THE FUTURE: "Jobs are being created, resources are abundant and technology is amazing - go out and enjoy yourself - I will look after you!"  
PLAN.AHEAD: "That is all good mate but I want options. I want freedom to do as I wish. If I spend all my money today I will have none for tomorrow"
CONTENDER: "What about dividend investing, will this work?" 
PLAN.AHEAD: "Contender, the stock market is a casino mate! you have less chance in it than in the ring with THE.FUTURE!"

Over the past 12 months a lot of work has been carried out to develop a strategy for a sustainable dividend income for our Tribe. 

Part 1 of this post is going to look at the pros and cons of dividends versus capital appreciation of stocks. Part 2 is going to look at risks of investing in dividend stocks, our strategy and tracking progress.

The Tribes Dividend Journey

We have been investing heavily for the past 7 years in three portfolios GROWTH, INCOME and PROTECTION (covered here). It is only in the last year we have been heavily interested in increasing the share of the INCOME portfolio. In particular we are buying individual company shares for their dividends.

To get to the target we are gradually selling our tracker funds from the GROWTH  (Primarily global, European and emerging markets) and adding capital from dividends and adding income from Mrs C's [delete] income into individual shares. The PROTECT portfolio is staying static.

In the current climate of a historically high priced stock market (P/E ratios are at towards the top of their historical trading ranges) and what THE.CONTENDER considers a stagflation environment this poses several concerns about the timing of owning MORE shares.

We currently live in a very different financial landscape with lots of printed money circling the globe. This is very supportive of stocks so there is no reason to believe the stock market will capitulate just yet.

  • Our exercise is moving money out of one group of shares (funds) to another group (individual dividend stocks) 
  • We are adding some extra earned income so we are in effect nearly neutral on purchases.
  • Our objective is all about GROWING INCOME over CAPITAL APPRECIATION. 
  • We are comfortable in owning a large amount of stocks but... we want to be more DEFENSIVE with the choice of these shares. 
  • We are buying shares in these sectors that we consider DEFENSIVE: utilities, energy and pharmaceutical.
  • We consider their goods and services as a "need" instead of "want". 
  • We understand dividends can be variable such as energy companies that are beholden to the underlying price the the commodity they are selling.
  • We hold some fixed income assets (preference shares and cash accounts)
While it may seem a little Kamikaze to keep holding so much wealth in stocks at the moment we are buying them for their income, not overall value (appreciation is desired ;).

Perhaps lots of cash is better? Unfortunately like anything in life it is all about risk aversion. Cash loses value to inflation but is safe. At our point in our lives we are do [which one?] not need to be overly safe. If a problem happens we will do what it takes to get back on track.

We are aiming for 80% INCOME and 20% in GROWTH and PROTECTION after the purchase of a property in FRANCE and the semi early retirement situation we are looking for.

Starting a portfolio
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

We have read about dividend investing from several sites and blogs such as the dividend monk, seekingalpha, monevator and several early financial independence blogs such as brave new life, retire by 40 and jlcollinsnh.

We have a list of our our current holdings and the current dividend income they provide per month. We have added "what if" we bought x shares in each company to work out what the portfolio could look like to generate our desired final income (more detail will be provided in part 2 of the post).

All of the stocks are researched  (Mr C spends lots of time on this) and evaluated. Decision of what to buy each month are made by having a look at share valuations and performance. We are currently concerned about buying some of the shares we have identified that have had large run ups at the start of the year (typically 10-20%).

We are currently targeting the "laggards" - shares that are behind the market gains. Is this a good approach? Laggards are usually laggards for a reason? Well perhaps that is because their sector is out of favor and might be the next "performer". There is a "risk on" appetite in the market so some defensive sectors have been laggards / sold off in favor of stocks with perhaps more growth prospects.

Please read on for: Are companies paying dividends the right choice? High paying dividend stock considerations. Dividend champion investing.
Paying Dividends Vs Share Buyback

Dividends can provide a regular fairly consistent (providing there is diversification) growing source of income. Why then has Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway never offered a dividend?

The main reason for this is that dividends are taxed as they are paid [as income] [ explain]. Warren Buffet sees more benefit to the shareholders by buying back the shares or investing in new companies to avoiding the "income" tax.

If a return is required, shares can be sold and incur the capital gains tax.

Here in the UK there is a capital gains tax allowance of 10.6K per year for 2013 and a tax rate of 18% on gains greater than this amount. Dividends incur a 10% tax taken at source. If we require a small income each year we see that the capital gains approach can be more "tax" efficient than dividends.

Our little tribe are in the phase where we need regular income. We are concerned if there is a significant drop in the market and we have to sell shares for living costs we could erode the capital (number of shares) faster than it is replaced by gains.

By choosing dividend stocks where the payout ratio is deemed safe - even when in a recession - hopefully we can avoid selling shares, reducing capital and reducing income. If we choose growing companies as well eventually we should be able to realise some capital gains as well.

We will not have spare funds at first for future investment but when we do in the future we will have a good look at the capital gains approach to minimize our tax liabilities.

Looking for High Paying Defensive Dividends (is this sensible?)

Our choice of companies is currently realizing a high dividend return of around 5.9%. There is there a catch to this. If you look at dividend champion investing (companies that consistently raise their dividend) on US shares the dividend rates are typically much lower 3-4%. You would be right in assuming the higher yield we are achieving can infer either:
  1. Riskier investments / companies (e.g. energy trusts and home builders)
  2. Mature companies with limited growth (e.g. utilities)
  3. Leveraged companies (e.g. real estate investment trusts REIT's)
Here is a seekingalpha on widely held dividend stocks

At the current point in time US companies are typically are more expensive to buy than European stocks. This is understandable and has been the case for years as the US has the reserve currency and its companies are generally global growth behemoths.

