Letter to my Readers – 2015 in review

Dear Reader,

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my review of 2015.

2015 is already behind us. I can say that overall 2015 was a great year for my Vrijheid Fonds. For my family it was also a great year. In 2015 I have travelled to The States to visit family and we took also several vacations. We have health, we have family, we have friends and we remain employed.  I’m really blessed and fortunate. I look back at a great year!

In 2015 I wrote at the end of every quarter a “Letter to my Readers”. In this letters I told you why I do a quarterly review. There are actually a couple of reasons (besides because its fun to write). By doing my own review periodically it will help me understand whether I’m on course to meeting my goals, or whether I need to change my strategy or tactics.

It also helps me to stay focused on actively managing my Vrijheid Fonds. And I believe it helps me, through reflecting on the past, to be a better DGI.

Let’s review some of the biggest financial news from 2015.

  • Falling commodity prices: The Standard & Poor’s GSCI commodities index plunged 34% in 2015, down 80% from its peak.  It’s now at the lowest level since 1999.
  • Slowdown of the Chinese Economy: The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 11% in August on fears that everyone had underestimated China’s troubles and their global impact. In the last two months the stock markets found the way up again. The market correction in August gave me an opportunity to buy stocks at a discount. 😉
  • Interest rate hike in the U.S: The Federal Reserve raised the short-term rate by 0.25% in December. This increases the value of the U.S. dollar. Meanwhile, the ECB, Bank of Japan, and China continue to go in the reverse direction to expand their money-easing policies.
  • Massive corporate mergers: Mergers and acquisitions worldwide a new record. This may not be a big deal to some, but it has real implications for stock investors. A few examples:
    Burger King bought Tim Hortons;
    – Ahold merged with Delhaize;
    – AB Inbev bought SABMiller.
  • Indexes: DJIA down 2%, Nasdaq up 6% and AEX up 4%.

Personal Goals
In 2015 I set five personal goals. And I’m proud to say that I achieved all of them. Here a short summary.

  1. Receive € 1,750 in dividends during the year of 2015 Achieved!
    At the end of 2015 I received € 1,772.67 in dividend income. So yes I reached my first goal!I report all my dividends after taxes. So actually I received €2,086 in gross dividend. But I will continue to post all my dividends after taxes.

    My dividend income for 2015 showed an increase of more than 59% from previous year.

  1. Save 40% of my net income in 2015, averaged monthly – Achieved!
    This year I set myself a higher and more challenging goal than in 2014. I wanted to save a least 40% of my income from my day job. In 2015 I saved a little bit more than 47% on average of my income. So yes I achieved this goal!The extra saving has not been used for investing. We are saving for some home improvement. As of today the planning is to start with the home improvement in May or June of 2016.
  1. Invest a total of € 5,000 new cash – Achieved!
    In order to let my Vrijheid Fonds grow, it needs fresh cash. My ultimate goal is to live of my dividend Income. Therefore my Vrijheid Fonds needs to grow.I have blown this goal to smithereens (what a nice English word 😉 )
    I donated a total of € 7,150 of fresh capital. Wow… this I’m really proud of! Part of this extra fresh capital came from a bonus I got from my boss this month.
  1. Write a least 50 post on Polliesdividend – Achieved!
    I wrote 84th blog post this year. In my Letter to my readers – half year review in July of this year I adjusted this goal to 100 blog post. So I made the original goal, but did not reach the adjusted goal.I really like writing blog post. It is still hard to write a post. This because English is not my native language. And I want it to be perfect. But after a couple of posts it became easier. Okay I make an error, so what. I’m not perfect 😉 But writing my investing decisions down helps me to make better decisions. And it also helps me to track my progress.
    Another motivation is to network more actively with other investors focused on dividend growth investing. The wider audience and increased traffic to Polliesdividend is a welcome bonus.
  1. Invest in my self by following a course or webinars – Achieved!
    Stephen Covey called it Sharpen the Saw. I think it is important to keep education your self. And of course maintain good health.For my physical sharpening I have been going to the gym two times a week (on average). My mental sharpening I did by following ten webinars. All these webinars were on basic investment knowledge. In my half-year review I adjusted this goals to 1 webinar per quarter. I’m proud to say I achieved this goal!

