Millionaire Interview 3 - Dividend Earner

Millionaire Interview 3 – Dividend Earner

Millionaire Interview 3. I have started a series called Millionaire Interviews. There is no better way to learn how to build wealth than from those who have already done so. Along those lines, I ask millionaire bloggers or even millionaires who are not bloggers a series of 11 questions that they answer. The questions are highlighted in bold and the answers are below each question. Hopefully, the answers are enlightening and will help you on your journey to build wealth and attain the $1,000,000 mark and beyond. 

The millionaires in the Millionaire Interview series became millionaires at a younger age than the Secret Dividend Millionaires. This comes down to mostly having higher incomes. Second, they are not very frugal to the point of austerity as some of the Secret Dividend Millionaires but certainly save more than they earn and save more than the average person. Lastly, most have multiple sources of income.

Before we start with Millionaire Interview 3, if you are a millionaire blogger or even a millionaire who doesn’t blog and want to be a part of this series, just send me an e-mail or message me on Twitter.

Millionaire Interview 3 - Dividend Earner
Millionaire Interview 3 – Dividend Earner

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Millionaire Interview 3 – Dividend Earner

Our Millionaire interview 3 is with an anonymous blogger from Canada who blogs as Dividend Earner. His blog focuses on dividend growth investing, dividend income, and retirement. His stock portfolio value crossed the $1 million mark in 2019 and his complete portfolio including retirement crossed the $1 million mark in 2017. He achieved this by taking control of his own investing in 2009 and did not look back.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a software developer in the tech industry with a computer science degree. I am 46 and married with 2 children. We live in the greater Vancouver area in British Columbia, Canada and we live from my income only.

  • What is your net worth? At what age did you become a millionaire? How many years did it take to become a millionaire? Do you have any debt?

I would estimate it at $2.5 million today where the house is $1 million and the portfolio is $1.5 million. The portfolio is 100% in stocks where it’s approximately split 50/50 between Canadian and U.S. holdings. I have a small mortgage which represents the only debt, and I could pay it off but it’s cheaper to keep it and invest the difference. However, I would like to be done with it over the next 5 years. I really don’t like to include a home in a millionaire valuation as it doesn’t really represent the real aspect of building a retirement portfolio. Excluding the home, I reached the $1 million dividend portfolio in 2019. For my complete portfolio, where I have a company plan, it was probably closer to 2017. In 2009, it’s when I reset everything with less than $100 thousand.

When it comes to debt, you need to clearly understand the difference between consumer debt and leverage debt. Never have consumer debt if you can avoid it. Leasing a car is a fake way to make you believe you can afford something that you really can’t…leasing should be use strategically and not to buy a car you can’t afford. Leverage debt is like a mortgage and you need to have a plan to pay it off over time.

  • How did you become a millionaire?

Diligent savings is how I made it. When I got a raise, I invested it instead of spending it for years. Only recently have I started to spend on luxuries a little more. My raises went to my portfolio and then I worked hard to ensure my saved money made more money for me.

I started with a dividend income approach but switched to dividend growth after 4 years. I started documenting my approach and learning through the blog and various engagements. Over time, the blog became an extra source of income after some time. While it was one of the goals to create an income stream, it took a long time to see any money. Being a one income family, I felt we were always behind others with savings.

While I considered real estate, I felt in my area that it became out of reach too fast. You needed too much capital. Also, most people I talked to were cash flow negative and just hoping the asset appreciated over time … As such, while I considered income producing assets a good idea, I looked into dividend investing and later on as I got comfortable with stocks, I switched to dividend growth stocks.

  • What is your investing philosophy, and do you use a particular strategy?

Today, dividend growth investing is at the core of my investing strategy. I also avoid REITs, basic materials and energy producers. My diversification method is to look at the industry that the stock covers as opposed to the sector as the sector is too broad. Another razor I have for selecting the company is that it must be what I call a “toll booth” stock. I also break the investment life into “accumulation” and “retirement” each with different goals. Back in 2009, I built a “retirement” portfolio, and I was 35…after 4 years, I realized I was leaving a lot of money on the table and discovered dividend growth. The switch nearly doubled my portfolio performance.

  • What was your best investment? What was your worst investment?

I have to say from a number perspective, it’s Microsoft (MSFT) but I also bought Apple (AAPL) in 2008 and sold it after it doubled once. I guess selling Apple in 2009 was the worst move. The worst investment is an oil company called Crescent Point Energy Group (CPG).

  • How much time per day or week do you spend reading financial news and going over your investments?

I use Yahoo Finance on my phone to keep track of my holdings and look at the daily ups and downs to see if I need to be aware of something. But I review my holdings weekly and do a bigger review monthly mostly to think ahead around which holding I should add to. I might spend 15 minutes to see if there is something abnormal that requires attention. 2009 is really when I did a reset on my investments as I moved away from a financial advisor and mutual funds.

  • What habits helped you become a millionaire?

I am not sure what you would call it but in 2008, I decided to consider the lifestyle I had then to be good enough and avoid lifestyle inflation and maintain it. As I get annual salary increases, all the extra money is saved. I take advantage of my employer’s matching contribution and strive to maximize the contribution to all the accounts possible.

