Author Topic: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?  (Read 5469 times)

meteor

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Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« on: March 18, 2017, 08:22:34 PM »
I'm FI and am thinking of restructuring my portfolio to live off dividends.  My reasoning is that it would allow me to have an ongoing stream of income without having to decide what mutual fund to withdraw from for living expenses. I feel like dividends are a different way to approach investing that might be good leverage against stock market swings.  Do you do this?  Does this make sense?  Do you recommend a high dividend Vanguard mutual fund? or do you buy direct stocks? All advice welcome.

JAYSLOL

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2017, 08:45:29 PM »
(disclaimer: I'm not FI or retired yet)

From everything i've read about setting up investments for FIRE, most seem to agree that to live off dividend only (in a broad and balanced portfolio), you may need somewhere in the ballpark of 2x - 3x the stash that you would otherwise need if you were just using the 4% rule regardless of what the dividends were paying.  If you specifically pick all high dividend stocks, you could reduce the amount you need back down to around 25x annual spending (the 4% rule amount), but might endure much larger fluctuations in income than most in FIRE here.  Experts, please correct me if i'm mistaken. 

RetirementInvestingToday

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 07:05:26 AM »
I'm FI, will FIRE in the summer and I'm planning on living off the dividends of a balance portfolio (effectively 60% equities : 40% bonds).

To ride out the inevitable downturns where dividends are reduced/cut I have 3 years spending in cash.  To ensure that I replenish that cash during the good times my WR rate at FIRE will be slightly under 2% with my current dividend yield sitting at 2.5%.
43 years of age, UK based (for now) and on the FIRE home straight. A lot more detail on my blog http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/

Mezzie

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 08:37:38 AM »
I like the idea of dividends, so I'll follow this thread. Right now I only invest in specific dividend stocks in my fun account so if it doesn't work out, the bulk of my money is in indexes.
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PizzaSteve

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2017, 08:50:34 AM »
There are risks to chasing dividend stocks.  This is a complicated financial topic, not very suitable to MMM crowds, but in summary one can really hurt diversification and likely hurt overall total returns with this approach.

Think of it this way. 

1.  It is a myth that dividends correllate with price stability.
2. Dividend payments can be changed, so they are not predictable income like a bond.  BofA cut a healthy dividend to nothing, without a bit of notice, when faced with some performance challenges.  Kodak paid a great dividend until it went bankrupt.
3. Companies that buy back shares rather than pay out cash are typically signaling to their shareholders that they are a better investment than what is available.  These non dividend paying companies tend to be the growth companies that drive the S&Ps healthy returns.
4.  The payment of a dividend is in essence 'liquidating' the company bit by bit.  It does not show confidence.  Further, many blue chip companies actually borrow cash to meet their dividend payments, knowing their investors expect it.  By paying interest and issuing shares to raise capital for operations, they can actually reduce their overall profits and earnings per share.  Their CFOs dont care, because they want to keep their high payjng jobs and shareholders are not focused enough to punish them for what is a bad business practice.
5. Dividends force annual tax payments.  Retained earnings put the money into the share price and YOU decide when to cash in and pay your taxes.  I like the potential ability to control tax rates via management of capital gains.

That said, buying dividend paying stocks is not a bad thing.  My best performing stock last year was bought when it paid a healthy 2% dividend.  That said, the share price went from  $15 to $100 during the 5 years i have held it.  Since the dividend is now about .4%,  do i sell?  That is the type of question you face when the dividend % is the deciding factor for your portfolio.

In terms of portfolio advice, i do own some SCHD and a low expense fund like that can be a good approach (an ETF like that or VIG).  I would recommend that, you want a structured, dividend oriented portfolio.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 10:05:29 AM by PizzaSteve »
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maizeman

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2017, 09:02:00 AM »
(disclaimer: I'm not FI or retired yet)

From everything i've read about setting up investments for FIRE, most seem to agree that to live off dividend only (in a broad and balanced portfolio), you may need somewhere in the ballpark of 2x - 3x the stash that you would otherwise need if you were just using the 4% rule regardless of what the dividends were paying.  If you specifically pick all high dividend stocks, you could reduce the amount you need back down to around 25x annual spending (the 4% rule amount), but might endure much larger fluctuations in income than most in FIRE here.  Experts, please correct me if i'm mistaken.

