Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (2024)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a fantastic 2023 and enjoyed the holidays.

Some readers have been asking about our portfolio performance so I thought I’d provide some context and 100% transparency.

In 2023, our portfolio returned +10.48% excluding contributions. In comparison, the TSX had a +7.79% return and the S&P 500 had a +24.73% return.

A table comparison for those with a curious mind:

Portfolio return excluding contributionsTSX returnS&P 500 return

Somehow, we have beaten the TSX a few times since 2012, mostly because our portfolio consisted of a mix of Canadian dividend stocks, US dividend stocks, and international stocks via XAW. Holding US stocks in USD also meant we benefited when USD was strong against CAD. Not surprisingly though, we weren’t able to beat the S&P 500 return every year given our portfolio composition.

But historical returns don’t mean that we’ll continue to beat the index. Remember the old financial dictum – past performance does not indicate future performance!

Our return in 2023 would have been higher if it didn’t get dragged down by the likes of AQN (we closed the position late in the year. Hindsight being 20/20 we should have closed the position earlier in the year), the Canadian telecoms, TC Energy Corp, and Enbridge.

On the flip side, the likes of Costco, Brookfield Asset Management, and Manulife had a great year.

You win some and you lose some right?

In other words, some years we beat the indices and some years we trailed behind it. That is the nature of investing in individual stocks instead of investing in index ETFs and tracking the market performance. Am I disappointed for not outperforming the market consistently? Should we just invest in index ETFs and track the market performance?

While index ETFs are excellent for most investors, we chose to go with a combination of individual stocks and an index ETF because we feel receiving dividend income consistently is a huge mental boost and helps us from emotional selling.

Some people may argue that dividends aren’t free money. It’s like having $100 in your right pocket, moving $5 to your left pocket, and leaving $95 in your right pocket. In the end, whether it’s index investing or dividend investing, you’d end up with about the same amount of money.

I agree with this statement.

One shouldn’t just count dividends. Rather, total return matters!

However, I truly believe the key benefit of dividend investing is the psychological boost that many people don’t talk enough about. When you’re getting a consistent dividend income, there’s a lower chance that you would sell shares when there’s a sudden drop in the market.

This was certainly the case back in March 2020 when we saw a portfolio value drop of around $250,000. Thanks to the regular monthly dividend income, we didn’t feel the need to sell anything. Instead, we loaded up on discounted stocks.

It was a similar story in 2015 and 2018, or whenever the TSX and/or S&P 500 went for a significant correction. We saw our portfolio value drop during that time but we didn’t feel the need to sell anything. We continued to earn money, save money, and invest money regularly and focus on the long term. Receiving regular monthly dividend income calmed our nerves and prevented us from making any knee-jerk reactions.

Yes, some research studies have concluded that indexing is better than dividend investing, but some studies showed the opposite results. For me, these studies are simply academic research exercises and are based purely on numbers alone. What they fail to include are the psychological and mental aspects of investing. On paper and mathematically, it’s easy to say that when the market tanks by 30% or more, you should be investing more money.

In reality, it is extremely difficult to separate emotions from investing, especially when it’s your hard-earned money we’re talking about here!

As a result, I have learned over the years to not pay too much attention to the performance of our portfolio. Instead, it is more important to focus on growing our net worth. Fortunately for us, our net worth grew higher than our salaries in 2023, so we were very pleased with this result.

Life-wise, December was relatively relaxed. We spent a couple of days skiing in Whistler (had some blog-related work in Whistler and used the free time to go skiing). Although it was early-season skiing and not as good as what we saw last March, we still had a lot of fun.

I always loved standing in the alpine and looking around the snowy landscapes.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (1)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (2)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (3)

We spent the rest of December getting ready for Christmas and having a lot of hygge. This was the first time that Mrs. T and I didn’t decorate the Christmas tree and left it up to both kids.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (4)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (5)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (6)

Christmas meant we made a lot of treats like chocolate, cookies, and burnt sugar almonds.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (7)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (8)

Kid 1.0, with some help from Mrs. T, made a HUGE gingerbread house (I meant a castle).

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (9)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (10)

We hosted the family Christmas dinner and had a merry time. Since Mrs. T and I don’t like turkey (we find it too dry), we opted for roasted leg of lamb this year with many different side dishes. Overall we had a festive time over the holidays.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (11)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (12)

Since we have been focusing more on experiences over the last number of years, the coolest experience that we had in December was checking out The Infinite Experience where we explored inside and outside of the International Space Station via the Quest 2 VR headset. It was our first time immersing ourselves in a 360 VR environment and we had an amazing experience. If you have the chance, I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (13)

Dividend Income – December 2023

Alright, back to dividend income.

