How I Invested $15,000

By | August 15, 2017

After weeks of waiting and writing about the subject, my bonus finally arrived. This is therefore a follow up post to how to invest $20,000. A few days ago, I logged into my account and saw that I had $15,000 extra. For me, $15,000 is a lot of money. I’m not used to seeing that huge amount in my account and I wanted to ensure that I didn’t just squander it. Although I’m focused on reducing debt and building wealth, I have a problem with spending money. If it’s in my account, it’s gonna get spent. Period. That’s just how I am. Clearly I need to work on my discipline, but I didn’t want this bonus to be victim of my poor spending habits. So, without further adieu, let’s dive in to see how I invested $15,000. This will likely be a longer post. You’ve been warned.

Why Only $15,000?

In my original post about the matter, I said I was going to be receiving a $20,000 bonus from work. So, what happened? Well, it turns out that my employer kept $5,000 for taxes. I was expecting to receive the full $20k and keeping the $5k for taxes myself, but now I don’t have to worry about that. I estimate that I will be in the 25% tax bracket next year. Honestly, I don’t mind that this is the case. It prevents me from spending the money for whatever the reason. Liquidity is good, but at least I won’t have to worry about a huge tax bill come tax time.

This of course means that my original thought that I miscalculated my investment in my whoops post was incorrect. So, I really didn’t miscalculate at all. I originally thought I would have an effective amount of $15,000 to invest and that’s still the case. So, consider this an update to my Whoops moment. I’ll be checking with my HR department about the extra $5000, but I’m not holding my breath that I’m going to get that into my account anytime soon.

So, lets dive in to see how I invested the $15,000.

Credit Card Debt Wiped Out:  $3,000

The first thing I did was payoff my credit card debt. The balance was $2,981.82. However, for ease of math, let’s call it $3,000. That’s going to be the approach I take for the rest of this post, where all amounts are rounded up or down for easy math. The $3,000 was the last remaining balance I had on my credit card at an interest rate of 6.4%. I’m still waiting for my payment to be reflected on my account, but essentially, my credit card is now zero. This is therefore an update to my post, One Down One To Go.

I really hate credit card debt. I was listening to Chris Hogan on the Dave Ramsey Show and he said something I agree with. And that is debt is a thief. We are stealing from our future self when we get into debt. So, it was important for me to get rid of the credit card debt. Goodbye Chase.  Good bye.

I will admit that although I got rid of the credit card debt, I have decided NOT to cut up my credit card. I don’t want to get back into debt, but I do recognize that credit cards can come in handy under the right circumstances. Hopefully, I’ll get to the point where I feel comfortable cutting up the cards. I’m not there yet, but hopefully will be in the future.

Can’t Forget Family:  $1,000

So, one of the reasons why I pursue the dividend growth investment (DGI) strategy is because I don’t want to find myself in the same situation as my mom. I love my mom, but she currently have to work at her age just to make ends meet. I want to ensure that when I get to retirement age, that I am able to retire and won’t have to work to make ends meet. So, I’m pretty motivated to have diversified sources of passive income coming in when I retire. That includes dividend income.

In any case, I decided I was going to try to help my mom out. I gifted $700 to my mom and $200 to one of my sisters. That sister is also struggling to make ends meet and I figured an extra $200 out of nowhere would be a blessing. My family know that I’m struggling too and it’s just me. But, it feels good to be in a position to help out. I’m sure they would do the same for me, or at least I hope they would. But that’s not the reason why I do it. I give out of love. Simple as that.

I wanted to give $1000, but I found myself behind by about $100. So, again, for easy math, I’m going to round up this number to $1000.

Emergency Fund:  $1,000

Having an emergency fund is very important. Dave Ramsey suggests having a starter emergency fund of $1,000. Then, pay off all your debts from smallest to largest. I choose to do a hybrid approach. I try to have an emergency fund of $1,000, but I also want to ensure that I keep investing, even while paying off debt.

Because of recent setbacks, my emergency funds were depleted. I even had to liquidate my Robinhood account, which I didn’t want to do. However, the next thing I did was establish a $1,000 starter emergency fund. This is important because I’m still in a transition period at work, although I think my income will be stabilized with my next paycheck.