I'm not correcting the spirit of your question, but will correct some of the numbers.

If you wanted to retire living just off dividends and were buying the S&P 500 index, you'd need ~52x annual spending to  FIRE today (so about 2x what the 4% rule would suggest).

Getting to 3x what the 4% rule would suggest would require the stock market to run up another 50% without an dividend increases at all. The lack of increased dividends would likely imply no or negative earnings growth, which would mean a 50% increase in price would put us up at a Shiller PE ratio of 45 (comparable to the very last days of the internet stock bubble in 2000).

Now one way people approach deciding to live off of dividends is to pick companies (or index funds) that actually pay dividends (so no amazon, no google, no berkshire hathaway, etc), or specifically that pay higher dividends than the overall S&P yield, which includes a lot of those no dividend companies. If they do this in moderation they actually end up with a lot of low volatility companies in mature sectors of the economy (like electrical utilities), paying on the order of 3-3.5% dividends. The risk here is that these companies will almost certainly grow more slowly than the stock market as a whole (if at all), but they tend to also be respond less to overall swings in the stock market (lower beta), and their dividends are reasonably safe even in recessions (the electric bill is one of the last things people stop paying).*

However, you're certainly correct that if people start looking for even higher dividends, they start to get into very volatile waters, particularly since those high yields tend to be correlated with worries about the future of the company, and when/if those problems materialize, the dividend ends up cut, and it turns out the high yield was the only reason people were buying the stock at all. One of my handful of individual stock purchases was a company called "SeaDrill" because I was excited about how high its dividend yield was (stock price had just declined but I figured the yield was so good that even after a major cut in the dividend I'd still be okay). And well.. you can see how that worked out.



*In case it sounds like I'm making the case for retiring on dividends here, keep in mind you'd still need to save between 28.5-33.3x your annual expenses to retire on a portfolio of 3-3.5% dividend paying stocks.
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PizzaSteve

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 09:09:53 AM »
Maizeman offers a wise perspective.  One other note, in addition to tilting towards mature industries, high dividend stocks also tend to tilt heavily towards REITs, which are required to distribute earnings.  This can be eithef good or bad, depending on your faith in the real estate industry and its prospects.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 09:51:28 AM by PizzaSteve »
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jim555

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2017, 09:22:46 AM »
Total return investing doesn't consider dividends.  Just sell the needed amounts to get to the 4% withdrawal.  Total market investing is better than chasing dividends.

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2017, 10:33:48 AM »
Going on two years fire'd (April 1st) and I withdraw 4% on a 60/40 portfolio. This year my withdrawl rate will be much lower or I will do some projects around the house as my DW did take a job for Health Insurance (which is really good) couple months ago till we find out how this ACA all pans out. Having a family of 6 we don't want to play around with this. So as of now have been saving 100% of her take home pay and saving a ton on HC cost. We will see how year plays out but above is what we were doing till most recently.
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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2017, 10:51:12 AM »
I don't really think it matters -- dividends vs total returns -- other than dividends seem to have an emotional appeal.  It does "feel good" to do no explicit withdrawals.  But I don't think it really matters.

FWIW: about the time we hit FIRE, we were "living off of dividends".  We are about 70/30 for stocks/bonds and are about 90/10 for index funds vs individual stocks.  The individual stocks are generally dividend stocks.  To me, that makes sense because they're in a brokerage where there is some minimal charge for buying/selling.   We used to use the non-automatic dividends on the individual stocks as a tool for rebalancing.  Now we use them for daily income.
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frugal_c

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2017, 11:53:52 AM »
There are risks to chasing dividend stocks.  This is a complicated financial topic, not very suitable to MMM crowds, but in summary one can really hurt diversification and likely hurt overall total returns with this approach.

Think of it this way. 

1.  It is a myth that dividends correllate with price stability.
2. Dividend payments can be changed, so they are not predictable income like a bond.  BofA cut a healthy dividend to nothing, without a bit of notice, when faced with some performance challenges.  Kodak paid a great dividend until it went bankrupt.
3. Companies that buy back shares rather than pay out cash are typically signaling to their shareholders that they are a better investment than what is available.  These non dividend paying companies tend to be the growth companies that drive the S&Ps healthy returns.
4.  The payment of a dividend is in essence 'liquidating' the company bit by bit.  It does not show confidence.  Further, many blue chip companies actually borrow cash to meet their dividend payments, knowing their investors expect it.  By paying interest and issuing shares to rise capital for operations, they can actually reduce their overall profits and earnings per share.  Their CFOs dont care, because they want to keep their high payjng jobs and shareholders are not focused enough to punish them for what is a bad business practice.
5. Dividends force annual tax payments.  Retained earnings put the money into the share price and YOU decide when to cash in and pay your taxes.  I like the potential ability to control tax rates via management of capital gains.

