Why This Blog Exists

This weekend, Dividend Mantra hit 1,000,000 pageviews! Simply amazing. I started this blog back in March, 2011 never anticipating any kind of readership at all. I thought I would put my information out there and hopefully a couple people would find some inspiration and I could start some kind of dialogue with like-minded investors. I’m extremely proud of what this blog has accomplished thus far, and I hope to continue reaching new people in an exponential manner as time goes on.

I’ve always wanted to put an article together explaining exactly why I write this blog and what I’m really looking to accomplish from it. With the 1 million pageview milestone now achieved, I can think of no better time than now.

This blog exists for two reasons:

  • Inspiration through action.

There’s countless books/videos/products out there that promise to show you how to become wealthy or achieve financial independence. These are usually based around the premise that the author has achieved wealth or financial independence using the tools and strategies described within the product. I have never particularly cared for products like these because they are based in the past. The author gives you a rundown of what they supposedly did to get to where they’re at and then you, as a reader, are supposed to extrapolate that out into your own life. What they did years ago may work now, or it may not. But mostly the problem is that they selectively pick parts of their strategy and give you the best parts of it. Who wants to buy a book if it’s filled with mistakes and errors and doesn’t promise anything at all? People want to be sold on something, even if it’s not realistic or actionable. Glossy magazines and books promising million dollar accounts is where it’s at. I’m not selling anything here, and I’m certainly not pushing anything that I don’t believe in personally or act on myself. I walk the walk rather than talk the talk.

This blog is a live, organic and evolving look at one man’s journey to build wealth and achieve financial independence via frugal living and investing in high quality companies that pay rising dividends. You can see everything I’m doing: what I’m earning, how much I’m spending, where the money comes from and where it goes, what I’m investing in and why, the mistakes I’ve made and the victories I’ve accomplished. There is no product here, no vague parables that leave you scratching your head and nothing based in the 80′s. This blog is in the now. This blog is filled with actionable advice because it’s based around real-world decisions I’m making and then sharing with you, the reader, as I go. I want to inspire others through my own action.

There’s many people out there that don’t believe you can achieve financial independence on a middle class salary while investing in a conservative manner. They think you have to make big money or take big risks. I don’t believe this to be true. Every 50% loss you take requires a 100% gain to just break even. The journey to true wealth is a much less bumpy ride when you’re investing for consistent 8-10% long-term returns than trying to swing for home-runs and get instant 10-baggers while absorbing the large losses as they come. Reaching financial independence, to me, is about planning and executing. You need to have patience, persistence and perseverance. It’s about living on much less and investing the surplus into wonderful companies that share their profits with you. I put a plan together when I first started this blog detailing exactly how I was going to retire at such an early age while making a modest income. I’ve executed the plan to the best of my ability over the last couple years and built my portfolio from $5,000 into six-figures in the meantime. This isn’t a book on how I did this, but rather a look into how I’m doing it right now, in real-time! This blog is about action, not theory. 

  • A chronicle documenting the realistic possibilities of frugal living and investing intelligently.

I believe the power of living below your means is much greater than people give it credit for. I think I’ve done a decent job proving that you don’t need a six-figure income to build fairly substantial wealth in a short period of time. Looking at my gross income, I’ve averaged about $53,000/year over the last three years. While on a worldwide scale this puts me near the top echelon, this is the median income for a 25+ year-old male with a bachelor’s degree here in the U.S. I’m certainly blessed to earn what I do, and I’m grateful for it.

What I’m trying to accomplish by chronicling my journey is to inspire others through proof of concept. You can read about someone’s journey after they already accomplished it and they can tell you until you’re blue in the face about how they did what they did. But if you don’t believe it’s possible, you’ll never be inspired. I’m trying to inspire through proof. This blog is proof that it’s not necessary to earn six-figures, because I don’t. I earn a rather achievable income for many readers, so it’s not like anything I’m doing is unrealistic or “out of reach”.

