The Money Vikings Dividend Portfolio
Ever wonder what an ideal portfolio would look like that can grow through all market conditions? I use a particular portfolio allocation so my finances can weather many storms, and a key factor here is harnessing the power of dividends.
Before I share many of the dividend allocations I use, let’s turn to Warren Buffett himself. Buffett is arguably one of the world’s greatest investors and guess what, he loves dividends. In fact, one of Buffett’s keys to outperforming in turbulent times is to harness the power of dividends.
A dividend is a simple concept. Basically a company sends some it’s profits directly back to shareholders. For each share of stock in a particular company, that share pays a certain dividend. It is also critical to understand the dividend yield. The yield is a percentage that compares the current share price to the amount of the dividend. If the share price is low and dividend high, then the percentage yield is high. This can give an investor a sense of initial return on investment trough solely the dividend payment.
No Need to Sell
Another thing I suspect Mr. Buffett likes about dividends stocks is that you do not need to sell the underlying asset in order to profit from it. This can be a problem with many assets. If the only time you can profit is when you sell, you could have a lot of capital tied up in an investment and it can become more difficult to grow wealth. With a strong dividend focused portfolio you can reap rewards along the way.
Small Amounts Require Several Approaches
Admittedly, the actual amount that comes from dividends on a modest investment account is rather small. Most of us are not Buffett and Munger collecting billions in dividends as part of Berkshire Hathaway Stock. And surprisingly, Buffetts own holding company does not send out a dividend. He prefers to pile up the cash to buy more great businesses, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
A dividend can be a sign of company health. If a company can consistently pay a dividend it is proving to the world that it can make a profit through many different kinds of economic environments. This is a big reason I prefer dividend aristocrats. These are companies that paid a dividend consecutively for over 25 years.
Building “Ride My Bike” Portfolios
Some call them “All Weather Portfolios”, I like to call it a “Ride My Bike” portfolio. This is a portfolio that can be built and let ride for a while without a bunch of messing with it on a daily basis. I would rather not spend all day watching stock charts and fretting over my investments. In fact, I would rather ride my bike, make art, spend time with my family and friends and play games. Therefore for over a decade I have built, developed and tested out what I am now calling my “Ride My Bike” portfolio. This a variation of a sleep at night portfolio or no worries portfolio.
If you are a regular reader of TMV and listen to our podcast, you may know that we are continually look for ways to set investing and passive income on autopilot. This way we can spend our time doing what we want to do, and if we want to engage with our investments that is our choice, not out of necessity.
In our investing journey we have seen our fair share of “storms”: Dot com bust, 9/11, Great Recession, housing bubble, Covid-19, etc. And this portfolio allocation has actually done remarkably well through it all.
- In this article we present a portfolio allocation that we believe does well in multiple environments over the long run.
- We loosely base our portfolio on the Ray Dalio “All Weather” portfolio, with some adjustments.
- We seek a balance between common asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, etc., and leave a little room for speculative and prudent risk taking.
- This is not individual investment advice. All investing has inherent risk, seek the advice of a fiduciary financial professional. Everyone’s risk tolerance and stage in life is different.
You don’t need to pick stocks
Money Vikings do enjoy looking into individual stocks and buying a few shares. But this is maybe 10% at most of our portfolios. We mainly keep it all very simple plain vanilla low cost index funds and bonds funds that often pay dividends. We generally follow the allocations supported by Ray Dalio and Jack Bogle creator of Vanguard.
A Pyramid of Strength
A portfolio can be thought of like a pyramid. The bottom foundation could be exposure to a strong foundation of quality low cost stock and bond index funds. Maybe some cash for emergencies and opportunities. In the middle of the pyramid could be exposure to real estate. The top may be a small amount of exposure to Individual stocks or other risky asset classes.
