Dividend Growth Portfolio for Passive Income

You can see how I’m doing at my Passive Income page

One of my financial goals for 2014 is to generate $12,000 (pretax) from passive income. This isn’t going to be easy because last year we made about $10,000 last year from dividend, rentals, peer to peer lending, and interest. The heavy lifting will be done by our dividend portfolio and should account for about 75% of our passive income. Our rentals are doing better, but we need to repaint the rental home this year so that will be a big bill. The P2P lending is doing quite well, but I don’t have a huge amount invested so the income will probably be under $1,000. I started with $10,000 in P2P lending in 2011. 

Dividend Income

In 2013, we generated $8,036 of our dividends from our taxable account. This is an 18% increase from 2012 ($6,791.) The increase came from additional investment AND dividend increases. For 2014, I’d like to generate about $9,000 from our dividend portfolio and reinvest most of this.

My strategy for this portfolio is to invest in stocks with good track records of dividend growth. In this portfolio, I plan to minimize trading and focus on dividend income. I’ll update this article every quarter so we can see how our dividend portfolio is doing compared to VIG (Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF).

dividend growth stock portfolio passive income

This year should be much more stable for our dividend portfolio. We won’t be able to add new money here unless we have a windfall of some kind. I do need to plan to make a few moves in 2014 on the investments highlighted above, though.


Intel is a big chunk of this dividend portfolio. I probably need to sell about half and invest the proceeds in different stocks to spread out the risk. I used to work for Intel and obtained these stocks at a discount via grants and the employee purchase plan. My average cost basis is $9.11 so I’m not looking forward to paying the capital gain tax.


In 2012, Kraft Foods spun off into two companies – groceries and snacks. Mondelez International manages well known snack brands around the globe such as Oreo, Cadbury, and Trident. Kraft had a great track record of increasing their dividend payout, but it looks like Mondelez is struggling with their dividend a bit. The current dividend yield is only 1.6% and it is increasing very slowly. On the other hand, MDLZ did very well since the spinoff and gained 32% in 2013. I’m planning to sell this off at some point and buy other dividend growth stocks.


VWO and VPL are international ETFs from Vanguard. I like them, but they are not a good fit for this portfolio. I’ll sell them off at some point.

Dividend Growth

dividend growth stock portfolio income record

Here is our dividend income record

  • 2012: $6,791
  • 2013: $8,036

In 2012, I slowly moved from growth stocks to dividend stocks. That’s why you see the gradual increase in dividend income. In 2013, I transferred $20,000 from our saving account at the end of Q3 and we’ll see more dividend this year. I don’t think we’ll see a similar increase in the dividend income going forward. We won’t be able to add significant new money in the next few years and will be depending on the companies to raise the dividend yields.


Here is an easy way to see what sectors you’re invested in. Personal Capital recently added the “US Sectors” under their Investing tab. A quick look here tells me that our dividend portfolio is somewhat unbalanced. Nearly 50% of our investment is in consumer spending. I need to pick up some utilities, industrials, and communication services this year.

They did have one mistake here. The unknown is ABBV. That’s a pharmaceutical company and it should be under healthcare.dividend growth stock portfolio sector weighting investing income

Sign up with Personal Capital to easily check your sector weighting.

Passive Income 2014

Here is the plan to generate $12,000 in passive income this year.

  1. Dividend: $9,000
  2. Rentals: $2,000
  3. P2P lending: $900
  4. Interest: $200

As usual, the big question mark here is the rental income. I’m not sure if we can hit $2,000 next year. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

How about you? Do you have a plan to generate passive income?  If you see any problems with our dividend portfolio above, don’t hesitate to call me out. I still have a lot to learn about dividend investing.

Follow up – 2015 Dividend Portfolio

Dividend Investing Resources

 Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation. My stock picking track record isn’t great so you need to do your own research. This post will help us keep track of the gains and dividends to see if they meet my passive income goal. If you need help with financial planning, consider signing up with Personal Capital. Personal Capital will help you keep track of all your investments in one place and can hook you up with a personal financial adviser as well.


Disclosure: If you sign up with Personal Capital, we may receive a referral fee depending on the size of your portfolio.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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73 thoughts on “Dividend Growth Portfolio for Passive Income”

    • I had Ford, but I recently sold it. The automobile business is cyclic and I think it’s probably near the top of the cycle. I might pick them up again if the price is right.

  1. Investing so much money in 3% dividend shares does not seem very good idea…

    Real estate can pay easily 6%, P2P lending 8% and tourism rental 10-12%…


  2. Hello,
    I just started reading your blog, great stuff. I was wanting to know if you had some advice on the best company to use to open up an investment account? I have taken the route of leaving the corporate world myself.

