Net Worth Update: €56,088 (+5.28%)

This month's net worth update!

This will be a fun post to write, I can already tell! Not only is it quite enjoyable to see my net worth grow as I continue to save and invest, but it’s also fun to explain what the journey towards financial independence is actually all about: building a sizeable freedom fund of high-quality assets. After all, I’m doing this so I have the option of to retire early one day, which is a long way down the road still.

As you all know, keeping your motivation up is what really matters if you want to stick it out until the end and become financially free one day. Between posts explaining my monthly savings rate and my dividend income, reading the sometimes staggering amount of comments on my net worth updates is what really motivates me to keep going. In good months you guys keep telling me the sky is the limit, while I can count on your continued support and encouraging words in bad months.

February, thankfully, is turning out to be a good month – at least financially! I was happy to add my first dividend payments of the year to January’s income, while being able to keep expenses relatively low. On top of that, the European Central Bank’s Quantitive Easing Programme pushed European stocks higher, while also having a downward effect on the Euro. As a result, many of my positions skyrocketed because of the free-floating currency exchange rate mechanism.

These combined forces resulted in a net worth increase of €2,814, a jump of about 5.3% compared to last month. That is a lot of money without me doing anything except not being a spendthrift – see, you literally don’t have to do anything – and being invested in high-quality dividend paying companies all over the world.

Total net worth for February 2015February’s result is great in terms of relative growth, but the absolute increase is what really made me happy. My net worth actually surged by the equivalent of 234 hours of work, or about 30 days of full-time slaving away at the office, considering that I earn about €12 an hour after taxes. Fantastic!

My portfolio is detailed below as it stands today. Keep in mind that all positions are denominated in Euros because that is my home currency. Stocks bought on foreign exchanges are converted to Euros using the last-known exchange rate through my handy dividend tracking spreadsheet.

 

Dividend growth stocks

Even though dividends are what it’s all about for me because you can easily build a passive income stream with them, I won’t lie that it isn’t fun to see the value of the companies that pitch in to that fresh income go up over time too. When you look at the individual positions below, it becomes clear quite quickly that is exactly what has been happening over the past couple of months – green numbers all around.

Because my broker no longer offers free transactions, the amount of new positions will now most likely be limited to just one per month as I try to keep transaction costs below 1% of the purchase value. As such, the only major difference in my dividend growth portfolio compared to last month comes from a purchase of 12 shares of Novartis (VTX:NOVN).

The Swiss healthcare giant has increased its dividend payment every year since its inception in 1996 without too much hassle. Because I expect the company to keep up that great track record as more and more people will rely on its services and products in the futute, I initiated a sizeable position of a little over 6% of my total portfolio’s size.

The cost basis for each position includes the price of the shares, a 0.25% stock market tax and brokerage fees.

Ticker Company Shares Cost basis Mkt. value Gain
AFL Aflac Inc. 9 419.41 490.93 +17.05%
T AT&T 37 972.16 1,125.92 +15.82%
BLT BHP Billiton plc 48 928.94 1,016.91 +9.47%
BP BP plc 92 507.24 564.92 +11.37
DE Deere & Company 7 452.61 553.36 +22.26%
DGE Diageo plc 41 994.34 1,018.23 +2.40%
GE General Electric 22 450.70 458.78 +7.78%
GSK GlaxoSmithKline 33 610.15 693.94 +13.73%
INDV Indivior plc 10 3.89 22.50 +478.31%
IBM IBM Corp. 6 736.76 844.95 +14.68%
JNJ Johnson & Johnson 6 473.79 524.78 +10.76%
MCD McDonald's Corp 14 1,003.47 1,175.68 +17.16%
NOVN Novartis AG 12 1,061.53 1,070.09 +0.81%
PG Procter & Gamble 9 575.36 678.75 +17.97%
QCOM Qualcomm Inc. 9 520.23 560.07 +7.66%
RB Reckitt Benckiser plc 10 630.34 767.04 +21.69%
RDSB Royal Dutch Shell 20 585.25 604.40 +3.27%
KO The Coca Cola Company 17 540.05 626.72 +16.05%
FP Total SA 20 971.96 947.60 -2.51%
ULVR Unilever plc 60 2,029.35 2,263.00 +11.51%
VZ Verizon Communications Inc. 20 785.07 865.85 +10.29%
VOD Vodafone plc 188 536.19 590.19 +10.07%
Total 15,788.78 17,491.61 +10.79%

 

Exchange-traded funds

When I first started investing, exchange-traded and index funds were the only things I bought because they are an excellent way to test the turbulent and choppy waters of the stock market. So far they’ve tracked the market remarkably well, but because they’re denominated in Euros the actual value of my international holdings has shot up significantly over the past few weeks.

I’ll probably hold on to these funds for a long time, even though they accumulate dividends rather than distribute them. For many of you doing so may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s a good thing from a tax perspective as the Belgian federal government doesn’t charge us a capital gains tax.