While I believe living below your means and your savings rate trumps your ability to earn an outsized return in the stock market, investing as intelligently as I possibly can is a cornerstone of this blog and the strategy I’m using (dividend growth investing). Saving money is extremely important, but stuffing it all under your mattress, or in a savings account earning 0.001%, will not get you anywhere near financial independence. I’m chronicling my investments by peeling back the curtain. I publish my stock purchases and sales as well as my portfolio live for the entire world to see. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ll continue to make them. Knowing that you can make mistakes too and still achieve all your dreams is inspiration in itself. I believe that investing in high quality companies that pay out rising dividends is a superior way to build wealth over time and I also believe that using these dividends to pay expenses in retirement, rather than selling off assets, is a wonderful way to avoid the pricing of individual securities at any given time. Who wants to build a huge nest egg of assets only to need to sell of 4-5% of them in a year when the broader market is down 10% or more? I believe that collecting dividends passively and then using them to pay expenses in retirement is much easier than trying to time the sales of underlying assets and I’ll show you exactly how I do it once I am financially independent. This blog won’t end when I reach FI, but rather continue on to show exactly what financial independence looks like and the possibilities therein!

Conclusion

These are the reasons why this blog exists. But this blog wouldn’t exist, no matter how great the ideals behind it and no matter how much drive I had to share them, if it weren’t for you readers. So please continue to follow the journey as we mutually inspire each other to reach our individual aspirations. I hope to reach 2,000,000 pageviews next, but what I’m really hoping for is to continue showing through my own actions in real-time how possible it really is to achieve your dreams. Belief must come first, and action second. I only prey that you believe in this because I’m doing my best to show how realistic all of this is. It’s then up to you to take action!

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. Spoonman says

    You grok* the pursuit of Financial Independence through dividend growth investing. I think this blog has become very successful because it’s easy to identify with you. Of all the FI-pursuing bloggers that I follow, yours is the one that I identify with the most because we share the same investing philosophy and have the same goals. This blog shows in a transparent, no-nonsense way how to achieve FI by employing a robust investing technique.

    I have no doubt that we are only seeing the beginning of great things ahead for this blog. I very much appreciate that you share your journey in such an open manner. That takes guts. Keep up the good work!

    *I don’t know if you’ve read Stranger in a Strange Land, but grok essentially means that you understand and become one with a subject or thing (at least that’s my take on it).

    • says

      Spoonman,

      Very kind words there. Much appreciated!

      I know we’re kindred souls, both of us on this great pilgrimage to financial independence. We are seeking FI out in a similar fashion and seeking a similar outcome. I’m quite confident you’ll reach the summit before I will so you’ll have to tell me how the view looks from above! :)

      I appreciate your support and readership. And I’m really glad that I grok the pursuit of FI! It definitely sounds like you do as well!

      To our pursuit and to kindred souls!

      Best wishes.

  2. Will says

    DM, love your blog and you definitely inspire me on a regular basis. You are very knowledgeable and self-educated, which is impressive. My guess is that you’re already better than 90% of the financial advisors out there.

    Have you ever looked into BDCs (Business Development Companies)? Stocks like PSEC, FSC, RSO, TICC, KCAP, TCAP, BKCC, etc? I have seen you comment on MLPs and REITS, but never BDCs. They tend to have high yields and some have a history of rising dividends. Would love to hear your take on this particular sector of the stock market. I do not own any BDC stocks, but am considering investing in them in the future.

    • says

      Will,

      Glad to hear you have found some inspiration here. As I’ve pointed out many times before, and obviously tried to reinforce with the article above, that is the purpose behind the blog. I’m excited that it has the desired effect. :)

      I’ll preface the following with this: I’m no expert on BDCs. I have taken a very limited look into them. My take on them is that they are a high risk/high reward investment vehicle. They offer equity to smaller, private companies. Therein lies the rub. It’s difficult to ascertain what kind of risk is involved or what kind of value some of them really have. Again, it’s high risk/high reward. I wonder if perhaps an otherwise conservatively built dividend growth portfolio might have room for an investment in a BDC, which is basically a private equity or venture capital investment. However, I then circle back to my point that aiming for home-runs isn’t really necessary to achieve financial independence using the strategy I’ve brought forth.