Jerry wrote about how past returns in different asset classes are no guarantee of future outcomes. In fact, it seems very difficult to predict future returns in this class or that. Therefore, I hear many people I talk with tell me how confusing it all is. And the financial industry seems to have made it confusing by design in order to charge us high fees and support fancy job titles. As mentioned, my sleep at night portfolio is loosely based on the Ray Dalio “all weather” portfolio. Ray’s portfolio is designed to do well in all types of environments, during booms and busts, etc. One of the main differences is that I do not do much with gold. Mainly because I do not understand it, it does not produce a product and Warren Buffett doesn’t like it, that is my rationale. For me personally, I am dividing investments into various categories, asset classes or buckets as follows:
S&P 500 & Other Index Funds (30%)
30% of my portfolio is invested in a low cost index fund that is made up of 500 large to medium high quality US companies. 100 million people in the US own some shares of these companies. Vanguard S&P 500 Index is a good example of this kind of exposure. here are the sectors and the top 10 holdings as an idea of what this diversified fund invests in:
VDADX (Big Daddy of Dividend Investing)
There are many different kinds of low expense Vanguard funds and exchange traded funds that offer exposure to a broad array of great American companies. For example the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Fund VDADX holds positions in strong companies like Microsoft, Visa, AT&T, etc. Another one I find strong is the Vanguard Equity Income fund VEIPX.
To me, owning this type of investment is an investment in the greatness of our country. I do not know of any other country in the world that has produced so many strong companies with so much value.
Yes, the economy will go up and down during normal cycles and other strange things will happen. But chances are many of these companies are going to be just fine over the coming decades. They will continue to spin off customer value and shareholder value through their diverse products and services.
And owning equity in these companies as part of a fund manages your risk levels. Chances are a few of the great companies will go through rough patches, but there is a very small chance they all go down.
ADDED BONUS: Do not forget to ROTH. Check our review of why a Roth IRA account for some of your index funds is very important to your tax strategy in the future: Rock Out With Your Roth IRA!
Sectors and Trends
Another area to consider within the equities buckets are sector ETF’s and trends. Let’s say your research indicates that the energy sector is prepped for a rebound. Instead of taking the risk of choosing an individual stock, a person could invest in sector ETF’s. For example the iShares ETF’s or SPDR Select Sector Funds.
I deploy and utilize these often when I want to add exposure to a certain meta theme such as energy, real estate, healthcare, financial services, technology etc. For more information I research the iShares funds and others:
FROM THE iShares approach:
A new way to approach sectors
Technological advancements are constantly changing the way businesses develop and deliver products and services. Modern companies have not only evolved their business models, they have revolutionized behaviors—Apple changed communication, Amazon changed commerce and Alphabet changed the way we access information.
Yet traditional sector classifications such as GICS tend to group together companies using a backward-looking lens. A company’s and even an economy’s changing dynamics may not be captured.
Anticipating change and challenging the status quo have always been at the heart of iShares’ mission. That’s why we’ve implemented a new way to classify companies – one that looks where they’re going rather than where they’ve been.
Case study: Amazon
- Amazon started as an online retailer selling books, but over time it has expanded to other business with the build-out of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the acquisition of Whole Foods and its recent announcement involving the healthcare market.
- GICS classification: consumer discretionary
- Evolved classification: discretionary spending and technology
BlackRock’s Evolved sector Approach
BlackRock’s evolved approach seeks to provide a more representative view of sectors within the U.S. economy by:
- Using forward-looking inputs guided by big data analysis
- Allowing companies to sit in more than one sector
- Allowing sector constituents to change more frequently than traditional classifications
The evolved sector approach uses text analysis, guided by machine learning statistical techniques, to identify words and phrases companies use to describe themselves in publicly available materials such as regulatory filings and earnings reports. Companies are grouped into sectors based on similarities in the language each uses when describing their businesses (see Figure 1). In the example below, words in larger font sizes occurred with greater frequency among the listed companies and had greater relevance.
