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Annual Update – 2015 Review

Welcome to the annual 2015 update. This is part of  a series where I track our financial progress on a regular basis. I present four parts in this series: (i) Investment & Portfolio Update, (ii) Passive Income Update, (iii) Blog Update, and (iv) Goals Update.

1. Investment & Portfolio Update

2015 saw some great amount of activity in our portfolio. We initiated/added to various positions and closed one position that did not fit into our portfolio. I present the following image which summarizes all the purchases (31 in total excluding the regular ETF purchases), all the sales (just one this year), all dividend increases (35 in total) and the dividend cuts (just one) in my portfolio.
In my wife’s portfolio, we initiated a new ETF portfolio and moved from the traditional expensive mutual funds. Click here to read details about my wife’s portfolio and why we chose the route of index ETFs.

2015 Annual - DG2
Overall, I am pretty pleased with the purchases made. Lots of fresh new money put into the portfolio and the cash put to work in investments. Most of the dividends received were reinvested back into the investments, thus ensuring we compound our growth going forward.

Companies listed without any activity during the year (such as CVX, GE, and IMG.TO) mean that we did not add or remove these positions in our portfolio, nor did those companies have any change in dividend policy. These investments remain dormant in our portfolio.

2. Passive Income Update

Our total annual passive income totaled $7,840.03! Not in my wildest dreams did I think we would reach a number this high so soon. I’ve had some long term plans, but I figured reaching a number like $7.8K would take me years and even if you asked me a year ago, I would have said “Impossible!” and that was the reason for setting a more reachable goal of $5,500 for 2015. This has motivated me to work harder towards reaching our medium-term goal of reaching $12K – which as mentioned in our 2016 goals, we moved it earlier from 2021 to 2019. Maybe we can bring it in even earlier?:)

On a quarterly basis, our passive income saw another all-time high in Q4 2015.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
$383.65 $516.32 $718.33 $1,063.97
$1,322.47 $951.18 $1,055.79 $1,803.90
$1,546.87 $1,960.10 $2,076.81 2,256.01
You can read my previous quarterly updates here.

“Other” Passive Income

Passive income that we achieve is split between investments from dividend paying companies and what I call other sources of passive income, which includes cash back rewards credit card, advertising revenue from this blog, interest on cash and writing premium articles for Seeking Alpha. As you can see from the chart below, my other category has performed well. Our passive income from the ‘other’ sources saw some increased traction in 2015 providing us with some great passive income – which we proceed to invest into stocks and funds to compound our growth.
I realize that some of our sources of passive income are not completely passive, as it requires us to put some time and effort into it. However, I consider these sources to be semi-passive and I wrote an article to capture my thoughts on the scale of passivity of each income type. Be sure to check out Passivity of Income.

3. Blog Update

Based on the pageviews, the following were the most popular posts on Roadmap2Retire.
A wide variety of topics based on reader preferences, but right behind the top-5 listed above are articles from the new series – Sector Overview articles; which seem to have struck a chord. I’m glad the Sector Overview are getting the pageviews, as it takes me a long time to research and compile those lists and provide the overview. Another new series that I started at the end of 2015 was Sector Challenges, which again – had some good readership and some great discussions in the comments section. If you have any feedback on the type of articles you want to see more, be sure to leave a comment. Your feedback helps me research and write better articles to serve you.

Overall, this humble little blog garnered a total of 156,598 total pageviews! That is amazing and I thank each and everyone of you for visiting this blog.
Geographically, most visitors came from the US followed by Canada and Germany. I have made plenty of friends over the year and we have helped each other grow as we continue our path towards financial independence. Again, thank you all for the continued support and patronage.
Also, a shout-out to the top commentators: Tawcan, Angry Retail Banker, Dividend Diplomats, Dividend Hustler, and Passive Income Pursuit. Thanks for your valuable thoughts and input :)

4. Goals Update

Right. Onto the goals that I set and see how we did overall on that front.
  • Earn $5,500 in annual passive income Achieved!
    • Our total passive income for 2015 was $7,840.03. While it seemed like a high goal a year ago, we were able to easily sail past the $5.5K goal. A massive improvement (+52.73%) from a year ago, I find it hard to believe that we were able to reach this amount in 2015.
  • Focus on reducing debt (mortgage) – Pay down more than the minimum mortgage amount. Achieved!
    • We managed to pay down a bit extra in the first few months of the year, but after careful consideration and re-evaluating, considering the extremely low mortgage rates (and potential of going even lower in the coming months/years), we decided to stop extra payments. However, we are still happy to have paid down an extra 21% in mortgage dues.
  • Maintain a 3-5% cash position in portfolio Achieved!
    • This goal was motivated by the fact that in 2014 I had to pass up on some good investing opportunities due to lack of liquidity in my portfolio. Maintaining a bit of a cash in investment accounts goes a long way in picking attractively valued stocks – a lesson that I’ve learned lately. We maintained well above the target 3-5% cash in our portfolios in 2015.
  • Re-balance portfolio with my wife’s portfolio integrated Achieved!
    • We sold the expensive mutual funds in my wife’s portfolio in January and started building an ETF portfolio starting February 2015. Details of the ETF portfolio we are building can be found here.
  • Take atleast one finance related e-course Needs Improvement
    • I took this online course from Coursera – The Power of Macroeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World by Dr. Peter Navarro from University of California, Irvine. However, it was very dry and eventually did not complete the full course as my interest waned. It still was a decent course and I managed to learn quite a bit.
  • Write an e-book Failed!
    • No progress at all on this front. I struggled through the year to come up with some good ideas and while I did have some, they did not stick and materialize into anything. This still remains one of my goals for the upcoming years and will aim to achieve it.
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