Ticker ETF Cost basis Mkt. value Gain
IWDA iShares Core MSCI World 4,982.96 6,032.07 +21.05%
IEMA iShares MSCI Emerging Markets 1,214.59 1,380.78 +13.68%
IMAE iShares MSCI Europe 3,561.94 3,932.28 +10.40%
Total 9,759.49 11,345.13 +16.25%

 

Other

Last month I predicted that my investments in the stock market would start to outweigh my other deposits and I wasn’t wrong. More of my hard-earned money is now tied up in individual dividend growth stocks, ETFs, and my pension fund than in the 100% safe savings account and emergency fund I’ve had for a couple of years now. It’ll be interesting to see if that shift has any impact on the volatility of my net worth over the course of the next months.

Name Cost basis Current value Gain
Pension fund 1,027.25 1,092.63 +6.36% and 30% tax break
Savings account N/A 18,159.03 +3.15% guaranteed yearly
Emergency fund N/A 8,000 N/A
Total 27,251.66

 

Going forward

Another great month! 2015 is off to a rocking start with a total increase of over €6,000 already – that’s about three months’ worth of paid salary. At this speed, I’ll definitely make my goal to increase my total porftolio value to €70,000 by the end of the year. If the stock markets don’t decline by then and I’m able to maintain a 70% savings rate, it’ll be smooth sailing from now on.

About one year ago I hadn’t even heard of financial freedom, let alone taken any steps to get there myself. Now I’m crushing milestone after milestone because of the advice, tips, and help our community members provide each other. No more rookie mistakes for me! As a result, I’m optimistic that financial independence is not just a far-off dream, but an inevitable reality for anyone willing to save and invest as much as possible.

I hope you feel the same way! Thank you for reading.

45 Comments

    1. Jeff,

      It certainly has! Although I wouldn’t mind lower prices at this point in time to take advantage of higher yields and rapidly increase my future income. 🙂

      Cheers,
      NMW

    1. DFG,

      Lots of green indeed – thank you, ECB! Both writing and reading net worth or portfolio updates are my favourite, apart from maybe dividend income. I like them so much because they clearly show the effect of everyone’s efforts.

      Cheers,
      NMW

  1. NMW,

    Nice to see all that green. Breaking 50k Euros is pretty darn good. I don’t calculate mine that often, I think its is $52K. However, my savings rate does not touch yours – and good on you for saving so much.

    Now if only I could put the Euro sign on here…

    – Gremlin

      1. Will,

        I’ve never heard of anyone going through such a cumbersome process just to type the € sign, haha! 😀 Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated.

        Best wishes,
        NMW

    1. Gremlin,

      Breaking €50k last month was a pretty major feat and provided a major boost to my motivation. Can’t wait to get to that magical €100k mark! Apparently things start to really snowball from there on out.

      Ha, don’t US layouts allow the right alt + e-key to produce a € sign? 🙂

      Best wishes,
      NMW

      1. NMW,

        There is a way to to alt + num pad, but I don’t know the number. I can write effectively in German, with umlauts and all, but I’ll be damned if I can’t figure out the € code. (that was a copy and paste right there).

        – Gremlin

    1. FFF,

      Thanks, pal! 30 days of labour sounds even better than the absolute growth in Euros, doesn’t it? 🙂 Keep it up over there too!

      Cheers,
      NMW

  2. Great to hear about solid income investing in Benelux. I opened an account last year and have similar investment/income goals as you, however I am buying only VHYL from Vanguard on the Amsterdam exchange every month. Just wondering if you have looked at this ETF holding 1000 dividend paying companies for an MER of 0.39%. its working for me! Keep upmthe great site I love Belgium.

    1. Mark,

      Thank you for your encouraging words, means a lot to me!

      ETFs are a solid way to get to financial independence too. I started out with iShares ETFs from the Amsterdam exchange myself in the beginning (as you can see in the post).

      I’ve looked at VHYL in the past and while it’s a solid ETF, I decided it wasn’t a good fit for me because of the strong focus on high-yielding stocks. High yield often means a lower growth rate in the future, which could hamper your returns in the future – I like a good mix between growth and high yield. On top of that, if I were to go for another ETF I’d choose an accumulating one because of the lack of capital gains taxes in Belgium.

      I hope VHYL will do you much good!

      Best wishes,
      NMW

    1. Tawcan,

      Saving and investing does seem to be a surefire way to get that snowball in your portfolio started. I’ll just keep doing that!

      Cheers,
      NMW

  3. Hi NMW,

    Once again congrats for the excellent post and performances.
    Well done for the Novartis purchase, you will not be disappointed in the company growth and bright dividend distribution!

    To continue diversifying your portfolio, have you looked at Re-insurance company? They generally have solid dividend distribution and growth. For example this year I started a position with Swiss Re, that will provide a solid 5% dividend + a bonus for non major catastrophe that can go up to 3% like last year.

    Continue like you do and you will inspire more and more young FI seeker!

    Well done and cheers, RA50

    1. RA50,

      Let’s hope Novartis won’t disappoint, but I think that would be hard considering the bright fundamentals and pipeline the company can count on.