In December we received dividend income from the following companies:

  • Brookfield Asset Management (BAM.TO)
  • BlackRock (BLK)
  • Brookfield Renewable Corp (BEPC.TO)
  • Brookfield Corporation (BN.TO)
  • Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO)
  • Canadian Tire (CTC.A)
  • Enbridge (ENB.TO)
  • Fortis (FTS.TO)
  • Hydro One (H.TO)
  • Granite REIT (GRT.UN)
  • Intact Financial (IFC.TO)
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
  • Coca-Cola (KO)
  • McDonald’s (MCD)
  • Manulife Financial (MFC.TO)
  • Magna International (MG.TO)
  • Qualcomm (QCOM)
  • SmartCentres REIT (SRU.UN)
  • Suncor (SU.TO)
  • Target (TGT)
  • Visa (V)
  • Waste Management (WM)

The 22 dividend pay cheques from December added up to $4,062.87. What a fantastic way to wrap up the year with a monthly dividend income exceeding $4,000!

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (14)

Compared to December 2022 we saw a YoY growth of 13.46%, a very respective number given that we’re facing the law of big numbers.

Out of the $4,062.87 received, $609.02 was in USD and $3,453.85 was in CAD. Please note that we do not convert USD to CAD when reporting our dividend income. We wanted to keep the math simple and avoid any fluctuations in our monthly dividend income due to exchange rate volatility.

I don’t know about you, but I always find it a bit weird that some companies have irregular dividend payment schedules. Instead of paying dividends every three months, some companies decide to move things around. For example, instead of a January-April-July-October dividend payment schedule, Coca-Cola’s payment schedule is April-July-October-December.

Oddly enough, Coca-Cola’s key competitor, Pepsi also has an irregular dividend payment schedule of January-March-June-September. Walmart also has an irregular dividend payment schedule as well – January-April-May-September.

I haven’t been able to find the reasons behind these irregular dividend payment schedules. If I had to guess I’d wildly speculate that it was due to tax/fiscal year reasons. Does anyone know?

Dividend Hikes

When we do live off dividends, we would like our dividend income to continue to grow and keep up with inflation. This is why dividend hikes are so important as we get closer to financial independence.

Like November, December was a solid month when it came to dividend hikes.

  • Waste Management (WM) raised its dividend payout by 7.1% to $0.75 per share
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) raised its dividend payout by 3% to $1.51 per share
  • National Bank (NA.TO) raised its dividend payout by 4% to $1.06 per share

In addition to the dividend hikes, Costco also declared a $15 per share special dividend, payable on January 12, 2024.

Not counting the Costco special dividend, we will see our forward annual dividend income increase by $171.24. At a 4% dividend yield, that’s equivalent to investing $4,281 in new capital.

We were overjoyed about Costco’s special dividend because that would result in a nice one-time jump in this year’s dividend income. On the flip side, it could mean that our dividend income year-over-year growth in 2025 may not be as high. But we’ll worry about that when we get there…

Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIP)

In December we dripped the following shares automatically by signing up dividend reinvestment plans with our discount brokers, TD Waterhouse and Questrade.

  • 1 share of Brookfield Asset Management
  • 3 shares of Brookfield Renewable Energy Corp
  • 41 shares of Enbridge
  • 3 shares of Fortis
  • 1 share of Coca-Cola
  • 12 shares of Manulife Financial
  • 6 shares of SmartCentres REIT
  • 1 share of Suncor

Thanks to DRIP, we added 68 more shares in December. More importantly, dripping allowed us to add $196.48 toward our forward annual dividend income.

Dividend Transactions

Because we knew that XAW’s ex-dividend was late in December with the distribution coming in late January, we decided to nibble a few XAW shares to slightly increase the bi-annual distribution we’d receive.

We added 39 shares of XAW in late December and added roughly $25 toward our forward annual dividend income.

Dividend Scorecard – December 2023

Here’s our dividend scorecard for December:

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (15)

Overall, a very solid month to wrap up the year.

2023 Dividend Income Review

It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in terms of dividend income. In mid-2007, I purchased ING stock (now called Intact Financial) without putting too much emphasis on dividends. Then in 2011, Mrs. T and I started focusing on building our dividend portfolio and generating dividend income.

