The financial blogging community is a pretty tight knit group. Although I’m new to the blogging side of things, I’ve been an audience member for over 5 years, reading people’s stories, learning from them, and following their financial journeys. There are probably 30+ people I have been following for years, who I could tell you their investing styles, what stocks they own, and perhaps even their average dividend income just off the top of my head. What I couldn’t do however is tell you a little more about the people behind the portfolio’s…which is what inspired me to reach out to a few of my favourites, and try to get to know them better.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be featuring some of my favorite bloggers and try to shed some light on their personal lives, investing philosophies and more.
I decided to start with Tom from Dividends Diversify. I started with Tom for 2 reasons.
First of all Tom is older, and further along financially than most bloggers I follow. He is already past the “accumulation” stage, and is now using dividends to help support his lifestyle. I thought it would be cool to start with Tom because he can serve as inspiration to new investors – showing them that it is possible to get to the promise land (financial independence). Tom is a teacher by trade, and does a great job sharing his financial knowledge to anyone willing to listen. I previously joked that in the financial blogger world Tom is kind of like everyone’s favourite uncle and after reading some of his responses you will understand why 🙂
The second reason I decided to start with Tom is………..he was the first one to reply to my email:)
I’ve broken down my questions into 4 sections:
- Personal Info
- Financial Info
- Deep Thoughts
- Lightning Round
Without further ado…I’d like to introduce you to Uncle Tom from Dividends Diversify!
Where do you live: Suburban town in the Midwestern United States
Tell me something awesome about your city: Nice homes, pretty neighborhoods, walkable, fun downtown with lots of bars, restaurants and summer events.
What do you do for a living: Retired at 48 from a 27 year career as a CPA and corporate finance and accounting professional. I now work part time as an accounting and business instructor at a local university. Teaching had always been of interest to me. I loved college and several of my undergraduate professors helped me find my way at a young age. I also enjoyed mentoring and helping others develop in the work place. So when I pulled the trigger on financial independence, I set off to be a college instructor.
Are you married: Yes. My wife’s name is Cindy, coming up on 20 years in 2019. I’m lucky. She is pretty sweet and supportive of a goof like me.
Do you have any Kids? Pets: No kids or pets. I guess I am the ultimate minimalist. If we ever get a dog, we will name him or her “Pork Chop”.
Website: Dividends Diversify
Why do you blog: I read several blogs about personal finance and dividend stock investing in the mid 2000’s when I was dreaming of financial independence. I thought that I could do that someday, but I was very busy with work at the time. I also always wanted to develop and write a personal finance and investing newsletter. So finally, the time was right and I put the two concepts together in 2017 and started Dividends Diversify. I actually have a mission statement for my blog that sums up what I’m trying to do:
Dividends Diversify is a personal finance website with emphasis on building passive income by investing in dividend stocks. The content on Dividends Diversify promises to entertain and educate the reader about building wealth in pursuit of financial independence.
In your opinion – what is the best thing you’ve ever published (link): That’s a tough one. I’m kind of hard on myself. I guess I will go with my article:
Timeless Investing Principles.
The article walks through my 40 plus years as an investor and culminates in 15 timeless investing principles that most everyone can relate to.
After I wrote the article, I was kind of taken back by the breadth of experiences I have encountered as an investor. For example, I was at the Chicago Board of Trade building auditing a discount investment brokerage firm in 1987 when the market crashed on Black Monday. I didn’t know it at the time, but I experienced a little part of investing history that day. Panic set in and it was pretty wild.
Why do you invest/What is your ultimate financial goal: Financial security and to provide for options in life aside from “working for the man”.
When did you start investing: My Dad helped me buy my first stock at age 10 with my lawn mowing and paper route money. He got me into a dividend reinvestment plan with a local electric utility company. Imagine that. Now I run Dividends Diversify. It must be in my blood.
What will you do in retirement: Both my wife and I are doing “phase 1” retirement right now, working in encore careers. “Phase 2” is just a fuzzy vision at this point. Good health willing, it will come into focus over the next few years.
What % of your salary do you invest/save each year: We actually spend a little more than our salaries right now. The excess spending is covered by dividends. Back in our big earnings years as a dual income no kids couple we saved a ton.
Do you invest in funds or individual stocks & why: Both. I think both can play an important part of a diversified investment portfolio.
If I gave you $10,000 right now to invest in 1 stock – what would you pick & why: I can’t answer that because I don’t think that way. It’s not about the one big winner to me. It’s about a diversified buy and hold portfolio. So, I would take that $10K and spread it around to two or three of my current holdings that look good to me at the time. My wire transfer instructions will be included in a separate note.
What was your biggest financial fuck up: Not maxing out my 401k in my 20’s and early 30’s. For most years, I gave the minimum to get the company match. I wanted to have ready access to my money so I could spend it. Bad boy!
Is there a God: I think so, but I’m not very religious. My mother raised me as a Catholic, but she would be very disappointed in me now from that standpoint.
When you die, what is 1 thing you hope people think of/remember you for: Just being a down to earth humble guy. I hate arrogance and do everything I can to avoid it.
What do you think the next big technological advance will be: Not sure. I’ve never been much of a tech visionary. I always do envision my/our future and I think that has been key to success. I always say if you can envision it, you can achieve it. I also once worked for a man that said we are only limited by our thoughts, so think big.
What is the single biggest threat to humanity: This question is beyond my pay grade.
What are you most proud of & why: No one in my immediate family has a college degree. So, I’m proud of carving my own path as a teenager, being an independent thinker, working my tail off, adapting and not letting life’s hurdles stop me from achieving a vision most people do not understand.
If you knew you only had 1 year to live – how would you spend it: When the time comes, I hope I go quickly so I don’t have to think about it. Honestly, if I don’t wake up tomorrow, I’m happy with my life.
What is one thing most people don’t do – but everybody SHOULD do to make the world a better place: Just be nice to people. Be respectful, humble, kind and courteous. It’s easier said than done.
Favorite Movie: The Big Lebowski
Favorite TV Show: The Andy Griffith Show and The Big Bang Theory
Favorite book: I read the Wall Street Journal.
Best looking blogger you follow: Don’t have one.
First Job: Mowing lawns.
Have you ever been fired: Yes.
Which website do you spend the most time on: Dividends Diversify.
Favorite Cocktail: Vodka on the rocks with a lemon twist.
Favorite Beer: I love beer and drink many kinds.
Favorite Sports Team: Chicago Bears
Have you ever been arrested? Yes. Once. I was 15.*
*Editors note*I should have asked a follow up*
Dogs or Cats: Dogs
Sex or Beer: Yes
Does your spouse/partner read your blog: Yes. And now she will read yours.
How often do you check your portfolio (be honest): Daily
How often do you check your website stats (be honest): Daily
**Bonus question submitted by my wife (I asked her what ONE question I should ask):
What do you put on your hotdog: I like Chicago style dogs minus the sport peppers. The Chicago hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.
I wanted to send a quick thanks to Tom for being a good sport – and to everyone else I highly recommend his blog. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned investor – Tom will teach you something new I promise!
If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming “Better know a blogger” piece, or have any specific questions you’d like to ask others in the community let me know!