Saturday, June 29, 2019

June 2019 Dividends

Another month towards the inexorable march towards financial independence...

There is nothing like getting a dividend payout almost every day.    My March/June/September/December dividend payments are the most consistent throughout the month.   July is going to have a 9 day stretch with no payments.  But I'm not complaining...

I'm being paid for simply being alive!   Cool.



Southern Co (SO) was the big payout of the month at $64.48 followed by Boeing (BA) at $51.38.   But overall, it's very balanced and consistent.   Next month comes the big kahuna of WHF...
See ya' next month

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Coffee, Chili, & Cocoa Steak Rubbed Buffalo Rib Eyes Recipe

I love Buffalo / Bison steaks.  A lot.  A whole lot

The intensity of the flavors are addictive.  In fact, when I switch back to beef, it has some kind watered down taste. It's like buffalo is "beef and an half".

 It's not the easiest thing to find, but it sure is worth it.  When they're available, I stock up and always have a nice supply of rib-eyes vacuum packed in the freezer.  I order them cut bone in and about 1 1/2 inch thick.  They end up around 18 to 24 oz.  Big ass steaks.

Recently I've tried various things to spice them up before grilling.  Until recently, I keep it simple, just a bit of salt and pepper, some olive oil, and fire.  But to change things up I dug out a steak rub I used a while back.  I had seen a few coffee steak rubs online and decided to put my own take on the best the recipes I saw.  I discovered Magic.
Here goes.  (Mind you, this makes quite a bit for the pantry.)

     3/4 cup stone found coffee (I use Greek coffee...I'm Greek...)
     3/4 cup chili powder (Ancho)
     1/3 cup cocoa powder
     1/2 cup oregano
     1/2 cup garlic powder
     1/4 cup black pepper
     1/4 cup thyme
     3 Tbsp. ground mustard
     4 Tbsp. cumin
     4 Tbsp. kosher salt
     1/4 cup packed brown sugar
     Bone in Buffalo Rib-eyes cut at 1 1/2 inch thick.  

Combine in a bowl and you can save it all in a 1 lb coffee can.

Rub  bit of olive oil on steaks and them rub both sides of steaks with this bad ass rub.  Let them rest for a while in fridge.  Take them out an hour before you grill so the meat warms up lose to room temp.

One the grill is blazing hot, slap those babies on.  Instead of letting them sear for a few minutes on each side like everyone says, I flip them every minute.  This prevents the fat from catching fire, and actually bastes it with the fats. Once off, tent them with foil for 5 to 10 minutes to let them relax and take the juices back in.

Nice.  They turn out perfectly medium rare.  Yes, I made 3 for 2 of us.....


Monday, June 24, 2019


John? Celery? Really? As a main ingredient?  Are you wack?  Yes, I am wack.  But this celery thing is grubbin! Grub-O-Licious.

This MUCH overlooked veggie deserves the spotlight sometimes.  I thought we'd braise some with a crispy topping.  It turned out great.  Much more complex that you'd ever know.  And totally budget conscious.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 head celery (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 large shallot or yellow onion, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1 cup stock.  I used a veg stock
1/3 cup freshly grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano (the real stuff)
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Using about half the butter, generously butter a large gratin dish or baking dish (9- to 10-by-13- to 14-inch).

 Washing and trimming the celery: Tear the celery stalks from the head. You should have about 10 or 12 sturdy outer stalks. Stop tearing off the stalks when you reach the shorter, pale, tender stalks, or the heart. Set it aside. Rinse the celery stalks, giving special attention to the inside of the base of each stalk, where dirt tends to lodge. You may need a vegetable scrubber to remove stubborn dirt. Trim off the top part of the stalk where it branches into leaves, and set the tops aside with the heart. Using a small paring knife or vegetable peeler, scrape the outside of each celery stalk to remove the fibrous strings that run its length. Do your best to get all the strings out of the celery - or else you will end up with tender celery streaked with strong, stringy fibers.

Cut the stalks into 3- to 4-inch lengths. Arrange them in a layer in the baking dish. It's fine if the sticks overlap some; they will shrink and flatten into a single layer as they braise.

