February’s report was a bit delayed with all of the on-goings in the world and the markets and I briefly debated even writing it. However, talking about what happens to dividend and side hustle income is important given the income disruptions and dividend cuts many are seeing. I decided to combine February and March reports together:
Dividend Income: $1,481.
Monthly Payers: Our monthly dividend payers continued to generate income, with both Entertainment Properties Trust and Stag Industrial churning out $475 in dividends. Both of these REITs took steep nose dives in March and I added to the position. Stag Industrial should be unaffected from this, my only regret is not having more cash available to purchase additional shares. Entertainment Properties Trust is likely going to have a rough March through June since most of their tenants rely on large public gatherings. Fortunately this company completed a sale of part of its portfolio in November and combined with that plus its cash and credit line it drew down, it has multiple years worth of operating expenses in cash reserves and I’m confident they’ll both make it through this, continue to pay their dividend at some level, and redeploy that cash at better yields as commercial real estate falls.
The painful part of owning these has been mark to market losses. Every day the stock market is an auction of what willing buyers/willing sellers want to pay for assets. These two REITs are part of that auction process. The price drops can be shocking when there are sellers who want out of commercial real estate (and all assets not named cash or treasuries) and the daily auction values reflect that. My only regret was running out of cash adding to my positions too early.
Quarterly Payers: Costco and Westrock had uneventful quarters paying their dividend as expected. These companies also held up decently well through the month of March and I added a little to the Westrock position.
In an unfortunate note, Cracker Barrel paid me what is going to be the last dividend in a while. I wrote about my struggle with the company’s acquisition of Punch Bowl Social back in this October blog post. Well, this week they wrote off the entire $133mil investment and suspended the dividend. The company has still not been transparent about the metrics it used in the acquisition, even though they were pressed by analysts and their largest shareholder. That was roughly five quarters worth of dividends management just lost in a “wtf were you thinking” acquisition. I’ve learned a lesson about holding on to something when I’ve lost confidence in the management, I shouldn’t have let capital gain taxes prevent me from selling. I’ll eventually exit some of my holdings, there’s no rule that says I have to make back money in the same way I lost it.
The dividend income report is only from our taxable brokerage account since these dividends are paid and used as part of our living expenses.
Blog: $12.21! I made my inaugural first dollar from the blog after 2.5 years thanks to my dozens of readers clicking on the amazon links I’ve included in articles. There’s nothing funnier than seeing the posts now about “start your own blog and start making money today!” or the comments on twitter saying “all FIRE bloggers make their living blogging”. I broke the consistency of $0.00 earned on the blog.
Job Spotter: $28.81. This was the remaining payout from a decent run of payouts during our Hawaii trip. I imagine this line item will slowly head towards zero due to high unemployment and the lack of hiring by small businesses.
Bank Bonuses/Other: $0. I expect a bank signup bonus to hit in April and need to focus a bit more on this. Check out Doctor of Credit if you want to give it a try. I’ll also be reporting on some other side income options I’m considering.
Dividend Income: $1,862
The monthly payers continued to produce in the month and March was a big month for some of the bank stock holdings. Bank of America and Bank of Hawaii both paid dividends in the month of March and are larger holdings. I believe both of these banks should do okay through this slump, they have kept their payout ratios conservative and have room to slow buybacks before cutting the dividend. Unfortunately I’m writing this on April 6th and there’s a lot of uncertainty about many companies and what future earnings will look like. Fingers crossed these continue to produce income because some of our other holdings will not (ie Carnival Cruise Lines).
Blog: $0. The blog returned to its consistent performance from its first 29 months, earning exactly $0 in the month of March.
Instacart: $364. These were gross earnings for the month as a full service shopper before the expense of using my car or taxes. These were only partial month results and April will be much higher thanks to the current shutdown. Check out this detailed post on my experience with Instacart.
Job Spotter: $2.15. I’m guessing this line item will go to zero given the lack of hiring except from the likes of Walmart, Amazon, and Aldi. Update: This opportunity was officially suspended in early April by Indeed. Rest in peace Job Spotter.
I’ll be giving some detailed portfolio updates and eventually publish some lessons learned from the March 2020 crash, but it is still too early and the story is unfolding. I did make two important moves worth noting as this started: The option writing strategy was immediately put on pause because I had no desire to participate in extreme volatility with limited experience. I also ended up raising some cash in the first half of March from some of our Costco stock to make sure we aren’t needing to sell anything else for the remainder of 2020. Having more than half a year in cash or readily accessible short term treasuries is important not to be selling other assets into the depths of a bear market.
I can say without hesitation, March 2020 will be one of the most memorable months in my life. Hopefully most of the medical and economic issues can be resolved in the next few months and we can be back to a sense of normal.