I do recognize that $1,000 is the bare minimum and that I should have 3-6 months of expenses. One of the things I decided to do was to transfer $50 every paycheck to my emergency fund. So, that’s about $100 a month. Over time, I hope to grow my emergency fund to the required 3-6 months of expenses. But, I do it in such I way where I don’t feel it as much because I’m transferring a relatively small amount every month. I prefer this approach than to using the bonus to fully fund my emergency fund. I may not be following the textbook approach, but, like they say, personal finance is personal.

Capital One Investing:  $8,000

My current portfolio has 7 stocks invested in Capital One Investing Sharebuilder Plan. I’m an Advantage customer. That means that I pay $12 a month for 12 trades. I prefer this approach because I can just set it and forget it. It’s a great way to automatically invest into stocks. Usually, brokerage companies allow you to automatically invest into index funds and the like, but not individual stocks. Capital One Investing allows you to automatically invest in individual stocks. That’s why I like them so much. I get to invest in fractional shares, engage in dollar cost averaging, among other benefits.

So, to clarify and emphasize, I pay $12 a month for 12 trades. However, I currently own 7 stocks with Capital One Investing. That means that each month, I invest once per month in each of the 7 stocks, and then an additional once per month in 5 of the 7 stocks. This gets very annoying to constantly decide which 5 stocks to invest in and the additional amount to invest in those stocks. I can’t really set it and forget it as I would like to do. So, the instant bonus has given me a great opportunity. Instead of investing in only 7 stocks, I can add 5 more stocks to my portfolio and invest in 12 stocks. So, with 12 stocks, I can do 12 trades for $12 a month, one time. I can truly set it and forget it because Capital One Investing will automatically do this for me. That’s the main reason why I’ve decided to add 5 more stocks to my portfolio.

So, with my bonus, I was able to add $8,000 to Capital One Investing. Importantly, I was able to add 5 more stocks to my portfolio for a total of 12 stocks.

5 Stocks Added to Capital One Investing

So, here are the 5 stocks added to my dividend portfolio:

  1. Cisco Systems (CSCO)
  2. General Mills (GIS)
  3. Pfizer (PFE)
  4. Starbucks (SBUX)
  5. WW Granger (GWW)

With these five stocks added to my portfolio, I will likely not add anymore stocks to my Capital One Investing account anytime soon. So, I have a total of 12 stocks I track with Capital One Investing. Keep in mind that I still have three stocks with Computershare. So, any additional stocks to my portfolio will likely be added to Computershare.

The other thing I want to mention is that my monthly contribution to my total of 15 stocks is $790 for an average of $52.66 invested into each stock. I don’t invest equally, but the point is that I don’t have a lot of money devoted to buying stocks on a monthly basis. So, I don’t want to spread myself too thin. However, I feel these 15 stocks are good long-term positions to keep for a long time.

Computershare:  $2,000

One of the last things I did with my bonus was transfer $2000 to my Computershare account. I have the following three stocks investing in Computershare and distributed the $2000 as follows:

  1. Abbvie (ABBV) – $750
  2. Exxon Mobile (XOM) – $500
  3. Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) – $750

Admittedly, the amounts invested in each stock was somewhat random or otherwise based on my gut feeling. I did not do any sort of analysis to see which stock was undervalued or anything like that. Instead, I just spread the wealth based on how I was feeling. I readily admit that, that is not the best way to invest. In fact, I’m wholly recommending that you do not follow my approach. But, call me lazy or whatever, but that’s just what I decided to do.

What I Didn’t Do With The Money

As with everything, there is opportunity cost. The one thing I chose not to do with the money was pay down on my $20k of student loans. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to tackle that on a monthly basis. I track my payments using the debt tracker. I should be reporting my first payment soon.

Paying off debt vs investing is frequently subjected to debate. I chose to take a hybrid approach, for better or worse.


There you have it. Of the $15,000 I received, $3,000 went to credit cards, $1,000 to family, $1,000 to my emergency fund, and $10,000 to my dividend portfolio. It’s not everyday I get a bonus and I’m very thankful for receiving one. Based on the number of credits I have available at Capital One Investing, the full amount of my investment won’t be reflected until sometime in September. But, it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when at this point.

Let me know what you think about how I invested $15,000? Would you have done anything different? Let me know in the comment section below.

35 thoughts on “How I Invested $15,000

  1. Miguel @ The Rich Miser

    Congrats on paying down the credit card debt! I would have distributed the $15,000 in a somewhat similar way: spent $2,000 on travel, $3,000 to pay down debt, $1,000 to emergency fund, $4,500 to Betterment, $4,500 for S&P 500 mutual fund. In other words, most would have been invested in stocks, similar to what you did.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      That’s good. I really hated that credit card debt. Thanks for stopping by Miguel.

