Dividend and Expense Review – March 2019 – Quarterly Dividends Grow

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Welcome to the first of four big quarterly dividend months. If you own ETFs or mutual funds, you’re familiar with these months. After all, most of those funds pay quarterly with March being that first big quarter of the year. That means a lot of the dividends you get are concentrated in these quarter ending months.

I’m always eager to see these months as they’re a big driver of my overall dividend growth for the year. One of my goals for this year is dividend driven and so far I’m in a good spot to get there. However, it’s this quarterly dividend growth that will really determine what medal I’ll get this year. Last year, I grew my dividends by 28.6% and I hope to continue that in 2019.

Things are going well in that regard so far. January and February both saw huge dividend growth rates. On top of that, my savings rates in the last few months have been amazing as well. That’s partially driven by lower expenses(no wedding or honeymoon this year) but the fact that my bonus came in last month also helped as well.

March might not be as good a savings money as January or February but hopefully it’ll still help improve my financial picture going forward. Last year’s March came in with a savings rate of 19.03% due to some wedding pre-payment expenses. I hope to see a big bump over that this year!

On the dividend growth, I’m also expecting solid growth. After all, dividends are all about continual investing and re-investing and I’ve been doing a good job with that. That’s what makes these 20%+ growth rates possible. It’s the magic of compound interest!

Last year’s March brought in $1617.41 in dividends so let’s see where we are now.

March Dividends

Bar graph showing dividends for March in the past few years

March ends up with $2076.86 in dividends. That’s a growth rate of 28.41% versus last year!

The awesome thing is that this is my 3rd quarter ending month in a row above $2,000. In essence, it may mean that moving forward and continuing with June, these quarter ending months will all be above $2,000! That’d be awesome to see.

The other amazing thing is that I’m still seeing 25%+ growth rates despite these larger dollar totals. It really shows the power of investing and compound growth. I’ve added a good amount of money to the market since last March and that’s obvious in these numbers. It’s not only that as 2018 was a great year for dividend growth which is reflected in these numbers. Some of my holdings like UNH or APPL increased their dividend by 15%+ which is great.

If you hold index funds, I’m sure you’ve seen a big bump in quarterly dividends even without any additional purchases due to the many companies that bumped up their quarterly dividends last year. I’ve also seen been a beneficiary of that via my many individual holdings in my M1 Finance account which has seen a good amount of my contributions lately.

Steve, my stalwart dividend employee is excited to see these results. He really loves these big months as they bump up his annual hourly wage in a big way.

For March, Steve’s hourly wage was $12.46! Pretty damn good Steven. That big wage for the month brings his hourly wage for the year to $4.90!

On a quarterly basis, my dividends are growing at a rapid pace. I saw big increases in January and February and when I add March to that, the numbers look solid.

Quarterly Dividends

Quarter 1 quarterly dividends for 2019 in bar graph form

So far this year, I’ve gotten $2449.94 in Dividends, a growth rate of of 34.6% over last year. That bodes well for my goals as that’s just shy of a gold medal for the year.

The best part about these totals is that my biggest quarters are ahead. As you can see by the graph above, the numbers just get bigger as the quarters move along. That’s due to the additional money flowing into the accounts and the reinvestment of current dividends.

March’s dividends reinvested will increase my forward dividends by $47.77 or $3.98 monthly. On top of that, in March one of my mutual funds paid out a long term capital gain of $214.16 which was nice. That’s not reflected in my dividend numbers but it does get re-invested into more shares.

I’ll continue to pump money into my accounts as much as I can. The growth here is very much driven by my savings rate and hopefully that will continue to be solid this year! It’s off to a good start at least!

March Total : $2076.86
2019 Total : $2449.94
Portfolio monthly hourly wage : $12.46/hr
Portfolio annual hourly wage : $4.90/hr

Savings Rate and Expenses

The wedding started to eat up some of my income last year in March. However, this March had no such thing(although it did have some unexpected pet expenses). That means I’m hoping to see a big jump from the 19.1% savings rate I saw in March 2018.

A graph of expenses and savings rate for March 2019

My savings rate came in at 47.4%! That’s not quite 50% for the month which is one of my goals but still pretty good. I’ve never been able to hit 50% in a March and this year is no different.

Adding in employer contributions takes that number up to 54.06%.

On a gross income basis(including taxes), my savings rate was 37.7%. Adding in employer contributions takes that up to 42.98%.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with where this month ended up and it’s a very good start for the year. The reality is that historically these first three winter months are big ones for me. That’s because the latter part of the year gets a bit more expensive as we take vacations or do day trips when the weather gets nicer.

During winter, we hibernate and spend less! Still, there’s bound to be some good months here and there depending on what happens. You can see that in the graph below.

For example, April often means a tax refund of some sort which can help improve savings rate. There’s also some 3 paycheck months that spike the savings rate.

Right now, after a strong first three months, I sit at a 64% Q1 savings rate. I expect that to decrease quite a bit as the year progresses. However, due to the lack of wedding expenses, I still expect a pretty big bump over the 39.8% I finished with last year!

On the expense side in March, the usual suspects are there. However, the big unexpected expense was a vet visit for our pupper. She had some gallbladder issues and that required some tests and some medication(4 pills a day!). She was pretty happy to get peanut butter with her pills every day though and she’s feeling much better! Look at our cutie!

Goldendoodle sitting on a carpet

Beyond that, rent and groceries were near the top. Health insurance which has spiked up in cost quite a bit this year is up there too. Lower employer contributions suck!

Restaurants, which have been muted lately are starting to crop up too. That’s because one of our favorite things is taking weekend day trips when the weather is nice. That usually includes a nice lunch or dinner, either of which can get expensive!

In fact, last weekend, we had a perfect day near the water and tried some whole prawns for the first time!

Prawns on a plate

My wife thought they were pretty gross(mainly because of how they looked) but I quite enjoyed them. The heads were the best parts!

Overall, expenses were reasonable this month and I feel like I’m starting the year in a great spot. My quarterly dividends were solid and set me up for a fantastic year of growth. On the savings rate side, things are going very well and should help the dividends going forward.

Now that spring is here, I expect expenses to tick up but I’m feeling good about my position with how well I’ve started.

In the end, saving money is great but you’ve got to use it sometimes too to enjoy life and I’m never afraid to do that. Life is for living and I’m just happy to be lucky enough to be able to do that and still save quite a bit for my retirement!

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