Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dividend/Growth Investing

I started reading personal finance blogs in early 2008, when my wife and I were beginning our mortgage payoff project.  At first I followed blogs focused on debt reduction and mortgage elimination, but over time I branched out to general personal finance topics.  I found a subset of blogs discussing "early retirement" and "financial independence" (FI).  I was immediately hooked.  Even though I didn't have a term for it, in my own mind I had been dreaming of financial independence for years.

After finding the "FI" blogs I started following closely-related Dividend Growth investing blogs, especially as we were nearing the end of our mortgage and were looking forward to saving and investing for the future.  The Dividend Growth (DG) strategy appeals to me on a number of levels, including its simplicity (easy to understand and implement) and its focus on income from dividends (sustainability) rather than capital gains (speculation).  This style of investing has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially within the FI crowd.

Although I appreciate a lot of what the DG strategy has to offer, I don't see myself committing to the most strict DG guidelines when building our own portfolio.  I like the idea of buying stocks that pay dividends, but I don't want to arbitrarily limit investments to a certain minimum (or maximum) dividend yield, or to a certain string of uninterrupted historical dividend increases.  Admittedly, my investing strategy is evolving over time, and I've only been investing in individual securities for about six months now, so this is subject to change.  But at the moment I plan to favor a more personalized, hybrid approach.

At the core of our portfolio I hope to have a foundation of traditional DG favorites, which are blue chips with a solid dividend and a history of commitment to dividends.  I'd like to see about 50% of our portfolio fall into this category, across a wide range of market sectors.  Examples would be JNJ, KO, PG, SYY, and MCD.  Our current portfolio is light in this category because valuations have seemed high to me over the past six months.

Within a number of market sectors, I'd like to complement these DG core holdings with a blue chip competitor exhibiting characteristics more closely associated with a "growth" company, but which I expect to develop into a future DG core holding (based on a developing large moat, a short but robust history of increased dividends, and solid brand).  For example, MCD could be paired with SBUX*.  INTC could be paired with QCOM.  PG could be paired with CHD.  I expect these more growth-oriented holdings to make up another 25% of our portfolio.

* In the first example, I fully expect that in another 10-20 years, SBUX will be as ubiquitous worldwide as MCD is today.  After their growth phase ends and the company matures, I anticipate SBUX will use more of their free cash flow to pay a healthy dividend to their shareholders.  At the same time I expect that MCD will remain a solid investment, but if it falters, I could shift some funds from the old guard (MCD) to the new (SBUX) and not lose an investment in that sector of the market.  If I was limiting myself to classic DG investing entry criteria like a minimum yield (for example 2.5%) or a minimum number of years of dividend increases (for example 10) I wouldn't be able to buy SBUX until some point in the future.  And although we have no idea what the market will do from one year to the next, the general idea behind DG investing is that the market will rise over the long run, successful companies included.  So if I expect SBUX to perform for the long run, why not invest in it today, to take advantage of some capital growth to go along with its dividend growth?

With the remainder of our portfolio (the last 25%), I'd like to focus on high current yield.  This will be a mixed bag, but I expect to see some utilities here, along with REITs and BDCs and more speculative, out-of-favor dividend payers.  This is somewhat over-represented in our current portfolio (AGNC, CLF, EXC, PBI, SNH) but I expect it to become a smaller slice as we continue to add capital and make investments in the other categories.  The goal of this high current yield is to help offset the low yields of the growth holdings.  With the dividend payouts from this group, we'll have additional capital available to reinvest in our overall portfolio, wherever the best current opportunities happen to be.  I am willing to sacrifice some opportunity cost from the slow-growers (like utilities) and the occasional capital loss from some of the more speculative deep value names in order to bring up the average yield of our overall portfolio.

This is still a work in progress, and I may decide to make further revisions to this strategy as time goes by.  I'm also open to any input from my wife as she's been taking a greater interest in the nuts and bolts of our finances and investments.  But for now I'll be working under the guidelines of what I'll call "Dividend/Growth" (D/G) investing -- our personalized version of the classic "Dividend Growth" investing strategy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Dividends

Although the clock hasn't yet run out on 2012, we've already received all of our dividends for the year.  The total comes to just over $1,200.  This includes a somewhat questionable special dividend payment from PETS*, but even if we exclude that, I'm pleased with the total of $1,000+ we've received over the past five months.  We didn't start investing in our Early Retirement account until July, and didn't receive our first dividend payment until August.

