As you get older, you'll eventually need to start tapping into your investment portfolio for income. Dividend stocks are a great way to get some cash from your investments, but with most companies only making dividend payments once every three months, it can take some budgeting to figure out exactly how to get the cash you need, when you need it.

Some dividend stocks have catered to their shareholders' needs by making monthly dividend payments. A few of the most noteworthy companies that pay reliable, sustained monthly dividends include LTC Properties (NYSE:LTC), STAG Industrial (NYSE:STAG), and Realty Income (NYSE:O)

3 ways to get paid with real estate

All three of these monthly dividend payers have something in common: They're set up as real estate investment trusts. These tax-favored investment vehicles allow investors to benefit from not having to pay any taxes at the corporate level, with nearly all taxable income instead getting passed out to shareholders in the form of dividends. That creates a constant flow of income for shareholders.

Awning reading Realty Income on commercial building.

Image source: Realty Income.

Real estate is also suited well for those looking for monthly income. Although not all REITs pay dividends monthly, the income that they receive from their tenants typically involves monthly payments. So it's not an excessive burden on these companies to accommodate their shareholders with dividend payments every month.

Although all three of the companies listed above are involved with real estate, they each take very different approaches to the business:

  • LTC Properties focuses on a couple of healthcare-related niches in the residential real estate market, with a portfolio of about 200 properties. LTC's assets include nursing homes and other facilities designed to offer long-term care to patients, as well as assisted living developments for older residents who have the need for less extensive levels of care. You can find LTC-owned properties in 28 states across the country, with a roughly 50/50 split between skilled nursing and senior housing facilities. The REIT started paying dividends on a monthly basis in 2005, and since then, the monthly payment has grown by more than 70%. LTC now yields 4.6%.
  • STAG Industrial specializes in purchasing industrial properties with the intent of leasing them out to single tenants. Examples of STAG properties include distribution centers, storage warehouses, manufacturing plants, and office buildings. STAG's business model has it constantly looking for new properties to acquire, and with conditions in the commercial real estate market having been strong lately, there's been no shortage of promising assets to buy. STAG currently yields 4.5%.
  • As the original "Monthly Dividend Company," Realty Income has a long history of treating its shareholders well. For nearly 50 years, Realty Income has paid monthly dividends to its shareholders, and the REIT recently entered its 23rd year of making consistent dividend increases each and every quarter. Realty Income has more than 6,400 properties in its portfolio, including all but one of the 50 states as well as some holdings abroad. With more than 300 commercial tenants, Realty Income covers more than 50 different industries. A 3.5% dividend yield makes this the stingiest pick of the three, but Realty Income's consistent track record makes it well worth consideration.

Income when you want it

Reliable income can be hard to come by, and it's especially challenging to find dividend-paying stocks  that will meet your need for monthly income. However, these three REITs have built up a solid track record of performance, while making regular monthly dividend payments. That fits the bill perfectly for those who want to get portfolio income when they need it.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.