For starters…My name is Michael; I grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina. My parents were middle-class, blue-collar workers who owned their own business in the south’s tool and die industry. The family business didn’t get us rich but did cover our expenses. The profits were hit or miss and were a roller coaster during the economic downturns. As the years passed by, the “great recession of 2008-2009” really took its toll on the family business. During this stressful time, I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Biology in 2009.
In 2009, my grandfather began teaching me about long term dividend investing using shares he owned (Hillshire Brands and Tyson Foods). In 2010, I was accepted to dental school. During my dental school tenure, he started a bank account with approximately 35 thousand dollars for me to use during my dental school education for everyday expenses to avoid additional loans.
Unfortunately, he passed away in 2013 (one year before I graduated). The account balance had around 13 thousand dollars at the time of his passing. Unbeknownst to me, a family member that was the “executor of his estate” drained every last dollar and closed the account. This family member told me she would give me the remaining balance in cash to use for expenses while in school, although that sum of money never appeared and seemed to vanish off the earth. (Rumor has it–the funds purchased wave runners)
In 2014, I graduated as a dentist with student loan debt totaling around 100 thousand dollars (which was greater than the amount of money I earned annually). In 2015, I created the “Liveoffmydividends.com” blog and managed to invest around 60 thousand dollars while living with my parents in the first year or two of working. The investments eventually dissolved when I got married and purchased my home (a money pit) in 2017. The “Liveoffmydividend” blog quickly derailed when I began spending more time around self-centered people that didn’t give two “shits” about me or my finances. This someone asking, “When are you getting paid? I need to buy this rug for the home..” or dropping Ben Franks for dinner for two are hopefully over and just a distant dreaded memory and a reminder to stay on my Journey.
I moved to the city in 2017 for a government job as a dentist, “my main hustle,” and started living a lifestyle “of trying to keep up with the Jones,” as many people say. Over the last four years, I had become a prisoner to my job, my debts, and my marriage. It consumed my inner soul leading to depression and a feeling of desperation. I fell into a mindset of “Well, I’m F*cked,” so I mine as well live for today and not tomorrow. I believe most cities are intentionally engineered this way to keep everyone in the rat race that supplies these “cesspool” overpopulated, Tesla driving hot spots and provide big paydays for corporate America. High living expenses, convenience, modest wages, close living quarters, etc. keep the average employee in financial prison. I began to think I was in a whirlpool that was taking me under. With my head barely above the water, gasping for air, while working 50-70 hours per week, I managed to pay all those expenses from 2016 to 2020 and practically lived paycheck to paycheck.
In 2017, I purchased a home for 475 thousand dollars in an upscale neighborhood and got married. The marriage lasted two years. The divorce cost me around 75 thousand dollars in 2020 (not to mention thousands upon thousands more during the marriage from overspending habits on lavish lampshades, area rugs, chef-prepared meals, etc.). I also purchased a small dental office that will be referred to as my “side hustle.” To pay off my martial debt, to close this dreaded chapter of my life, I drained my 401K to zero (approximately 40 thousand dollars) and used thousands more from my “side hustle.” This was a costly mistake that set me back five years in my Journey but taught me multiple valuable life lessons that would cost over 50 thousand dollars plus interest at a University (Joke).
In the fall of 2020, I began a new chapter in my life. I re-examined my life as a dentist and asked myself a question…Why did I become a dentist worthless monetarily than the door greeter at your local discount store and a servant to disrespectful, self-centered, law-suit happy patients? After thinking about this question over and over. I decided to begin this Journey and restructure my financial world completely to hopefully do what I enjoy most in life on my own time (Hunt, Fish, Farm in a remote location).
I am in the process of slashing my expenses to achieve a savings rate greater than 50 percent. I sold my home and netted around 115 thousand dollars (not all profit due to major repairs, renovations, HOA dues, taxes, etc. ) but a good starting point.
My goal is to become financially independent through passive income by the age of 45 by consistently investing to increase those monthly contributions. This means to earn enough passive income (from dividends) to cover all of my expenses. I created “the dividend dude” blog to inspire others (dudes and dudettes) that may be trapped in the same sinking boat and to document a “dudes” journey along the way to financial freedom.