For the last two years I’ve been dripping only stocks in my Roth IRA. In the taxable brokerage account I’ve been taking them as cash and combining them with fresh capital every few months to make a separate stock purchase or use it towards paying off my credit card bill by buying stock through Loyal3.
Well that changed a few days ago as I’ve decided to start dripping all my dividends in both my Roth and taxable brokerage accounts. Due to the service being unavailable, dividends received from Loyal3 will continue to be selectively reinvested.
So why the change?
First off, I haven’t been making as many regular large purchases as I originally planned on doing so, meaning it sometimes goes several months between even touching my taxable account. Since I prefer to keep my commission costs less than .5%, I like to save up around $1400 before I buy more stock. By automating how I handle dividends and choosing to drip all of them, this puts the capital to work instantly, buying more shares which in turn will produce more dividends. Nice way to keep growing the account even when fresh capital for purchases is limited.
Second, I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blog posts recently that show just how much of a stark difference there is in total returns when you take dividends as cash vs. reinvesting them in the stock. Dividend growth is also accelerated a lot as well. Granted, I’ve always reinvested dividends by doing so selectively but it usually took a long time to do so. Looking through my Roth IRA transactions I can see that when I initially bought 15 shares of Realty Income I was earning $2.73 a month in dividends. Now, fast forward to today, I am earning $2.86 per month. There has been a few small dividend increases (less than 1 cent) from Realty since then. Everything else has been the result of dripping. Now that’s a small increase on a pretty small position in that account. Not a big deal, right?
Now imagine if I had done this with the 109 shares of O I have in my taxable account. The $19.92 I am currently earning each month in that account could buy almost another 1/2 share per month. Over the course of the year, that is almost 6 additional shares that I didn’t have before.
But what about valuation?
Looking through the stocks in my portfolio there isn’t a single one that is so overvalued that I wouldn’t consider buying more shares out right, if those were my only investing choices. With a long-term investing timeline, I’m comfortable overpaying a bit for shares in quality companies like those in my portfolio since there is plenty of time for earnings to increase and “grow into the valuation.” Besides paying up for at most, half a share in a company per month isn’t that big of a deal. It just allows the compounding snowball to grow that much quicker.
Dripping dividends and automating that part of your investing activity also makes it much simpler. No more transferring money around to take dividends from one account to use in another account toward a purchase. Just let everything run on autopilot and add more stock through fresh capital when it’s available. It also takes away the temptation to spend those dividends as you can’t spend money you don’t have.
Like most things, I imagine my thoughts on this topic will change as the years go by. That’s all right and what makes this fun. Can’t just do the same thing all the time, right? Gotta mix it up every once in a while and try new ways of doing things. I could see myself switching back to selectively reinvesting dividends, combining them with fresh capital each month to make a purchase once (1) I have the income necessary to make a normal sized purchase each month and (2) once my account is producing a significant amount of dividends. An extra 50 bucks or so doesn’t really help me out getting the required amount to invest each month. Once that figure climbs to be several hundred, maybe I’ll rethink this strategy.
Disclosure: I am long O. Please see my portfolio page for a complete list of my holdings.
So what are your opinions on the subject of dripping vs. selectively reinvesting? Or do you not reinvest dividends and simply use them to supplement your current income? Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think! 🙂