application process and receive an interview invitation, if you can hold a conversation, be friendly and polite, and prove that you’re a decent person, then you have a good chance as long as you’re qualified for the position.

You don’t have to be afraid (like me) to counter an employer’s offer. Just be reasonable. Do your research beforehand and if you think the employer is low on their offer you can counteroffer. I do caution that you don’t have an outrageous counteroffer. Unless you can walk on water or the employer is desperate for your skills, this could be a sticking point. Every case is different but I will just share one example I’ve seen. A director has narrowed their search to two or three candidates. They have similar skills, experience and seem to be good potential employees. The employer makes an offer to one of the candidates who comes back with an extremely high counteroffer and won’t budge. Guess who didn’t get the job. I realize some people are able to ask for more because they are in highly sought after fields. If that’s you, then more power to you. If that’s not you, really think through the counteroffer.

Another point I’d like to add is that I’ve heard of applicants losing out on jobs because they can’t start when an employer needs them. Usually, a job vacancy needs to be filled rather quickly if an employee quit or was fired because now other employees are picking up the workload from the former employee. If you’re trying to fill that void, you may need to be available within a reasonable time frame. Most employers expect you’ll need to give a two-week termination notice if you’re currently employed, but if you can’t start soon after that you might lose out on the job. Again, this can vary with each situation.

Conclusion

Remember, every experience is different. This was my latest experience. Every employer is different and might have different hiring processes. We all have unique backgrounds and some of us might have easier times finding jobs than others. If you’re struggling to find a job, keep plugging away and try to improve your weaknesses (résumé, interview skills, etc). I hate the job hunting process but it is a necessary evil if you need employment. The internet has a plethora of advice. Some of the advice is good. Some of it is bad. Hopefully, my experience shared here can help you in some way. Good luck and don’t get discouraged.

Kittens + Babies = Dividends

cat

Kittens and babies might be considered some of the most adorable creatures on the planet.  Whether or not you agree with this statement, they have led me to what be one of my new favorite stocks.  It may seem strange but some of the stocks in my portfolio hold a small amount of emotional value in addition to their monetary value.  The particular stock I’m speaking of here is Nestle (NSRGY) which has been producing dividends since 1959.  When I hear our family’s cat crunching on Purina cat food or see a baby trying to gulp down some Gerber baby food, I feel comfort in knowing that I own a small piece of Nestle.  The other day, I arrived home from work and noticed that my wife had picked up some frozen pizzas.  Some were a brand called Jack’s and one was California Pizza Kitchen.  I looked at the back of the packages (a habit I’ve started since diving into investing) to see which company made the frozen pizzas.  It was a pleasant surprise to see they both were produced by Nestle.  I think my favorite stocks are consumer goods that are widespread and that my household personally uses.  For me, Nestle’s pervasiveness is similar to what I see in PG and JNJ.  So why I am rambling about Nestle this month?  I just received my first annual dividend from NSRGY in June.  Although they only pay an annual dividend, I have a feeling I’ll be adding more NSRGY to my portfolio over the years.

 

Now for my June 2015 dividends.

LOYAL3
Symbol Dividend
INTC $0.09
WMT $0.32
UL $0.51
MSFT $0.47
MCD $3.39
K $0.95

Loyal3 Total: $5.73

 

ROTH IRA
Symbol Dividend
NSRGY $11.38
COP $7.38
XOM $21.98
CVX $10.86
JNJ $6.75
K $4.01
MCD $6.11
MORL $0.96
RDS.B $5.72

Roth IRA Total: $75.15

JUNE 2015 COMBINED TOTAL: $80.88

I’m happy to say that this is another personal record.  Unfortunately, it may be a while before I crack the $80+ mark.  The annual NSRGY dividend in June helped push me to a new record.  I’m still chasing the $100 mark as my next goal which may have to wait until 2016.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your investing.

Regards,

DD

Dear Dividend’s 1 Year Anniversary and May Update

confetti

I’m pleased to say that this blog hit its 1 year anniversary in May.  Looking back, my first post was on May 22nd, 2014.  I’d like to revisit the quote attributed to Warren Buffett in my first post:

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
– Warren Buffet

This quote summarizes my ultimate goal of dividend investing which is to pass on investments to my children and grandchildren.

In the past year (plus about 2 weeks) this blog has had 3,304 visitors.  I’m thankful for all the visitors and those of you that post encouraging comments.  As I’ve stated in other posts, I consider this blog to be my dividend support group. I’m glad I stumbled upon dividend investing and the blog community.

Now for my May 2015 update.  May is a slow month but I managed to stay above $20 in dividends.  My funds available for investing have been limited so my increases have been crawling slowly.  I’ve thought about working a second, part-time job to increase my investing funds but I’m worried I’d be sacrificing priceless family time.  Anyway, on to my May dividends.

Loyal3

Symbol Dividend
GOOG $0.01
HAS $0.49
SBUX $0.08

Roth IRA

Symbol Dividend
CLX $5.25
AAPL $3.69
ATVI $0.23
PG $5.30
PG $0.68
MORL $0.95
HCP $5.28

TOTAL: $21.38

With May behind us, I’m really looking forward to my June returns.  I’m on track for a personal record in June.

