DGI Case Study – $5K to $100K In Three Years

My Portfolio Screenshot

Wow. I did it. On March 13, 2013 my total portfolio value (including cash) exceeded $100,000. That’s six-figures folks. And I did it before my 31st birthday.

How did this happen?

Well, let’s take a look back. In January 2010 I found myself with $7,000 in my checking account and over $25,000 in student loan debt. I realized that I was worth more as a baby ($0) than I was at 27 years old (-$19,000). That’s a problem. Something had to change. And change it did.

I decided to radically change my life. I mean right down to the core. Fundamentally, everything had to shift.

I adapted a frugal living doctrine. I started cutting unnecessary expenses. I moved to a cheaper apartment. I sold my car. I started riding the bus. I ate my fair share of ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches. I made it a goal to save at least 50% of my net income on a mid-$40k salary.

But saving money only gets you so far. Sitting on a bunch of cash in your checking account won’t get you very far as inflation slowly eats away at your purchasing power.

Enter investing.

I initiated a brokerage account in January of 2010 and started it with a seed fund of $5,000 from my available capital. I initially invested with a mutual fund and a couple of stocks that “sounded good”. Sounds like a strategy destined for failure, right? You betcha. Luckily I realized this fairly quickly too.

So I sold everything and went back to cash. After two months of in-depth research I found dividend growth investing to be the best strategy for me. Companies that have long streaks of paying dividends tend to have good balance sheets, are well capitalized and are also mature. They tend to be intelligent with their use of capital and very shareholder friendly.

And let’s not forget about the dividends themselves. They’re tangible – it’s actually cash hitting your account. But, once an investor is no longer in the accumulation phase and actually needs to live off of their asset base, dividend growth investing is a superior strategy to anything else I can find. One can simply live off the income the stocks provide through dividends as the companies one is invested in sends a portion of the profits their way. No need to sell off assets and no need to worry about the market’s sways up and down. Dividend income is typically very stable, and even better it’s rising over time and usually exceeding inflation in its rate. What more can I ask for?

So, I signed up. 

I used my seed money and the new, fresh capital I was saving at a rather ample rate from my day job and purchased shares in some of the great American companies that have long, excellent track record of increasing dividend payouts. The Coca-Cola Company (KO) was one of my earlier purchases. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was also one. I knew that I could count on the income these companies send my way for many years to come.

And I did this over and over again. I lived frugally and saved. Then I used said savings to invest in high quality companies that I wanted to be a part-owner of. I now have 30 companies that I’m personally invested in. I plan on staying invested with most of these companies for the next 20-30 years and more. As long as they continue to produce products or provide services that people need and are willing to pay a premium for, and as long as they continue to send me a rising portion of those profits, I’ll gladly stay a part-owner of these companies.

I am now aiming to earn at least $3,500 in dividends this year. And what will I do with those dividends? Fund a trip to Thailand? Go for a big shopping spree? Buy a new TV? Nope. I’ll continue to reinvest them back to into high quality companies as I have been over the last three years. The dividends that these companies pay me will be used to buy even more shares back into these companies, which increase the amount of shares I own and the dividends I’ll lay claim to in the future. All the while, these companies will also continue to raise their payouts year after year, effectively supercompounding my wealth!

And so there it is. I’m no genius. I never claimed to be such. I’m a regular, everyday guy earning a middle-class income working at a car dealership and funding my way to financial independence and all the wonderful things that come with it. I don’t know how to build rockets or perform heart surgery. But, what I do know is what’s important to me in life: freedom and time. My time is precious, and it’s a commodity that is dwindling with every second that passes by. And freedom is the most basic right in life, yet most of us are slaves to our material possessions and the work required to pay for them.

So there you have it. My manifesto and road map all in one.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by Dividend Mantra over the last two years. I started this blog in March of 2011 and after two short years I have built my Freedom Fund into a respectable portfolio of high quality companies that I’m confident will pay me a rising source of passive income for the rest of my life.

Please continue to follow my journey as we mutually inspire each other to our individual aspirations!

Full Disclosure: Long KO, JNJ.

Thanks for reading.

Comments

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

      I’m gushing with pride, and not just because I was able to hit an arbitrary number…but because I’ve been able to turn around my life and I’m much happier because of it. Financial freedom is next!

      I hope your dreams are coming true as well.

      Take care!

    • says

      Kraig,

      You’re right behind me! You’re just as dedicated as I am, so I know that we’ll be mutually inspiring each other for years to come.

      Keep up the great work on your end – and good luck!

      Best regards.

  1. Anonymous says

    DM,

    Please don’t take this the wrong way. The following comment is being made with the best of intentions.

    I can appreciate how you might be fired up about passing the $100K mark but if you stop and think about it, you should NOT be rejoicing too much. You should be praying for a nice healthy correction (read this as a steep correction) so that stock valuations make it more attractive to grow your dividend income portfolio.

    Wouldn’t you rather add to your existing holdings if stock prices were 25% – 35% cheaper?

    Isn’t your primary objective a healthy stream of monthly dividends with the amount invested of secondary importance?

    Personally, our investments have increased by a little over $200K since December 31, 2012 and I am NOT happy. We have not bought ANYTHING for the past few months other than the automatic reinvestment of dividends.

    Remember these wise words from Warren Buffett:

    “The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything–you can wait for your pitch.”

