My father-in-law and I recently talked about targeting investments heavily toward Dividend Aristocrats and Dividend Kings.1 He’s a fan: It’s lower risk to live off of the dividends alone in retirement, never touching the principle, right?
While this is a perfectly valid investment strategy, I can’t get past the idea that these royal dividend stocks alone are likely to be beaten by the market after tax consequences and/or the hidden opportunity cost of lost growth in the business because some earnings were skimmed for a little bribery to shareholders. A neat little study about my concern was done by Meb Faber, who showed that historically – with or without the benefit of a tax-advantaged account – a portfolio would have benefited from actively avoiding dividends between 1974 and 2015. (Granted, that study could easily have cherry-picked divisions of stocks that met the goal, but even statistical bullying sometimes leads to a conclusion worth further investigation. The conclusion here being: My skepticism about dividend investing being “too easy” is based on something other than blind emotion.2)
But we aren’t here to think about the merits of dividend investing, the merits of broad market ETFs, or any of the other concepts I’ve wasted your time with so far. We’re here to think about the unintended result of that conversation I had with my father-in-law. A theory about a type of insurance which, if it actually existed, would probably pay out to you now since this post has been unnecessarily cerebral so far. This post is about my realization that what I really want in my financial life is laziness insurance.
What is Laziness Insurance, and where do I get me some?
A lot of our talk focused on the security, stability, and predictability of dividends. As I explained it to him, though, I don’t have a lot of care for those things. If our investments decline, that’s ok. We plan to have enough money invested that we’ll likely never need to earn another penny – but that’s not how we’re actually going to live!
We’ll do things to earn money. I’ll blog – probably much more frequently, for better or for worse.3 Mrs. Vigilante will work with kids again in some capacity. I might teach a law or finance class, build simple furniture, or professionally drink whiskey4. As I told the in laws: “Our goal isn’t to never do anything again. Our goal is to not have to.”
That’s when it struck me. The best way to explain our goal: We want to be insured against our own laziness. We expect to continue to earn money, but we want to self-insure against our own tendency to occasionally want to do…nothing. To be ready for our “off days,” our “don’t feel like its,” and our “fuck offs” – even if they happen to last for a month!
No more dragging ourselves out of bed on a dark winter Monday morning. No more worrying about taking too many sick days. No more scheduling family visits around other people’s problems that we have to deal with at work. If we wanna get out of it, we can get out of it, and no one else can give us any shit.
But, both luckily and unluckily, the only place we can get this insurance is from ourselves. We have to tame the Hulk with our own strength and stamina. No one can refuse us based on some lack of privilege, but no one will give this to us, either. Laziness Insurance is the only insurance you must earn…and the only insurance without a sleazy salesman who comes to your place of employment once a year to trick you into it.
- The former, if you’re unfamiliar, is a group of S&P stocks with 25 or more consecutive years of dividend increases; the kings have 50 or more consecutive years. These are the businesses we’ve all heard of, all used, and all probably will call our benevolent overlords in the dystopian capitalist future.
- It’s not. I’m grasping at straws, here.
- Your call, readers.
- Dream big, right?