    Kind regards

  3. Hello Joe

    Is the chart at the top of the page updated? I wonder how the numbers look like, when taking into account what has transpired on the markets since January.

  4. Hi Joe,

    Just a quick question. Did you update the chart above? If so, how often do you do it?
    I just found your website and am a subscriber now. I have quit the rat race and am living in China at the moment. Thanks


  5. I have been following your site for 3 years, I am very good with numbers and enjoy playing with money but, sometimes I am left in the dust in the conversations due to the lack of knowledge in the area. It just goes over my head and do wish to follow…I find myself looking for the terms in other sites and end up not returning to yours. I understand that is easy for many to roll up and down when the vocabulary is understood completely. Is there a way you could build a site glossary to help many in my situation? Terms for this conversation: MLPs, Covered Calls, DRIP. Other than that I feel I am ready to start my investments, a little late…but better late than never. Thank you for your blog!

    • Investopedia is a great site for looking up terms. I will try to clarify the terms more in the future. Thanks for following RB40 and good luck with your investment. You can start small and add more whenever you can.

  6. How much did you invest per month, in order to reach your total?
    You said you started at 10K, so after that, how much were you adding per month?

    Have you checked out RobinHood? It’s an app for the iPhone. Google it if you haven’t.

    My plan is to do $1000 and then eventually $2000 a month when I can. At this time I’m kind of poor, so I can only do $500 a month.

    I use a taxable account like you. Vanguard ETFs are the cheapest I read today, so it’s good to see that you’re using those as well.

    • I added whatever I had left over. It wasn’t fixed.
      $500 per month is a good start. Just keep adding to it and channel your raises and extra income into your investment. Good luck!

  7. That is a very interesting article retirebyforty. I have been looking into dividend stocks also, but don’t know where to start. I don’t have as much capital as some of your readers but I would like to look into them. If you or your readers have any suggestions I am open minded them.

    Thanks Tyrone..

    • Hi Tyrone,
      Check this site out – http://www.dividendmantra.com/
      Jason covers dividend stocks in more detail that I do. He buys a little every month and he didn’t start with a lot of money. I think it took him 5 years to build up a respectable monthly dividend income. Good luck!

  8. Joe…
    Just a comment that one of my best returns this past year has been with P2P investing with Prosper. I first found mention of P2P Lending in your blog and I was quite hestitant at first. After a trial three months without any problems, I have been in for 15 months with over 600 loans returning over 11% income with six defaults. It takes me about 10-15 minutes a day with the auto filtering system. I think Prosper offers a great diversification addition to one’s portfolio, especially since it’s so consistent as compared to the wild swings of the stock market. Thanks for sharing in your blog!

    • Hi David,
      I’ll have to catch up with you offline. Maybe you can share your filter with us on a guest post.
      9am and 5pm are the worse time for me.

    • Actually, these are in my taxable account. I don’t really look at my retirement accounts because I can’t access them right now. Tax on dividend isn’t that bad at the moment.

  9. Curious question though, why wouldn’t you move some over from Intel to Shell?
    Sorry for the second post, our dog sniffed the touch-screen laptop and it submitted the previous post before I wanted to send it. 🙂

  10. “In 2013, we generated $8,036 of our dividends from our taxable account. This is an 18% increase from 2012 ($6,791.) The increase came from additional investment AND dividend increases. For 2014, I’d like to generate about $9,000 from our dividend portfolio and reinvest most of this.”
    – WOW! That is fantastic. I am still under a grand myself but I know I am on the right path.

    “I’ll update this article every quarter so we can see how our dividend portfolio is doing compared to VIG (Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF).”
    – That is a great fund to compare my results to! I have always struggled with that question since just comparing it to the S&P500 index seemed wrong.

  11. Joe,

    Good looking portfolio there! I agree with your idea on selling some of INTC and spreading the proceeds around a little bit.

    Over $8k in dividends for one year is awesome! I hit almost $4k last year, but I’m hoping to increase that by at least $1k in 2014. It’s onward and upward. 🙂

    And I concur with a commenter above that PM looks good hear for both yield and growth.

    Best wishes!

    • Thanks for your input. Good luck with your dividend in 2014. You are adding more every year so I’m sure you’ll hit your goal soon.