      BDCs are interesting. I’m not quite sure I have the stomach for one, however. I like to at least have a fair idea of what I’m investing in and be able to easily sketch it out in my head. It’s tough to know exactly what you’re getting with some of these firms.

      Best of luck to you either way!

      Take care.

  3. says

    Outstanding post DM!

    It’s been a privilege to be among one of your early readers. I’ve really enjoyed watching your progress and you gave me inspiration to start my own blog a year and a half ago. I’ve learned a lot and thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Congrats on the page view milestone! I’ll still be reading when you hit that 2 million mark and can’t wait to see what kind of time frame it takes to hit it. Much shorter than the first million eh?

    • says

      The Stoic,

      Thanks!

      I appreciate your support going back a while now. It’s been a great journey, watching this blog grow and watching many readers grow with it. That’s what is really wonderful about it all. It’s nice to know that we’re all growing together. I think success is best when shared.

      I hope to see that 2 million mark even faster as well. We’ll see what the future brings. In the end, I just plan to keep doing what I’ve been doing and share it all with you.

      Best regards!

  4. says

    DM,

    Going to add you to my blog roll. Dividend growth investing is something I plan on restarting at the next correction.

    For the past 6 months I’ve been paying off my rental real estate mortgages on steroids. The goal was to add $3,400 per month to the existing mortages and pay them off for an additional $1,476.46 in passive income. My latest blog post explains why I’ve adjusted the plan to accomodate ROTH IRA contributions. Stop by sometime! You and several like you are on ongoing source of inspiration. Keep us the great work!

    • says

      Pay off my rentals,

      Hey, thanks for stopping by! And thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I appreciate it very much.

      Real estate investing is something that I’ve looked at, but have decided to invest in a more passive manner through REITs for right now. That could change in the future, however.

      Glad to see you joining the DGI party soon. There’s plenty of hats, party favors and hors d’oeuvres! A good time to be had by all. :)

      I’ll definitely stop by sometime. I know that investing in rental properties can be an even quicker way to financial independence if you’re willing to take on a little more risk and work. Sounds like the rewards, however, are plentiful! :)

      Best wishes.

  5. says

    Congrats DM one the big 1 million (thinking of Dr. Evil as I type that)! I for one don’t go a day without checking your site for a new update. You have been a great inspiration to me along with my dad who is retired and making more in dividends than I make all year at my full time job. It’s not fluke that you have attained the popularity that you now enjoy. I appreciate the transparency you offer your readers, I think that is rare. Keep up the great work. Here’s looking forward to 2 million!

    • says

      Captain,

      Thanks for the well wishes!

      Sounds like your dad has quite the gig going on there! Sounds like he planned well! I’m anxiously awaiting the day my dividend income replaces my full-time job income. It’s nowhere near that yet, but it is coming.

      Glad you appreciate the transparency and honesty. It’s something I’ve been striving for since the beginning. It’s also something that I plan on continuing well into the future.

      I hope your journey continues to be fruitful. You’ve got a great portfolio already built. Keep up the great work!

      Best regards!

  6. says

    Hello Jason,
    congrats for your blog, your openness and your millionth visitor.
    I am a dividendinvestor from Germany and came over here because Tim Mc Aleenan mentioned you on his blog.
    I would like to know what your goal in dividendincome is. I did not read all of your posts.
    I only learned that your plan is to reach FI at the age of 40. Now you are in your early 30th.
    But how much money in USD do you want to achieve with your dividendincome per year?
    And which average dividendyield do you think you have then?

    Best regards
    ZaVodou

    • says

      ZaVodou,

      Thanks for stopping by all the way from Germany. There’s a few others from Germany that stop by here, so you’ll find some company. :)

      As far as your question goes, $20,000 USD per year in dividend income in today’s dollars would make me financially independent. That’s over my expenses right now, and would offer a comfortable margin of safety. I think at that point I would definitely consider myself flexible enough to retire and see what other opportunities in the world exist.