That said, buying dividend paying stocks is not a bad thing.  My best performing stock last year was bought when it paid a healthy 2% dividend.  That said, the share price went from  $15 to $100 during the 5 years i have held it.  Since the dividend is now about .4%,  do i sell?  That is the type of question you face when the dividend % is the deciding factor for your portfolio.

In terms of portfolio advice, i do own some SCHD and a low expense fund like that can be a good approach (an ETF like that or VIG).  I would recommend that, you want a structured, dividend oriented portfolio.

I really agree with this.  I always veer towards dividend stocks but you can quickly end up with a portfolio of energy companies, utilities, maybe a few consumer staples.  It is hard to get good diversification and high dividend right now in the US with this approach.  Also, yes you need to consider whether the higher dividend yield will just be offset by  lower earnings growth.

All that being said, international index funds do tend to offer higher dividend yields and often approach 3%.  I am not talking about dividend focused ETF's, just broad market funds.  Entirely possible I am just fooling myself with them and as I just said maybe they will just grow earning slower but if I was looking for dividends (and I am) that is one place I would look

FIRE4Science

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 11:26:04 AM »
A great site for dividend investing and knowledge used to be www.dividendmantra.com until he sold his website, then he went to twitter to write. He lost his audience big time after selling his website, but that allowed him to reach FI faster.

All the old posts are there, however the new owner took down his active portfolio. I saved it somewhere though, and may post it here.

Also, great dividend investing advice comes from Warren Buffet.

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2017, 12:54:15 PM »
Chasing dividends is not going to provide you with the most sustainable drawdown rate.

Do you care more about mental accounting, or having the highest likelihood of succeeding in retirement?
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racy

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2017, 05:56:34 PM »
Total return investing doesn't consider dividends. ...

From Vanguard Research, "Itís important to note, however, that under the total-return approach, the income generated by the portfolio is the first source tapped to meet spending needs, and only when this source is insufficient does the investor liquidate some holdings. As a result, in situations when the total portfolio cash flow is more than the annual spending requirement, the total-return approach is equivalent to the income approach".    https://personal.vanguard.com/pdf/s557.pdf


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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2017, 06:03:47 PM »
It's a matter of opinion whether I live off dividends, I guess.  I make enough in dividends, non-dividend distributions, and interest to cover 104% of my annual budget.  I also make enough to cover my budget by trading around the existing positions with short sold options.

I like this income centric approach.  It might not give the greatest long run return but it has the best sequencing of returns.  For a retiree, sequence of returns risk is the greatest risk.  I feel safe with a higher than 4% withdrawal rate because my returns are heavily front loaded.  YMMV.
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frugal_c

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 08:36:13 PM »
Chasing dividends is not going to provide you with the most sustainable drawdown rate.

Do you care more about mental accounting, or having the highest likelihood of succeeding in retirement?

I don't think this is true.  I don't know that higher dividend stocks increase your return but they don't decrease it either.  If you can stay diversified it should pretty much level out to a similar total return.  I mean that is the whole basis behind efficient market theory, it's all the same.  There are actually studies that indicate higher dividend stocks beat lower dividend stocks going back decades FWIW, I am always skeptical of these type of thing so I just assume that it's probably about the same.

It does seem like they should smooth things out a bit if nothing else.