Bond Funds (30%)
Bonds are another investment vehicle famous for spinning back a yield or regular payment to shareholders. It is a kind of dividend but different. You see, when you buy a bond you are lending your money to a government or corporation with the expectation that you will receive a rate of return back and at the maturation date of the bond you will receive your initial investment. Therefore, I think of the regular payment as a kind of dividend.
The government and corporations issue bonds to raise money for large projects or investments. For example, XYZ Company may issue a bond to raise the money to build a new factory or plant. As the investor, you are part of a group of people funding this bond and you are paid a specific percentage of interest each year until the bond matures. When the bond matures, you receive your principal investment amount back. This broad index includes U.S. Government, mortgage-backed, corporate, and foreign government (issued in the U.S.) sectors of the U.S. bond market. A couple examples I like:
Long-Term Bond ETF (BLV) and Short Term Bonds
The Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF has been open to investors since 2007. It offers exposure to all types of bonds with a maturity of 10 years or more. This ETF tracks the Barclays U.S. Long Government/Credit Index.
This ETF has an expense ratio of $0.07% and has an annual dividend yield of $3.45 per share. It has an AUM of $5.4 billion. The Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF has high liquidity and trades over 242,895 shares per day. It has a 1-year return rate of 16.19%, a 3-year return rate of 31.72% and a 5-year return rate of 51.27%. This fund has a 52-week high of $117.13 and a 52-week low of $88.93.
Long-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCLT)
The Vanguard Long-Term Corporate Bond ETF has been listed on the market since 2009. It offers exposure to investment-grade corporate bonds in the U.S. This ETF tracks the Barclays U.S. Corporate Index and focuses on bonds with a maturity of 10 years or more.
This ETF has an expense ratio of 0.05%. It has a 52-week high of $112.41 and a 52-week low of $76.45. The Vanguard Long-Term Corporate Bond ETF has an AUM of $5.5 billion. It has high liquidity and has an average daily trade volume of 241,133 shares. This ETF has a 1-year return rate of 13.54%, a 3-year return rate of 28.90% and a 5-year return rate of 54.80%.
It looks like cash is no longer trash. Having some cash has a couple advantages. One, it is liquid meaning it can be deployed to deal with emergencies or better yet deployed to take advantage of opportunities in the market. Imagine someone in 2009/10 timeframe sitting on a pile of cash. They could have poured that into real estate or stocks and would have tripled their money over the subsequent 10 year run!
Remember, opportunities come every few years. Some asset class gets pummeled for some reason. For many, these are opportunities to pick up assets on sale. Are you preparing now for on of your big 3 investment opportunities?
Real Estate (15%)
REITs are famous for their dividends. I am quite bullish long term one REITs for many reasons. Real Estate Investment Trusts own many properties and are structured in a way that they are required to send 90% of their profit cash flow back to shareholders in the form of dividends.
The physical real estate owned has several advantages. The monthly cash flow from rents is like a dividend payment each month. In addition, if the property is well maintained and in a good neighborhood, the value steadily rises. Another advantage is that the principal on the mortgage is also paid down each month, steadily increasing the cash out potential in the future. There are also many tax advantages to real estate investing like depreciation and certain write offs.
PLEASE NOTE I DO NOT INCLUDE MY PRIMARY RESIDENCE IN THIS ALLOCATION MIX. I consider the primary house as a consumable. Yes, it will increase in value, but the true value comes from the protection and memories built at a home.
Innovation and Individual DIVIDEND STOCKS (10-15%)
This is a change from last year. A portfolio now needs exposure to innovative tech in multiple sectors. I do reserve about 15% of my portfolio for what I used to call “fun money” investing. But I am starting to see this as required diversification for a portfolio that will stand the test of time!