Thanks for stopping by and happy investing!

– Dear Dividend

April 2015 Dividends and Band-Aids

April is behind us and we’re already 9 days into May which means I’m a little late with my April update.  April was a quiet dividend month but it looks like I crossed a mini-milestone.   My April dividends were just above $20 and if my projections are correct I’ll never see a month of dividends fall below $20 going forward.  Another milestone is that I’ve earned more dividends in the first 4 months of 2015 than I did in the entire year of 2015.  These small steps of progress are encouraging.  Also, in April I finished contributing to my Roth IRA for this year by adding some JNJ stock.

First, I’ll jump into my last major stock purchase which was Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).  JNJ is one of those companies that I’ve wanted in my portfolio since my dividend investing interest was first sparked.  I’ve kept my eye on JNJ hoping for a dip in price but it just didn’t seem to drop in price much recently.  Despite my attempt to remain patient, I finally pulled the trigger on a JNJ purchase in early April.  Although it may or may not be a great value right now (who really knows?) I finally added this dividend aristocrat to my portfolio.  JNJ touts 52 years of consecutive dividend growth which is downright astonishing.  In addition to its dividend resume, JNJ offers many familiar consumer products such as J&J baby products, Neutrogena, Tylonel, and Splenda. JNJ also has medical device and pharmaceutical offerings.  JNJ would fall in the category of household names in my opinion and I feel very, very comfortable owning stock in JNJ.

In addition to my stock purchase, I had some dividends roll in last month.  Here is the breakdown of my April dividends:

Loyal3 Account

Symbol Dividend
PEP $0.21
KO $0.88
WMT $0.32
NKE $0.04
KRFT $1.26

Roth IRA

Symbol Dividend
PM $5.12
MORL $6.26
KRFT $6.21

April Dividend Total = $20.30

One year ago I had $0.03 in dividends so I’ll take the $20.30 in April with a smile.

March 2015 – Chocolate, Oil, and Cheese

march

One of my favorite parts about passing another month is updating my dividend progress.  March proved to be an exciting month for my portfolio for several reasons.  I added a new stock to my portfolio, one company announced a huge merger, and I hit a new personal best.

The new addition to my Roth in March was Nestle (NSRGY).  Per Wikipedia and other online sources, Nestle is the WORLD’s largest food and beverage company.  I repeat, the WORLD’s largest food and beverage company.  According to a USAToday article from 2014, Nestle’s 2013 revenue was $103.5 billion (USD) and profits were $11.2 billion.  The next closest companies were Unilever Group with $68.5 billion in revenue and Coca-Cola with $8.6 billion in profits.  That is a nice feather in the cap for Nestle and if you’re into Buffett’s moats philosophy, then Nestle fits the bill.  Nestle has a large line of products that are well-known such as Gerber baby food, Purina pet food, and of course their chocolates lineup.  Finding out the story on Nestle’s dividend wasn’t as easy for me as most companies.  Depending on where you look, the current yield is ranging around 2.5% to 3%.  Also, Nestle appears to pay an annual dividend around May for their U.S. ADR shareholders.  Paying only once a year is a slight drawback but not a deal breaker for me when it comes to good companies.

Another purchase I made in March was the addition of more XOM to my portfolio.  I know there is a lot of uncertainty with oil right now but XOM was hitting 52-week lows so I decided to grab some more.  Exxon Mobil is the world’s 5th largest company by revenue so I like their chances of survival through rocky times in the energy sector.  I’m in it for the long haul so if prices drop over the next year or so I’m not going to lose any sleep.  XOM has been increasing dividends for 32 years and the current yield is above 3%.  I read recently that dividends are a priority for Exxon Mobil’s CEO so it will be interesting to see if they keep raising their dividends while oil prices are down.

Probably the most exciting part of March was the announcement that Kraft and Heinz will merge.  KRFT prices shot up and they will issue a special dividend to shareholders when the companies complete the merger.  I’m interested to see how this plays out and look forward to owning stock in the new company.

Finally, the other news I’m excited to report is that I hit another personal best with $44.06 in dividends for March.  Last year in March I had $0.15 in dividends so it was a nice leap.  Here is the breakdown of my March 2015 dividends:

Loyal3

Symbol Dividend
INTC $0.09
UL $0.45
MSFT $0.32
MCD $3.30
K $0.88

Roth IRA

COP $7.30
CVX $10.75
XOM $4.87
K $3.98
MCD $6.06
MORL $0.42
RDS.B $5.64

Total: $44.06

If I want to look at what personal expenses I could potentially cover, $44.06 could take care of my Netflix & Hulu bills and a probably a full tank of gas for my car.  Not much but it is something.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Dear Dividend

 

February 2015 Dividend Update

moneyheart

The shortest month of the year is coming to a close which means it is time for another monthly update.  Before I jump into my summary of returns, I’d like to mention a few items.  First, Loyal3 has shortened the time it takes to execute purchases from your bank account.  Purchases now go through in ~2 business days.  Second, I’d like to say “Bienvenido!” to the latest blogger added to my blog list, “Dividendos y Trading”.  And finally, I’d like to thank all of you that visit the blog and post comments.  It is encouraging to hear from others and it truly helps me keep on track.