BTDretire

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2017, 07:39:21 PM »
 I'm not sure I would go 100% dividend stocks, but might go a medium percentage.
Look into the Dividend Aristocrates, they are stocks that have paid a continuous
and increasing dividend for at least 25 years in a row.
 I get a newsletter called 'Sure Dividend' (obviously looking for subscribers for the premium service)
but the free part has good information. It is all about 'Dividend Aristocrats'.
Here's a special one about, "How To Build Your Dividend Growth Portfolio from Scratch"

http://www.suredividend.com/starting-from-scratch-building-your-dividend-growth-portfolio/

 Oh! found the all articles button.
http://www.suredividend.com/archives/
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FIREby35

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2017, 07:46:25 AM »
I know there are lots of pros and cons to the dividend strategy. But, if you want to have a steady income and still be invested broadly (i.e. without having to focus only on dividend stocks and possibly overpaying because of this dividend quality) --- then you might try the Vanguard fund that pays out a 4% monthly income.


https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/managed-payout/#/

AnswerIs42

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2017, 01:27:48 PM »
I plan on mostly living off dividends - UK and EU index funds still pay a reasonable dividend. Less than 4%, but not by that much.

The dividend on US and emerging market trackers is too small to be useful though, so for these areas I'm thinking of doing a "virtual dividends" approach, that works like this:

- Look up the earnings of the index in question, as a percentage of the total value (can probably be looked up quite easily)
- From this proportion, decide your own percentage of what should be taken as income vs reinvested (take 75% perhaps, leaving 25% to grow)
- Subtract the amount of actual dividends received
- Take the remainder as "virtual dividends" by selling units

I'm slightly tilting the portfolio towards dividend payers (I have a handful of individual shares, some income-based managed funds, and I have some of a Vanguard high-dividend-filtered ETF which takes all the companies in the world and selects the half of them that pay the most dividends), but I'm going to be keeping it simple and putting most of my money in normal index funds going forwards.

force majeure

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2017, 11:43:15 AM »

To people based in UK / Europe...

Compare the share price charts for SX5E (Euro STOXX 50)  Vs.  ISPA (Global dividend select 100), over 5 years.
They both did about +36% performance gain. ISPA paid out about 4% dividend yield p.a.
Its marketed only to professional investors, but I was able to buy it.
I feel comfortable with this fund for my equity holding, if total return is your goal.
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respond2u

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2017, 07:22:22 PM »
I'm mostly retired, targeting my annual budget to my dividend income from dividend growth etfs and stocks. ("Mostly", because I'm currently on a 1 month job.)

My portfolio is a mix of

The primary reason I've taken this approach is because of the stability of dividends over stock prices, and the pessimistic withdrawal rate it causes on me. My yield is ~3.25% (read all the articles on earlyretirementnow about sustainable withdraw rates. I'm in the "4% isn't sustainable anymore" camp).

An earlier post said something about a myth that dividends are more stable than stock prices, but the data I've seen seems to back up it up (i.e., it's a myth that it's a myth).

For instance, one of the "worst case scenarios" for retirees was the stagflation problem in the 1970s. Dividends dropped from a high on 1/1/69 by 23% (bottoming out in 1975). Stock prices, OTOH, fell 57% 1

Of course, if you'd been investing in dividend growth stocks in the late '90s, the dot-com bust wouldn't have hurt nearly so much.

In addition, there are a couple of articles on seekingalpha that look at Dividend Champion performance during the Great Recession, pointing out the drop was much less than the overall market (%age wise).

Companies can't sustain dividends growth forever. Robert Schwartz has collected longevity statistics here: http://www.tessellation.com/dividends/streaks.html. It's ample warning that there's no "buy and forget" stocks.

I've also used cfiresim, firecalc, earlyretirenow's calculator (for high CAPE eras) to validate that I have enough for a frugal retirement. And I'm withdrawing less than they say I can.

--
If I were more than 5 years out from retirement, I'd invest it all in FUSVX or VTI and just not worry about it until closer to the time. I lost a lot of money through the years being too pessimistic, and it's more valuable to spend time improving my craft and enjoying family/friends than following the stock market (well, those are always more valuable, just after retirement there's enough time to do it all).

---
1 Look at the real prices (adjusted for inflation) on multpl.com
« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 07:26:17 PM by respond2u »

PizzaSteve

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2017, 03:11:55 PM »
...
An earlier post said something about a myth that dividends are more stable than stock prices, but the data I've seen seems to back up it up (i.e., it's a myth that it's a myth).
data please...you mostly post cherry picked anecdotes below...that sound like they are quoted from a dividend promoting web site...peer reviewed academic articles don't show any dividend stock total return premium.  They show otherwise, that dividend stocks tend to slant towards mature cash cow type companies.  That isnt a bad thing, they look more like a bond/stock mix, and perhaps are more stable, with lower total returns.  This may be what your portfolio needs.  They will tend to do better during a downturn, as you say,, but they will also tend to provide a lower total return during growth periods.   Please understand that is my point.