I'm tracking our dividends on the Portfolio page, on the Dividend tabs in the embedded spreadsheet.  Our future projected dividends are shown on the Summary (and Details) tab in the "Annual Div Estimate" column, based on our current holdings and the most recent announced payout from each holding.

Assuming no major cuts in dividends in 2013, we should see a total payout in the neighborhood of $3,000 based on our current holdings.  Of course we plan to continue adding to the account with each paycheck, so I'm cautiously optimistic we can see a dividend total around $5,000 in 2013 when future purchases are added into the mix.

As the saying instructs, it's risky to count chickens before they hatch, especially given the current uncertainty around the future tax treatment of dividends in the US.  I'll also be the first to admit that some of our current higher-yield holdings are more risky/speculative than the usual dividend growth favorites, but I'm still pleased with each of them and would not hesitate to add to any of them (at the right price) given enough available cash on hand.  Here's looking forward to a prosperous 2013!


*The PETS special dividend pay date is December 24, but I already see it posted to our brokerage account this weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dialogue

I've often mentioned my wife when writing, whether on this blog or on my earlier one.  Rarely does a week pass without the two of us having a conversation about our current finances, our goals, our mutual dislike of the 40+ hour workweek, or our progress over time.  She's a great ally.

Until recently, she seemed content to focus on the big picture and let me keep track of the details:  tracking our spending, paying the bills, entering the orders for our investment purchases, and so on.  However, within the past few months she decided to take a more active role in the day to day workings of our household finances.  At her request, I recommended two of my favorite personal finance books for her to read (Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez/Robin and The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley/Danko).  She tore through both books in short order and declared herself ready for more.

Since then, we've had more detailed conversations about specific stocks/companies we'd like to invest in.  We're sharing spreadsheets online which help us plan for specific scenarios instead of hypotheticals.  And we're working toward converting our long-term aspirations into actionable goals to work on during the next five to ten years.  From my point of view, it's been a welcome addition to our already healthy dialogue.

I also invited her to participate in this blog.  She's listed as the other contributor now, using her alias "the Spicy Princess".  I leave it up to her to decide if/when to commit her own thoughts to this space.  Meanwhile I'll continue to work on making more frequent entries (my own goal for 2013).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Reminder

I took the past few weeks off from blogging even though I've had a lot of thoughts rolling around in my mind.  One of my goals when I started this blog back in August was to make shorter, more frequent entries, but so far I've failed at that.  I'm going to renew my efforts to achieve this goal.  I hope that by limiting the time spent on each post, I'll find the task of writing less daunting.

Meanwhile, today I was given a fresh reminder of why my wife and I are on the current quest to voluntarily end our employment as soon as possible.  Despite working for one of the most profitable divisions of the company, my employer announced massive cuts in spending next year which caused a number of people on my team to lose their jobs.  Those affected will be unemployed in two weeks.  This shook up the entire group because it was so completely unexpected.  Rumor has it that the executive management team is concerned about the uncertain political situation as we move into the new year.

Although I wasn't one of those who was given notice of termination, it helps to renew my focus on why it's necessary to develop an income stream independent of our employers as soon as we can.  A diverse collection of many income-producing investments should be much less susceptible to failure than the status quo:  our reliance on the willingness of only two companies to continue to provide the majority of our income.  

We're currently still dependent on our employers to maintain our existing lifestyle, but with each paycheck we're taking steps to increase our capital base and provide for our future replacement income.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lucky Thirteen

Earlier this week I passed my thirteen-year anniversary* of working for my current employer.  Although this is not the only job I have ever held, this is the only one that I would call a "career" job -- the earlier ones were ways to make a little income during and immediately after my high school and college years.  I seem to be something of an anomaly as nearly everyone I know from my own generation has changed employers at least once, either purposefully or due to factors beyond their control.

My current tenure was almost cut short a number of years ago when the department I worked for was abruptly transferred to another state.  Not wanting to relocate, I hastily found a job with a different group, only to be completely dissatisfied and frustrated with the culture in the new organization.  I gave my notice and sent out a farewell email to current and former peers, only to have one of them quickly recruit me to work with him in a new role in the same company -- the one in which I still find myself employed today.

