December has come and gone, which means a new year is upon us! On my end, the passing of December also means that I’ll soon be waking up from my SAD induced coma that makes me the laziest person on earth. It’s amazing how sunlight (or lack thereof) can affect a person’s mood! This probably explains (amongst other things) the lack of regular posts on this blog lately. I hope to change that this year.

Having said that, December was a really good month! I didn’t spend nearly as much as I thought I would be (cash xmas gifts obviously helped). Thankfully my finances are back on track, and starting this month (January) I should be able to put some more money into my portfolio. I’m not talking huge amounts, but at least $500 to $1000.

So let’s move onto the figures…

Income

Salary $ 3,302.53
Dividend Income $ 113.61
Interest Income $ 20.75
Total Income: $ 3,436.89

Expenses

Food Related ($ 591.05)
Rent & Related ($ 563.21)
Car Related ($ 403.37)
Entertainment Related ($ 159.55)
Travel Related ($ 255.02)
Health Related ($ 128.82)
Utilities ($ 116.60)
Personal ($ 74.72)
Pet Related ($ 69.14)
Other (Gifts, etc) ($ 67.55)
Total Expenses: ($ 2,429.03)

Income / Expenses Analysis

Percentage of my income saved: 29.32%
Percentage of income earned from passive sources: 3.91%
Percentage of expenses covered by passive sources: 5.53%
Total Money Saved: $ 1,007.86
Note: The last two figures do not take into account unrealized gains/losses.

Portfolio Analysis

Value at the beginning of month: $ 26,692.29
Add: Additional investments: $ 0.00
Total Starting value: $ 26,692.29
Value at the end of the month: $ 27,652.88
Total Portfolio Gain/Loss: $ 960.59

Dividend Analysis

Previous Anticipated Yearly Dividend Income: $ 1,093.25
Current Anticipated Yearly Dividend Income: $ 1,093.82
Dividend Increase/Decrease: $ 0.57 (0.05%)
Avg. Monthly Dividend: $ 91.15

Savings

Despite Christmas shopping and partying, I still managed to save a respectable $1000, which represents roughly 1/3 of my monthly income. My biggest expenses (as is always the case) was food. However, $600 is really way too much to be spending on what should be a $200 to $300 monthly expense. If I was really careful, I could probably even get that down to $100-$150. But I want to be realistic as well — eating good food is one the few things I really enjoy in life. But starting this month, I’m going to be paying more attention to how much money I spend on meals.

Other than food, I didn’t have very many large expenses that were out of the ordinary. Gifts that I bought were mostly offset with cash gifts that I received, negating their overall effect. Furthermore, my savings rate was actually higher than what’s being posted here given that my parents still need to reimburse me for the gifts I bought for them (Not my gifts to them, but the gifts they bought for each other — they joys of being an only child!). My only real other large-ish expense was a plane ticket to Vancouver, which I only needed to pay the taxes on given that I used Airmiles to make the purchase (around $150).

Investments

December was a crazy month in the markets! My portfolio went up nearly $1000 over the course of the previous month. That’s a 3.6% increase in 31 days! Although I’ve grown weary of Yahoo’s stock information, which is where my blogs pulls its info from (more on that later), I’ve double checked my accounts and it appears to be true. That’s an incredible rally for me, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had as good of a month in my entire investing history. It feels really good. If anything, it’s great just to have a reasonable cushion now in case the markets goes into free fall.

Dividends

Unfortunately I can’t really comment on my dividends because Yahoo.com, which is where my website automatically pulls its stock info from on a daily basis, is posting wrong information. If you look at my Dividend Info Page, you’ll notice that a bunch of my dividends have decreased since the time I first bought them. I double checked this (because I was really worried at first) and realized that Yahoo’s Canadian Dividend info is completely wrong. I think they’re posting the information in US$ instead of CND$. And while they managed to fix the dividend info for NWC, everything else is inaccurate — to say the least. Anyway, given this wrong information, I’m not entirely sure what’s true at the moment. That having been said, the yearly dividend amount (in this post) is accurate since I calculated that amount manually. I really wish there was an alternative to Yahoo’s stock database that’s PHP compatible and also free (anybody know of any?).

Incorrect dividend info aside, I had another record Dividend income month! According to my (non-yahoo based) calculations, I made a record $113.61 this December. Last December (in 2015) I only made $37, which means I more than doubled the amount in less than 12 months. By this time next year, if everything goes according to plan, I should be making upwards of $200. That’s really encouraging news and just goes to show the power of investing in dividend growth stocks.

Conclusions

I’m really pleased with last month, especially since I managed to keep my expenses fairly low. I’m almost at a point now where I can start putting money away into my portfolio again. Although I don’t post this info here, most of the money I’ve saved during the past couple months have gone into funds which go towards certain goals that I have (mostly an emergency fund and a fund to eventually buy a sailboat). I just need to crack down on my food expense – although I’ve been saying this for months now, and I’m starting to sound like a broken record.

Before I sign off, I just wanted to say that I’ll be posting a year end review for 2016 in the upcoming weeks. I also have an interview that should be coming out in January as well — along with other posts. Now that our shortest days are behind us, hopefully my posts will become a little more frequent here.

On that note, I want to wish everyone a happy (belated) New Year!

André