Finely chop the reserved celery heart, with the celery tops and leaves. Melt the remaining butter in a medium skillet (10-inch) over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, thyme, and chopped celery heart and leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until reduced by half, another 6 minutes or so.

Pour the celery-shallot-stock mixture over the celery sticks. Cover with foil and slide into the middle of the oven to braise until the celery has collapsed and feels very tender when prodded with a knife tip, about I hour and 15 minutes.

 Remove the celery from the oven, and increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the cheese and bread crumbs over the celery, and return to the oven until the cheese is melted and the top is crusty and browned, about 10 more minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Tracy, my lovely wife, was not so excited about eating a celery dish.  Once she took the first bite, she was sold.  This one's a keeper!

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Eight years ago,  I had quite the credit card debt.  Mainly from going out to eat and drink, buying vinyl records, buying clothes, and a bunch of other shit I have got on a whim.  The hair up my ass to shop..  A child changed all of that.

To get out of debt, I set a goal of paying a debt on a DAILY BASIS.
Every day.

It is measured and actually easier than plunking a bunch down at one time.

I simply took by bi-weekly paycheck and divided that by 14 to determine my daily budget.   I would never spend more than that and all the leftover went into debt payment.  

I had broken out all of my regular bills: utilities, taxes, insurance into a daily amount.  Currently, daily cost to pay water, sewer, gas, electricity, cell, internet, tv, car tabs, car insurance, home tax, and home insurance is $41.74 per day.   That leaves me about $100 per day to feed my family and buy gas for the car.
Easy peasy.   

The remaining amount went to paying off the credit cards.  Once that was wiped out, it morphed into a vacation fund.  It results in having a 10 day trip to Hawaii totally paid for, including all food and spending money.  Still I have leftover.   That amount goes into my stock fund.

Think about it this way.  Just $20 a day adds up to $7,300 per year!

Just wanted to bring up a tip that I think makes paying off debt or saving for a goal easier

And it does not involve gambling your ass off...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

FIRE lifestyle to what extent?

The financial part of this blog is all about investing in companies that have a long track record of raising their dividends.  This is one of the major investment strategies of those who are following the "FIRE" lifestyle.  Financial Independence - Retire Early....  

The main pillar of FIRE is utterly simple. Here it is:

  1. Spend less than you earn
  2. Save the difference in investments
Well, no doy..   You will never reach any type of financial independence without spending less than you earn, or simply earning more than you spend.  

Blowing money on any random thing at any random time will never lead to FIRE.  I know. I did that for decades...  

Many of the leading bloggers in this field live very frugal lifestyles.  Cutting costs by lowering housing costs, cutting cable, getting rid of a car, using cheaper cell phones, eating cheaper, getting clothes at thrift stores, and doing side hustles

But to what extent does this frugal living reach a limit?  It's definitely an individual thing.  You can find ways to make major cuts in every major expense in life.   You can survive on almost zero money spent.    

At what point does frugal living morph into a miserable existence?  For some, I am sure there is no outward appearance of misery.  Looking forward to the goal of FIRE erases the suffering at this time.

For others, some of modern life's luxuries are too vital to give up on.  The cutting of your costs are maybe only a third of what you could do, and your goal to hit FIRE will take longer, but you still have a comfortable life.  

In my case, I lean more towards the trimming of costs and refusing to rack up any new debt.  the extra money can be invested.  But with ZERO debt, doing so is easy.  I like where I am at.  Im content.  So is my wife and kid.  I had spent enough time living on ramen and AM/PM to be through with it.

I still have my car (a 2004 Civic). My wife has her CRV.  Both are paid off.  I have no mortgage. So my major expenses are down to utilities and food.

The utilities have remained pretty much a constant.  I need the internet.  We watch streaming TV quite a bit.  That is staying.  My electric bill has actually lowered since I switched all lights to LED.
My gas bill is fortunately low and has gone down since we resided the house.  Our 101 year old house had ZERO insulation.  NONE.  After the plaster walls was the back side of the siding.  The new insulation has made a world of difference.  Same with the 100 year old wood windows I switched out for a nice vinyl.  My cell phone bill is what it is (At&T) since Sprint and Verizon have almost no signal at my home.  It's not worth switching to T-Mobile to save $20 a month.