I work for a large company on sound financial footing.  This has its advantages and disadvantages.  On the plus side, the compensation and benefits are fair and generous.  I am not micromanaged, which allows me to work a somewhat flexible schedule, often from home.  Of course, like many large organizations, there are frustrating layers of bureaucracy and inane policies that leave the employees feeling more like interchangeable parts rather than human beings.  Overall, I would say the positives largely outweigh the negatives, which is why I've been satisfied to remain with the company as long as I have.

Having said that, I have no desire to spend another 13 years working for this company, or for any other.  I am hopeful that before my 25-year employment anniversary, my wife and I will have built up our own finances so that we are no longer dependent on full-time salaries and benefits from our employers.  Of course, this blog is here to track our progress toward this goal.

One of my favorite personal finance books, Your Money or Your Life (by Robin and Dominguez), advises readers to add up all of the money they've ever earned, and then compare it to their current position in life.  By doing this the reader is given the opportunity to reflect on whether they have made the most of their money in the past, and decide whether changes are needed going forward.

Looking back over my own working career, I have to say that I've done a decent job.  On the eve of my first working day at my current employer, I had about $10,000 to my name, half of it in cash and half in a used car.  I also had a college degree and no debt of any kind -- no car loan, no student loans, no credit card debt.  I have my parents to thank for all of this, because they were wise enough to manage their own finances so that I could start my independent life with an education and without having to dig out of debt.  I'm extremely grateful to them for this opportunity.

Thirteen years ago, I was renting a small condo that I shared with my girlfriend at the time.  I was not at all passionate about starting a career, but I needed an income and wanted to stop working the odd jobs that I had been doing to make ends meet up to that point.  Using an online job posting website, I managed to get an interview with my current employer, not knowing much at all about the company.  Fortunately, this was the late 1990s, when the economy was booming, and employers were scrambling to hire anyone and everyone they could.  I was hired based on a single interview.  I started in an entry-level position and worked a lot for the first several years, since overtime was plentiful and I was fearful that by working "only" 40 hours per week I would look like I was not willing to do my fair share.  This was not my preference.  Even then, with meager assets, I was frugal, and had no real ambition to earn money for the sake of more consumption.  My time off was at least as valuable to me as my paid time, even at time-and-a-half rates.  After my 40 hours were up, I wanted to be out hiking the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire, or playing games on my computer, or hanging out with friends.  Somehow I managed to stay in good graces with my managers, working just enough overtime hours to not raise any red flags, but few enough that I was able to keep my own sanity.

Over the first few the years I earned raises and promotions (with salary increases), and eventually saved enough for a down payment on a condo.  Early on, I remember daydreaming about how nice it would be to get rid of the mortgage so I could be free of those monthly payments.  Still, I lived relatively frugally, not choosing to go into extra debt to make major home renovations.  I also avoided a "cash out" refinance like a lot of people were doing at the time, as real estate values rapidly increased in the early 2000s.  I made small extra mortgage payments when I could, and saved steadily in tax-advantaged retirement accounts, maximizing my 401k and Roth IRA contributions every year.

Fortune smiled on me when I met my wife.  Although I knew right away that we clicked on so many levels, it wasn't until at least a year into our marriage that I pleasantly realized we had similar financial goals as well.  She was the one who convinced me that a mortgage-free lifestyle didn't have to be a distant dream.  This was triggered by a minor personal crisis that brought us even closer together.  After we had weathered the storm, we started talking in earnest about what we wanted from life.  We decided to work aggressively toward financial independence so that we could enjoy all of the things we love so much together, while we were both still young enough to fully appreciate them, without having to spend all of our time working.  This led us to embark on a journey to pay off our mortgage first, as quickly as possible:  partly as an insurance policy against sudden loss of income and partly as a way to kickstart our savings.  We knew that once the mortgage was gone, we could funnel all of our extra cash toward an escape fund.

So now, thirteen years later, I find myself (along with my wife) belonging to the exclusive** club of homeowners without a mortgage.  We're clearly in the very high end of savers for retirement and net worth, especially for our age group***.  We are growing our savings and investing for early-retirement income.  And while I must give my wife substantial credit for her contributions since we got married, I certainly would not be where I am today without the influence of my employer over the past thirteen years.  Having a steady stream of income and benefits provided me with a solid financial foundation.  However, while I appreciate the opportunities that come along with steady employment, I hope to continue to build on our current financial foundation.  In the not-too-distant future I want to replace our employment anniversaries with financial independence anniversaries.



*By the way, thirteen years sounds like a long time.  New Kindergarten students in October 1999 are now college freshmen or out on their own.  I feel old.