For instance, one of the "worst case scenarios" for retirees was the stagflation problem in the 1970s. Dividends dropped from a high on 1/1/69 by 23% (bottoming out in 1975). Stock prices, OTOH, fell 57% 1Comparing dividend gross percentage drop to price gross percentage drop during a market correction doesnt make much sense to me as a way to structure a portfolio.  It is better to measure total expefted returns over a typical business cycle, both up and down

Of course, if you'd been investing in dividend growth stocks in the late '90s, the dot-com bust wouldn't have hurt nearly so much. except that after the correction, the largest price growth companies were in tech, and you needed to have some Apple, NVDA and Google type stocks in your portfolio to see much of the big gains this decade.  If you dumped tech for dividends at that time, you have underperformed the market

In addition, there are a couple of articles on seekingalpha that look at Dividend Champion performance during the Great Recession, pointing out the drop was much less than the overall market (%age wise). more data mining cherry picking of time frames

Companies can't sustain dividends growth forever. Robert Schwartz has collected longevity statistics here: http://www.tessellation.com/dividends/streaks.html. It's ample warning that there's no "buy and forget" stocks.this data suggests one hold the whole market, not tilt towards current large dividend companies

I...
1 Look at the real prices (adjusted for inflation) on multpl.com

PS.  This is not meant to argue.   Dividend strategies are fine for those who know the impact on total returns, taxes, etc.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2017, 03:21:39 PM by PizzaSteve »
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respond2u

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2017, 06:19:02 PM »
...
An earlier post said something about a myth that dividends are more stable than stock prices, but the data I've seen seems to back up it up (i.e., it's a myth that it's a myth).
data please...you mostly post cherry picked anecdotes below...that sound like they are quoted from a dividend promoting web site...peer reviewed academic articles don't show any dividend stock total return premium.  They show otherwise, that dividend stocks tend to slant towards mature cash cow type companies.  That isnt a bad thing, they look more like a bond/stock mix, and perhaps more stable , but lower, returns are what you need. They will do better during a downturn, but also provide a lower total return during growth periods.   Please understand that is my point.

For instance, one of the "worst case scenarios" for retirees was the stagflation problem in the 1970s. Dividends dropped from a high on 1/1/69 by 23% (bottoming out in 1975). Stock prices, OTOH, fell 57% 1Comparing dividend gross percentage drop to price gross percentage drop during a market correctiin doesnt even make sense as a way to measure total returns

Of course, if you'd been investing in dividend growth stocks in the late '90s, the dot-com bust wouldn't have hurt nearly so much. except that the largest price growth companies were tech, and you needed to have Apple, NVDA and Google type stocks in your portfolio to see much of the big gains this decade

In addition, there are a couple of articles on seekingalpha that look at Dividend Champion performance during the Great Recession, pointing out the drop was much less than the overall market (%age wise). more data mining cherry picking of time frames

Companies can't sustain dividends growth forever. Robert Schwartz has collected longevity statistics here: http://www.tessellation.com/dividends/streaks.html. It's ample warning that there's no "buy and forget" stocks.this data suggests one hold the whole market, not tilt towards current large dividend companies

I...
1 Look at the real prices (adjusted for inflation) on multpl.com

tl;dr:
A) You make claims but don't back them up. Do so because:
- Just repeating stuff doesn't make it true.
- You can't possibly hope to persuade me if all you got is "because I say so". I'm open to change, but not just on your word.

B) I'm guessing you're not thinking about this like someone living off their portfolio, during decumulation. It makes a difference.

--

An underlying theme seems to be that I believe that catastrophic downturns are the largest threat to portfolio longevity during decumulation, while you consider small loss of total return as the largest threat.

In all the backtesting I've seen and done, starting with Bengen's original paper and continuing on to running different scenarios in cfiresim, catastrophic downturns have been the largest threat to portfolio longevity.

I guess you can provide peer reviewed academic articles that refute this? Please do, because it's important. My standards aren't as high as yours--if you can find something that shows small changes in total returns of a portfolio are more important than catastrophes that's both clear and provides supporting data, send it on.