Here are a few dividend stocks I currently enjoy in no particular order: $O Realty Income, $JNJ, $WPC, $SBUX, $MSFT…
Please keep in mind this is not crazy casino style investing in whatever I read is the next hot thing. I actually enjoy doing the research into high quality dividend paying stocks and then purchasing shares for free on a platform like Robinhood. This is not for everyone because some people do not like doing this. This is a hobby and a game to me. It is challenging myself to invest and increase dividend payments. I enjoy the research, some of which I share on this blog.
Jerry enjoys buying and selling options. Options trading is a kind of educated investing and you are guessing which direction a particular stock may go in the short run. There are other strategies that are neutral but leverage your capital in ways. Here are some of our related articles on this practice:
1-3% Bitcoin & Ethereum
Lately we are understanding the use case for having some exposure to Bitcoin and some alt coins. Bitcoin is increasingly considered “digital gold” simply because of its finite supply. Ethereum demonstrates ever increasing use cases such as DeFi, Smart Contracts and DApps.
Crypto is inherently risky and can have wild mood swings, but it has displayed some extraordinary returns. As Bitcoin and Eth are increasingly adopted by institutions and popular platforms, it may rise significantly more in value.
For me, there is a psychological element here. It allows me to have that small amount of risk taking and choice in the investments, beyond just using a straightforward S&P 500 low cost index. I also enjoy learning about what companies do in this world, I find it interesting.
International & Small Caps (5-10%)
I put about 10% in a couple International Index Funds and Small Cap Index Funds. This is again for the sake of diversification and broader exposure. In general, my portfolio is one that is betting on the USA with the S&P 500 and Real Estate holdings, but having some international exposure can be good. Small caps also tend to have growth potential, but also upside and downside potential.
I know that assets will go up and down. Although, I am betting that society will continue to grow, find efficiencies, consume, live, age, etc. I am also betting heavily on the US! Having a well diversified portfolio of investments allows for me to sleep well at night no matter what the market does or does not do.
There is no Perfect, There is Life
I am not saying this is the best portfolio in the world, there are dozens of views about what people should do or not do.
I am trying to deploy my personal capital into growth potential in several areas. The main thing I am missing from the Ray Dalio portfolio is exposure with gold and commodities. As mentioned, I have a hard time with the gold thing for a couple reasons. One, Warren Buffett is not a fan of gold because it is not adding value like a great American business. It’s expensive to get out of the ground and becomes a simple store of value. But why not use cash as a store of value or dare I say crypto currency? That said, some say gold is low now and could rise, who knows?
What we are trying to do is manage risk and let our money grow efficiently and effectively. There will never be a “perfect” portfolio because no one has any idea what the future holds for various asset classes. But having a well diversified portfolio, with low fees, and a collection of great American companies is probably as good as it gets. If all this goes down, then we probably have greater problems than the book value of our portfolios.
We keep it simple with accounts through low fee investment companies such as Vanguard, Fidelity, etc. in the following allocations:
- S&P 500 INDEX FUNDS (30%)
- BOND FUNDS (30%)
- REAL ESTATE (15%)
- CASH (10%)
- INTERNATIONAL & SMALL CAPS (5-10%)
- INNOVATION & OPTIONS (10-15%)
Our mix is similar to the Ray Dalio All Weather Portfolio asset allocation mix. Ray argues that too many people are locked into a situation where they do well when the market is up and bad when it is down. He says the all weather type portfolios can do well in both environments for the average investor.
The point here is not to recommend this to any one person. I believe each person has to do their own research, gain the insight of a fiduciary advisor and assess their own level of risk tolerance. For some people maybe it makes sense to simply save cash. Perhaps they do not feel comfortable with markets. They probably will not end up with as much, but they also do not need to stomach the ups and downs of markets. Do your research, know yourself and seek advice. A new form of online advice is coming from Personal Capital, which I plan on doing more research and experimentation with in order to write a thoughtful post and review of their services.
This is not personal financial advice for anyone in particular. Please see a fiduciary financial professional with questions about your own particular asset allocation mix.