**According to the US Census, just over 30 percent of homes were owned "free and clear" (without a mortgage) as of 2009.  Of further interest is that almost half of those "free and clear" homes were owned by those 65 years of age or older, leaving my wife and I in the remaining 15-16 percent of the homeowners under 65 years old and without a mortgage.

*** I track our net worth monthly, using NetworthIQ.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Work and Fishing

While riding my bicycle into the office yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a vehicle which read: 

Work is for people who don't know how to fish.

I smiled at this, amused at the public declaration of preferences.  Although fishing is not one of my own passions, I can easily sympathize with the desire to pursue something other than work.

As I rode on, though, I got thinking about the phrasing of the statement, and wondered if there might be a deeper meaning to the statement on the bumper sticker.  It didn't say that work is for people who don't like to fish.  It said that work is for people who don't know how to fish.  This slight difference in phrasing opens up a different interpretation.

I'm sure most people are familiar with the old adage which states:

Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.  Teach a  man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.*

What if "knowing how to fish", as referenced in the bumper sticker slogan, is a metaphor for something else?  Could "knowing how to fish" encompass all of the steps involved with planning, implementing, and realizing an escape from the workplace?

Even if this was unintentional, and I'm reading more into the bumper sticker than I should, I still appreciate the truth behind both statements.  First, every time we choose to work, we are choosing to take time away from "fishing" -- all of the other passions that make life worth living.  And second, it's possible to eventually escape from the bonds that work holds on us by "knowing how to fish" -- learning other ways of living that reduce the dependency on the regular paycheck -- which should then free up more time for "fishing".

In the case of my wife and me, we're in the process of learning how to fish -- living without any debts, saving a large portion of our income, and investing for the future.  I look forward to the day when we can choose to "fish" as often as we want.




*Unless the man is vegetarian, in which case the phrase could be modified along the lines of "Give a man some corn...Teach a man to grow corn..."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Positive Outlook

Several days ago my wife and I went to a surprise birthday celebration for one of our friends.  While we were waiting for the guest of honor to show up, we talked with others in attendance, most of whom work at the same place that I do.  The topic of conversation moved to saving and investing.  I met another guy who had been following a dividend growth strategy for several years.  He reported being pleased with his progress so far.  I told him I had been doing my own research into dividend-paying stocks as well and had just started investing this year.

Another guest overheard our conversation and expressed his own opinion of the viability of long-term investing.  He said he was concerned with the direction the country was going, and expressed fear that dollar-based assets would significantly lose value in the coming years due to inflation and the monetary policy of many first-world nations.  He said that lately he had been picking up gold coins at antique dealers and auctions and hiding them in his house.  When pressed, he also admitted to owning some Wal-Mart stock that he bought a number of years ago.  (Maybe WMT is immune to inflation?)

I found the contrast between the two investment philosophies intriguing.  Both of these men work for the same company, doing basically the same job, and yet their investment philosophies could not be more different.  This was more than a difference in risk tolerance or asset allocation.  This difference centered around their future outlook.  One had at worst a neutral view of the future, while the other held a very dim view of the coming years.

I suppose any long-term investor has to have a minimally positive outlook on life in order to be willing to save and invest in stocks (day traders and short sellers excepted).  Whether you are investing with an eye on dividends or capital appreciation (or some combination of the two), it does not seem logical to invest cash in intangible assets unless you believe that the future holds some promise of stability and prosperity.

Friday, September 21, 2012

End of Summer

Today is the last full day of summer, according to the solstice-to-equinox definition.  Hours spent in darkness will start to outnumber daylight hours very soon (at least here in NH).

Continuing the dividend announcement soap opera, yesterday MCD declared a dividend increase.   That makes two stocks which have announced increases and one which announced a decrease this week.

We also received our Q3 dividend payment for WM.  Based on our current holdings, we won't receive another dividend for more than a month.  More than half of our positions pay dividends on the popular March/June/Sept/Dec schedule, which means September was a good income month for us.  (Oddly enough, however, the higher-yielding REITs distribute their dividends during the other months, so we'll receive more income from fewer holdings in Oct & Nov than we will in December).  At this stage in my life, it doesn't matter when the dividends are paid, but for an investor who was counting on that income stream, I could see a case for shifting portfolio allocation between stocks so that it would be fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dividend Decrease

On the heels of the MSFT dividend increase comes a decrease from one of our other holdings, NLY.  Unlike many other companies, NLY seems content to allow its dividend to regularly float up and down based on actual profits, rather than seeking consistency with its dividend from one quarter to the next.  I have read a number of articles on NLY recently which predicted a drop in dividend from Q2 to Q3 based on narrowing spreads between short- and long-term interest rates, so this was not a huge shock.  As we are new investors in NLY, the Q3 dividend will be our first payment that we receive, so it won't feel like a "decrease" to us.  The current yield over 11 percent is still respectable.