On the other hand we are based in Europe. The markets are lower priced and higher yields can be found. An example of this is legislative issues / policy on energy that has damaged the share prices of European utility companies. Several of these companies have dividend yields > 7%! and have global operations.

Living in Europe US tax withholding is a big consideration (15% - you have to claim back any excess). Lower taxes are leveled at a resident in the UK at 10% and it is cheaper to buy individual stocks. This difference can make European stocks more appealing.

See topyeilds for European Markets

Dividend Growth Investing

Many companies such as those in the consumer goods sector  have been expanding their global sales each year. With the world population already above 6 Billion and due to peak somewhere around 9 Billion there is a lot of growth still available to them. Let's not forget that the west standard of living is currently not available to the majority of the world population. Rising living standards are also another huge opportunity for growth.

Dividend champions although they pay lower dividends and have higher price to earnings ratios provide comfort in the future growth of their sales and the dividend. The dividends have generally outpaced inflation.

See dividend champions XL sheet from drip investing for US stocks.

One consideration on this approach is how long it will take to gain enough income to cover your living costs. A 3-4% yield requires a lot more capital than a 6-7% yield. Perhaps a good approach is a mix of dividend aristocrats mixed with some higher but lower growth stocks to get you to your income goal quicker?

If this allows earlier financial independence it will free time to look at new opportunities. Perhaps an exciting opportunity may arise that may not have been available before. The extra income could then be used to change the mix of the portfolio.


Perhaps if THE.CONTENDER was 18 again he might have started out with a portfolio of low cost tracker funds adding capital each month. When he was 3/4 to his target he would have shifted aggressively to a mix of dividend aristocrats and high paying dividend stocks. Finally a re-balancing would occur towards dividend champions (in select sectors). Any excess would either be passed on to the kids or re-invested in diversified REAL assets.

This is one idea of a strategy, one of thousands out there and each needs to be a personal choice based on expectations and circumstances*

Next up lets have a look at the Tribes current strategy and its risks.

Peace, prosperity and happiness


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Post a Comment

  1. Dividends are an important part of your investment returns. It is usually paid in the form of cash to the shareholders. They provide attractive returns. The companies that pay dividends generally historically stable.

  2. While I prefer dividends for cashflow (vital for financial independence!), at the end of the day if a company isn't paying a high dividend one would expect that the profits would instead be reinvested in the company by management - making growth more attractive during the early building stages of your portfolio.

  3. Warren Buffet dislikes dividends because he sees it as an inefficient investing approach. 1. Money re-invested in a business is not taxed
    2. Capital gains have historically been taxed at a lower rate than income (dividends)

    So to your point when starting to invest going for growth may be the best approach. Choosing a tracker fund to do this takes away a lot of the risk in trying to find the next Google or Apple. I have personally lost money trying to choose the next best growth company.

    In my opinion dividend paying companies are a very good starting point. The dividends can be seen as "encouragement". Shares always go up and down but is is re-assuring to receive several dividends each month while waiting for the growth part of the portfolio to go up.

    Dividend growth stocks are very popular because they pay a dividend and are committed to growth. The difference here is that they probably pay a much lower percentage of their profits out in dividends but re-invest the rest back into the business. More capital is required to obtain a desired income level from dividends alone with the understanding that they are looking to grow their business / share price.

    The risk then comes if you need to sell shares when the share price is "low".

    All the best


Are you planning for financial independence and wondering what to do with it. If so is any of the content on this blog of use to you? I would appreciate any comments you have. All the best C

Welcome to FISH !
You have come here looking for answers. How to get out of debt? How to save and invest? How to retire early and how you want to live in retirement.

Well this is the right place for you as out tribe has been through all of these steps. We no longer work for a corporate employer and have saved enough to retire early. How we did this is shared here on this site for you.

Our little tribe found out these secrets to financial independence in our late 20’s. Since then we have taken early retirement, in our late 30's, in just 7 years. We now live in the South West of France with our two young children.

Along the way I decided to share everything I learnt. My articles and tips on aggressive saving and compound investing are there to help you meet your financial goals fast. I discuss ways to help you decide what you want by building a life plan. This helps to work out how to get where you want to be whilst avoiding the pitfalls along the way.

My expertise was built up working in blue chip corporate jobs, extensive reading and putting it into practice. I have condensed this knowledge into simple strategies to help you meet your goals and not those of the bank or the place you work.

There are free planning tools on this site that help you make a life plan. A plan for your future. The tools calculate how to reach your financial goals in a timeline that suits you. The tools help set out your life goals, make them happen and how to exceed them.

There are tips on how to simplifying your life to remove day to day headaches. These include ways to pay off debt fast buy eliminating wasteful spending habits. How to reduce your monthly bills through choices that actually improve your health and wellbeing. Identifying things you don’t need that sap your time and wallet.

There are little sustainability projects to reduce your dependence on shops and utilities whilst saving money to spend on things you want.

All of these little steps will show you how save 50%+ of your salary so you can meet your goal whatever it is. This huge saving rate can be compounded for very early retirement. I am sure you will find something here for you.

Darren Lee (A.K.A the Contender as in my blog)