MMB Portfolio 2023 2nd Quarter Update: Dividend & Interest Income

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Here’s my 2023 Q2 income update for my MMB Portfolio. I prefer to track the income produced as an alternative metric for performance. The total income goes up much more gradually and consistently than the number shown on brokerage statements (price), which helps encourage consistent investing. I imagine my portfolio as a factory that churns out dollar bills, a tree that gives dividend fruit.

Recently, I came across this ETF Trends interview with Ryan Krueger of Freedom Day Solutions. While I don’t own the MBOX ETF, I do feel aligned with their overall philosophy of watching dividend growth. (I prefer to let the market figure things out via broad passive index fund, rather than active management.)

Crigger: What is the concept of a “Freedom Day”? And how is it different than a retirement age?

Krueger: In one sentence: Freedom Day isn’t about what asset level to retire at, but about what income number. Frankly, I don’t think retirement should be an age thing, anyway. Why not retire at 50—or if you really love what you’re doing, why not 80 or 90?

Freedom Day is our mathematical version of something better than retirement. It’s the day when your cash flow exceeds your outflows; when you finally know for certain enough is enough.

But it all comes back to income. Advisors’ biggest challenge right now is figuring out how to generate increasing income flows for their clients. As a result, investors are reaching for yield, and taking risks they might not realize are there, all to try to catch up and get that 4-5% withdrawal rate. But if you dig your income well before you’re thirsty, rising dividends oer the potential to be larger than withdrawal rates – and that’s free cash flow, not withdrawing.

Background about why I track dividends. Stock dividends are a portion of profits that businesses have decided to distribute directly to shareholders, as opposed to reinvesting into their business, paying back debt, or buying back shares. The dividends may suffer some short-term drops, but over the long run they have grown faster than inflation.

In the US, the dividend culture is somewhat conservative in that shareholders expect dividends to be stable and only go up. Thus the starting yield is lower, but grows more steadily with smaller cuts during hard times. Here is the historical growth of the trailing 12-month (ttm) dividend paid by the Vanguard Total US Stock ETF (VTI), courtesy of

European corporate culture tends to encourage paying out a higher (sometimes fixed) percentage of earnings as dividends, but that also means the dividends move up and down with earnings. Thus the starting yield is higher but may not grow as reliably. Here is the historical growth of the trailing 12-month (ttm) dividend paid by the Vanguard Total International Stock ETF (VXUS).

The dividend yield (dividends divided by price) also serve as a rough valuation metric. When stock prices drop, this percentage metric usually goes up – which makes me feel better in a bear market. When stock prices go up, this percentage metric usually goes down, which keeps me from getting too euphoric during a bull market. Here’s a related quote from Jack Bogle (source):

The true investor will do better if he forgets about the stock market and pays attention to his dividend returns and to the operating results of his companies. – Jack Bogle

My personal portfolio income history. I started tracking the income from my portfolio in 2014. Here’s what the annual distributions from my portfolio look like over time:

  • $1,000,000 invested in my portfolio as of January 2014 would started out paying ~$24,000 in annual income over the previous 12 months. (2.4% starting yield)
  • If I reinvested the dividends/interest every quarter but added no other contributions, as of July 2023 it would have generated ~$51,000 in annual income over the previous 12 months.
  • Even if I SPENT all the dividends/interest every quarter and added no other contributions, as of July 2023 it would have generated ~$39,000 in annual income over the previous 12 months.

This chart shows how the annual income generated by my portfolio has increased over time and with dividend reinvestment. Note that these are nominal values and interest rates and inflation have risen more recently.

I’m using simple numbers to illustrate things, but isn’t that a more pleasant way to track your progress?

TTM income yield. To estimate the income from my portfolio, I use the weighted “TTM” or “12-Month Yield” from Morningstar (checked 4/2/23), which is the sum of the trailing 12 months of interest and dividend payments divided by the last month’s ending share price (NAV) plus any capital gains distributed (usually zero for index funds) over the same period. The trailing income yield for this quarter was 3.33%, as calculated below. Then I multiply by the current balance from my brokerage statements to get the total income.

Asset Class / Fund % of Portfolio Trailing 12-Month Yield Yield Contribution
US Total Stock (VTI) 30% 1.51% 0.45%
US Small Value (VBR) 5% 2.22% 0.11%
Int’l Total Stock (VXUS) 20% 2.94% 0.59%
Int’l Small Value (AVDV/EYLD) 5% 5.68% 0.28%
US Real Estate (VNQ) 10% 4.52% 0.45%
Inter-Term US Treasury Bonds (VGIT) 15% 2.22% 0.33%
Inflation-Linked Treasury Bonds (TIP) 15% 4.32% 0.65%
Totals 100% 2.87%


My ttm portfolio yield is now roughly 2.87%, a bit lower than last quarter’s value. That means if my portfolio had a value of $1,000,000 today, I would have received $28,700 in dividends and interest over the last 12 months. (This is not the same as the dividend yield commonly reported in stock quotes, which just multiplies the last quarterly dividend by four.)

What about the 4% rule? For goal planning purposes, I support the simple 4% or 3% rule of thumb, which equates to a target of accumulating roughly 25 to 33 times your annual expenses. I would lean towards a 3% withdrawal rate if you want to retire young (closer to age 50) and a 4% withdrawal rate if retiring at a more traditional age (closer to 65). It’s just a quick and dirty target, not a number sent down from the heavens. During the accumulation stage, your time is better spent focusing on earning potential via better career moves, improving in your skillset, and/or looking for entrepreneurial opportunities where you can have an ownership interest.

As a semi-retired investor that has been partially supported by portfolio income for a while, I find that tracking income makes more tangible sense in my mind and is more useful for those who aren’t looking for a traditional retirement. Our dividends and interest income are not automatically reinvested. They are another “paycheck”. Then, as with a traditional paycheck, we can choose to either spend it or invest it again to compound things more quickly. Even if we spend the dividends, this portfolio paycheck will still grow over time. You could use this money to cut back working hours, pursue a different career path, start a new business, take a sabbatical, perform charity or volunteer work, and so on.

Right now, I am trying to fully appreciate the “my kids still think I’m cool and want to spend time with me” period of my life. It won’t last much longer. I am consciously choosing to work when they are at school but also consciously turning down work that doesn’t fit my priorities and goals. This portfolio income helps me do that.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I did look up MBOX. It has performed better over my two DIV funds, DVY and SCHD. Expense ration is about same at DVY but higher than SCHD. MBOX is definitely worth a look

  2. Johnathan, I love your last paragraph. Many people I’ve met in the FI circles forget the other parts of life. Also don’t worry about being uncool in your kids eyes; you regain your coolness and then some when the kids have the same life challenges you’ve had. Then you become super-cool!

Speak Your Mind