    I think now might be a good time to watch a few pitches go by. Build up your cash reserves so that you can take a good cut when, eventually, the nice fat juicy pitch enters your sweet zone.

    Cheers.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying, and my passive income stream, and the growth of it, is my primary concern. However, it’s nice to stop and smell the roses every once in a while. It’s good to celebrate success in all forms, I believe.

      These are a couple quotes from some very recent articles I’ve written:

      “What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It’s tough to buy stocks right now with the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has recently broke all-time highs and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.”

      “The market hasn’t been as cooperative as I would have liked over the past month. I would have enjoyed a 500 or 1,000 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to bring some of the share prices in companies that I’m interested in down to earthly levels.”

      And I’ve also written that I don’t pay too much attention to the overall market valuation since I’m not buying the market. I rather pay more attention to the valuation of individual companies, since that’s what I’m buying.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      Investing Early,

      Thanks for the support!

      I’m glad I changed my investment strategy as well. Dividend growth investing has changed my life. I love being a part-owner of high quality companies!

      Keep up the great work on your end. Investing in properties and stocks will likely serve you very well over the long run.

      Best regards!

  2. Chad says

    Congratulations. Just goes to show what perseverance can do for you. Can’t wait to see what the next three years will bring to you.

    • says

      Chad,

      Thanks!

      Yes, perseverance is key with this method. It’s certainly not a get rich quick strategy to live frugally, save high amounts of a middle-class income and invest in dividend growth companies. It requires plenty of patience, and luckily I seem to have it in spades.

      I can’t wait for the next three years as well! I hope your wealth is growing in a similar, or better, manner!

      Take care.

  3. Paige says

    Hi DM,
    Congratulations on the milestone! You are an inspiration to me and I really enjoy reading all of your updates. I hope to be where you are in a couple of years. Congratulations again!

    All the best,
    Paige

    • says

      Paige,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I’m glad this is inspiring for you. It’s truly why I continue to write this blog. It’s mutually inspiring for me when readers come by and share their success. It’s fun to grow our wealth together!

      I wish you luck in getting to where you want to be!

      Best wishes.

  4. says

    Congratulations on your achievement, and thank you for continuing to share your inspiring story!

    The beautiful thing is that your portfolio is compounding and you’ll likely reach FI well before your target of 40!

    • says

      Net Worth Snowball,

      Thanks for the support. I truly appreciate it!

      I do hope I make it before 40. Mostly because I’m starting to really hate my day job! I couldn’t imagine being in this position (hating work) and not having the Freedom Fund there to back me up. I’m just really glad I decided to change my life a few years back. Flexibility is wonderful.

      I hope your net worth starts to snowball as well!

      Best regards!

  5. Anonymous says

    Congratulations!

    I just turned 30 and have also passed the sfr 100k mark. But my philosophy is a bit different then yours. In particular, i buy good businesses at a large margin of safety. Sadly I have not found anything to buy for a while now. I am waiting.

    I will be interested to know how much cash you have put into the account to get to $100k? How much has the market helped?

    I agree with the anonymous poster above. I am hoping for a large correction.

    But it is exhilirating when your account hits 100k. Congratulations again!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Congratulations to you too! It looks like you’re doing fantastic.

      I try to buy with a margin of safety as well, but I’m willing to pay a fair price for a really high quality company. If I get a good price for the long haul with an acceptable yield then I’m usually willing to commit capital.

      I’m definitely interested in a broad market pullback as well. The portfolio value is secondary to me, and lower share prices means my capital goes further. I’d much rather be able to buy more shares and lay claim to a larger dividend stream.

      I’ll race you to $200k! :)

      Best wishes.

  6. says

    hey DM,

    congrats on the big 6 figs, hopefully ill be reading this blog when you post your 7 fig entry :)

    and not trying to start a fight here but to the anonymous person that posted with kind of negative connotation about how you should be hoping for a correction. quite frankly his post rubbed me in the wrong way. as a person that reads all your posts, every single one of your posts asks for a market correction, and you also say multiple times that your total capital is much less important to you then your dividend stream. every now and then its good to take a step back and look at what you’ve done, exactly like you did with this post. i think that persons post was pretty disrespectful as he’s obviously not read any of your other posts where you clearly do want a market ocrrection. good on you for celebrating a tangible event like passing 100k saved. i will do the same and am about half way there at 26 years old.

    • says

      Took2Summit,

      Thanks for the support!

      I appreciate you following the blog. I’m guessing the above poster doesn’t follow the blog often. I’m definitely interested in valuation first and my portfolio value last.

      It’s great to hear you’re starting so early in life. I could only imagine where I’d be today had I started that young. Keep up the great work!

      Best regards.

  7. Anonymous says

    Impressive feat, although it sounds a bit tedious to be living on noodles for four years.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been into investing perhaps an year and a half now, while making maybe around $20,000 after taxes, depending on how hours I can and are willing to clock in.

    My portfolio is now around $5200 since I took about a $1000 setback with a horrible mining company investment but that’s ok since the losses are deductible.

    My investing is perhaps a more value oriented (and riskier) than yours, the idea is to put the profits I get from value investing to dividend payers. So far, I just wait for my investing decisions to bear the fruit.

