When you save for retirement or another long term goal, capital appreciation is likely a major goal. But at some point you need to move from accumulating savings to tapping them. As you begin to make that transition, one of your first steps should be to determine how much cash flow you can generate based on your current portfolio. Once you know how much cash you can generate from the investments you currently hold, you can begin to make the adjustments you need to maximize that cash flow without taking on undue risk.
Review all of your account statements, including statements from your mutual funds, exchange traded funds and individual stocks. Write down the amount of money you have in each of these investments.
Enter each investment on a separate line in a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper. Look up the current dividend on each of your stocks and mutual funds. You can find this dividend information online at many financial websites and in financial newspapers.
Record the number of shares of each mutual fund and stock you own, then multiply the number of shares by the dividend per share. This is the amount of cash flow you can expect to generate from the investment.
Add up the individual cash flows from each of your investments as calculated in the previous step. This is the total cash flow you can currently generate from your portfolio if you were to instruct the brokerage firm or mutual fund company to pay your dividends in cash instead of reinvesting them in additional shares.
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