Dividend checks may seem like a mere trickle in your cash balance, but they can be more than just pocket change. Companies that increase their dividends are also increasing their confidence in the ability to earn even more greenbacks in the future. Readers of the Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking.

Let's take a closer look at four of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

We can start with SYSCO (NYSE:SYY). The food-service giant upped its quarterly distribution rate by 12%. Shareholders will now be getting $0.19 a share every three months. The active Income Investor recommendation affects more of us than you think. Just pull up to the back of your favorite restaurant a couple of hours before it opens, and you may find a SYSCO truck making a delivery. It has also been more consistent than you may have known, having raised its dividend 38 times in its 37-year history.

The income-hungry may want to hop on the Laidlaw (NYSE:LI) bus, too. The company behind the Greyhound bus line, as well as several school and public transportation bus systems, pulled up to a new quarterly payout of $0.17 a share. That is a 13% improvement over its more recent bus-stop yield.

Perrigo (NASDAQ:PRGO) was another hiker. The maker of generic and store-brand drugs may seem as if it's splitting up pennies the way it does doses, with its quarterly dividend going from $0.0425 to $0.045 a share, but that's still a respectable 6% increase.

The announcement may seem to have come at a peculiar time. Earlier in the week, Perrigo had issued a recall of 11 million bottles of acetaminophen after finding that some batches contained small metal fragments. No one had fallen ill due to the oversight, but retailers like Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) pulled the possibly tainted product off their shelves. One can take the hike as a comforting sign that Perrigo feels the recall won't harm its business materially.

Then we have Bandag (NYSE:BDG). The retread-tire specialist is also breathing new life into its dividend as it inches its distribution 2% higher to $0.34 a share. The amount may not seem like much, but it's good to see an auto-related company moving in the right direction.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pays attention to yield signs. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.