    And while I live frugally like you do (small apartment, no car, I don’t hoard stuff), I actually made a trip to Thailand last year, because sometimes you just need to get away, even if it is costly. At least if you live in as north as I do. :)

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I didn’t actually eat noodles for four years, but I did eat ramen noodles at least 4 times per week for about a year there. Still pretty rough! At $0.16 per serving, it was a cheap lunch. Those extremely frugal times served as the launch pad that put me where I am today. Although if I had to eat ramen noodles today I’d probably gag!

      Good for you for taking that trip to Thailand. I agree that life is for the living. I’m trying to build my portfolio and passive income as fast as I possibly can so that I can live a bit more later. The compounding will do its thing while I’m doing mine!

      Best wishes!

  8. says

    Congratulation on your success DM.

    Anonymous, I had one of my sisters telling me stuff they say behind my back about my cheapness. It was more funny than irritating. We both had a good chuckle. I’m not even as frugal as most. But I am so glad that I was as strict in my early 30s (next birthday is 40). And guess who is green with envy now (naughty sisters). When they complain about their bosses I feel its too draining of a topic. I take off on a holiday whenever. Hubby still works though but he doesn’t even have to. I eat super healthily but I’d rather stick with noodles earlier in my life to get my financial independence.

    In our early 30s, we never went on holidays much, but this year alone, we have had 2 mini holidays already. Because of being stricter at the beginning we benefited from the compound interest.

    • says

      SafeInvesting,

      Thanks!

      Your attitude is very similar to mine. I was just writing above that I think it’s great to sacrifice a little while you’re young and time (compounding) is on your side. You then reap the fruits of that labor a little later in life. I can’t wait for the day where my money is working 24/7 and I’m working 0.

      It’s much easier to lighten up and start traveling or engaging in hobbies you couldn’t when you were really saving hard once you’re passive income is covering significant portions of your expenses.

      I’ve said many times that living extremely frugally isn’t something you have to do for the rest of your life. However, I’m very glad that I’m doing it now. I’m still young at 30 years old and I have plenty of life ahead of me. Hopefully I’ll be enjoying it all as a free man!

      Take care.

  9. says

    Hey hey! That’s great! I’m hoping to build up my portfolio at the same rate. I’m at about 14 months and almost $33,000. A bit behind you but would love to be in your position in two years time.

    Here’s to the hard working, always saving, time treasuring, dividend growth investors!

    • says

      The Kechi One,

      Congrats to you on your success so far! $33k in 14 months is fantastic. You might end up breaking my mark.

      I’m with you on that last bit – especially the time treasuring. I treasure time above all, as it’s all we really have.

      Best regards!

  10. says

    Hey DM, it’s been said that first $100K is a pain to accumulate. The next $100K will be even easier. Good luck on hitting this milestone, will your next milestone be $250K?

    I’m about to reach $100K myself this month too. Exciting times for both of us!

    • says

      $25000 dividends,

      I hope you’re right on that! The compounding effect starts to take a steep upward slope at some point, and I certainly hope it starts to do some of the heavy lifting in the next few years.

      Congratulations on your success as well! Definitely exciting times for us both as we both march past $100k. Onward and upward my friend!

      Best wishes!

  11. says

    Congrats on crossing $100k, although I know you wouldn’t mind a 10% cut from here to let you make a few more purchases. This goes to show the importance of making a plan and sticking with it. If at the beginning you just said I want to reach FI and that was all there was to your plan you probably wouldn’t have made nearly the progress if not given up completely. Congrats! Keep up the good work and now get to $200, although the 2nd $100 should go faster.

    • says

      Pursuit,

      Thanks! I appreciate it.

      Yeah, I would love a 10% correction. My portfolio value would fall to ~$90k, but would quickly bounce back up as I use fresh capital to pounce on attractive opportunities. I haven’t been particularly active over the last couple weeks, unfortunately.

      You’re doing great on your end, and your savings rate is completely ridiculous. Keep it up!!

      Take care.

  12. says

    Nice work DM. It was inspiring stuff reading about how rapidly you have developed your portfolio, and amassed a nice passive dividend income stream. Keep up the effort!

    • says

      Integrator,

      I’m simply trying to catch up to you and your $25k dividend income stream! I don’t know if I’ll ever hit that. Well, I may when I’m much, much older as I’ll likely start living off the income way before I get to that point.

      Keep up the inspiration!

      Best regards.

  13. says

    Congratulations! Reaching the six-figure mark is a major achievement, and to have done it in a relatively short time period makes it quite remarkable. With your dedication and investment decision-making, it won’t take long for you to reach $200K.

    • says

      DGM,

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your ongoing support.

      You’re doing great as well. You’re right behind me at the $80k mark and rapidly approaching the six-figure mark. Of course, I hope (as you do) for a market correction. But, like I said earlier it’s nice to celebrate our achievements in the interim!

      Best wishes!

  14. says

    Great job, that is a big accomplishment in that period of time. I have followed your blog for a while and find it very informative and enjoyable, however I have always had one question. What is your target for saying goodbye to the 9-5 life ,in terms if either annual dividend income or total invested assets. I apologize if you have mentioned that before in a post that i missed. Thanks

    • says

      Gutierrez012,

      Thanks for following the blog! Much appreciated.

      Well, it’s hard to forecast my expenses looking out over 10 years, but I’d like to think $15k in passive income could probably retire me.

