It doesn't matter what you do for a living or how good you are at doing it. You get paid for one reason and one reason only: The goods or services you provide are worth more to the people who pay your salary than the cash they have to pay to keep you doing whatever it is you do.

In other words, for you to receive $100 in total compensation, you have to create at least $100.01 in value, and likely much more. After all, whoever pays your salary took a risk in hiring you. That person wants to see a decent return on invested cash, not just a mere return of that cash. To put it bluntly, for every $100 you receive, someone else out there is likely getting at least $5 or $10 -- if not more -- for your work.

Turn the tables
The good news is that you don't have to be stuck in that position forever. Thanks to the power of the stock market -- and specifically dividend-paying stocks -- you can put yourself in the driver's seat. You can get paid for the work other people do for you. Believe it or not, it's really easy to do. All you need to do is find and buy shares of companies that are:

  • On solid financial footing
  • Committed to paying their owners
  • Willing to increase those payments as their businesses expand over time

There are hundreds of companies out there that might fit the bill. Finding the best of the best is precisely what my Foolish colleague Mathew Emmert does for Motley Fool Income Investor. Of course, even once you start getting paid for other people's work, you probably won't be able to quit your job right away. With enough time, regular contributions, and reinvestments of the money that your dividend-paying stocks generate, however, that day will come sooner than you might think.

Your three-pronged attack
After all, if you do it right, you've got three extremely powerful factors working in your favor. First, you receive the direct dividends paid by the companies. Second, as the companies you own grow and increase their per-share payments, the regular payments you'll receive from each share you already own will rise right along with them. Third, and most powerful for you over time, by reinvesting those payments, you can buy even more shares that will continue paying you greater and greater sums of money.

With all three of those factors working in your favor, the potential for income growth in your portfolio is absolutely phenomenal. Best of all, by focusing on the dividend payments and the underlying strength of the business, this investing strategy works even if the stocks you own drop in price. Consider this list of well-known companies and their stock performances over the past year:


Price change,

Dividend change,

H&R Block (NYSE:HRB)



Target (NYSE:TGT)



Legg Mason (NYSE:LM)



Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE:CCL)






Black & Decker (NYSE:BDK)



Pulte Homes (NYSE:PHM)



All prices split-adjusted.
Dividend change based on ex-dividend date of regular dividend immediately prior to listed dates.

Had you owned any of these stocks only for its price appreciation, the past year would have been painful. If, instead, you owned the companies behind the stocks for the specific purpose of getting paid for other people's work, you would have done better.

Get rewarded -- now
As employees, we have jobs only because we add more value to our employers than we get paid for. As investors in the right companies, however, we can reap the rewards of the value-added work that our employees do for us. It's a great way to make a living, particularly when the payments keep on rising. If this type of investing appeals to you, then join us at Income Investor and start your journey today. If you're still not sure, a 30-day free trial starts here and is a no-risk way to help you determine if Income Investor is right for you.

At the time of publication, Fool contributor Chuck Saletta owned shares of Intel, a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.