Freedom Fund Update – December 2012

Well, the time has come to update the Freedom Fund once again as we start another month. The Freedom Fund is my portfolio, and I think it’s aptly named. My portfolio is my way to freedom; freedom from working at a job I don’t enjoy to purchase goods I don’t need to impress neighbors I don’t care about.

I feel extremely fortunate and thankful that I’m able to post these updates every single month which shows the power of monthly contributions to investments because of the high savings rate I maintain. It shows how a relatively large sum of money can be built through the power of time, patience and perseverance.

It’s important to keep in mind that while updating the overall value of my portfolio is important for historical reference and for purposes of keeping track of total return, my main focus is on the rising dividend income stream the Fund provides.

The S&P 500 is priced today almost exactly what it was 30 days ago, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a pretty good buying opportunity. The middle of the month sagged fairly significantly, and there was a good week there for long-term investors to scoop up shares on high quality businesses for attractive prices. I seen the drop start to occur right after the election news was announced and President Obama was re-elected. I got in a little early, and deployed capital quicker than I should have. However, hindsight is always 20/20. I don’t really try to time the market, rather I just value shares and try to buy as far under what I feel fair value is as possible. When an attractive price on a high quality stock comes my way, I have free capital and my allocation is proper, I purchase.

I made several purchases in the aforementioned post-election market sag. First, I added to my positions with McDonald’s Corporation (MCD) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC) and I shortly thereafter purchased additional shares with my Vodafone Group PLC (VOD) holding. I found the shares with these companies trading for attractive long-term prices, with acceptable yields and strong operations. My allocation for all three allowed room for additions, and the shares of all three companies had weakness greater than what the general market presented due to company-specific issues like reduction in coal shipments for NSC and a write-down for VOD due to losses in southern Europe from larger macroeconomic issues.

The current market value of the Freedom Fund now stands at $85,129.19. This is a nice increase from last published value of $81,043.57. This 5.04% increase is due to fresh capital allocation with which I used to purchase shares mentioned above. It’s especially fantastic that I’ve been able to grow the Freedom Fund from the $54,852.73 I started off 2012 with. If I can grow my portfolio by over $30,000 on my income level every year I’d be very happy indeed! I could have probably grown it even more this year had I not taken the summer off, but I really enjoyed everything I did this year.

This will be my last update for 2012. I’m so thankful that I’ve had such a fortunate year and I’ve been able to continue to document my progress towards early retirement/financial independence for all of my readers. Thank you for continuing to follow the journey. Sometimes I wonder if I can continue to walk the path, as it’s extremely difficult to work over 50 hours per week at a stressful job that I don’t have any passion for. But, I keep going because I know that my future self 5-10 years from now will thank the me of today for putting in the work necessary to have a free life for the next 40 years. 40 years of freedom is certainly worth 10 years of hard work, but the light can be hard to see when you’re still so far from the end of the tunnel.

I’m still invested in 29 positions. The additional shares I purchased during the month of November were for companies I was already invested in.

These updates are mainly designed to show the increase in the value of the underlying equities I’m invested in, but the main purpose of investing in dividend growth stocks is for the rising stream of dividends over time. So, with that said I don’t put too much emphasis in these monthly updates on the value of my portfolio. I think it is a good idea, however, to keep track of the rising (or falling) value of one’s securities and be aware of where they are in terms of the marketplace and whether or not certain stocks are attractively priced. It proves to be a useful exercise, for me at least, to update the values monthly. It gives me fresh perspective on which equities are performing well and which aren’t, and from there I can make educated decisions (based on further due diligence) on which stocks I’d like to add fresh capital to (while considering portfolio weight as well).

Full Disclosure: Long MCD, VOD, NSC

How are your portfolios doing? Had a great 2012?

Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. says

    Although I’ve been investing in mutual funds in my 401k and IRA for years, 2012 was the first year I started buying individual dividend-paying stocks in a taxable account. Blogs such as this one have been great resources for me as I start to develop my own investing strategy.

    Are you taking December off for travel? Enjoy your break from blogging.

    • says

      The Executioner,

      I’m glad that you’ve been able to use this blog as a resource. I’m really glad that readers find inspiration/motivation here as well.

      I’m not taking the month of at all. I only meant that this will be the last update on the Freedom Fund for this year, as my next update won’t come until early 2013 for January’s post.

      I hope all is well for you. Hope that you’re getting closer to “executing” that full-time job.

      Best wishes!

  2. says

    I really like all three purchases you made this month, MCD, NSC, and VOD. You made sure to take advantage of that brief dip we had after the election.

    Awesome overall progress as well! The portfolio will be over $100k before you know it. Hopefully sometime early next year.

    Keep up the great work. You are paving the road for a better, and brighter future. Work is killing me at times too! In the future, you’ll probably be even more grateful that you chronicled all these moments in your blog. Then, you can look back at the hard times, smile, and thank your younger self a thousand times over for all the hard work!

    Enjoy the holidays!

    • says

      FI Fighter,

      The progress for 2012 has been great, and I’m really grateful for it. I probably could have hit close to $90k by this update had I not taken the summer off, but I’m okay with that. Yeah, I hope to hit the $100k mark early next year. I anticipate April of 2013 if the market trades sideways.

      You’re making great progress as well. It looks like 2013 will be fantastic for both of us if we can keep it up.

      Best regards!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for the warm wishes. I appreciate it.

      MCD and VOD were both great opportunities in November, and continue to be so. It’s great to live in a world with great publicly traded companies that reward loyal shareholders with rising income streams.