      However, I’m starting to more actively think about semi-financial independence. In that scenario, I would wait until I could cover 50% or so of my expenses and work much more leisurely on a part-time basis at something I enjoy. That could come much quicker. Perhaps 3-4 years or sooner. We’ll see.

      Thanks for stopping by! Great question.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      semi-financial independence is the goal I am working towards. Planning to become a high-school teacher when I turn 35 (currently 31) and leave the corporate world behind and have summers off. Unfortunately with a wife and two kids my expenses are much higher, not to mention college savings eats into my savings rate.

  15. says

    Enhorabuena ! Congratulations ! I am really glad for you. Now as another follower said, why not build some cash, just a bit of cash that will help you profit not only from dividends but also from capital appreciation. Personally, I do not think that the market is overvalued, I would say it is fairly valued. And in one sense you are right not to pay too much attention to the broad market. After all you are the Boss of your money and I think you did manage it pretty well. Carry on your good work, and thanks for the great blog.

    • says

      Aspenhawk,

      Thanks! I really appreciate your kind regards.

      I am actively building a cash reserve and right now have upwards of $5k or so I could use for purchases, if I were so inclined and the opportunities were ripe. That’s not to say I won’t purchase quality companies in the meantime, but value is getting much more difficult to find.

      Keep up the great work on your end too. Hope all is well!

      Take care.

    • says

      Aspenhawk,

      That’s an unfortunate (but slightly funny) video about Vodafone.

      However, you can find people that hate almost any wireless carrier for one reason or another: price, plans, data caps, service issues, etc. It’s the same with many things in life. People hate buying gas, yet they don’t mind buying a big SUV that gets 15 mpg. It boggles the mind.

      Best regards.

    • says

      writing2reality,

      Thanks!!

      I’m looking forward to continue writing and inspiring others. It’s very rewarding to have a place where people stop by and keep each other going!

      Best regards.

  16. Anonymous says

    Congrats! I’ve enjoyed reading your site the past couple years, and I look forward to future updates.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks so much for reading the site. I’m grateful that I have great readers like you.

      I look forward to writing more articles and I hope you continue stopping by!

      Take care.

  17. says

    Congratulations! I personally just made it past the $25k portfolio mark for a 26 year old with an engineering job and frugal and very happy lifestyle. I am still accumulating and still growing my high quality dividend growth portfolio with a little 10% max strategy in short term capital gain investments (kind of how the billionaires play it too). I love to monitor the stock markets as a hobby and easier to do at a cubicle job with only the internet and textbooks to keep you company, but mostly it doesn’t become a priority as I go off and enjoy my day especially on vacation days/weeks and in 10 years, vacation/fun hobby lifestyle forevermore.

    • says

      Freeyourchains,

      Congratulations to you as well. It’s so great that you’re starting that early. I really wish I would have started even earlier. You’re 26 with $25k. I was 27 with -$19k when I started, so you’re doing much better than me!

      Keep it up! I’m looking forward to living my life on my terms forevermore as well.

      Best wishes.

  18. says

    WOW that’s fantastic Mantra! Well done mate, and keep up the good work! :)

    Maybe you can take a little break now and travel to the Philippines, as you have wanted to do for some time. Or just carry on and march onwards to a million.

    Anyone who follows your blog, is certainly proud of what you have accomplished here. :)

    Cheers
    The Dividend Ninja

    • says

      Ninja,

      Thanks for the continued support. I’m very grateful for it!

      Yeah, I would love to travel to SE Asia at some point. I imagine I’ll make a trip once I’m closer to financial independence to see what it’s all about. Many countries over on that side of the world look really amazing, and the ability to live there cheaply is just a bonus!

      Thanks again! Hope all is well up North!

      Best regards!

  19. says

    Congrats on breaching $100k, DM! I know it’s been a tough battle to get here, but your constant effort and commitment truly paid dividends (pun intended). Thanks for the inspiration in helping me stop making excuses to build my own book of dividend income.

    • says

      Headed Home,

      No excuses buddy! Haha. Just kidding!

      It has definitely been a tough battle, but I’m much better off for it. The me of today is certainly glad the me of three years ago decided to get his act together!

      Thanks for the mutual inspiration! Keep it up.

      Take care!

  20. says

    DM, great achievement reaching 100k! When will be the retirement party!!! :-)

    Just teasing.

    I am happy for you man. Do you have any other accounts or is this the only freedom one?

    • says

      Martin,

      Haha. I wish it was tomorrow! Sadly, I’ll just be waking up tomorrow at 6:15 am and working for 11 hours like usual. But, I’m doing my best to change that! :)

      This is my only account. I have money elsewhere (bank account), but this is where all my equity investments reside.

      Best wishes.

  21. says

    Very inspiring, DM! I am happy for you, I truly am. Keep up the posts, stay with your blog for as long as you can. Just look at how many followers you’ve got! You are a role model for many of them.

    What’s the next milestone? I assure you that it is different to manage a 7-figure portfolio than a 6-figure portfolio. Hope to see you there quite soon and follow how your approach evolves over time. Way to go!

    • says

      AverageCFA,

      Thanks for the very kind words! They’re not lost, and very much appreciated. I’m definitely giving it my all.

