Sunday, January 29, 2017

Happiness: Hobbies

I am a man of many hobbies. In fact, my wife could argue that I have one or two or three too many hobbies to fit into one pee sized brain. I believe however that hobbies are one of the world's most important keys to being happy.

Hobbies have been around for what I can only assume is as long as mankind has had the ability to think beyond their more basic needs. Where historically our ancestors may not have had time to think of much other than food, shelter, and survival, most of us have the luxury of thinking beyond those necessities. If that is the case for you, you might have hobbies that include dancing, bike riding, working out, crafting, auto mechanics or much more.

Personally, my hobbies include working out, game design, hunting, playing the guitar, self help studies, and psychology. Whether you share any of these hobbies makes no difference. In fact, there are probably few in the world who share my exact same list of hobbies. That's just yet another great part about them. Hobbies can help make us unique, exciting, and fun to be around. This can then influence others around us in a positive manner. That's not to mention the positive effect that a hobby can have on you, yourself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wealth: Happy Hour

Making sure that you have additional income for investing while still having a fun filled life can be tough sometimes. Whether it's batting away friends that want to go out to eat or simply trying to work more to gain more income, making sure that there is money left at the end of the month can be harder than it sounds. That's why there is happy hour.

No, I don't mean happy hour in the bedroom sense. Although, that is definitely a happy hour! What I mean is going out to eat while the local eateries offer discounts during their "slower" hours of the day. Where the restaurant benefits from gaining a customer where there normally wouldn't be one, you benefit from the nice price deduction on the same or somewhat lesser portion sized meal.

Happy hour has many possible origins. Some say that it originated from the United States Navy in early 1913 when a group of stay at home mom's (homemakers?) organized a get together semi-weekly called the Happy Hour Social. Others believe that it was simply made by restaurants as yet another hallmark way to make some more dough!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wealth: Stock Purchase

At first glance, the Dividend Reaper monthly budget was looking pretty terrible. First, the Christmas trip back to my home town took a nice deep cut into the vacation fund. Second, I purchased a new rifle for Christmas. Third, we had to decided to get my wife her first pair of designer jeans.

That last one was definitely a splurge. Honestly though, it seems like a good investment. Mrs. Dividend Reaper takes extremely good care of her things and we hardly ever have to replace any of her things. Pair that with the fact that she deals with me and you have a recipe for deserving a nice pair of jeans (for the first time in her life). If we're being extremely honest however, my purchase of a new rifle took the cake as far as large line items.

I digress. We're here to talk about what we did with the remaining balance after all was said and done in December and the beginning half of January. That I am happy to admit is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Admittedly, it was much less than normal. However, both the wife and I worked both the Christmas and New Years shift so we obtained even more than usual through the nice boost that overtime pay provides.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wealth: Budgeting

Budgets; everybody has one, has had one, wants one, or never wants one. Whatever your feelings on the subject, I personally feel that having a budget can benefit absolutely everyone. Budgets can assist with tracking assets, liabilities, payments that you’d forgotten about that have actually been burning a hole in your pocket, and much more. To not have a budget is to invite holes into the bottom of your pristine life boat.

Sure, there are those out there that are perfectly fine out there without having a budget. They however are very likely the type of person that already has a very controlled manner of spending habits but even they could learn a thing or two by keeping track of their finances with a budget. A budget can have so many positive side effects.

One of the most important things that a budget provides is a sense of security. A budget gives you a deeper sense of security by reminding you constantly about how much you can spend without getting yourself into trouble. If you are checking it as one should, you will always have a good idea of where you stand each day of the month. You’ll know immediately if you have the funds available to go a little wild. You’ll also know when you should take a pass and not join the guys on the night on the town and instead opt to meet up with them the next morning for a cheap breakfast.

Another important role of a budget is to show you where you are spending the most money. Hell, it was only a year or so ago that the wife and I were bleeding money through our eye balls through random trips to the local Walmart. Thanks to the budget however, we were able to zero in on it quickly and now we hardly spend anything besides our once a week grocery trips. It’s allowed us to save an extra $300-500 per month. That’s an extra $300-500 that go directly towards our investments that can help us retire even earlier.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Health: The Yama Challenge

Dividends can come in many forms. What most people associate them with are the financial form - different size payments that slowly help you build your snow ball for retirement. However, life can give dividends in more than just financial ways. I feel that one of the most important dividends that life can provide is through physical fitness. That's why I came up with what I have dubbed, the Yama Challenge.

Yama is Japanese for mountain. The reason that it's called the Yama Challenge is because the entire program revolves around climbing mountains. Don't worry - it doesn't require that you book a trip to Everest. That would cost more money and take more time than most of us have. Instead, the challenge revolves around using a stair climber machine. The stair climber machine is used to keep track of how many floors you climb per day and per week. Eventually, you'll be using those floors to reach a combined total number that is greater than the total height of Mount Everest.