  • What are your three favorite books related to investing, personal finance, retirement, and financial freedom?

For everyone starting, I tell them to read Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. If they want more performance than an index, then they need to invest more time in learning about how the stock market works.

Personally, I read the Wealthy Barber by David Chilton and The Lazy Investor by Foster Derek early on and I have not read much more since.

I have skimmed some books though. From what I gathered, most of the books start going over specific strategies which tend to need a lot of data and research and I needed an easier way to find my stocks. For example, I don’t believe you make your money when you buy the stock based on the price you pay, I believe that growing businesses will reward you with growing profits and therefore growing stock price. The biggest thing I did was to get an ACCURATE picture of my performance which I could not get anywhere including the discount brokers. Now, with my tracker, I know exactly what my returns are and I know the exact math used.

  • Why do you blog about your investing and journey to millionaire status and financial freedom?

I started blogging to see if I could get an additional source of income as well as to document my journey and share my learnings. While I started with a lot of personal finance topics, I narrowed it down to investing and more specifically dividend investing over time.

The writing about companies has allowed me to learn more about the companies and develop the “toll booth” factor in my research into stocks for my portfolio. It has also allowed me to evolve into separating an “income” stocks vs a “growth” stocks from a dividend perspective.

While I don’t have comments on the blog, I do interact by email and have discussions with many readers which is very engaging in learning from each other. The blog and being transparent in my approach are holding me accountable and helping refine 

  • Besides investing what else do you like to do?

Aside from managing the blog and data service on the side, I like to stay active through the various outdoor activities in the Vancouver region such as cycling, hiking, paddle boarding or kayaking. Enjoy reading but have found it hard to commit the time but I try to increase it. Last but not least, I like to eat various meals and will try to cook new meals which means I often do not have the spice I need. On a bigger scale, I like to travel. As we have family away, when we can travel, I enjoy visiting a new country and then do a stop over to visit family. I am starting to warm up to the idea of doing road trips as well and visit more local areas.

  • Anything else you would like to add?

While I am working to build wealth through dividend investing and living from the dividend income. I have also decided to invest a small percentage (5%) into millionaire makers stocks. Those stocks have high growth potential and are disruptive like Amazon. As a last word, avoiding lifestyle inflation has allowed me to save a lot more and after years, my saving rate is high and with a good size portfolio, I now have flexibility.

Final Thoughts on Millionaire Interview 3

I hope you enjoyed reading about Dividend Earner in Millionaire Interview 3. Check out his blog at the links above. His story shows that with a high savings rate and dividend growth investing that reaching $1 million before turning 50 years old is possible. The interesting part is that Dividend Earner is do-it-yourself investor who taught himself how to invest.

In an earlier article I identified the three principles of dividend millionaires: spend less than you earn, invest your savings, and reinvest the dividend. Your odds of becoming a millionaire are about 3.6% in the U.S. But I would argue that through systematic earnings, saving, and investing you can improve your odds. Certainly, Dividend Earner has showed us it is possible in Millionaire Interview 3.

As a final note, I have another series called Secret Dividend Millionaires. This one is about ordinary people who became millionaires by investing in dividend paying stocks for the most part. Most of these people were only discovered after they died and left their money to charities and other non-profit organizations. Often, they became millionaires through very frugal if not austere living, investing their savings in stocks that paid dividends, and reinvesting the dividends.

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Prakash Kolli is the founder of the Dividend Power site. He is a self-taught investor, analyst, and writer on dividend growth stocks and financial independence. His writings can be found on Seeking Alpha, InvestorPlace, Business Insider, Nasdaq, TalkMarkets, ValueWalk, The Money Show, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, and leading financial sites. In addition, he is part of the Portfolio Insight and Sure Dividend teams. He was recently in the top 1.0% and 100 (73 out of over 13,450) financial bloggers, as tracked by TipRanks (an independent analyst tracking site) for his articles on Seeking Alpha.

2 thoughts on “Millionaire Interview 3 – Dividend Earner

  1. Great story! Vancouver is a great place to be active and outdoors. We had some good friends that lived there for a while, and of course, it’s expensive, but they had a great time as outdoor people. Rock climbing, hiking, plenty of water activities. Not to mention the skiing!

    I skimmed through Wealthy Barber a couple of years ago and it didn’t really hit me as particularly interesting though I think it might serve as a good “intro” book. Any bits of wisdom really stick out in it from you?

    Cheers!

    1. I was in my 20’s when I read it and the part that was important is paying yoruself first and saving 10%. While I talk about investing strategy, you can’t invest if you can’t save.

      Also, the rate of return I have are irrelevant of the amount of money so if you aren’t good at savings, growting $10K takes a lot longer than growing $50K or $10K.

      In short, I am an expert saver but not frugal. I did that by maintaining my lifestyle stable instead of increasing it as income increase which meant that my saving rate accelerated. Couple that with figuring out dividend growth investing, I ended up with a super compounding machine.

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