  12. Hi Joe,

    This is a great passive income strategy, but if this is indeed your portfolio, you could maximize this by selling covered calls. It means you collect a premium every month for every 100 shares of stock you own. You are selling the OBLIGATION to sell the shares at a certain price within a specific time window. What are the pros? Collecting passive income in addition to dividends. Selling the stock at a healthy gain if the stock passes the strike price that you select. You own over 1800 shares of Intel, right? You could write 18 contracts at a strike price of $27 (see screenshot: http://awesomescreenshot.com/0d8266mrc3) The premium per contract is $16. The premium total of 16 * 18 = $288. If the stock does not hit 27 before the 27th, you’d keep the $288. If the stock passes 27, you must sell your shares (at a healthy gain of course, and you’d keep the $288) After commissions and such, you’re looking at a gain of approximately $250 a month. If the stock creeps up, adjust your strike price up a bit. The idea is to keep the strike price just high enough that the stocks don’t get called away from you, but low enough that you collect a nice premium every month. Passive Income at it’s finest!!

  13. I’m always amazed how similar our situations and strategies are. Are you planning to gradually migrate lower-paying stocks into higher paying or are you focused more on broad diversification? Seems like you could easily hit your number by migrating to some higher dividend stocks across the portfolio, but obviously that leaves you pretty vulnerable as you narrow your collection.

    • As long as they keep raising dividend, I’m mostly okay with this selection. I think the lower % yield are actually due to stock price appreciation. This portfolio is buy and hold so I don’t want to trade much.

  14. Hi Joe,

    Have you thought of buying PM shares (Philip Morris International-PM), there is consistant dividend growth since the spin off with Altria and now is at 4.4%.

    Our dividend portfolio provide us a very good 21’000USD and I expect to reach 25’000-28’000.

    I follow your site since 2012 and I target to retire by 50, living in Switzerland it’s very difficult to retire by 40…

    Cheers and keep-up


    • Yes, PM is on my watch list. I think I need to pick up some utilities first, though. Great job with your dividend portfolio and thanks for reading Retire by 40!
      Good luck with your target date as well.

  15. Great info as always, I’ve been concentrating on dividend stocks much more now then I ever have in the past and feeling really good about this approach. Thanks to you I have even starting edging my way into VIG as well. I’m not going to put everything into it but it will play a role in my total portfolio.

    I have a somewhat related question to you and/or anyone here. I’m looking for a place to store my Emergency Cash Funds (thus it has to be highly liquid). I see banks like Ally, Captital One, Barcalays, and Discover Bank offer some of the best rates (.75 – .90%). Anyone have experience with these banks good or bad?

  16. I don’t think you have too many companies represented here- although it’s a shame you don’t have more of Kinder Morgan (and even more of a shame I own none). But seeing you do this quarterly is an eye opener, and something I will model my charting after. I think for a lot of people, the actual Vanguard fund might be a good option, considering valuing a company can be a difficult thing.

    • Thanks. I think VIG is a good option too. If I can’t beat it this year, I’ll probably just invest in VIG with any additional money.

  17. You own stocks in too many different companies in your dividend portfolio. I don’t believe diversification helps with dividend paying companies as such companies tend to be stable. You will benefit from a concentrated dividend portfolio composed of high dividend paying companies. Look into Dogs of Dow, Dogs of S&P500, Aristocrat strategies to pick some high dividend paying stocks. Add a few MLPs, REITs, and Junk Bond ETF/Funds to complement stocks.

    • Thanks for your input. Most of these stocks are in the Aristocrat and Challenger. How many stocks would you comfortable with? Just 3-5 or around 10? It would be nice to consolidate a bit.

      • Depending on the size of the portfolio, I most probably will have 5-7 dividend paying stocks, 1-2 MLPs, 1-2 REITs, and High Yield Bond ETF. I would diversify across market segments, preferably low correlated segments.

  18. Hi Joe:

    that is a solid portfolio of stocks you have. I am impressed with how you were able find great companies to invest in.

    I was wondering how your 401k looks and other retirements accounts look like. (Im assuming the above is a SEPERATE account sitting on the outside of retirement stuff) What stocks do you have in it. I would be curious to know.

    I’m trying to figure out what I need to do with my 401k. Since in a 401k, I can’t touch the money til I am much older. So I can’t rely on that passive dividend income to pay for day to day stuff.



    • My IRA is mostly invested in index funds and bond funds.
      My Roth IRA is invested in growth stock.
      You can look into the rule 72(t). It is possible to take some money out earlier.

  19. Why not just invest in a dividend growth fund like VIG. It is always tough to beat the benchmarks, and with the super low fees Vanguard charges, it could just make sense to invest there.

  20. Looking at your returns, it seems like the best return is generated by P2P investing. A $100,000 investment would give you about $9000 a year according to the latest studies and your own results.

  21. I’m curious as to why you even invest in dividends if you don’t need the income. Wouldn’t that money be better utilized in growth stocks? As you can tell I’m not really up on what dividends are used for and am pretty basic investor so I’m curious as to your thinking behind it.