First, let's get into the math. Most stair climber machines average about 10 feet per floor. If we assume that each floor is 10 feet, we then take the total feet of Everest and see just how many floors it would take to reach the top. Don't worry about looking it up. I've done the math and it would take approximately 2,903 floors to reach the summit. While this feels a bit daunting, it is actually very surmountable if one gives it an honest effort.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happiness: Keeping the Bucket Full

I promised that things would be different moving forward on this blog. The first thing I wanted to do differently was to start logging each of my posts as either health, wealth, or happiness. This will help separate the types of posts that I want to capitalize on for the Dividend Reaper Project.

The first post I wanted to make is a post on keeping your bucket full. If you don't know what a bucket is, it is more than just an instrument for holding water or other such things. The bucket I am referring to is a metaphorical bucket. It's a bucket that is there to measure your happiness. If you are extremely happy and you feel that you have all that you need, you can be said to have an extremely full bucket.

If on the other hand you feel that you have nothing left to give, you could be said to have an extremely empty bucket. I like this metaphor best when it comes to talking about the current state of happiness that one may have because it is probably one of the easiest concepts to immediately understand. I also feel it is incredibly versatile. In less than five seconds, I can tell someone what it means when I refer to having a full bucket and they get it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Looking Back and Moving Forward

The blog has officially reached its one year mark. One year ago this blog didn't even exist. My dreams of what the portfolio could become were small and unrealized. I can't put into words how proud I am to have kept it running this long. 

I won't say that it was without trying moments though. At least once per month while following other bloggers I would read about the doomsayers who sold out their entire portfolios expecting huge drops. It's really nerve wracking to constantly read about those who go through with it and sell it all with the expectation that they are taking the right move and selling at the highest. It makes you wonder about your own portfolio. Do you sell out with them? I wasn't seeing any signs of the doom that they saw coming. Yet I was a young investor with a limited knowledge base to pull from. It makes you wonder if they see something you don't. 

Obviously, as you can tell, I didn't break under the pressure. I held strong and continued to hold all that I had previously thought to be worthy of adding to the Dividend Scythe portfolio and I'm glad that I did. The portfolio has more value now than it ever has. If I would have sold out, lord knows where it would be today with how the market has responded. 

At the same time, I think about the other young investors out there that may have read the same posts and actually gone through with it themselves. This is why I try to hold a higher standard to the posts that I make when I purchase or evaluate potentials. Even though I myself try not to tell others what to buy as I don't want to freely give investment advice, there are tons of other blogs out there that are very vocal about what to buy and what to sell. It's just crazy to see how others can be influenced by what others say, regardless of their understanding of that individual's actual intelligence of the future. After all, none of us can say exactly what is going to happen in the market tomorrow. No one to my knowledge has that ability. 

I bring this all up because I think we as bloggers have a larger purpose. We can influence others in ways that we don't initially see. That being said, I think that I really want to expand the blog beyond just investing. I want to start doing more with it. I'm not exactly sure where I want to go with this blog beyond following my portfolio but I want there to be a larger purpose. At this point I'm thinking that I may expand it by adding videos or other blog posts that are outside the financial realm. I just think it would be cool to make something more than just a simple recap of what's going on in the Dividend Scythe. We will see where this ultimately goes next.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Dividend Income

Where in the world did 2016 go? I feel like it was just yesterday that I was staring down the barrel of January 2016 wondering where dividend growth investing would take me and my wife. One minute I'm getting married and the next minute we've crushed any expectations of income I had prior. I've just completed putting all the numbers together in the spread sheet and I am happy to report that it is all good news. 

Total 2015 Dividend Income: $62.25
Total 2016 Dividend Income: $322.91

What an eye watering difference a small year can make in terms of passive income. This is only with regular additions of income towards the greater purpose of passive income for early retirement or additional freedom. That's also $322.91 that my wife and I had to do nothing to generate. Passive income really is one of the best things in the world! 

Other changes in the portfolio have come from the addition of new companies to the portfolio. Where it started with only a small hand full of companies, the portfolio now holds a respectful 17 different companies that have met my stringent requirements. I believe that they all hold the potential to be long term positions in companies that should continue to pay dividends. Where this might not be the case for all of them as the unexpected is almost guaranteed to occur, the hope is that the majority of them hold their ground and only get better and better.

Moving forward into 2017, the mission is to continue growing the dividend scythe portfolio. At this time I have a goal of 20 total companies in the finalized portfolio. Once that number is reached, I intend to add to the positions that I feel open ample opportunity for entry. If none offer what I'm looking for at that time, I plan to expand further outwards before upward. Only time can tell however. Other than portfolio outlooks, I plan to post more often than I have in the last few (admittedly slower) months. These posts will be much more geared towards personal finance as a whole rather than just investing as I feel that personal finance success is the ultimate goal and dividend investing is just the vehicle. 

Hopefully I will continue to see all of your friendly posts and hear your input on the ideas that I share. Feel free to comment and say hello. I'd love to also see the results of your own portfolios if you're willing to post the results here. Happy 2017 everyone!

-Dividend Reaper