      Great question.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Thanks for your answer, Jason.
      20,000 USD is pretty less. I thought a living in USA would be more expensive. I know that you live, like me, a very frugal life.
      Anyway, is there a health insurance included? One of my biggest expense items is for health insurance and I don’t have to pay a rent.
      You pay 1,000 USD for your flat, don’t you? That means that you have only 666,66 USD for all the other things you need. And you have a little family. Sounds very less for me.
      And one question you did’t answer. The question about the average yield you think you will have to get those 20,000 USD.

      Best regards
      ZaVodou

    • says

      ZaVodou,

      I have included health insurance in my expense predictions. I wrote about my health care insurance recently here:

      http://www.dividendmantra.com/2013/04/early-retirement-is-impossible-because.html

      I actually do not pay quite that much for rent. I split a 2 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend, and we both pay half. You can see every monthly budget for the last 2+ years over to the right sidebar, listed under “Income/Expenses”.

      As far as average yield goes, my portfolio has an average yield currently of right about 3.5%. I hope I can increase that to the 4% level near my 40th birthday, but I’m not hopeful. At 3.5%, I would need about $570,000 invested. If I can get anywhere near 4%, that would put me at an even $500k. We’ll see how it goes! :)

      Best regards.

    • says

      Hi Jason,
      I see. So you share all of your costs with your girlfriend and you have round about 1,000 USD after rent and healthinsurance for a living.
      Do you plan to have a baby?
      Funny, that 3,5 % yield is the yield I am calculating for my FI.
      I think 10 years for FI is ambitious in your case. But you are on the right way.

      Best wishes
      ZaVodou

    • says

      ZaVodou,

      My expenses end up somewhere near $1,500/month right now after factoring in everything, including student loan debt repayment. This repayment will be done by the time I’m FI, so that will free up almost $200/mo. Factoring everything in, $20,000/yr should be more than enough. I’m also open minded to living outside the U.S. at least part of the year.

      I have no plans to have children. That was something I decided before I started the journey to FI.

      We’ll see how the journey goes. Some people think it’ll be difficult, some think I’ll get there before 40. I’m anticipating getting there somewhere between 38-39 years old, so I think 40 should offer a small margin of safety. This blog will show how it turned out! :)

      Best regards.

    • says

      Hi Jason,
      “I’m also open minded to living outside the U.S. at least part of the year. “

      Do you have any plans? Which country?

      ZaVodou

    • says

      ZaVodou,

      No plans yet, but Thailand, Ecuador and the Philippines are all high on my list for a number of reasons. Cheaper cost of living, attractive climates, warm people, great food (Thailand), new and interesting cultures and so on.

      We’ll see, however. I do love Florida and I also would like to see my family back home in Michigan more, not less. :)

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Hi Jason,
      I thought about Thailand, too. Have you ever been there?
      And Florida, is it possible to live on Floridas coasts as a single from only USD 20,000 per year ?

      Regards
      ZaVodou

    • says

      ZaVodou,

      I’ve never been to Thailand. I greatly look forward to visiting one day, however.

      It’s definitely possible to live here in Florida cheaply. I do it everyday. The nice thing is that in the right area you don’t need a car and the climate is warm enough to make waiting for the bus okay year-round. The utilities are favorable down here because it’s comfortable 8 months a year, so electricity bills aren’t bad. No state income tax is one of the primary reasons I moved here.

      Take care!

    • says

      Hi Jason,
      I see. You live in Florida. I thought you live in Detroit.
      Let me ask one more thing than I will stop because I think you have much more to do than answering silly questions.
      Aren’t you afraid of hurricans?
      I ask because sometimes there a news on german Television. about Florida. Manly there was another Hurricane and you can see pictures of distruction. People who lost there houses and all of there belongings from on minute to another.
      And what about crime?