Now, let’s take a look at February’s dividends:

 

Loyal3

Symbol Dividend
HAS $0.45
SBUX $0.08

Roth IRA

Symbol Dividend
AAPL $3.32
PG $0.66
MORL $0.52
CLX $5.22
HCP $5.21

TOTAL:  $15.46
While this isn’t a monthly personal best, it is $15.35 more than I earned in February 2014.  Although I report on monthly returns, my focus at this point isn’t to have dividends equally distributed across each month.  Some months will be better than others based on when companies issue their dividends.  A better comparison is probably looking at annual totals as well as comparing each month to the same month a year prior.  However, it is always nice to see a monthly high when it arrives.  Luckily, I should see a new personal best in March.

 

I hope you all have another successful month and thank you for visiting.

 

Regards,

DD

 

January 2015 Dividends

It is hard to believe that the first month of 2015 is already in the rear view mirror.  Life has been moving so fast lately that I wish I could slow it down some times.  Between work and keeping up with my kids’ activities, my weeks go by in a flash.  So now I’m awake on an early Saturday morning while the rest of my family continues to sleep in.  About the only time I can find to update the blog is early morning on a weekend while everyone in my house is sleeping.  It is peaceful and quiet right now so let me get my January update to you.

I started the year by adding some stocks to my Roth IRA.  With some dips in oil stock prices, I grabbed some RDS.B, COP, and more CVX.  I was originally leaning to just adding more to my existing CVX and XOM holdings but decided to spread out my purchases among multiple energy companies.  I guess it is a little bit like diversification within one sector.  All are decent dividend payers currently and hopefully will be for years to come.

My January 2015 dividend returns are in and while it wasn’t a personal best, it is my second highest month of returns since I jumped into dividend investing last year.  My returns for January add up to $19.43.

Here is the breakdown:

ROTH IRA

PM – $5.06

KRFT – $6.16

MORL – $6.36

LOYAL3

DIS – $0.16

PEP – $0.15

NKE – $0.04

WMT – $0.25

KRFT – $1.25

I’m expecting February to be lower than January but in March I should see a new personal best.

I’d also like to add that OptionsHouse has joined forces with TradeMonster.  Their ordering platform now looks different at their website and through their mobile app.  I honestly think I like the previous look and feel better which wasn’t the greatest to begin with.  Hopefully their trading platform will improve but with $4.95 trades I’ll continue to use OptionsHouse for my Roth.

Thanks for stopping by.

-DD

2014 Review with November and December Dividends

2014

2014 is over so it is time to take a look at my first (partial) year of dividend investing.  Before I jump into my 2014 totals, I’d like to point out my November and December returns.  In November, I received $15.74 in dividends.  November didn’t set any personal bests but December did.  In December, I received $26.00 in dividends which surpassed my previous best month of $17.85 in October.

Here is a table of my December dividends:

DECEMBER 2014 DIVIDENDS

LOYAL3 ROTH IRA
Date Symbol Dividend Date Symbol Dividend
12/2/2014 SBUX $0.04 12/15/2014 K $3.95
12/3/2014 INTC $0.09 12/22/2014 MORL $0.88
12/17/2014 MCD $2.94 12/10/2014 CVX $5.35
12/17/2014 K $0.80 12/10/2014 XOM $4.83
12/15/2014 MSFT $0.32 12/15/2014 MCD $6.00
12/12/2014 UL $0.50
12/17/2014 KO $0.30
SUB $4.99 SUB $21.01
TOTAL $26.00

 

Next up, let’s take a look at my overall 2014 dividends by month.

2014 MONTHLY DIVIDENDS

Month 2014 Dividends
Jan $0.12
Feb $0.11
Mar $0.15
Apr $0.03
May $1.01
Jun $0.76
Jul $11.91
Aug $9.45
Sep $13.96
Oct $17.85
Nov $15.74
Dec $26.00
TOTAL $97.09

In 2014 I came close to reaching $100 for the year.  I really didn’t start dividend investing until around May in 2014 so it took a while for the dividends to start coming in.  I plan on seeing an increase this year and look forward to 2015.  If my projections are right, I should pass $200 in annual dividends in 2015 even if I don’t invest another penny.  However, I do plan on investing more so $200 should be easy to beat.  Once I make some more purchases, I hope to see a few months of over $30 in dividends.

For 2015, I’m already gearing up to purchase more stock for my Roth IRA using OptionsHouse.  I’m currently leaning towards picking up RDS.B, more CVX, and possibly GIS this month.  I have more research to do however but should hopefully be making some buys in a week or so.

I hope you all have a successful 2015 and thanks for stopping by.