    • While his return may be good you have to realize there is a much greater chance of default on a higher risk loan. With dividend stocks that increase their payout consistently, you get a steady stream of income and don’t have to worry as much about the market ups and downs. Especially if you DRIP the payouts back into the stocks. Down just means you can buy more shares of the stock which means more payouts on the back end.

      • I dunno about this… my utility stock (you’ve heard of it) with the regular dividend payouts declared bankruptcy and didn’t pay out for a couple of years before it started paying out again. My broad-based dividends do go up and down with the market. Why wouldn’t they? Profits go up and down with the market (on average) whether they’re paid out to stock-holders or reinvested in the company. Lower stock prices usually means a lower expected dividend, so you’re not DRIPping as much.

    • It’s just a different strategy. We should be in the 15% tax bracket this year so we don’t have to pay tax on dividend.
      I reinvest most of the dividend for now.
      Originally, I thought we’d need the dividend income, but we are doing quite well without it.
      I invest in growth stock in my Roth IRA.

  22. I prefer growth stocks, and I prefer minimizing the tax burden and the paperwork hassle. We’re still investing, not taking out.

    We do get some dividends because we have broad-based indexes, and we DRIP those back into the index. I also have one utility stock that spits out $600/quarter or more pretty reliably. I keep that because it irrationally makes me happy.

    • I like growth stocks too. I’m always trading the growth stocks though so I’m putting the growth stocks in my Roth IRA. $600/quarter is nice.

  23. To be honest I have no idea when it comes to the stock market, so most of what you wrote about went over my head. I do want to learn and reading someones first hand experience is how I learn best.

    I’m 37 years old myself and have been investing in real estate the past 4 years to try and find the best way to achieve my passive income goals. I haven’t been very successful in real estate, but I definitely have learned a lot in the last 4 years and am currently tweaking my focus a bit to see if I can get better returns.

    I really enjoyed your post and look forward to following you further.

    Thanks Joe!

    • Good luck with real estate. I haven’t been very successful with rentals. The cash flow is low and I guess I’m a bit impatience. The value went up quite a bit though so maybe it’s time to sell.

  24. Very cool stuff, Joe. We don’t invest specifically for dividends, but I’m always intrigued by the process and like learning more. We want to buy rental property in 2014 (currently just rent a room in our house for $400/mo + 1/2 utilities) as that sort of income jives more with our personalities, I think, than individual dividend stocks.

    • Rentals are good too if you are comfortable with being a landlord. It’s just hard for me. I’d like to live in a multiplex and then rent out a few units. That would work better for me.

  25. Hey Joe, just wondering if you think you’ve turned the corner with your rental properties? I’ve been pretty lucky with mine so far (fingers crossed), so I’m always interested in reading about other’s experiences. I enjoy the blog, keep up the good work.

    • I think we have turned the corner with the rentals. The rental home was doing well, but it need some big maintenance items now. I’m pretty sure the 4 plex will do better this year. I’ll write an update soon.

    • I didn’t like DRIP because it’s hard to keep track of. Now the brokerage keep track everything so maybe I should think about DRIP again. I have been reinvesting manually because I wanted to diversify.

  26. Joe,

    Welcome to the camp of dividend growth investing! The benefits of income growth, without need for further additions will help out in your retirement for decades to come!

    It seems to me that you might be better off selling those rental properties and maybe dollar cost averaging the proceeds into REITs. I believe your returns would be better, than those from your 4plex.

    As for selling, it does seem like Intel and Royal Dutch Shell generate lions share of dividend income, so it might make sense to trim them a little (particularly since you do not plan on adding more cash). On the other hand, if you never add to those position again, but reinvest dividends and proceeds from ETF sales to other dividend growth stocks, the overall weights of INTC and RDS/B will decrease over time. Plus you won’t have to pay huge capital gains taxes, which would reduce your base for earning dividends.

    One question – I hope you are holding RDS.B not the A shares. Otherwise, with A shares you pay a withholding tax to the dutch government, but with the B shares – you don’t (although Uncle Sam still needs to take his share)

    Best Regards,

    Dividend Growth Investor

    • Actually, I’m considering selling the 4 plex and just buy a house. 🙂
      That way I don’t have to deal with mortgages anymore.
      I’m definitely trimming some Intel this year. RDS.B is probably okay for now.

    • Covered calls sound good in theory. After working with them for 20 years, I would strongly advise against them. You can lose everything with covered calls on a swift market drop and limit your upside as well. Holding sound dividend paying stocks for life makes a great strategy and simplifies the tax burden.


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