      The next milestone? I suppose it’s $200k from here in terms of portfolio value. That’s still a couple years off, but it will be quite amazing if/when I actually get there.

      Running a 7-figure portfolio is likely (and sadly) one of the things I’ll never do in life. Would be really interesting to give it a shot though!

      Thanks for following along!

      Best regards.

    • says

      Of course, congrats to you, as I’ve stated elsewhere…

      I think it is actually very likely that you will manage a seven figure portfolio…In fact, I think it is an eventuality.

      Let’s say you get to 250k in 5 years (which is really stretching it, at your aggressive savings rate). That should double at an 8% growth rate in 9 more years to 500k (just capital gains, no dividends taken into consideration). That should double again in 9 years. So you should be managing a seven figure portfolio in about 23 years, give or take a couple years.

      Congrats again, friend and fellow journeyman. I share your joy.

      RO

    • says

      Relic,

      Thanks again! Much appreciated. I hope your journey to FI via frugality and dividend growth investing is treating you just as well!

      I certainly hope you’re right and won’t argue with that math at all. It would be wonderful to be in such a situation. However, I feel that the odds are stacked against me as I plan on living off my dividends at such a young age…which will limit my returns over the long haul.

      Keep on representing on the West side!

      Best wishes.

  22. says

    Well done DM! You have worked hard and have been very committed to your cause over the past few years. That in itself is pretty amazing. Many will not achieve what you have in a lifetime. Enjoy crossing this benchmark. If I’m ever in your area I’m stopping by and buying you a beer :-)

    • says

      The Stoic,

      Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for following the journey! It’s really interesting to follow yours as well! Mutually walking the path to FI is wonderful.

      Unfortunately, there are many people who actually never will achieve this in life. Much of the world’s population lives in very poor countries with little access to opportunity. Even those here in America are typically on a hyperconsumption treadmill which limits the growth of personal wealth.

      I’m not on a treadmill anymore. I can actually move forward.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      JohnnyCa$h,

      Haha! Thanks for the compliment! I grew up as a huge hockey fan, so to be compared to Lemieux in anything is wonderful. :)

      I hope you continue to grow your wealth and reach all of your goals!

      Best regards.

    • says

      CI,

      Thanks so much.

      Yeah, I’m proud of the fact that every dime sitting in my brokerage account and checking account is mine and mine alone. Those balances represent thousands of hours of hard work.

      You’re doing the same thing, so that’s something to be really proud of as well. To accomplish what you have on an enlisted salary is amazing. Keep it up!

      Best wishes.

  23. says

    HI DM

    Greetings again from Singapore.

    Glad to see you hit a $100K mark. Your perseverance is a joyful to behold to many. Like you, I hate my job too and it is the first push for financial freedom. Sometimes I wonder if we have to thank our awful boss for pushing us to greater financial freedom. If your job was what you like in the first place, we might not be seeing you here even.

    I hope you don’t get me the wrong way. You are doing much much better than if you were having a nice job.

    • says

      B,

      That’s a really interesting perspective, and one that I surprisingly have not considered before. You make a great point there. I suppose that if I really enjoyed my job I wouldn’t be pursuing FI so hard, if at all. Would I be better off? Interesting thoughts!

      I suppose I can thank my miserable job for my desire to achieve financial independence! :)

      Thanks for the perspective.

      Best wishes!

  24. says

    Nice job! You are an inspiration to all of us who have been told it can’t be done! You are proof that saving and investing does work and with the help of time we will reach our goals of financial independence. Good luck on the next $100k!

    • says

      Dan Mac,

      Thanks.

      That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. It’s to chronicle the journey to financial independence as it happens. All the ups and downs will be documented. There are plenty of books out there that show “how I did it” or “here’s how to do it”…but not many resources showing “here’s how I’m currently doing it”. I wanted to fill that void.

      Keep up the great work on your end too. We’ll continue to show everyone that it can be done.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      wes,

      I appreciate it!

      I’m dedicating a significant portion of my life to this journey, but still an overwhelming minority of my available time on this planet. I do believe that 10 years of minor sacrifice and dedication to a better self is worth 30-40 years of absolute freedom. That’s just me. :)

      Best regards.

  25. Anonymous says

    Hello DM,

    Congratulations . Long time lurker and an avid reader of your blog. My portfolio value had hit 100k too last month. Have a question for you. Based on the quality stocks that are in your portfolio my guess is that you will have a huge capital appreciation down the line. Are you going to leave all that with one single broker? What are your plans to diversify the brokers?

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks so much for being a long-time reader of the blog. Your readership is very much appreciated.

      Great question there on diversification across brokers. It’s something I eventually plan to do. I haven’t been in a big hurry for it because Scottrade is a member of SIPC, which covers me for up to $500,000 and then has additional insurance that covers individual accounts for up to $25 million. Of course, if Scottrade were to go under there would be no access to funds until everything got sorted.

      So, it’s not really fear of losing all my money, but rather loss of access to funds for an extended period of time. It’s because of this I think diversifying across brokers makes sense.

      However, the additional tracking and paperwork is a hassle. That hassle is worth it though.

      I should at some point in the near future start looking at a second broker and who would best serve my needs.

      Thanks for the great question. I hope my answer offered clarity.

      Best wishes!

  26. says

    That is some great progress. It really shows how you can couple savings and investing to build up considerable net worth (and an alternate income stream) in a short period of time.

