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.