Published on February 3rd, 2015
This guest post was written by Ace who runs the Dividend Digger site. You can see his dividend growth portfolio here and his approach to investing here. This article features one man’s personal dividend growth journey. It focuses on personal finance more than investing. Have your own story to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi everyone, my name is Ace and I would like to spend some time talking to you about my current journey towards an extremely early retirement. After Ben saw my last post about how I reached a net worth of over $100k starting with $20K in one year, he kindly asked me if I could share my strategy with you , and some insight for other investors who want to embark on a pursuit to greater wealth and ultimate freedom. Now before you read on I will tell you right now there is no secret behind my success, but I will however share with you exactly how I got to the position that I am in now.
A Brief History
I suppose I never really had a true interest in my finances up until I was 23 years old, however I would say the habits that were instilled on me from when I was a child played a big role in being aggressive with my savings and ultimately my success thus far. So to get things started, my parents were the ones who first set the example of living below your means (unfortunately it never really all clicked in my brain until recently). They immigrated to Canada in their early 30’s with next to nothing, and built their wealth to the point that they have retired in their late 50’s. Now they are enjoying the hot weather in Arizona and playing golf. So first and foremost I would like to take this time to thank my mom and dad for leading me by example to be where I am today.
Prior to my lifestyle of actively saving and investing my income, I constantly made terrible financial decisions, trying to live a hyper inflated lifestyle driven by my ego, taking on debt to pay it off so I could get myself back into more debt again. Such as buying things like sports cars, wrecking them and then buying another one. Though I thought I was happy deep down I knew there was going to be trouble brewing if I didn’t make any changes in my life. Really my only saving grace was the fact that I had a kick start to a great career at an early age. Graduating high school and starting my post-secondary education at the age of 17 pushed me into the work force by the time I was 19. So really for the past 5 years I’ve been bringing in steady income, however out of those 5 years, it took 4 for me to realize I need to save my money and build a life for my future self.
The Beginning of My Dividend Growth Journey
So what do I do for a living? I went to technical school and graduated in 2010 as a licensed combined lab and x-ray technologist. What I do on a day to day basis is provide doctors with medical lab reports on patients when they order blood work as well as perform diagnostic images for radiologists when doctors order x-rays on their patients. To my surprise this field of work can be as lucrative as you want it to be. In January of 2013 I managed to double my income (where I worked before I was grossing ~60k/per year) when I chose to move to a more isolated location in Northern Alberta to work in several of the hospitals in the surrounding area. As great as it was, I was in for a rude awakening when I realized that after my 4 years of working and grossing around $308k in income I only had a little under $20k in cash to show for it. At this point I realized I needed to learn how to invest my money, so I picked up the book called, “The Lazy Investor” by Derek Foster, and it lead me onto the path of dividend growth investing. From the moment I started learning about dividend growth investing and the power of compound interest I became obsessed with the idea of extremely early retirement and began paving my path to financial freedom.
I live by the 4 personal finance rules below. In my opinion, they are vital for success when trying to increase your net worth.
1. Keep Debt as low as Possible
To me this is an obvious no-brainer. On top of the debt, you are also more than likely have to pay interest. If I didn’t have a rewards credit card (which gets zeroed out at the end of each month) I would buy everything in cash. I know there are people who will say that you can leverage your debt to actually help you gain money, but for me I simply just stay away from debt in general, and so far it’s working perfectly fine for me.
Picture financial independence as an island that’s only accessible by a paddle boat, anytime you add on more debt to your life it’s the equivalent of throwing out an anchor off your boat. The more debt you take on would mean the more anchors you’re throwing off your boat. See what I’m getting at? Make life easier on yourself and keep debt to a minimum.
2. Pay Yourself First, and Start Now if You Haven’t
You’d be surprised how fast one could accumulate wealth if the habit of consistently putting money away every pay check was applied at an early age. It’s simple really. After you pay your bills, take what is left over and pay yourself. Don’t spend it on things you do not need. Think of it this way, you trade your time for money, yet trading your money for time is impossible. So what good is money anyways if all you do is save and not spend it on things that will bring you instant gratification? It’s very simple, when you accumulate enough wealth, you no longer need to rely on trading your time for income. You have essentially gained the ultimate freedom: To live life by your rules, to do exactly what you want, when you want.
3. Have Your Money Work for You
That’s right people, your money can actually work harder than you can! There is a reason why the rich only get richer. It’s because they have their money working for them. So this is where you say, “but Ace, I don’t have that kind of money”, to which I will say, read rule #2 again. You don’t have to be a millionaire to have your money work for you. Not only that, but there are various ways you can get your capital to do your bidding. And seeing as how this is website about dividend paying stocks, I think it would be appropriate to say dividend growth investing is an excellent way to put your money to work.
4. Reinvest your Returns
Ever heard of a thing called compound interest? It’s the effect that happens when you take the interest gained from the initial principle and reinvest with the purpose of gaining more interest in the future. Given enough time, the interest will grow at an exponential rate. Consistently adding fresh capital to the equation will also reduce the time it will take for your returns to sky-rocket.
So exactly how did I manage to transform my net worth from $20k to $100k in one year? Simple, I kept my debt low, I differentiated between my “needs” and my “wants”, and I paid myself first every paycheck. Through high quality dividend paying stock I put my money to work, and I reinvested my dividends.
I’m sorry if you were expecting a magic formula of analyzing and picking stocks, but really when it comes to building your fortunes, it takes 2 main things, patience and discipline.