    I couldn’t make all the lifestyle sacrifices that you did, but I do find your blog inspirational. You’re one of the few writers who have actually admitted that cutting back on your lifestyle isn’t necessarily easy.

    • says

      Journey,

      Thanks!

      I think the power of savings is incredible, especially when one combines that with the effect of compounding. I only wish I would have started this earlier! :)

      I’m glad you find the blog inspirational. I appreciate it. That’s really what it’s all about.

      I agree that living frugally isn’t always easy. I’ve recently been considering getting a car again. It would be nice to have a little extra convenience in my life. Then again, I look at the progress I’ve made so far and keep thinking how glad I am that I’ve lived so frugally for the last few years. It’s all about what you value. Right now, I can think of few things as valuable as personal freedom.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      That’s very kind of you. I’m glad that there is inspiration to be found here. I truly do this not only to continue to keep myself inspired and catalog what I’m doing…but also to inspire many others.

      Please keep following the journey! :)

      Best regards.

  27. says

    Dividend Mantra,
    Congratulations! :-) I don’t comment here too frequently, but I’m always reading! I can’t get enough of your blog, keep up the amazing work. Congratulations on hitting the $100,000 milestone. I wish you all the best and thank you for sharing your amazing knowledge and journey. Your blog is my #1 favorite personal finance blog online.
    All the best,
    Ian

    • says

      PPC Ian,

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m grateful for your support. I’m truly glad you’re a fan of the blog. It means a lot to me to have great readers like you.

      I’m humbled by your comment. That made my day!

      Hope all is well with you.

      Take care!

  28. iceCream77 says

    DM, congrats.

    I also start dividend investing about 3 years ago, now I got about $200 in dividend each month. Now it is tax time, and I found the tax eat up some portion of the dividend, like 15%, do you have any tax strategy or tax planning for the current year?

    • says

      iceCream77,

      Great job getting to $200/mo in dividends! I reached that mark not long ago myself. You’re right there with me! :)

      As far as avoiding taxes, the only way you can do that is by investing in a tax advantaged account like a ROTH IRA.

      Keep up the great work!

      Best regards.

  29. Anonymous says

    It would have been nice if you had actually listed how much you were putting in each month and a few actual numbers as your article doesn’t really tell us anything.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Sorry if you didn’t enjoy the article.

      I actually couldn’t be more transparent with numbers than I am with this blog. If you followed the blog you would see I always post my exact income, all my expenses and I also list all stock purchases and sales with in-depth detail (including actual numbers).

      Take care.

  30. scott says

    DM
    Let me join the chorus of praise for your remarkable accomplishment. I read several financial blogs but enjoy yours the most as you are totaly honest and transparent with your stock transaction and your life. You let your readers know where you came from and where you are and where you are headed. As a DG investor myself I look forward to reading your progress towards $200,000.

    • says

      scott,

      Thanks so much. I always wanted to do something different here with Dividend Mantra. I wanted to show exact details, rather than vague strategies that try to sell books to as many people as possible. People like to say it’s possible to do what I’m doing, but I’m actually doing it and showing it.

      Thanks for commenting and I appreciate your support! This blog would be nothing without readers like you.

      Best wishes!

  31. larry says

    You’re a true inspiration DM ! I am also trying to live frugally. I average about 35% savings, not nearly as much as you but better than most I suspect. Right now I’m deciding whether to pay off my house or buy more stocks with money in my savings account. If I saved another $4000-5000 on top of the $30k already saved I could pay it off. Just not sure but I’m leaning toward paying my house off then using the extra savings on stocks after that. Curious what you would do.

    • says

      larry,

      Thanks so much! The inspiration I provide here is all the payback I need. Not only does the blog inspire you, but it also inspires me to keep going. I put it all out there, so doing anything that I would be disappointed in myself for I certainly don’t want to publish for the world to see. It definitely keeps me on track!

      Hard to say on the mortgage. It depends on your rate and what kind of rate you think you could get if the capital was invested. The mortgage payoff is a guaranteed return, while the stock market makes no such guarantees. OTOH, mortgage rates are historically low and come with tax advantages. But, one should consider how much of a run-up we’ve had in the market.

      I think it would really depend on a lot of different factors for me. I’d probably be inclined to pay off the mortgage to get that monkey off my back and get the sure return.

      Good luck either way!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      AA,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      You’re doing pretty incredible on your end and your dividend income is pretty amazing. I hope to be where you’re sitting in about 3-4 years. Keep up the great work!

      Best regards.

    • says

      Kanwal,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I certainly hope $500k is the next stop. I’m still just absorbing the fact that I built up my portfolio to where it’s at, but would love to continue the trajectory I’m on. We’ll see how it goes. I know life likes to throw curveballs, so I’m just going to enjoy the ride as I go.

      Thanks for the support!

      Best wishes.

  32. says

    Heya Mantra,

    Haven’t commented in a while, but certainly still following your every post. I wanted to wish you a heartfelt congratulations and to thank you for being a continued inspiration!

    Take care,
    Mike

    • says

      Mike,

      Thanks so much for continuing to follow the journey. It’s much appreciated.

      Thanks for the kind words. Inspiration is what it’s all about!

      Stay in touch.

      Take care!

  33. Anonymous says

    Congratulations DM!