These were my five goals for 2015. So I’m happy to report that I’ve reached all my goals!

Vrijheid Fonds
Some key statistics on my Vrijheid Fonds for 2015:

Net Value (31-12-2015): € 63,695
Growth Net value (from 1/1/15): 11.83%
Fresh Capital: € 7,150
Dividend Income: € 1773.58
Number of stocks: 22
New addition: 36 stocks of CVX, 38 stocks of PG, 32 stocks of MSFT, 40 stocks of OHI, 45 stocks of WMT, 41 stocks of ADM, 69 stocks of RDS-A, 14 stocks of RDS-A (Drip) and 4 stocks of UN (Drip).
Total purchases: 10 new purchases
Number of dividend increases: 13
Percentage Dollar stocks (31-12-2015): 50.06%

I started Polliesdividend blog in June 2014 after being inspired by some of the many great personal finance blogs out there that chronicled their individual journeys to financial independence and retirement. I wanted to share my journey to hopefully inspire others and also to track my progress towards my ultimate goal of financial independence.

2015 Overview:
Page views: almost 25,000
Average view per day: 68
Blog post: 83
Best read article: Some impressive stocks (click here)
Countries: 28% of my traffic is from the US, 20% from The Netherlands, 8% from Spain and Germany and 5% from Canada.
In total people from 102 countries! Came to my blog and read my posts.

Popular Posts
If you miss any of my most popular posts, take the time to read them. These were my top posts of the year:

All in all it was good blogging year. I’m proud of little blog that has grown to what it is today. I became a better writer as the year went along. It was still hard to find time, but every blog post has been written with a big smile 🙂 So again: Thank you to all my readers and contributors.

Vereit (VER):
Vereit- formally known as ARCP. We probably all know what happened with ARCP in the last quarter in 2014. They stopped paying dividend. Because of the total amount I invested in ARCP and the portfolio of the company, I decided to leave my ARCP-stocks alone. So I did not sell ARCP when everybody else did. ARCP is the world’s largest net lease real estate investment trust. And I think with the right management it will be a great company (again).

The changed not only the name of the company but also the complete management. In August they finally announced the re-instatement of their dividend. They will change the dividend from a monthly to quarterly bases.

In October I collected the first dividend. VER will be paying an annual dividend of $ 0.55. With the current pricing of VER, this is a Yield of about 7.7%.

The oil price has been cut in two in just one year. This decline is due to the over capacity of the market. And the OPEC is not planning to reduce the production of oil. So this is one of the biggest reasons why the oil price is this low. These oil price leads to fewer profits of the major oil companies.

Some experts say that the oil prices will be low till at least 2020. If this is true the major oil companies will be having a hard time to maintain the dividend increases each year. We will just have to see and wait. But on the other hand it gives also a nice buying opportunity.

The Dollar got stronger against the Euro last. The dollar has risen approx. 11% (from 0.8265 to 0.9209). For my Vrijheid Fonds the value of dollar stocks will benefit from a stronger dollar. However the turnover from a lot of companies will definitely not benefit from a stronger dollar.

Teaching my kids:
In August I started writing some post to try to financially educate my kids. I know they are still very young (4 and 7) but it is never too early to start. And the can read these blog posts later on in life 😉 (This is probably the case, because they don’t speak or read English very well at this moment – You got to love an understatement!).

I had some great feedback from you readers on these posts. Thanks for that!

For young kids it is in my opinion the best way to learn about money and the value of it just by playing. Research here in The Netherlands shows that kids, who have learned about financial affairs/stuff, will be more financial stable, later on in life. And they most likely will not come into financial troubles.

In 2015 I wrote 4 posts in this series. For 2016 I have already some new ideas for some posts. If you missed the posts in this series, take the time to read them.


2015 has been a good year. I achieved all my personal goals and had a great first year of blogging. This gives me confidence for 2016. I think 2016 will be a challenge. In the first two weeks we saw a rapid decline in the stock market. Stay focused and keep investing than some nice opportunities will certainly come.

How was your year? Did you have a good year?



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