The downturns that had a significant impact on portfolio longevity seem to be:
 - Great Depression
 - "Little Dipper" stagflation of the '70s
 -  2001 recession (.com bust, 9/11)
 - Great Recession
The other bear markets and recessions don't seem to have a noticeable affect on longevity. I cherry picked 3 of the 4 because I figured that was enough. I suspect the results will be similar (dividends less down than stock price), and would like to see data otherwise. If you have data otherwise, contribute.

Earlyretirementnow's calculator (which shows different results expected from different CAPE eras) shows projecting lower future returns don't seem near as impactful on the required portfolio to survive (vs catastrophes). We just have to have a safer withdrawal rate (like the one you'd get if you decided to live off dividend income from diversified portfolio heavy on dividend growth stocks).

Further, total return is not an appropriate alternative during decumulation as, one way or the other, I'll be living off the dividends. Either I'll cash them out, or I'll DRIP them and cash them out. In neither case will they stay in my portfolio long enough to provide Einstein's 8th wonder (compounding). Reinvesting dividends provides a significant amount of the "return" in "total return". Without it, the results are very different.

Instead, it's only dividends and real prices that matter during decumulation, without the compounding. Those of us planning to live off dividends view real price gains as lagniappe.

For real prices, look at http://www.multpl.com/inflation-adjusted-s-p-500, not http://www.multpl.com/s-p-500-historical-prices.

Real prices can stay down for decades, not years.

The same will happen to dividends, but based on the evidence (see previous post) it's much less dire and "much less dire" is something I'm willing to pay for (although I'm not sure I will: https://seekingalpha.com/article/3982351-graph-dividend-investors-see).

If you disagree, provide peer reviewed academic articles to support that living off dividend yield during retirement is less safe than living off dividend+stock sales. But avoid https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=946448 and http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39054778 because they might shiver your world view.

In addition, during retirement, the total return of the S&P is not an appropriate benchmark to compare to as I have no other sources of emergency funds other than the cash I have in my portfolio, and that cash portion will (in the happiest case) reduce the total return of the portfolio.

You mentioned that you have peer reviewed academic articles that show there is no dividend stock total return premium. What are they, and what portfolio are they comparing to? Just the S&P? That's pretty laughable without a HELOC or other source of emergency money (which is how many?). It's also mostly irrelevant to someone living off their portfolio (so no dividend reinvesting). Share them anyway.

Like I said, if I were years away from decumulation, I'd be 100% VOO. The OP is talking about living off his portfolio, so we don't have to worry about that here.

--
The other comments seemed too unusual to reply to (e.g., "somehow pick a few of the many absurdly overpriced tech stocks in the late '90s and retire on their total return without depleting them too greatly during the two recessions that followed").

PizzaSteve

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2017, 06:40:34 PM »
I think you are missinterpreting my points.  I thought you were asserting that dividend paying stocks will definitely outperform non dividend paying stocks in the future.   I have seen some articles out there claiming this, but the research, to me, seems very narrow and backtesting based. I appretiate your links and did follow up on them.  It was not research i found convincing, but it was enlightening.  Thanks.

When i consulted for a strategy firm i recall several studies of corporate governance, policies and their impact in market valuations, largely because our clients were always looking for ways to grow their shareholder value.  Sadly i cant post any links to that work, as the research was proprietary to my former employer, but the concensus seemed to be that an emphasis on paying dividends did not create shareholder value.   Fundamental performance and good governance, including accurate reporting where highly correlated.  I would argue enhanced corporate governance in the US has enabled the results observed in the studies (mostly honest accounting, with govt enforcing some level of compliance).  Absent good governance, dividends can be used to trick investors about results.  It is the ability to pay dividends that is important, not the actual cash flow, which can be borrowed.  So i guess how you select the portfolio that matters. 

So basically for me it is cause and effect getting reversed.   Successful companies eventually feel the pressure to pay dividends,  so the set of paying companies, over time, are the sucessful ones.  but are current payments a good indicator at predicting the future?

 Maybe modern reseach has new ideas, but i was trained advising companies with good growth models to reinvest in themselves to create shareholder value, if they have growth opportunties. No need to argue though.  Everyone can invest exactly how they feel.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 06:43:01 PM by PizzaSteve »
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respond2u

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2017, 10:10:12 PM »
...  I thought you were asserting that dividend paying stocks will definitely outperform non dividend paying stocks in the future. ...