      I’ve looked at Re-insurance companies like Swiss Re and Munich Re before. Swiss Re sadly doesn’t fit what I want out of a stock in that it doesn’t increase its dividend payment over time. Munich Re does, so I would probably go with that if I had to choose.

      Thank you again for your kind words!

      Hope everything is well over there,
      NMW

  4. NMW,

    You continue to make great progress. You are right about needing the motivation to make what can be monotonous and grueling savings and investing decisions, especially at your age when distractions can be found everywhere.

    Stay focused and keep fighting!

    MDP

    1. MDP,

      Plenty of distractions, but the support from readers and other bloggers definitely helps to keep my mind in the game and apply myself to rigorous saving and investing.

      Thank you for being a reader and excellent blogger!

      Cheers,
      NMW

  5. Hope you are feeling better (I’m sure you are after that net worth update 🙂 ). You are certainly crushing all goals and milestones, what an achievement already and we’re barely into 2015! Well done!

    1. Weenie,

      I was feeling better, but now my sinuses are playing up. I’ve felt better! 🙂 As for the net worth update, heck yes! Feels good to see your efforts rewarded like that.

      Hope everything is well over there too,
      NMW

    1. Robert,

      Lots of green indeed, although I wouldn’t mind red since that would allow me to buy more future dividend income at cheaper prices. Making 70k this year would be splendid!

      Thank you for dropping by,
      NMW

  6. NMW,

    Awesome update. Love to see that net worth chart move up as it moves to the right!

    Keep up the great work. Your monster savings rate is paying dividends, both literally and figuratively. 🙂

    Cheers!

    1. Jason,

      Upward trending charts are what makes our efforst worth it, be they net worth graphs or dividend income charts. 🙂

      Thank you for you continued support!

      Best wishes,
      NMW

  7. Excellent work, NMW. We’ve seen some serious growth from you so far. It’s so awesome that your net worth is only just beginning…so keep inspiring us!

    1. Ryan,

      Growth has been spectacular so far! I can’t believe that in the past six months my net worth actually increased by as much as I earned after taxes – how crazy is that?

      Thank you for your continued support!

      Cheers,
      NMW

  8. Unbelievable what you can achieve in a year when you take action! Awesome to see your progress NMW, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a portfolio with so much green – certainly not my own! I’m sure regardless of what the stock prices do you’ll keep plowing those huge monthly savings into your stocks and it will continue to power higher over time!

    1. Jason,

      Exactly! Sometimes I can’t even believe it myself. With a little bit of help from the central bank anyone’s portfolio can turn as green as mine is. I may look like a hot-shot investor, but it’s pure luck.

      Hope everything is well over there – heard there was a major tornado Down Under a couple of days ago?

      Cheers,
      NMW

      1. Well you still have to put yourself in the right position to take advantage of that luck that we all experience to some extent in investing, good or bad!

        All is well down under in my neck of the woods at least – two cyclones did hit the north parts of the country in Queensland, no one hurt I believe, but I’m right down in the bottom in cosy Melbourne, far away from general cyclone territory…

  9. Yeah these trackings are really motivating. I got also the financial independence virus. But don’t let us forget: if you are a net saver, low stock market prices are better instead of a fast rising. I am now at a point, where I am thinking about to built up some cash savings for the next bear market.

    Great progress for you,

    best regards

    Marco

    1. Marco,

      You’re absolutely right that cheaper stock prices are better, especially for dividend income investors. It’s getting harder and harder to find value in the market, but there are still a ton of companies that I would like to add at current prices. Who knows how long the next bear market takes to kick in?

      Best of luck,
      NMW

  10. Hey NMW,

    really inspiring to see your NW grow over time. Amazing actually.

    It inspired me to start keeping track of it myself. I have now all numbers in an XLS and I am curious to see where I will be in a few years from now.

    I am not as young as you when I started (however, I have been living on a controlled budget since I was about 26) the good news is that I aim at being FI in about 16 years from now (The time were the youngest kid could be out of high school)

    Cheers

    1. Belegger,

      Growth has been amazing indeed. Wouldn’t have dreamt of this increase since I actively started pursuing financial independence. And I’m really happy to hear you now started tracking your own net worth!

      Financial independence in about 16 years is great! Much better than many of our peers anyway. Just imagine all the free time you’ll have once the children have left high school. That’s something grand to look forward to.

      Good luck and let me know once in a while how things are going!

      Cheers,
      NMW

  11. “My net worth actually surged by the equivalent of 234 hours of work, or about 30 days of full-time slaving away at the office…”

    This is my favorite part right here. I LOVE hearing about investment returns translated into actual, time-saving money-hours. It was like you had a free month of work that you aren’t going to have to put in. Take THAT, 12-hours work days and a half-day on Saturday!

    1. Charles,

      It does feel good to hear how many hours of free time your money buys you instead of having to spend that time at the office, doesn’t it? I love thinking of my net worth that way too! 🙂

      Cheers,
      NMW

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