As always, I'll keep a watchful eye on the high yielders in our portfolio to ensure that they still meet our investment criteria over the long run.  I am willing to take on some risk with a portion of our investments if it can help to bring up the overall yield.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dividend Increase

For the first time since we bought our initial set of stocks back in July, one of our holdings announced a dividend increase.  MSFT will pay 3 cents more per share in December.  This brings our yield on cost to about 3.2% (up from about 2.8%).  Certainly not a huge difference, but nice to see the yield over 3%.  Hopefully some other dividend increases are in our future.

Speaking of MSFT, we received its September dividend last week, along with AMAT, PBI, and MCD.   WM is scheduled to pay on Friday.

I also opened a new position in EXC.  This is an electricity utility which is trading near its 52-week low.  Though the company doesn't have a track record of regular dividend increases, its current yield is just under 6%.  This certainly beats the paltry yield of the money market fund in my brokerage account.  I'm not looking for huge capital appreciation from this one, just a steady regular flow of dividends over time.  It should serve as a more stable, conservative anchor to help balance out some of the high-yielders in the portfolio.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Patience

My wife and I both work for organizations that pay employee salaries on a bi-weekly schedule, and as luck would have it, the pay schedules of our respective employers differ by exactly one week.  This means that every Friday we have fresh income flowing into our accounts.

Since we paid off the mortgage last year, we made the decision to use my wife's salary to cover our living expenses, and mine for long-term savings and investment.  Therefore, every other Friday the brokerage account has new cash ready to be put to use.

Since purchasing our first round of stocks back in mid-July, I've looked forward to these "investment Fridays" as opportunities to add to the dividend portfolio.  And so far I've found ample options for investing -- until today.

I don't know if it's because I'm getting pickier, or if subconsciously I'm wary that the recent run-up in stock prices can only be followed by a corresponding drop (even though I'm trying to stay disciplined to  avoid market timing), but despite spending ample time reading and researching over the past couple of weeks, I'm not sure exactly what to do with the latest influx of cash.  I'm torn between "doubling down" one one or more of our holdings which have lagged recently (like INTC), or opening a new position in a high-quality security at current market prices, in the name of additional diversification (since our portfolio is somewhat unbalanced at the moment).

I have really been enjoying reading blogs about personal finance in general and dividend growth investing in particular as of late.  There is so much to learn -- it's like embarking on a new adventure.

One thing I want to brush up on is an exit strategy that I'm comfortable with.  There are a number of "when to sell a dividend growth stock" articles out there, each with its own set of recommendations.  I want to settle on some personal guidelines for how to handle various scenarios, especially a large run-up or drop-off in the value of one of our holdings.  As of late there have been quite a few unrealized gains in our investments.  It's tempting to want to pull some of that cash out and diversify into another opportunity, but it seems like so many companies are hitting 52-week highs these days that I fear I'd be exchanging one high-flyer for another.

For now I'll be patient.  Meanwhile, I'll continue to learn as much as I can to try to be ready for opportunities for new investment when they present themselves.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recent Updates

The September dividends are starting to flow in.  CLF paid last Friday (technically still August), followed by INTC and COP earlier this week.  I've started tracking dividends received on the Portfolio page (in the Dividends tab of the spreadsheet).

We made two additional purchases since my last entry.  I opened a new position in MCD.  I also added to our stake in CLF after a recent decline.  Going forward I hope to balance our purchases between high-quality, lower-risk blue chip stocks (like MCD) and comparatively lower-quality, higher-yielding, higher-risk names like CLF and PBI (although depending on the source, these still rank as blue chips because of their inclusion in the S&P 500), as well as REITs.

Four more of our holdings are set to pay dividends in the month of September.  As it stands now, the March/June/Sept/Dec quarterly cycle is the payment schedule for the largest number of our positions.