    I’m a 30-year old swedish investor (so you have to excuse my bad english) who is following your inspiring progress.

    My own dividend-journey started 1,5 years ago (i had some savings in a stupid money-eating fund to start off with). I now have about $87500 with about $3600 in estimated dividends / year (or as i prefer to see it: $295 / month).

    I share your passion for passive income, it’s truly great to see how the dividend-income stream is growing each month.

    I really want to thank you for your inspiration and share my admiration for your hard work. I’m really happy to see how it pays off for you, and i will be excited to follow your future progress.

    As a side note: Nearly 100 comments on this article (one for each K $) – i will enjoy being one of the 1000 grateful readers to comment on your million dollar mark ;)

    Keep up the great work!

    Best regards

    /Per

    • says

      Per,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by from Sweden. I find it really interesting to communicate with like-minded people from around the world!

      Congratulations on your success so far. You’ve made tremendous progress. Keep it up! Stick with it and your wealth will continue to grow and grow and grow.

      It is truly great to see the dividend income grow over time. It’s tangible results that one can actually see. It’s hard to argue with a rising income stream that can be documented and used to pay expenses if need be.

      The comments in this article have been overwhelmingly supportive. I truly thank you and everyone else who stopped by to provide immense amounts of support and I’m so happy to hear of so many success stories as there are many people out there doing the same thing as me (better than me in many cases).

      Keep it up and please stay in touch!

      Best wishes.

  34. says

    Nice work, man. I’ve been following you for awhile and it’s fun to watch your success and progress.

    My only recommendation, and feel free to take it or leave it as you please, is that you focus on your real goal: passive income that allows you to retire (or do whatever it is you want to do when you reach your investing end goal). In other words, you reached a big milestone with capital wealth, but that has no direct significance to your end goal of retirement. It only has an indirect implication (more dividend income), but it’s not direct.

    Anyways, hope that doesn’t come across as all Debby Downer. I just know that when I achieved the $1M mark or capital wealth (I thought this was a goal), it actually was not nearly as exciting as when I saw my passive income pass the mark where I was officially FI based on passive income.

    Good luck DM, and I’ll continue to check in with you. Keep up the good work with your investing, and also with your writing.

    • says

      BNL,

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      A big congrats, by the way, on getting to the point where your passive income allows you to become financially independent. That’s the dream we’re all striving for!

      I hear you on not assigning too much weight to my portfolio value. I don’t base my ability to become FI around a nominal portfolio value, but rather the income it generates. As I mentioned somewhere above I simply think it’s nice along the way to “stop and smell the roses”. Celebrating achievements, however nominal, gives us some reassurance and inspiration to keep going.

      In fact, I’d rather see a 10-15% drop in the broad market. Even though my portfolio would correspondingly lose a similar amount, cheaper shares would allow me to purchase more passive income for the same amount of money.

      Thanks for the well wishes! I appreciate you stopping by and adding some great thoughts! Hope you’re making the most of that freedom!! :)

      Best regards!

  35. Karel_Latrell says

    Hi DM,

    Congraz on hitting the $100k milestone! I am from Canada and I came across your blog recently from Dividend Guy Blog. I am turning 27 in September and I have been investing for a few years now. I have around $18k in my portfolio but I lost $4k in some bad investments 2 years ago.

    I have recently started a new job in a discount brokerage firm and I see a lot of people day-trade, wasting a chunk of money in commissions. I think dividend investing is the way to effectively accumulate wealth (slow and steady always win right?). I will be following your blog closely as I think your story is very inspiring.

    My goal is to accumulate $95k (including my company’s pension) when i turn 31. I will not be able to save 50% of my income though as I will be getting married next July. Wedding and honeymoon are gonna cost $20k minimum.

    All of my investments are in Canadian companies and I hope to add some US stocks in the near future(still waiting for a 10% correction).

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing your story and I hope everyone who follows your blog has a successful investing journey.

    Best of luck,

    Karel_Latrell

  36. says

    Karel,

    Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found the blog and I hope you stick around. :)

    You’re in a great spot being 27 years old and already having $18k. Most importantly, you’re investing and interested in growing your wealth. That’s very, very important.

    That’s a great goal to accumulate $95k by your 31st birthday. You’re obviously in a great position. You’re starting with more money than I did, so you’re off to a wonderful start.

    I wish you the best of luck in growing your wealth in the future. Stick with it!

    Best wishes.

  37. kb says

    Hi

    Congrats on reaching 6 figs in 3 yrs. That’s amazing!
    Just wondering, how much do you save per month and invest back into the companies?
    What’s your average return per year for the 3 yrs?

    Thanks.

    • says

      kb,

      Thanks! I appreciate the support. Sorry I didn’t get to this comment earlier. I just now seen it.

      You can see my monthly savings using the ‘Income/Expenses’ label search on the right side of the page. That will show you all my savings going back to early 2011.

      As for my average return, I stopped tracking my total return a little while back because it has no impact on my long-term success. My ability to become financially independent will hinge on my passive income via dividends exceeding my expenses, not on a total return that meets a certain criteria.

      Best regards!

  38. Anonymous says

    Congratulations DM! I started reading two years ago and check back every now and then. It’s amazing to hear that you’ve reached your goal, and all the best.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks so much for the support. While I don’t focus on capital gains or account value, there was something kind of special about hitting $100k. I guess I’ve come a long way and that does feel good. :)

      I hope you stay in touch. And I hope your journey is proving to be just as fruitful!