Our food bill has been remaining about the same since my kid was born in 2010.  Before child, we used to go out to eat quite a bit.  Now it is a rare occurrence and has saved tons of cash.   We never were one to blow money on huge ticket food items regularly.  We do get a nice rib-eye to grill up once a month or so or get a nice piece of fish to enjoy on the weekends.

What made the difference for me was not purchasing the "luxury" items. The fun stuff.  I was a dedicated collector of vinyl records, always looking for the next obscure release that got my interest.  A very expensive hobby indeed.   I actually ran out of room in our extra bedroom to shelve much more, so I have cut that spending by about 90%.  Plus, I have no time to listen to all these records.

Another luxury was fancy clothes.  A job change did that for me.  I can wear whatever I want to work, and no longer have to wear business casual.  I have 3 year old shoes on..Huge savings.

My wife cut way back on her clothes after the kid.  She's found joy in shopping at Target instead of Nordstroms.  

But more than living frugally, the biggest impact is increased income.  I fortunately make more than my food and utilities cost.  

So in short, I am not really sacrificing lifestyle to fund the stock.  It's a slow pace, but it does make a noticeable difference.  And I am happy.

Some may say that the point of FIRE is to leave your job. Really?  Then what?  Sit around slowly getting bored?   I actually enjoy going to work.  I like my job.  I love my co-workers. It keeps me from spending on some new hobby to take up time.  I had a 3 month gap between jobs in 2015.  I got real bored after my garden looked like a professionally groomed park.  

How low can you go when it comes to living frugally?

Friday, June 21, 2019


I know what you're gonna say..."This is not dividends or music ot food.  Get with the program Johnny Boy."..   Chillax.   This is a good way to SAVE A SHITLOAD OF MONEY...

Remeber, after making all my food, I got this huge ass pile of dirty dishes and a messy countertop.  What am I to do?

Make some Fake Windex.  

Being Greek, it's fitting.  Windex mends everything,  broken legs, scabies, touching a stranger..  everything..

 After you try this you'll never ever need to buy the real thing ever again.  It'll even smell the same.

1 empty bottle of Windex or similar product
1/8 Cup Ammonia (1 oz)
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Rubbing Alcohol
1/4 Cup White Vinegar
1 Drop Laundry Detergent (DON'T STIR IT ALL IN OR IT WILL SUDS UP)
a few drops blue food coloring (you'll never notice it when cleaning)
Fill the bottle with Water.

The whole thing costs about 5 cents to make.  It works and you'll forget you didn't buy it.
You will never by the real thing ever again.

Really.  And please, don't drink it..

...Is "suds up" grammatically correct?

My Story

I (Chickenwizard) was born back in February 1969 to a middle class family in Seattle.  We were definitely not rich, but not struggling either.  We lived in a middle class part of a nice neighborhood so it was a few blocks away from the millionaires and a just a few blocks from the cheap rentals.  My father was a letter carrier after a 22 year stint in the Navy.   His retirement was pretty much set up with two fairly nice pensions.   This allowed us to afford my college education.

After college, I worked a few starter jobs that just barely made ends meet.  Caterer, pizza delivery driver, worked at a printing press making the "Go Sonics" posters for the basketball games.   My father passed from a lengthy illness when I was 20. I stayed close to my mom to keep an eye on her, as I had promised pops before he died.   Mom was a Greek immigrant with zero education and limited English skills.  I, being an only child, had no choice but to stay close by.  

The idea of saving on my own was a distant fantasy.  I took his retirement for granted and my own was so far off, I never saw it in my distant sights.  I knew that someday I may inherit the house, and treated that as my retirement.  quite the hedonistic lifestyle for a few years.  That's what happens when you're young and the world is your oyster. 

In 1998, I started working for a now huge online retailer and were offered a large mount of stock options.  After 6 years of being paid barely enough to make rent, and surviving off my girlfriend's income for meals, I could not go on.  I was fully vested with my stock and broke free of the "Golden handcuffs.   

I then got to work helping people out and became an admissions counselor at a drug rehab clinic.   The pay was more than double and life was much better. Bought a home and got married.   But I still did not think much about retirement.  My stock was my pension and it was growing quite well.