Looking back, it’s pretty insane that we went from $54 in annual dividend income in 2007 to over $50,000 16 years later. What’s even more amazing is that we managed to double our dividend income in under four years!

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (16)

Compared to 2022, we grew our dividend income by 18.63% YoY. Although it was not as big of a jump compared to last year’s performance of 36.86%, we were very grateful for such an increase.

Many readers have been asking how have we grown our dividend income. It comes to these VERY boring steps:

  • Increase our income
  • Having a relatively high savings rate
  • Invest our savings
  • Max out TFSA and RRSP every year
  • Invest in taxable accounts once we max out TFSA & RRSP
  • Reinvest 100% of our dividends
  • Enroll in DRIP whenever possible
  • Not only buy high yield dividend stocks, but have a handful of lower dividend yield dividend stocks that have high dividend growth
  • Avoid any emotional financial decisions

Rinse and repeat. Get in line and stay in line.

In my relatively short DIY investing career, I have seen many investors jumping in and out of different investing strategies. Some even consistently sell 100% of their portfolio and then jump back to the market a few months later. Sometimes they “timed” the market correctly, and ended up with a sizable gain, so they boasted that timing the market is a valid strategy. Sometimes they “timed” the market correctly and got out before the massive market drop. Then they jumped back in when the market was on the way up.

But many failed to see that they simply got lucky.

I mean, would anyone have predicted that the market would hit a high in late February 2020 before it crashed down? Would anyone have predicted with 100% accuracy that the market would bounce back up by late March 2020? How could anyone predict global macro events such as wars, extreme weather, and substantial interest rate hikes???

When the S&P 500 was dropping in February 2023 down to below 3,900 points, would anyone have predicted that the index would start gaining in mid-March and end the year at over 4,700 points? Similarly, the TSX was very volatile throughout 2023. Who would have predicted it’d go for a rally in late October?

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (17)
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (18)

I certainly didn’t and that’s precisely why I wouldn’t want to make any sort of future predictions.

Because I know at best, my prediction is only 50% correct.

Timing the market is a fool’s game. Time in the market and continuing to invest throughout time (i.e. dollar cost averaging) is boring but is a sure way to make sure your investment will continue to grow and flourish.

2023 Dividend Income Breakdown

Every year we aim to max out both TFSAs and RRSPs. Once we max out TFSAs and RRSPs, we then invest in non-registered accounts. We invest this way so most of our dividend income is either tax-free (TFSA) or tax-deferred (RRSP). Only a portion of our dividend income is taxed. Dividends in our taxable accounts are split between Mrs. T and me, further reducing our overall taxes.

Our 2023 dividend income breakdown is as follows:

  • RRSP: $14,384.61, 28.7%
  • TFSA: $12,913.87, 25.7%
  • Taxable: $22,890.59, 45.6%

In other words, over half of our 2023 dividend income was either tax-free or tax-deferred.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (19)

Our taxable dividend income was split between Mrs. T and I:

  • Mrs. T: $8,476.91, 37%
  • Tawcan: $14,413.64, 63%

As we get closer to the dream of living off dividends, we anticipate that a higher and higher percentage of our dividend income will be coming from taxable accounts. This is because both TFSA and RRSP have annual limits. Ideally, we would want to leave our TFSAs alone so they can continue to compound tax-free and only utilize dividends from our RRSPs and taxable accounts.

2023 Organic Dividend Growth & DRIP

Moving forward, I believe we will rely more and more on organic dividend growth and DRIP to increase our dividend income.

In 2023 these two pillars added $4,596.13 toward our annual dividend income, an improvement of 20.4% compared to 2022.

YearOrganic dividend growthDRIPTotal $

At a 4% dividend yield, adding $4,596.13 toward our annual dividend income is like adding almost $115,000 in new capital! That is the power of organic dividend growth and DRIP!

Summary & Looking Ahead

It felt fantastic that we not only accomplished our goal of receiving $49,000 in dividend income in 2023, we exceeded it by 2.4%. The dividend snowball is getting bigger and bigger each year and doing so at an increasingly faster pace.

We continue to feel very blessed and grateful that we’re doing very well financially, hence for providing a helping hand in the community whenever we can.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (20)

At $50,189.07, our 2023 dividend income was equivalent to:

  • $137.50 per day or $5.73 per hour
  • $965.17 per working week or $24.13 per hour

Back in Jan 2022, I projected that our 2023 dividend income would be $41,500 and our 2024 dividend income would be $46,000. So we have exceeded this projection already.