      Regards
      ZaVodou

    • says

      ZaVodou,

      I don’t worry about hurricanes. First, I rent so if a hurricane hits and ruins my apartment I can just go rent elsewhere. Second, hurricanes come with plenty of warning. They are one of the few natural disasters that don’t hit instantly, and without warning. If we know one is going to hit, we can choose to stay or we can leave and go elsewhere until it passes. Third, before moving to my particular city (Sarasota) I did my research on what parts of Florida are likely to get by a hurricane. This was one of the least likely areas, historically speaking. Miami and the panhandle are much more likely to get hit.

      Crime is not a problem where I live. I moved here back in 2009. I did plenty of research before moving here, because I could have moved anywhere. I chose this area on purpose. Our demographics are favorable, as this is primarily a retirement city. So you have older people and, consequently, low crime and hassle. I guess if you’re looking for early retirement what better city to live in than a place where everyone wants to retire? Haha. That’s a joke, but I guess it worked out.

      You can read a little about Sarasota here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarasota

      Hope that helps.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      MFIJ,

      Thanks! It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m just really glad to have such a wonderful community of readers here. Certainly I’m inspired as much as I inspire.

      Thanks for the well wishes! Looks like your blog is doing very well too!

      Take care.

  7. says

    Awesome job, DM!! That’s an amazing accomplishment that should be celebrated. I’m glad to see that you are still motivated enough to continue with the blog. My blog is only 5 months old, but I started it for very similar reasons as you. I think it’s a great motivator and hopefully I help some people out in the process. Keep up the good work and here’s to 2 million!

  8. jd says

    Congratulations on your accomplishment, and thank you for all your effort writing this blog. It has provided some great ideas for the US portion of my portfolio, and has reinforced my general investing strategy.

    • says

      jd,

      The effort is well worth it. I’m so grateful to have so many kind readers stop by and share opinions, ideas and inspiration. It’s quite wonderful and is a reward all in itself.

      Glad you have received some great ideas here. That’s what it’s all about!

      Best wishes.

  9. says

    my congratulations for reaching one million visitors. I wonder if the more visitors there are, the more the prices of your stocks will pop up. This could well become interesting. I admire the courage to expose your choices and your actions. It’s great. the best for you

    • says

      Aspenhawk,

      Haha. More visitors, more expensive stocks? That would be crazy! :)

      I can’t imagine this little blog has anything to do with any stock prices. It takes big institutional investors making moves to have any material impact on stock prices. I’m simply a minnow in the whale’s shadow.

      Thanks for the support. Hope all is well in your world!

      Best wishes.

  10. Anonymous says

    Congrats D. Mantra,

    I think your blog is inspirational and informative for anyone who wants to try to save, invest and achieve some degree of financial independence. No two investors are alike and each of our paths is a bit different but we can all learn from each other and your blog gives us a chance to do that.

    I don’t post comments very often but I visit your site once or twice weekly so I’m definitely part of that one million and glad for it. I’m guessing it must be a lot of work to maintain this site so I just want to let you know that it is appreciated.

    -Rock the Casbah

    • says

      Rock,

      You don’t post often, but you more than make up for it when you do. As always, I appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comments.

      I’m glad that you enjoy the blog and stop by often. As pointed out above, this blog would mean nothing (and likely not exist) if it weren’t for you readers. Great ideas are best when shared, and I’m just thankful that I’m not the only one that feels that way!

      Take care!

  11. Anonymous says

    you are a inspiration to us all. I still think you be should be published. I saw your stuff on YOUTUBE you would do well on the talk shows this weekend write the first paragraph of your book just one paragraph if not for you do it for us

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks so much. Very, very kind words there. I really appreciate it!

      I put everything I’ve got into this blog, so I’m very glad you enjoy the content.

      Someone was mentioning here a while back about being a motivational speaker or turning this into a full-time job. I’d love the opportunity of something like that. It’s tough to really do more, like write a book or somehow expand on what I’m already doing because it’s tough with a 50+ hour workweek and writing this blog and everything else. It’s just tough to find the time. Plus, I don’t want to go off and do another project and not really be able to concentrate on Dividend Mantra. So there’s always a tradeoff. But I would be glad to turn this into even more than it already is. You never know….

