Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Building a 5 figure dividend portfolio

7 years ago when I started this blog, I wrote about the start of my financial journey towards financial freedom. Being consistent is not easy, painstakingly building up my net worth and investing in boring stocks throughout the years. The financial goals I set for myself in my financial goals page were met surprisingly even without me actively tracking it. As I approach age 33 this year, I am thankful for all the knowledge I've learnt through other blogs, friends and learning while writing too. 

Back in 2013, I was inspired by financial bloggers who manage to have 5 and 6 figure dividends from stocks annually. While most people just save enough money for retirement in their old age and start to draw down their savings during their retirement years which can probably last about 10-20 years only, this group of bloggers were able to retire earlier with 6 figure ($100K+) annual dividend income which can last for a lifetime. I thought this was a good method to journey towards financial freedom. It is easy to visualise and plan for the future with dividend income method. After 7 years, I managed to finally achieve a 5 figure dividend portfolio from stocks although this is still many years away from the financial freedom target. 

While this 5 figure dividend income may seem like its a lot for many people, it is actually just a basic requirement for financial planning. Moving forward, I expect most of my savings to come from dividend income as expenses will take up almost all of my monthly net take home pay. I can imagine people who do not invest will have problems reaching their retirement goals in the future as inflation continues to kick in and cost of daily living goes up even higher.

My dividend income from stocks is projected to surpass $10K for the year 2021. This is done base on conservative estimates as most stocks have cut dividends starting from 2020. The dividends may come in higher if economic recovery happens this year and beyond. Let me share how is it possible to build a 5 figure dividend portfolio.

Build up your investment capital

When we first started out investing in stocks, the dividends from stocks will definitely be low. On a conservative basis, most investors should aim for around 5-6% dividend yield for your portfolio. Higher yield doesn't mean its always good as there is risk investing in high yield stocks too. 

With 5-6% dividend yield, a $100K portfolio will give you $5000-$6000 in dividends annually. To build up a 5 figure dividend portfolio, you need $200K and more. It is therefore important to set goals to build up a sizeable investment capital when you first start your financial freedom journey. This can be done through finding ways to increase your income, saving up more and investing in growth stocks to compound your money. 

At the start, my dividends from stocks was only $1K+. It steadily increased to $2K, $3K, $4K before hitting more than $10K. Dividends from stocks can only go up with more investment capital. This is why it is important to focus on building up a sizeable investment capital for dividend investing. 

Invest in good dividend stocks

After you have a sizeable investment capital, you can look to invest in good dividend stocks. Take note that a dividend portfolio is built up over the years and not when you have a lot of money then you start to invest in stocks. The reason is that when you have the money, stocks may be at high valuations and thus dividend yields may be lower too. It is important to invest consistently to build up our dividend portfolio as stocks valuations become depressed. 

Most investors looking to build a dividend portfolio will invest in REITs or business trusts. The more common ones are shopping malls, commercial offices and industrial buildings. REITs need to payout at least 90% of the rental they collect from tenants to shareholders. A good dividend stock should be able to grow distribution per unit (DPU) consistently. For REITs, they can do so through asset enhancement initiatives (AEI) or DPU accreditive acquisitions. REITs also grow their DPU is their rental reversion is positive. This means they are able to increase the rent charged to their tenants when renewal comes. REITs which have properties at good locations are able to command higher rents over the years. 

Besides REITs, we can also invest in other stocks too. Some big companies do pay good dividends too with growth potential also. Stocks such as Comfort Delgro and Jardine Cycle & Carriage are currently trading at low prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Comfort Delgro has dividend yield of 6.5% whil Jardine C&C has dividend yield of 5.5% based on their 2019 dividend payout. If we believe that their stock price and dividend will recover back to 2019 levels after the COVID-19 pandemic, then these are good opportunities to accumulate such stocks to have both good dividend yields and capital gains as well. 

Manage risks by diversifying

Some investors may not believe in diversifying into multiple stocks to manage risks for a dividend portfolio. For me, I would think this is important as without diversification, the dividend portfolio may be destroyed in future. 

There are some dividend stocks like Eagle Hospitality Trust and Lippo Mall Trust which had their value depressed to point of no return. These stocks were trading at impressive yields of 8-10% at a point in time. But their stock value decreased by more than 50%-80% which negated all the dividends collected for many years. Eagle Hospitality Trust was even halted. If we had heavily invested into the wrong dividend stocks, the dividend portfolio would be destroyed. 

We would want our dividend portfolio to be as stable and as sustainable as possible for the longest time possible. Ultimately, the dividend portfolio is suppose to supplement our income for financial independence and the end goal is to achieve financial freedom living on a substantial 5-6 figure dividend income for the rest of our life. 

Final words - Don't just focus on dividend investing only

While dividend investing is a slow and steady way to build wealth with about 5-6% yields, we should not focus on dividend investing only when we are younger and do not have a sizeable investment capital. We should also include a mixture of growth stocks in our portfolio to compound our money faster. With a combination of dividend and growth stocks, we should be able to aim for 8% or more investment returns on a sustainable basis. This will enable us to build wealth faster through investing. 

I have done many projection before and have proven that without investing, it is very hard for many of us to build wealth enough for retirement unless we earn an extremely high income of more than $10K per month and save enough of it. Investing is an important part of wealth building and so is increasing our income. With an extremely low income, it is also hard to accumulate enough for retirement even if we are very good in investing. We need to have a balance of both.

If you're looking to build a sustainable investment portfolio, patience is key and staying invested in the market will enable us to build wealth and compound it over the years. In this way, we will definitely have enough for retirement and even more for financial freedom. The journey towards financial freedom continues.... 

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  1. Good progress on your 7th year journey to financial independence!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! Hope life has been good for you?

  2. Amazing! This provided a sense of assurance for me who started 2 years after you did. May I ask how did you manage to double your dividend in 2021 compared to 2020?

    1. 2020 had a major stock market crash due to COVID-19. I managed to invest in more stocks at lower prices. I had more than 50% in cash at that time.

  3. I am now in year 3, hope I can reach your stage by year 10

    1. You definitely can! Setting goals will help you to reach the stage you want.

  4. Impressive.. may I know how much capital is needed to achieve this? I am currently trying to build up my dividends portfolio too

  5. I am contrarian though. Personally, i subscribe to the belief that companies that are giving dividends are not re-investing well into their business. I did rather companies contribute back to us by doing share buybacks.....inflate the price of the shares.

    Capital gain is not taxable too....

    1. Hi Kai,

      Most of my dividend stocks are from REITS. They are structured to give out dividends. If for non reit companies, i would also prefer they reinvest back to grow their share price.

    2. Great to hear that. I am abit late to the game and is trying to catch up.

      Thanks for all of these solid advices on your blog!