Since catastrophes are the primary threat to outliving my portfolio, that's a reasonable risk to try to mitigate.

In the past, it appears that income from dividends is more stable than income from price gains during periods of deep market drops. That, to me, makes an approach of shifting towards dividend growth stocks appealing for people who will be living off their portfolio.

There's nothing definite about the future. Not for any investing plan...

Mr Mark

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2017, 12:45:29 AM »
You could check out seekingalpha.com where there's a whole bunch of people who have taken the dividend companies route. A lot target a portfolio of 30-70 stocks. Big issue now is that the chase for yield has pushed the price of many good candidates to very high PE and to get decent returns you'll need to take risk and get into obscure REITs and MLPs.
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OutlierinMA

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2017, 06:12:43 PM »
Looks like I'm in the minority here. I am recently retired and living off stock dividends. I have my non-cash portfolio invested almost entirely in dividend paying stocks, plus about 20% in an international stock fund. I have 3 year's expenses in cash to guard against dividends being reduced in a recession and for my own piece of mind. I own shares in 42 different companies that are fairly representative of the overall market - in other words I am not investing solely in REITs and utilities. For example, just like the overall US market my portfolio is heaviest in tech and health care stocks and lowest in basic materials. My portfolio is currently paying 3.6% with some cash waiting to be invested. Although I fell short of the 4% goal my calculations of expenses were conservative so the 3.6% will be sufficient.

I understand the argument against investing in stocks versus a portfolio of index funds, but I felt this was the right method for me. I prefer knowing that I will have cash coming in without needing to sell investments. If all goes well my dividend income should increase most years, hopefully enough to keep up with inflation. To guard against dividend cuts I try to invest only in companies that 1) have a history of raising their dividends each year, 2) have free cash flow comfortably in excess of their dividend payment, and 3) have a reasonable payout ratio.

I have been using Morningstar Dividend Investor newsletter for the past few years as a guide to my investing (the first two years just by downloading a free trial newsletter and following the manager's occasional articles on the Morningstar free website - I finally subscribed in November), so I own many of the stocks in that portfolio but not all of them. I recommend it but please be aware the longtime manager just left to manage a mutual fund and has been replaced.

Just wanted to put in my 2 cents - there is not just one way of using the 4% rule to retire.


dixonge

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2017, 07:00:31 PM »
There are risks to chasing dividend stocks.  This is a complicated financial topic, not very suitable to MMM crowds, but in summary one can really hurt diversification and likely hurt overall total returns with this approach.

"In this year's Top 40 Dividend Growth Stocks For 2012, 11 industries or sectors are represented (using my classification scheme). At least one common dividend growth industry (real estate) is often considered a separate asset class by asset allocation fans. Of this year's Top 40, seven are mid-cap and three are small-cap. "

https://seekingalpha.com/article/431801-5-more-myths-about-dividend-growth-investing

"Stocks that pay dividends have historically outperformed non-dividend-paying stocks over the long term."

https://am.jpmorgan.com/blobcontent/1378404661562/83456/11_295_Dividends%20for%20the%20long%20term.pdf


2. Dividend payments can be changed, so they are not predictable income like a bond.  BofA cut a healthy dividend to nothing, without a bit of notice, when faced with some performance challenges.  Kodak paid a great dividend until it went bankrupt.

A lot of things can change with any publicly traded company, at any time. Dividend payments are one of those things. If a stock becomes undesirable for any reason, including dividend policy, why not just sell it and move on to something better? Kodak is a great example of this.
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PizzaSteve

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Re: Do you live off dividends? What is your portfolio like?
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2017, 01:12:14 PM »
Hey, i am all for dividends.  I own SCHD and REITS.  Appoligies if my comments were interpreted as suggesting a dividend tilt is not ok.

My view though is that a lot of the papers quoted on the internet that suggest divendend payments outperform are not 100% consistent with what i woukd consider actionable strategies.  It is like momentum research and whether you can capture a momentum premium or not.  A lot seem pitched to attract investors to active funds.  I heard most CFOs suggest they think retained earnings and buybacks are a superior strategy to reward shareholders at local forums and other sources ( I am just weird enough to go to portfolio managment seminars to hear hedge fund managers speak), but my meetings may be skewed towards tech CFOs since i am usually attending these at SF area B school campuses, like Stanford, Wharton West, and Haas.
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