Fast forward 10 years.   The day that  I came to my senses, I recall saying to myself, "Welcome to the rest of your life".....  OMG.  I'm screwed.  The game is over..

 I was straddled with a mortgage.  We could easily afford it, but it took both of our incomes.   If we were to have a kid, I would have to either pay the house off, or go back to renting.  

I was not about to go back to renting and "payin' the man".  My stock was now worth quite a bit and was able to sell the shares and pay off my house.   What I was left with was a good chunk of money, but not nearly enough to retire on.

I started looking into reinvesting the money.  I did not have enough for real estate, but enough to Wall Street.  

My first 2 purchases were a chunk of AT&T and about $30,000 of shares (1750 shares) in this new car company, Tesla.  I saw the prototype of the luxury car and thought it would be a success.  In hindsight, it was an idiotic investment when it is half of your money.   Man did I luck out... 

It was life on a high wire.  I spent all day watching the price of Tesla go wildly up and down on any bit of news, but was overall growing quickly.   This was like playing a high stakes game of craps in Vegas.  Win big, or see myself lose it all.  

Meanwhile my investment of 1,000 shares of  AT&T was not doing any of the fluctuation, and paying me a nice fat chunk of money every three months.  Nothing like seeing a $450  dividend hit my Fidelity account.  Tesla gave me none of that pleasure.  Just ulcers.

The game of putting all my eggs in a basket had gotten to me.  I wasted time at work watching it go up and down and up and down and felt it was driving me to a type of manic depression.  Finally, I could not see Tesla becoming more overvalued than where it was, and decided to sell.  I did make a killing.  I cashed out at around $210 per share and ended up with about $365,000.   It was like hitting a slot machine jackpot and walking away at that very moment.  I had gotten the money back from paying off the house, and breathed a massive sigh of relief.

So what do I do with the money?   I definitely wanted to do some fix ups around the house.  The house had rotting and soft siding on the rainy side and in desperate need of a paint job.   

I re-sided the house, painted it, and upgraded my electrical panel and finished the basement.  Then for fun, I took the family to Hawaii for a couple weeks and bought a hot tub.  $50,000 gone in 6 months...

IT struck me that the money was burning a hole in my pocket.   I needed to invest it or it would be piddled away in a mater of years.   I had to invest it back into the stock market.   I sunk it all into AT&T.  

I had always heard about diversifying, but it never struck me as a reality until I had done it for myself.  I needed to spread it out.

A friend of my mom's had suggested I look into the "Dividend Aristocrats".   I started learning about dividend growth investing, and checked out some blogs of those living the FIRE lifestyle.  It made perfect sense and I knew this is the direction I had to go.  It was time for me to learn what all these financial numbers are all about.

I  began spreading out from just AT&T to my watch list of about 40 companies.  Phew... 

The sense of relief was immense.  My dividends started coming at nearly a daily clip and I came to the realization:


Why had I not thought of this earlier?

Since then I have added 50 more companies to increase my moat.   I did make some investments I now would not have.  The lure of a giant dividend brings back the  gambling feeling of TSLA.  So over the past year, I have balanced out my portfolio to a place where I feel safe.  

I now have the retirement I once did not even think about.  And a paid off home.   

My goal now is to make enough to pay for my kid's college without her getting a loan, and be able to earn enough dividends to replace my income 100%.  

I am well on my way.   And this had become the most fun hobby I have ever had.   The hobby that will be left for my daugher someday in the future.

I hope you follow my path and join in some good discussions about dividend investing, and hopefully we all learn something. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

May 2019 Dividend Summary

Below is the summary of the dividends I received during May of 2019.

The Feb/May/Aug/Nov months are always the slower ones for me.  I would like to balance out the quarter, but of my 92 investments, this is the way the ball bounces.  My watch list will not particularly change things either (more on my watch list in a future post...)



It is also quite hard to compare this to previous years (been doing this for the past 4 years) since I did some "rebalancing" and cleaning up investments made back when I did not have a clue as to what to look for.  

Over the next few posts, I will be introducing myself, posting my portfolio and watch lists, and go into what I am looking for when investing in dividend growth stocks.   And some other fun stuff.  

Also, I'll be looking to get a domain for all of this.

See ya' soon.