  2. Stockles

    Dividend portfolio

    Nicely done! I support many of your decisions here. Paying down credit card, giving to family, investing in great stocks (only J&J where you paid over my fair value $95-110). Overall, good stuff.

    As always, I want to focus more on the cons than the pros (hehe):
    $12 a month times 12 montha is $144 in brokerage.
    In 10 years that is $1440 in brokerage.
    In 20 years that is $2880 in brokerage.

    So, is it good or bad?
    You will get dollar-cost averaging 12 times a year. This is probably nice, but hard to compare to say every quarter. The way you do it, is almost the same as an index. Since you don’t care that much about valuation, I think this strategy is good for you.

    Reinvesting build up emrgency fund? From now on, I’d say emergency fund. Nothing gives you more calmness than knowing you could lose your portfolio tomorrow, and life still goes on. Same ways as always. Try getting to that point.

    Overall, thumbs up from Stockles

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Yea, I’m not a fan of the $144 a year in brokerage fees. I would prefer $0 which I could obtain from using an app like Robinhood. But, I really enjoy the automatic investing into individual stocks and the fractional shares. I’m not sure how other people do it to keep costs down. I suppose one approach would be to save up until I have a bigger amount before investing, but I’d rather take the lazy approach and do it monthly. That way I know it’s done, and I don’t do other things with the money or anything like that.

      Plus, I’m secretly hoping that Robinhood will allow fractional shares and automatic investing. I might consider diversifying in brokerage firms at that point.

      I could automatically invest in index funds or ETFs for free using some brokerages, but that defeats the purpose of me investing in individual stocks, which I like. For what it’s worth, my retirement account at work and my IRA are index funds of some sort.

  3. Dividend Daze

    I am really impressed and love how you distributed your newly found capital. The first few things were very smart. To pay down debt, especially from debt with high interest rates. Also the emergency fund, even if small, can be very beneficial if needed. I like that you gave some away to your family. That is very admirable of you and I’m sure they appreciated it.

    The stock choices even though you didn’t put as much thought into it apparently, are all solid choices for the long term. Interesting you just distribute capital evenly into your stocks at whatever the current price is. Instead of just holding it to buy something at a good value. But the main thing is you are adding new capital to your portfolio. Each way will help add more dividends!
    Dividend Daze recently posted…Recent Buy – LTC Properties (LTC)My Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Div Daze, I really don’t have the luxury of trying to figure out when the best time is to get in the market. I just don’t have that kind of time or know-how. So, I choose to dollar cost average my way into the market so that i get the average price point. I’m really taking the lazy approach to building wealth because I am, well, lazy. Thanks for stopping by as always buddy.

  4. Project2035

    Great stocks you have picked there. I woul add telecoms T and VZ to boost the div income, also INTC together with CSCO they make good tech pair. But your 10k$ alocation is very well 🙂 Good luck.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Yea, I was thinking about Intel, but ultimately decided against it for now. It’s tough to decide on just five. In fact, my fifth stock was going to be OHI instead of PFE, but for some reason, PFE won out at the end.

  5. My Dividend Dynasty

    Congrats on knocking out your credit card debt! I like how you distributed your bonus. I probably would have distributed the 15K like this: 12K into stock purchases and 3K into my bank account (emergency fund). But we each have different life circumstances. Nice job though! Keep up the good work! 🙂
    My Dividend Dynasty recently posted…One Month AnniversaryMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Dynasty. Even though I only rebuilt my emergency funds to $1000, I’m contributing $100 a month (or $50 every paycheck) to that emergency fund. That way, over time, I will build it up. If an emergency happens, I still have the starter emergency fund ($1000) and my credit cards (bad I know, but that’s what I’m keeping them for at the moment). I have over $8000 available to my in credit, so I can tap that if I need to. Before, I would just wait to see if I had a large some of money so I can put it towards my emergency fund. But, building it over time via small amounts is easier and makes sense.

      But, taking your approach and putting 12k in stocks and 3k in emergency fund is also not a bad approach. Both ways, the money is put to good use and not squandered on frivolous things like depreciating assets.

