Sunday, January 3, 2021

Q4 2020 Review / Q1 2021 Preview

Cold Brew Gremlin here. Wow.  What an end to a long and strange year. This 2020 has seen a pandemic (which will continue longer than people realize), an election, a massive stock market sell off, record stock market highs, the rise of news organization arguing over what actually happened, multiple international conflicts (Armenia-Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, the Ukraine, etc.), the rise of SPACs, a postponed Olympics, etc.  Its hard to remember a year that has had more events from which I have felt almost completely detached.  

On top of that there have been some amazing personal moments.  My daughter underwent and now has recovered from an 15 hour open heart surgery, which is definitely the biggest win for my family.  I promised to talk about that, so here is my quick soap box talk. My daughter has undergone two open heart surgeries at two different hospitals. The total cost from the hospitals, not including doctor costs, has been approximately $1.5 million.  If you were to include doctor costs it is easily 1.6 or 1.7.  Our total costs, annually, have been $8000 and $8300 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.  The remainder was picked up by insurance.

This is also not the end of her care; she will have her next surgery in early 2021 and none of the travel or external costs are represented.  Luckily my employer has a few plans to choose from. Since I knew we were having children I selected the most aggressive plan with the lowest out of pocket maximums.  I know a lot of personal finance sites eschew this in favor of cheaper plans or none at all, but if you have the choice pay it up front.  Specifically this applies to people who have medical issues in the USA or anyone having any kids (and definitely with any special issues like one with a heart problem).

Financial wise I have continued adding dividend positions, but I have also added options and speculation. The vast majority of our portfolio is still in dividend growth stocks (95%). Our net-worth has also increased this year, which is a bit nuts.  So many people have had lives destroyed this year, which is just awful - and that is a constant reminder to me.  As our net-worth improves I always try to give a little back. Though we are still only on one income until at least the fall of 2021, so the ship is a little being run tightly.

So lets look at Q4 from a dividend perspective. 

Q4 2020:

Over the last quarter I added to American Express (AXP), Black Hills Corp (BKH), Evercore (EVR), Johnson and Johnson (JNJ), National Retail (NNN), Pepsico (PEP), Raytheon Technologies (RTX), and AT&T (T) in my taxable account. In addition, I closed out my Disney (DIS) and Kellogg's (K) positions in my taxable account.  I also added to Arrow Financial Services (AROW), Cisco (CSCO), and First of Long Island (FLIC) in my retirement accounts.

Last quarter I brought in a total of $1,251.82 in dividends ($696.93 taxable, $234.51 Roth, and $302.38 in my IRA).  In closing 2020, the dividend count was 12.51% higher than last year and that does not include $272.50 in special dividends received. 

In terms of dividend increases, I realized 9 raises from BKH, EVR, McDonald's (MCD), VF Corp (VFC), AROW, Broadcom (AVGO), Matthew's International (MATW), Emerson Electric (EMR), and FLIC. The increases range from just about 1% to more than 15%. This brings my total raises to 72 on the year, 14 more than last year's final total. I also realized one cut of approximately 33% by KHC.

Next month I will realize two dividend increases from Realty Income (O) and Eastman Chemical (EMN).  The increases range from 0.2% to around 5%.

In addition, I added $720 in profits from options and speculation trading.  This total will be taxed at a higher rate, but it is clear that this is an important tool to add to the portfolio.  The extra cash was mostly put towards new dividend shares and creating a perpetual trading machine on the side. I do not use a lot of cash or chase lots of risks.

NOTE: I only count increases when realized, because until that money is delivered any statements or declarations are simply conjecture.

Q1 2021:

The mortgage continues and I am putting extra cash towards the principal monthly - not a huge number, but every little bit counts. Our debts currently outstrip our assets, since I do not count my home as an asset until I own it outright.

The buys shall continue until financial independence improves - with monthly rolling buys of course.

My portfolio page is currently up to date.


  • Invest a total of $10000 across all accounts. Done.
  • Receive $1900 in dividends from the taxable account. Sorta, without special dividends 1844, with them 2117 - so I'll take the win.
  • Exercise ~ 4x per week. Fail, between the pandemic and a prolonged hospital stay this just got left behind.
  • Reduce total spending (after mortgage payments) by 5%.  Because of hospital stuff I don't even know how to count this one fairly, but definitely a fail by all standard measures due to travel. While at home we actually did reduce costs so, that is cool.

Last year I ended with this phrase "I have a feeling, no matter what happens 2020 will be another wild ride." Holy crap, I did not realize how right I was.  Well hopefully 2021 is a little less wild.


I only have a few goals for next year, but here they are:

  • Invest a total of $11000 across all accounts.
  • Receive $2200 in taxable dividends and $1500 in speculative cash.
  • Weight, get back to my regular weight (lose the Covid 15).
I sincerely hope everyone has a better 2021 than 2020.  That said the it is always darkest just before the dawn and so go into 2021 as mentally, financially, and physically prepared as you can.

Hope everyone has a great January, a better 2021, and a Happy New Year!
- Dividend Gremlin
- Long all stock tickers mentioned

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