      Cheers!

  39. Anonymous says

    Congratulations DM !
    While in your case and many readers, they are progressively building their portfolio and can think carefully about their decisions, what challenge do you see in the case of people who are just deciding to do DGI, and use the proceeds of the sale of, say, a property, and have a big amount to invest. What would be your advice to them. Thank you in advance, Patrick

    • says

      Patrick,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry I didn’t see this comment until now. I try to respond to all comments fairly quickly.

      Per your question, I would recommend the same thing: periodically investing the money in the highest quality companies at the most attractive prices possible, while keeping your mind on the overall construction of a portfolio. I would keep doing the same thing I’m doing now if I all of the sudden came upon $50,000 tomorrow. I would simply increase the amount of cash I deploy every single month by, say, 30% or so. So instead of investing $2,500 per month I might invest $3,500 per month…or something like that.

      I hope that helps!

      Best regards.

    • says

      Hassan Shah,

      Thank you so much for the support! I’m glad you appreciate the message I’m trying to promote here.

      I’m simply here to inspire others. People need to know that they don’t need to make a six-figure income to retire early. Simply focusing on what you want out of life and putting in the effort can make a big difference.

      Stay in touch.

      Best wishes.

  40. Anonymous says

    DM
    Does “Dividend Growth Investor” belong to you?I live in Canada can you please share few strategies for Canadians.

    Thanks

    • says

      Anonymous,

      I don’t know what you mean by your question. Dividend Growth Investor is a different blog than mine.

      However, I do occasionally cover Canadian stocks and own BNS and TD from Canada. I wouldn’t mind owning a telecom or two from there as well! I’ll try to talk about Canadian stocks more. :)

      Best regards.

  41. says

    Your story is really inspiring Jason. I’ve already told you but I keep coming back to your blog everyday.

    I’ve been able to save 18k since november 2013 and I plan on having a 30k portfolio by november 2014 with a mix of savings and selling assets. Plus, I currently have a very low mortgage rate so I work hard to reimburse it as fast as possible. I plan on being mortgage free in 2020. This is going to help a lot! My mortgage is my biggest expense right now. To be able to save that much I have also worked hard in recent years at going up the ladder at my job. I took 4 promotions in the last 5 years. I hope to get another one in 2014 and if possible (it’s becoming harder and harder) another one over the next 5 years. I have more than doubled my income in five years and I hope to have tripled 5 years from now. :) (it’s always better to bet higher… You never know what can happen when you completely dedicate yourself to something)

    I already had the will to retire early. I already had the ability to save and cut expenses. I already had the ability to increase my salary by taking promotions. But I was lacking one important thing… Knowledge of how to invest wisely.

    I have passed the last 10 years learning all I could about real estate investing but always found it too risky. I also passed the last ten years studying technical analysis with some success but I always felt that something was wrong with that technique without really knowing what and I never felt it would bring me anywhere so I never felt comfortable investing that way. It’s good to try to time the market though… I finally also learned a lot about mutual funds only to realize that most of them don’t even give you something near the market return and barely the same return you would get with a GIC…

    Dividend growth investing is a perfect match for me. And somehow, I recognize myself in your story. I’ve always preferred managing my finance, I’m analytic and I feel this technique is more safe than most “investing techniques” out there. Plus, you can live out of this growing streams of dividends…

    We should learn that in school! But in school they don’t want you to retire, they want you to become part of the workforce…

    Thank you very much for your blog and keep investing. You’re almost there!!

    • says

      Allan,

      Thanks for the support and encouragement. I appreciate it very much! :)

      And it sounds like you’ve got a great plan there and you’re doing everything in your power to make it happen. You’re maximizing your potential, and in the end that’s all you can really ask for.

      And I agree with you that dividend growth investing “just makes sense”. There are so many investment strategies out there, but when I was studying and learning this just totally hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the proverbial light bulb in my head. I’m really glad that it all came together for me when it did.

      Keep up the great work and I’m confident you’ll get to where you want to be. Persistence goes a long way, my friend!

      Best wishes.

  42. Northern says

    DM,

    Could you tell us how much cash you invested as part of the $100k over 3 years? Besides this, you profited big from the ongoing bull market, a solid correction could bring down your portfolio to $50-70k before you know it, taking several years to reach current levels again. Are you DGI or Total Return oriented?

    Cheers!

    • says

      Northern,

      I’ve done this exercise before, but it’s actually quite easy for you to see how much I invested over this three-year period. All of the capital I invested was laid out in my “Recent Buy” articles. But if I get some time to pull all the records out I’ll try to get the number for you.

      But I’m not a total return guy. I laid that out here:

      http://www.dividendmantra.com/2013/12/why-i-dont-compare-my-portfolios/

      I’m after growing dividend income, not the biggest portfolio possible. In fact, I wish the market would not have done so well over the last few years. Cheaper stocks means my current capital would go even further, buying more dividends with the same amount of money. A bigger portfolio doesn’t really do anything for me. But higher yield does have a major impact on my long-term plans. But I hope we get a major pullback at some point here which would be beneficial to those accumulating assets.

      Cheers!

Join The Discussion!