      Thanks again for the kind words. I hope I can continue to inspire!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      Well when you are financially independent, you can quit your job, start on the motivational speaking ‘hobby’. You can do one day a week for 3 months a year, whatever you want, that is the beauty of financial independence. You can also get paid a lot for your ‘hobby’.

      Congrats!

    • says

      me myself and I,

      That’s exactly it. One of the biggest motivating factors for me to seek out and achieve financial independence is for the time it will afford me to focus on things I find intense passion in. I’d love to be able to reach a wider audience than I do now, so once I have the time I could probably devote more energy into trying to make that happen. We’ll see what happens, but I do know that this blog has already become much more than I ever thought it could be. Life is really funny sometimes, and just the same it’s really rewarding sometimes.

      Best regards.

  12. says

    While I learn a lot from all of your analysis writing, it’s writing like that keeps me inspired. I’m so glad you’re sharing your story in real-time. Please keep it up!

    • says

      Pretired Nick,

      Thanks so much. I really appreciate that.

      I agree. Analysis on stocks and businesses is wonderful, but I enjoy the “personal” in personal finance much more. Life is more than money.

      Keep up the pretirement journey!

      Take care!

    • says

      Pursuit,

      Thanks for being a source of inspiration as well. I think the great thing about this community is that we all continue to motivate each other towards greater futures. It’s a wonderful theme! :)

      Thanks again for the support!

      Best regards.

  13. says

    Wow, your blog is blowing up! 1,000,000 page views seems crazy. I just checked mine and I have a measly 41k, ha. Congrats and keep up the good work, you are obviously inspiring a lot of people.

    • says

      AAI,

      1 million pageviews is beyond anything I ever thought I would accomplish with this site. I didn’t even know if I’d have an audience at all. I’m certainly glad I started the blog and I’m really grateful to be part of such a wonderful community.

      Keep up the great work on your end too. You’re killing it!

      Best wishes.

  14. says

    Congratulations DM! I’ve been following your blog since around September 2011 and have watched you transform from a novice investor into a dividend growth authority. It’s truly amazing what you’ve learned over that period.

    It’s even more amazing when you think about the tens of thousands of people you’ve inspired. There is a forest of investment blogs these days, I believe you provided the inspiration for most of them.

    Anyways your blog has always been my favorite. I’m not interested watching somebody who makes $10k a month build an income stream. However I am interested in a middle class guy making it happen. That is the charm of this blog. It’s real, anyone can do it.

    For the love of God, do not stop. This blog is not just about Jason anymore.

    Keep it up!

    • says

      CI,

      I remember you stopping by here before you started your blog. Things have definitely changed and I’ve definitely learned a lot over the last couple years. And not just from my own research and learning as I go, but I’ve learned a lot from readers here. It’s been really great.

      Yeah, you know there weren’t nearly as many dividend investing blogs a few years back. I’m glad I kind of paved the way for a few. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier. Open discussions about investing, saving and living a better life are better us all!

      Thanks for the kind words there. I certainly hope I can keep this blog up for many more years. I have a dream to turn this into a complete autobiography from 27 years old on. I have this idea to show the journey from being almost broke to financial independence on a middle class income in about a decade and then showing what FI looks like for someone still young enough to really make the most of it. Then eventually it’ll turn into discussions on making the world a better place. The blog will grow as I grow.

      Stay in touch and keep up the great work on your end too. Best of luck with the journey back home!

      Take care!

  15. Anonymous says

    it was easy for me to tell you to write a book as I sit on my sofa I just like your stuff I check your blog every day I really enjoy it my wife writes training manuals I showed her your writing she that takes hours and hours to write that stuff maybe when you reach your goal you could do it until then I will keep on reading your blog by the way I live in Utah

  16. says

    DM, congrats on the number! It is impressive and reaching it in just 2 years is even better. My reasons for blogging are same as yours. Unfortunately it took me a lot longer before I realized what I wanted from my blog.

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