      Best regards!

    • says

      me myself and I,

      I’m glad you find inspiration here. Thanks for continuing to follow the journey. Your readership is much appreciated.

      I’m sitting at about $2,150 in dividends through November. December is going to be a large month in terms of dividend payouts, so I hope to cross the $2,500 mark this year!

      I hope 2013 treats you very well.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Headed Home,

      Thanks! I’m lucky and grateful that 2012 was as rewarding as it was.

      I’m definitely going to continue reaching for the starts. 2013 looks to be very promising, and I hope you continue to reach all your goals as well.

      Take care!

    • says

      IRF,

      Long time, no see. Glad to see you’re back on track!

      2012 treated me pretty well, and I stayed on track for the most part. I’m really happy about that.

      Best of luck as you continue your journey.

      Take care.

  3. says

    I started off 2012 with $21,000 and am currently at about $50,000. An increase of $29K in one year. I should be able to reach $30K by the end of december.

    It’s amazing to look back at what a year makes.

    Let’s not give up!

    • says

      $25,000 dividends,

      Wow! Great progress there. That’s fantastic to grow your portfolio so much. It’s really great to look back and see what your hard work added up to. It’s never fun to be in the trenches and working hard and saving money, but it’s always really wonderful to see what all that hard work rewarded you with.

      I’m not giving up and it doesn’t look like you are either! :)

      Best wishes.

  4. says

    Hi DM! It is nice to see that walking the path is indeed possible when we put our minds to it. I see so many people talking the talk but failing to walk the walk. Keep going! I’m happy to see that you are closer to financial freedom. Cheers!

    • says

      Dividend Engineer,

      I made it a priority to walk the walk, as it’s my future freedom on the line.

      It looks like your blog is up and running and off to a great start! So, you’re also walking the walk. I hope 2013 treats you very well!

      Best regards.

  5. says

    Hey Mantra,

    I think I am seeing a pattern here. I too have added a little over $30k in div stocks this year. Having a slightly higher income then you but blessed with 3 kids and a wife I feel really great about this accomplishment and I have you and Jacob of ERE to thank for the inspiration and advice. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    In the spirit of giving I would like to offer a piece of advice to the newbies! I am not sure where I found this book, probably it comes somehow thru Jacob’s book suggestions maybe- but I think of the 60 or so fantastic books on Financial stuff I have read since 2009 I think “The Single Best Investment by Lowell Miller” lays out the “How To” of Dividend Investing as clearly as any book I have seen.

    Hope this helps someone out there!
    Merry Christmas!

    Shop Teacher

    • says

      Shop Teacher,

      Congrats to you for growing your portfolio so fantastically. It’s hard to commit large swaths of one’s income on a regular basis. I know this firsthand. It’s much easier to spend it away, thinking about today rather than tomorrow. So, good for you.

      I’ve heard many favorable reviews on the book you mentioned, but alas have not read it myself. I can only claim to have read through a few books in my time – chiefly “Your Money or Your Life” and “The Intelligent Investor”. Both are fantastic. I’m also currently reading “Tap Dancing To Work”, which is great if you’re interested in Buffett.

      Happy Holidays to you as well!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      Invest Smart,

      I’m really glad you find inspiration from these posts. That’s precisely why I post them. It actually inspires me to continue going because I’m able to look back and see the results of sustained perseverance.

      Stay in touch!

      Take care.

  6. says

    Hi DM,

    That is a nice bump from the previous month. It also looks like you are on track to break through the 100K mark in 2013…fantastic progress in such a short amount of time!!
    And on a personal note, I hope you have a very happy holiday season and get to enjoy spending time with those closest to you.
    Take care and I’ll be looking forward to your next update!

    -Samir

    • says

      Samir,

      We’re sitting at very similar portfolio values with many of the same holdings, so I expect us to both cross that elusive $100k mark early next year. It’s a very exciting time!

      I wish you a very happy holiday season as well. I hope you maximize and optimize the time you spend with the people you care most about. I know I’ll be spending a little over a week in Michigan as I catch up with my parents and three sisters. It will be a great time.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Pursuit,

      You’re doing great over there. You’ve made a ton of progress in a short period of time now that you’ve paid off your debt. It’s amazing how much difference not having debt (that pesky four-letter word) makes.

      I’m sure you’ll pass me up before you know it. Keep up the great work!

      Best regards.

  7. says

    Your portfolio is coming along quite nicely DM. You’ll break those chains before you know it. Just bought some DRI today btw. It hit a 4% yield point so I pulled the trigger.

    • says

      wes,

      Long time, no see. I hope all is well.

      I seen that drop in DRI. Great yield level and pretty strong growth. I’m a little concerned, however, about the consolidation here in North America. The lack of international exposure could hamper future growth, in my opinion. But, they still have a stable of great brands in Olive Garden and Red Lobster. It’s a company I’ll have to revisit and take another look at.

      Best wishes!

  8. says

    Great job DM! 30k by every year is really awesome.

    I have been able to boost my dividend revenue by $300 since November, thanks to the elections, fiscal cliff, bad season for oil and the tax loss season.
    I’m near to hit my first $1000 yearly revenue, after only 10 month and a starting cash amount of only $500, yeeha! :)

    Keep it up DM, very interesting and motivating posts!

    • says

      JF Baconnet,

      That’s awesome. Going from $500 to $1,000/year ad infinitum is simply amazing. That’s really great progress there.

      Keep up the great work. It’s stories like yours that provide the fuel for my fire.

      Best wishes!

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