I've been working long hours this week.  Although it seems like a distant dream at the moment, I look forward to the day when our investments can pick up some of the slack and make a meaningful contribution to our income.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Dividend Received (SNH)

Last Friday we received the first dividend payment (SNH) from the first batch of securities we purchased back in July.  It caught me completely by surprise.  Although I had been anticipating it for several weeks, and had marked it on my various spreadsheets and calendars, I got distracted by travel to a family gathering this weekend and didn't even notice it in my account history until Sunday evening.

So now we have an additional $41.80 in our account.  I feel like framing it and hanging it on the wall, much like the first dollar bill mounted above the cash register in a small business.

For now I've chosen not to automatically reinvest our dividends, mainly because I like to micromanage our finances.  I will happily put that cash to use in some new investment in the near future.  I may ultimately adopt a hybrid approach, allowing some companies to automatically reinvest while others do not.  For now I'll keep the controls on manual while I get a feel for things.

Another dividend is scheduled to pay out this Friday (CLF).  I'll be ready for that one.  Several others will follow in September, which looks to be a big month for dividends from the securities we own.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mission Statement

At some point during the past few years my wife borrowed a book from our library which had a leftover bookmark stuck in it.  This bookmark was a page from a pad of sticky notes that had a pre-printed message on the top.  The message reads:
I don't want to work, but I have to work to make money so I don't have to work.
My wife and I thought this rather succinctly described our own thoughts on the subject of work, so we took the note out of the book and stuck it on our refrigerator, where it has hung ever since.

Reading over my prior entry, I realized I still lack a mission statement for this blog.  I suppose I could modify the above quotation to serve as a mission statement of sorts.

MISSION STATEMENT:  WE WILL WORK HARD TO SAVE MONEY SO WE DON'T HAVE TO WORK.

Sure, that may not be the most original statement, but it describes our task at hand.

Let's break it down.

Work:  This is something that one is compelled to do.  It may or may not involve physical labor.   The key element is the absence of free will associated with the act.  For example, I just spent three hours in the kitchen cooking food for the week, doing dishes, and scrubbing and cleaning vegetables from our farm share.   Because I chose to do this, it was not work.  If I had to get up early every day and go to some place where I routinely cooked, and washed dishes, and cleaned and prepped vegetables, it would be work.

Save money:  This is key.  Money is a physical (or at times intangible) representation of work already completed.  It can also substitute for future work.  The more we work, the more money we can save.  The less money we spend, the more money we have left over to take the place of work in the future.

Don't have to work:  The ultimate goal is to make work optional.  Given my above definition of work, the phrase "optional work" may sound like an oxymoron, but bear with me for the moment.

Throughout our lives we make choices about how to spend our time, often exchanging moments of tedium or unpleasantness for some future benefit.  For example, I don't particularly enjoy the act of brushing and flossing my teeth.  I could probably find something more entertaining to do with the 5-10 minutes each day that I spend on this task.  But I enjoy having a clean mouth, and I enjoy avoiding uncomfortable and expensive visits to the dentist.  Furthermore, nobody is telling me that I have to brush my teeth.  Nobody says I must wake up early and brush my teeth for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  I brush my teeth only as long as required to get the benefit I need from it.

Our view on work is similar.  We would love to get to a place where we can keep our work flexible, to a minimum, at a level which meets our needs.  We don't yet know what this might look like, but it's certainly not going to be in the form of decades-long full-time employment.

To our credit, we are already at the point where only one of us has to work to fund our current lifestyle, but that's not enough.  We are in this together.  We need to both be free from the obligation to work.  So, in the short term, we soldier on, working to save money so we don't have to work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From the Beginning

This is the beginning of this blog.

I had an earlier blog in which I chronicled paying off a mortgage in less than five years.  That mortgage happened to be a liability of my wife and myself, so I had a personal interest in the matter.   It's been a year since I wrote anything in that blog, mainly because once the mortgage was paid off, there wasn't much else to say on that topic.

However, I have some other things to say, and other goals to set and hopefully achieve.  That is where this new blog comes into play.

I think I was far too verbose in the last blog.  I'm going to try to post more frequently here, but with more brevity.

Let's start by throwing out a goal, or a mission statement, or a purpose.

Our goal is to accumulate enough income-producing investments that both of us can leave our full-time jobs within the next ten years.

The purpose of this blog is to record our success or failure in achieving that goal.

I guess I don't have a mission statement yet.  I'll work on that.

We've already made some progress in accumulating some investments.  You can see them on the Portfolio page.  Feel free to applaud or deride our choice of investments as you see fit.