After showing very little volatility over the past six months, the markets have been moving up and down rather violently lately. I have one word for these market gyrations: Wow. I seem to be turning to fellow Fool Seth Jayson once or twice a day and uttering something along the lines of "This market is insane."

But to be clear, the volatility itself isn't insane. It's which companies are moving up and down that has me scratching my head. In general, companies with dim prospects or lofty valuations such as Movie Gallery (NASDAQ:MOVI) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are defying the overall downturn. On the other hand, companies with reasonable valuations and good long-term prospects such as Nike (NYSE:NKE) and Wrigley (NYSE:WWY) have not only been volatile, but they're also continuing to slowly lose ground. But these gyrations ultimately work to an investor's advantage, so I'm hardly complaining -- even if I am surprised.

The dividend advantage
Making money in the long term is about patience, but it's also about having cash on hand to purchase more of your favorite companies when their prices fall. Regularly adding funds to your brokerage account is a great way to do this, but sometimes things get a little tight at home and that's just not possible. Fortunately, the Wrigleys and the Nikes of the investing world keep the cash flowing into your account with their respective 2.3% and 1.5% dividend yields and their quarterly dividend payments.

A few to consider
All of the companies in the table below have yields that are meaty enough to help provide a portfolio with extra cash for investment. In addition, all trade at attractive valuations, making these companies worthy of further research.

Company

Industry

Recent Price

Yield

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)

Pharmaceuticals

$23.90

4.0%

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)

Consumer Staples

$54.74

2.3%

Kellogg (NYSE:K)

Foods

$46.85

2.5%

Source: Yahoo! Finance

All of these companies provide products that are necessities, and they have strong competitive positions through either patents or brand-name recognition. In fact, among the three companies, the most significant competitive concern is Pfizer's upcoming loss of patent protection for its cholesterol-fighting drug Lipitor in a few years. But even that isn't a show-stopper because the company expects to have a replacement for Lipitor and will be rolling out other drugs to fill the void.

Foolish final thoughts
As you're building your portfolio, be sure to consider what happens when the economic environment and market trends change. Taking a little time to find companies that have the balance sheets to last another day and can afford to pay out cash for reinvesting is an important step toward making volatility work in your favor.

Looking for additional dividend-paying stock ideas? Take a free 30-day trial to Motley Fool Income Investor. Each month, Mathew Emmert recommends two dividend payers that can power your portfolio through good times and bad. Over the past two-plus years, Mathew's picks are beating the market by more than 4 percentage points on average and carry an average yield of more than 4%. Click here to take a 30-day trial and learn more about what income investing has to offer.

At the time of publication, Nathan Parmelee had no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.