Who is Dividend FIREman? (this is my “hello world” post)

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Hi and welcome to my blog!   I created Dividend FIREman to chronicle my personal journey from the poor house to FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early).

“Retiring early” is a relative term when applied to my life.  I am a 53 year old professional living in a large southern city, who spent the first 47 years of his life making a ton of money and squandering most of it.  Seriously, you will be pissed off that I earned so much, and then spent so much.  In 2012, I got divorced and was introduced to a nasty concept called “lifetime alimony.”   The world also slapped me in the face with the cold reality that I had no money and a mountain of consumer debt.

But I am living proof that it is never too late to start on a FIRE journey.   Over the last five years I have worked very hard to increase my income (investing in myself), while continuing to save and invest sensibly – well, mostly sensibly — every month.  My personal net worth (excluding home equity) has gone from negative $68,000 (the amount of credit card debt I owed when I got divorced in September of 2012) to roughly $1,410,000 as of December 2017. Yes, I have learned some hard lessons.  And even in my new-found financial wisdom, I have made mistakes that will make you wince.  But in the end I am figuring out this FIRE thing.

And I ain’t done yet. My goal is complete financial independence, and while I don’t have a hard timeline, I am hoping that by age 62 (nine more years), I can slam shut my office store for the last time, and saunter into the warm embraces of FI.

My failures are MUCH more interesting than my successes.   I will lay them out for you in future blog posts.  I’m hoping maybe you can learn from them, and at a minimum you will get a laugh or two out of it.  I pledge brutal honesty and full disclosure with this blog.   If you are looking for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, check out your favorite social media profile.  If you are looking for someone real, whose journey through life has been messy (at times embarrassingly so), then read on.  At a minimum, my mistakes will definitely make you feel better about your own life. :))

Lest you think that Dividend FIREman’s road ahead looks like Easy Street (my income numbers are higher than most FIRE bloggers, because I have been working like a demon and my earnings have been strong the last few years), please remember that I live in an expensive city, that I pay a boatload of alimony, and that my strength isn’t on the spending side of the ledger (I am much better at earning than I am at controlling spending).

Remember also that I have been the beneficiary of possibly the greatest bull market in history since I began saving in September of 2012.

My goal on spending is to be realistic about what I need to spend every month, to control my spending where I can (avoiding the big money traps – there will be a future post on this point), and to invest my money so that it grows into a great FIREhose of cash, from passive income investments like dividends, rents, and interest.

I will start each future blog post with an inventory of where things stand with me.  Here is what I have and where I stand as of December 18, 2017 (numbers are net of debt, excluding my home equity and excluding small retirement accounts, which I am hoping to leave as a legacy to my children and therefore will not be included in my updates):

Investments (these are my Cash FIREhoses) Account Balance/Equity  Dividend/Interest Estimated Earned in 2017 (dollars flowing from my Cash FIREhoses) Rate of Return (cash flow)**
Dividend portfolio $347,525.87 $8,140 2.44%
Mutual Fund portfolio $726,225.61 $15,100 2.18%
High Yield Online Savings Account $130,818.10 $818 1.5%
Hard Money real estate loans $114,081.86 $4,100 6.6%
Rental Homes (3 so far, leveraged with 25 percent downpayments) $91,250 $50 (just started this project in December 2017) -0-
Totals $1,409,901.44 $28,208 2.00%

**  the rental homes should start a small amount of cash flowing early next year, and my percentages are off a bit because I continued to build positions in each account throughout 2017.  So the overall yield does not match with the totals here, because I did not have those balances for the whole year (I got these yields from the account statements for each account).  But it’s a good summary of where things stand as I start this blog, and I will continue to use this format so that we have an “apples to apples” comparison moving forward.

Because of my investments in myself (again, there will be future posts on this), I guess you could say that I am my own (sixth) FIREhose of Cash.  But my goal is to turn off that particular FIREhose.  :))

I am grateful that you have visited, and I hope to see you again around these parts.  Happy reading, fellow FIRE enthusiast!

-Dividend FIREman

5 Comments

  • Man! Love being the first comment on people’s new blogs. But the WordPress default Commenter beat me to it haha.

    Either way, it sounds like a heck of a journey so far and looking forward to reading more about it as you go. That is a huge sum of net worth currently so I think your goal is very feasible. Also would like to officially welcome you to the Dividend Community! Happy to have you join us.

    • admin

      Thanks Dividend Daze. I have been and will be checking out your posts – you have a really excellent blog.

      I have been lucky over the last five years to earn decent money, and unlike in my younger days, I am putting those little green soldiers to work! In a future post I will outline my expenses (and you will get a good laugh) – basically I am in the same boat as everyone else once you consider my expenses, if you just add a zero to the end. Happy investing! See you around the dividend blogosphere.

  • Hi, FIREman! Yes, welcome to the dividend blogging community. Sounds like you got things pointed in the right direction financially after the divorce. Nice work! Wow, that’s a quick ramp in those account balances. I’ll be especially interested in watching what happens with the Dividend portfolio… what stocks you like, whether you lean towards growth or income, etc. Time to start finding out by checking out more of your posts…

    • admin

      Hi ED. Welcome to the site! It’s still a work in progress, but I am very excited to be sharing and learning with other investors like you. I have a “bucket” strategy with a 9 year retirement horizon. My approach is evolving as I learn more about investing (and in particular dividend investing). At present I am focused on dividend growth stocks, but I have also added some more traditional income plays as you will see. Now it’s time for me to go check out Engineering Dividends!

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