How to Live Off Dividends – 5 Steps to Follow
One fundamental way to stretch your retirement investments is to live solely off dividend income. Dividend investing is a way to get monthly income without selling your assets. You can also opt for annual dividend income and use it as a part of your passive income and pension income.
This guide will explain how to live off dividends and what to consider when investing in dividend stocks for passive income.
What Is a Dividend?
A dividend is payment companies make to their shareholders as a reward for holding the company’s stock. Dividends are typically paid out in cash, although they can also come in additional stock.
A company’s board determines the amount and frequency of a dividend based on the corporation’s profits. So dividend payments can vary based on how profitable the company is. However, most dividend-paying companies work hard to keep their dividend consistent for most investors and gradually increase payments over time.
When comparing high dividend yield stocks with realistic dividend yield, there are two key factors to consider:
First, the dividend yield is the percentage a company pays out in dividends relative to its stock market share price. Since the yield normalizes a stock’s dividend to its share price, you can use yield to compare the dividend payout ratio between companies.
The dividend frequency is how often a company pays out a dividend. Most dividend-paying companies make payments quarterly, but some make monthly, semi-annual, or annual payments. So, if you want your dividend income sooner, your dividend investing strategy should involve a company that pays monthly.
How to Live Off Dividends
In order to live off dividends or retire off dividends, you need to consider your total financial picture and then figure out what dividend stocks to invest in when building your investment portfolio. We’ll break the process into five steps.
Step 1: Determine How Much Income You Need
Before investing in dividend-paying stocks, you must determine the type of financial freedom you want. You must also look at your average household needs and how much more money you need to maintain your current lifestyle.
As such, the first step in figuring out how to live off dividends is calculating how much money you need to live. Look at your monthly expenses and your median household income to see how much you spend in an average month. Remember to subtract any expenses you plan to eliminate in retirement and leave room for unexpected expenditures.
Step 2: Determine Your Risk Tolerance
When comparing dividend growth stocks, dividend investors must remember that not all quality dividend stocks carry the same level of risk. Individual dividend stocks that tend to pay out high dividend yields – 5% or more – are risky in the sense that these stocks often can’t sustain their dividends indefinitely. The dividend growth potential might be cut or canceled altogether with little warning, which is bad for your financial goals.
Alternatively, some stocks that pay out high dividend yields have very volatile stock prices. So you might receive a nice dividend, but that can be offset if the value of the shares you hold drops significantly.
Therefore, you must examine your financial plan and cash flow to decide whether you’re willing to accept higher financial risk in exchange for potentially larger payouts. If you want to invest in lower-risk dividend stocks, be sure to look at companies’ history of dividend payments. The safest dividend stocks are those with a long history of paying dividends on time and consistently increasing their payouts to shareholders.
Step 3: Determine Your Preferred Payout Schedule
It’s not enough to know te average dividend yield and how much dividend income you will get. When assembling a dividend stock portfolio, it is crucial to consider when each company pays out dividends. Most dividend stocks offer quarterly dividend payments, but some offer monthly or annual payments.
This is important because your income will vary throughout the year based on when your dividend stocks pay out. If you choose stocks that make monthly dividend payments, you can get relatively consistent income throughout the year, making it an excellent investment strategy. On the other hand, if you have several stocks that pay out quarterly or semi-annually, you may have high dividend income in some months and little to no dividend income in other months.
Step 4: Choose Your Dividend Stocks
With all of these considerations in mind, it’s time to pick your dividend stocks. You must create excellent dividend strategies that will boost your annual income. So it is a good idea to invest in at least several different stocks and as many as 20-30.
That way, you can buy stocks with different yields, risk profiles, and payout schedules. Also, before you start investing, look for stocks in different industries, too, so that your dividend income isn’t overly affected if a particular market sector falls on hard times.
Step 5: Invest
Once you have the stocks to add to your portfolio, pick a time to invest. Be sure to use a broker that doesn’t charge ongoing account fees since these can eat into your dividend income. Also, make sure that you opt not to reinvest dividends.
Otherwise, your dividend payments will be automatically reinvested to buy more stocks in your portfolio rather than delivered to you. You don’t pay taxes on reinvested dividends.
Considerations for Picking Dividend Stocks
When choosing dividend stocks for your passive income stream and retirement planning, there are several things to consider.
First, pay attention to dividend growth or decline over time in relation to the inflation rate. Financially strong companies typically grow their dividends and aim to keep their dividend yield consistent as the stock’s price grows.
Companies that are struggling will often cut their dividend to conserve cash. Watch out for companies with a history of dividend decline, as this signifies that the dividend could be suspended altogether in the future. Instead, go for those with dividend sustainability.
It’s worth looking at whether a company has always paid out dividends on time or whether it has suspended or delayed dividends in the past. Companies with decades of on-time payments are more likely to want to protect that legacy even in hard times, which is good if you rely on dividend payouts for income.
It would be best if you also watched for volatility in the price of a dividend stock. Changes in the share price did not affect not only your dividend yield but also the value of your portfolio yield. So even if a stock pays dividends on time for as long as you own it, you can still lose money on your investment overall if the stock price drops significantly.
Finally, give yourself some wiggle room when calculating your living expenses. Unexpected expenses happen, and you can limit your ability to live off dividends if you have to sell stock to deal with these costs. Along the same lines, dividend cuts and suspensions do occasionally happen. However, you should have enough room in your budget to absorb a dividend cut, at least temporarily.
Conclusion: Living Off Dividends
Dividends offer a way to cover your expenses without selling stock or checking for other income sources. That way, you can stretch your retirement or even boost your wealth. When putting together a dividend portfolio or creating your dividend strategy, include stocks with different yields, risk levels, and payout schedules.
Are you looking for more investment options? Consider mutual funds and real estate investment trusts.