  6. Scott

    Dividend Portfolio,

    Awesome post. It is great that you paid off the credit card debt. That stuff is horrible…typically super high interest rates. And, you can’t get a tax deduction like you can for paying off student loan debt. It was good too that you didn’t cut up your credit card. As long as you have the discipline to not overspend, credit cards are amazing. Where else can you get cash back and other travel rewards for just buying things as you normally would? Especially make sure to keep your oldest card around since that helps establish the length of your credit history.

    Motif Investing might be a thing to look at as well. They do fractional shares for just $4.95 per trade. For example, you could make a trade of $100 worth of Apple and get around 0.63 shares (at today’s price). Depending on how much you typically trade per month, this could be another option. They also allow purchase of a basket of up to 30 stocks for $9.95 per trade. I have no relation to them and don’t use their service, but I have heard good things.

    When I was starting off I invested mostly in the commission free ETFs at Schwab. This way I could buy the ETFs on a monthly basis for no cost. I kept doing this until I was able to invest a large enough amount each time so that the commissions were no longer too much of a drag. I prefer individual stocks as you do, but the fractional share services weren’t as common as they are now.

    You picked some great stocks to invest in. Those will serve you well into the future.

    Scott recently posted…July 2017 IncomeMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Scott. I had looked into motif investing sometime ago, and I’m definitely not opposed to considering alternate brokerages. I’m sure that as competition continues to mount, other companies will continue to reduce their prices and offer more value to their customers. Paying $9.95 per trade for up to 30 stocks seems like a much better deal than the $12 I pay for 12 stocks at Capital One Investing. I think when I first looked at motif, they were relatively new (and they still are). Also, I just read that they don’t offer dividend reinvesting and so I would have to manually reinvest the dividends. But I would have to look into it some more. Especially when I decide that it’s time to increase the number of stocks I have to more than 12. I may have to look into other alternatives at that point.

      I do think I am going to stay where I am for the time being, but will keep other alternatives, such as motif, in mind. Thanks for the suggestion and for stopping by.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Mr. ATM. I’m definitely in favor of the hybrid approach. I do believe there is power in being focus, but as long as i am conscientious with my money, good things are bound to happen.

  7. Passivecanadianincome

    Nice work. First of all congrats on the bonus! Great work paying off that credit card. Why not cancel it though? sounds like you have more then one since you said cards. You really only need one and keep a cash back one and pay it off constantly! Great that you helped the family out, here’s hoping they see you changing your finances and decide to follow suit. You cant tell anyone what to do but if they want to learn its great for both of you! Emergency fund was a smart move always nice having that. 10k in stocks who can complain about that? sure you could of searched for the best value at the time but they are all good stocks and long term its all good! keep it up man!
    Passivecanadianincome recently posted…13% Pullback = Another PurchaseMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks PCI. I won’t cancel it until I feel like I have enough cash to handle my emergencies so maybe when I have a fully funded emergency fund will I cancel my credit cards. Maybe.

  8. singledadmoney

    Sweet, you finally received your bonus. I like that you paid off your credit card, refilled your emergency fund, AND gave some away to family. That was cool. I think you are putting a little too much reliance in the credit cards though. I’ll bet as your emergency fund builds, you’ll see it’s possible to live without them and you’ll start adding more to your emergency fund to bring the balance up to a level you are comfortable with. Keep up the great posts!
    singledadmoney recently posted…Housing Expenses – Why I RentMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Good point Brian and actually quite true. The credit cards are there in case I have a HUGE emergency and need the money. True, when things get tight, I use them for living expenses, but that’s not the plan. As I build my emergency fund fully, I will have little use or need for credit cards.

  9. Dividend Diplomats

    I think this was a very solid plan with the $15,000. Gotta love paying off your credit card debt. Sure, you could have wiped out the student loans for the most part as you suggested. But investing in very solid stocks, building an emergency fund after your recent events, and even helping out some others that need it will help improve your financial situation in the long run. Maybe you could allocate additional money each month now that you have a foundation in your portfolio.

    Take care and I cannot wait to see the benefits of your investing!

    Dividend Diplomats recently posted…Dividend Investing to Take Back ControlMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Bert. I don’t think I’m going to allocate additional money to the portfolio. With the foundation established, I’m going to allocate additional funds to paying of my last remaining student loan. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be contribution to my portfolio. I still want to maintain a minimum level of investing. Now, once I get the last remaining student loan paid off, I’ll be debt free for everything but the house and future additional money will either be used to boost the portfolio or saved for a down payment on another house.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Lanny. Glad you enjoyed reading it. I definitely enjoyed writing it.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks Mr. Robot. I’m honestly not sure. But as soon as I purchase the stocks in September, it will be reflected in my portfolio. It should be the first week in September. The forward dividend income is already reflective of the $2000 I invested in Computershare.

