7 steps to earn a £20,000 second income

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There are many ways to earn a second income, from affiliate marketing to buy-to-let properties. Each has merits and disadvantages. Regarding my own finances, I choose to buy dividend shares in pursuit of this aim.

If I were to start investing in stocks from scratch today, here’s how I’d target £20k in annual dividend payouts.

1. Save regularly

The maxim “it takes money to make money” rings true when it comes to dividend investing. To generate a second income I’ll need spare cash to invest.

There’s no right amount to save, but getting into good habits is crucial. Of course, the more I’m able to invest, the faster my journey to a £20k dividend haul will be.

2. Open an ISA

Once I’ve started accumulating money, I need to choose an investment account. With no taxes on capital gains or dividends from equities held in a Stocks and Shares ISA, this could be an attractive option.

Selecting the right ISA depends on each individual’s investment goals, the range of stocks offered, and fee structures.

Please note that tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in future. The content in this article is provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be, neither does it constitute, any form of tax advice. Readers are responsible for carrying out their own due diligence and for obtaining professional advice before making any investment decisions.

3. Research

Conducting careful research on dividend shares before investing is critical. To paraphrase the legendary billionaire Warren Buffett: “Never invest in a business you can’t understand“.

Considering Buffett’s unparalleled success in the stock market, this advice is worth heeding.

4. Buy dividend stocks

After compiling a well-researched watchlist, it’s time to buy dividend shares. Many FTSE 100 stocks offer juicy yields, so the UK’s flagship index could be a good place to start.

It’s important to look beyond the headline yield figure. Dividend cover and a reliable history of delivering passive income are crucial factors too.

For instance, some FTSE 100 shares with robust coverage ratios and impressive track records of payouts spanning decades include:

Stock Dividend Yield Dividend Cover
British American Tobacco 9.1% 1.7x
Diageo 2.4% 2.0x
London Stock Exchange Group 1.3% 3.0x

5. Diversify

It’s important not to be overly exposed to any individual company. Diversification can reduce volatility in an investor’s portfolio.

Diversification takes many forms, depending on an individual’s risk tolerance. Some prefer to own as few as a dozen shares, others invest in index funds or alternative asset classes, such as bonds, to complement their hand-picked stocks.

6. Compound returns

So, how long will it take to turn my portfolio into a £20k second income generator?

There are many variables, but let’s imagine I invested £300 a month and my portfolio grew at an 8% compound annual rate. If I secured a 4% yield across my stocks, I’d reach my goal in under 32 years.

For those who can afford it, doubling contributions to £600 a month would cut the time frame to less than 24 years.

7. Risk management

Although dividend investing is a tried-and-tested strategy, it’s vital to remember that distributions aren’t guaranteed and share prices can fall.

Careful research, diversification, and adopting a long-term investing mindset are good ways of mitigating these risks. Additionally, emotional preparation for gut-wrenching falls in my portfolio’s value is equally important so I don’t sell in a panic when the going gets tough.

It won’t always be a smooth ride, but targeting a £20k second income from dividend stocks is a realistic target for a disciplined investor.

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