Last year, I projected that our 2024 dividend income would be $55,000. Rather than increasing this amount slightly, I have decided to stick with the $55,000 projection. My reasons?

  1. Allow us to focus more on the low dividend yield high dividend growth stocks like ATD and Apple. These stocks typically provide higher total returns.
  2. Prevent us from adding high-yield stocks that potentially have higher risk due to high levels of debt (i.e. AQN, Inter Pipeline, etc).
  3. Avoid buying certain stocks purely to hit dividend income goal/projection
Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (21)

At the time of writing, I believe there’s a very high chance that we’d exceed the $55k projection. If that were to happen, that’d be fantastic!

All in all, we had a fantastic 2023. We look forward to a great 2024.

Greetings, fellow investors and financial enthusiasts! I'm thrilled to delve into the intriguing world of portfolio management and financial strategies. My name is [Your Name], and my passion lies in understanding and navigating the complexities of the financial markets. Over the years, I've accumulated extensive experience in managing investment portfolios and have witnessed the ebb and flow of various market trends.

Let's dissect the comprehensive article on the author's financial journey, portfolio performance, and investment philosophy. The article touches upon several key concepts and strategies that contribute to the author's success in building a substantial dividend income stream. Here's a breakdown of the main topics covered:

  1. Portfolio Performance in 2023:

    • The author reveals a portfolio return of +10.48% in 2023, surpassing both the TSX (+7.79%) and the S&P 500 (+24.73%).
    • Historical performance is presented in a table from 2012 to 2023, showcasing yearly returns for the author's portfolio, TSX, and S&P 500.
  2. Portfolio Composition:

    • The author attributes outperformance to a diversified portfolio consisting of Canadian dividend stocks, US dividend stocks, and international stocks via XAW.
    • The impact of holding US stocks in USD during periods of strong USD against CAD is highlighted.
  3. Challenges and Lessons Learned:

    • The article discusses specific challenges faced in 2023, such as underperformance of certain stocks like AQN, Canadian telecoms, TC Energy Corp, and Enbridge.
    • Emphasizes the importance of learning from mistakes, like not closing positions earlier in the year.
  4. Investment Philosophy:

    • Advocacy for a combination of individual stocks and an index ETF for psychological benefits, especially consistent dividend income.
    • Acknowledgment that historical returns do not guarantee future performance.
    • Reflection on the psychological benefits of dividend investing during market downturns, citing examples from 2015, 2018, and March 2020.
  5. Dividend Income:

    • Detailed breakdown of dividend income received in December 2023, including companies contributing to the income.
    • Total monthly dividend income exceeding $4,000, with a YoY growth of 13.46%.
  6. Dividend Hikes and Reinvestment Plans:

    • Highlighting the significance of dividend hikes for maintaining income growth.
    • Utilization of Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIP) to automatically reinvest dividends and accumulate additional shares.
  7. Dividend Transactions and Scorecard:

    • Explanation of dividend transactions, including adding shares of XAW to increase bi-annual distribution.
    • Presentation of a dividend scorecard for December 2023.
  8. Organic Dividend Growth and Looking Ahead:

    • Discussion on the importance of organic dividend growth and DRIP in contributing to annual dividend income.
    • Reflection on the achieved goal of exceeding $49,000 in dividend income for 2023.
    • Projection for 2024 dividend income of $55,000, with a focus on low dividend yield, high dividend growth stocks.
  9. Yearly Review and Future Outlook:

    • Overview of the remarkable journey from $54 in annual dividend income in 2007 to over $50,000 in 2023.
    • Gratitude for financial success and commitment to community support.
    • A detailed breakdown of the 2023 dividend income across RRSP, TFSA, and taxable accounts.
  10. Financial Independence and Investment Strategy:

    • Explanation of steps taken to achieve financial independence, including increasing income, maintaining a high savings rate, and strategic investment in tax-advantaged accounts.
    • A commitment to reinvest 100% of dividends and focus on both high-yield and low-yield stocks with high growth.

In essence, the article provides a comprehensive insight into the author's investment journey, emphasizing the importance of discipline, diversification, and a strategic approach to portfolio management. It serves as a valuable resource for investors seeking to balance risk and reward while building a sustainable income stream.

Dividend Income - December 2023 Update & 2023 Summary » Tawcan (2024)
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