  10. DividendSolutions

    Hey DP,

    glad to hear that it isn’t raining so much anymore…really like how you used the 20k bonus. Especially that you thought about others in need. For me, family has priority, always!! And i was once in a situation where i really needed help from my family and i’m grateful and will do the same for them.

    Like your purchases as well. Cisco is one of my tech holdings and Starbucks is on my watchlist.

    Keep it up!

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks DS. Cisco was an easy pick for me and Starbucks was honestly just because I go to the store everyday and feel like I should just own part of the company. I’m with you. Family always has priority. And good observation: it has definitely stopped raining. It might be still wet, but it’s stopped raining. Always appreciate your comment.

  11. Charlie

    First congrats on your approach. I can add little to the other comments except:

    1) As long as your broker costs are reasonable don’t be too concerned. Under current tax law fees can be excluded from the gain when sold. Often times by waiting for lower fees an opportunity is lost.
    2) As pointed out above, Motif is fine – they do fractionals but no Dripping. The biggest issue I have with them is no Pink or Grey sheet trading. But Capital One Investing doesn’t either. If foreign issues (other than US or dual listed) are in in your future, you’ll require a second broker.
    3) Be careful with Computershare and read the fee structure. Your current ones (except possibly JNJ) are fine but will hit you on fees when selling. Last time I transferred to Schwab (no fee) and then sold (4.95 commission rather than $25 + a few pennies per share).

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Interesting point Charlie. So, you were able to transfer your shares from Computershare to another broker for no fee? Was this outside of a retirement account? I have a taxable account with Computershare. The JNJ I think charges me a $1 everytime I want to invest (which is the effective charge for Capital One Investing per share), but the others are no fee drips. Pfizer and Coca Cola used to be no fee drips with Computershare, but now I don’t like their fee structure, which is why I use Capital One Investing to invest in those companies. I definitely pay attention to the fee structure, but you’re right, it’s more costly to sell using Computershare. With any luck though, I will hold onto these companies and never sell, but only live off the dividends they provide.

      Of course, if a company stops paying dividends, reduces their dividends, or it otherwise doesn’t make sense to stay invested in the company, I will sell. But, I try to choose companies where there’s little likelihood of that happening. Apple and Starbucks were chosen for different reasons (I just like those companies), but by and large, the remaining stocks were chosen because of the strength of the dividend history and the overall likelihood of continued dividend increases for years to come.

      1. Charlie

        It was a taxable account. Capital One should be able to initiate the paperwork and it takes about a week. I took a hit on fractionals as Schwab only allows full shares to be transferred so check your broker on this issue.

        Other than the fees, I like Computershare (CMSQY) enough to be a shareholder, especially the fact they have a captive audience. They were my first Australian stock.

  12. DivHut

    Well done. You really put your money to good use. You invested the majority in solid dividend paying stocks. No unnecessary risk there. Some might opt to “gamble” on some risky stock but you went the conservative route. Helping family and eliminating CC debt is also a huge gesture. I would have done the same. Invest most of it and use some to pay off some medical bills I have outstanding. As with your student loan I am tackling my medical bills on a monthly basis. There are no interest charges on my bills so I can spread out my payments monthly. Thanks for sharing.
    DivHut recently posted…5 Seemingly Harmless But Deadly Mistakes Investors Must AvoidMy Profile

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      No worries Div Hut. Infusion of the cash into my portfolio is a testament that I’m committed to that strategy. Good luck on paying down medical bills. Zero interest is good but it would be better once the debt is gone.

  13. Pingback: August 2017 Dividend Income Report - Dividend Portfolio

  14. wealth from thirty

    I really like where you allocated the money DP. It seems like a good balance btwn saving, investment and giving to family. Gives you back some breathing room too. If I came into 15K i’d probably top up my emergency fund, invest about a third, put 3k into a travel fund, make a few discretionary purchases I’ve been putting off (<$500) and do something nice with family. The rest I'd put in a savings account and just take my time deciding what would be a nice way to deploy it.

    1. Dividend Portfolio Post author

      Thanks WFT. And, your plan sounds like a good one if you came into 15k. Nothing wrong with taking the time necessary to figure out what to do with the funds. Thanks for commenting and welcome to the site.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge