What’s your investment strategy for 2015?

Rejoice, Fools!

Holiday season is finally upon us…

Interest rates and the dollar are down, oil prices and the Australian cricket team are up and all of a sudden, a Santa Rally is back on the cards.

Indeed US markets edged higher on Friday, leading the way for a stronger opening in our very own S&P/ASX 200 (INDEX: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) today.

“Rally still has some fuel” – Sydney Morning Herald.

“Fed, energy stocks provide reasons to bet.” – The AFR

As a fervent stock market investor, I couldn’t be happier this Christmas.

But, you see, I prepared for this rally a little earlier than some…

Rather than battle the crowds for inflated prices at my local Scentre Group (ASX: SCG) Westfield shopping centre, I knew what to expect and planned ahead. Online shopping and gift cards filled in the gaps.

Speaking of gaps, the Australian cricket team found plenty of them at the weekend, taking a two zip lead over key rival India. Whilst others were filling up car parks and racing into stores across the country, I put my feet up and tuned in for the game.

I’m not much of a cricketer myself but I know bowling out a team filled with top notch players and batting for the win, all in one day, doesn’t just happen. Aside from the obvious talent of individuals like Mitch Johnson and Steve Smith, rigorous planning was needed to pull off such a convincing win.

The same holds true for investing.

Just like a professional sportsman, as an investor, I recently took the time to consider my own game plan for 2015 because I know without an understanding of the environment and with little preparation, I’m never going to win.

Time will tell how successful I’ve been, but for now, my plan appears to be looking good.

Indeed while term deposit holders and bond investors are staring down the barrel of lower returns for longer, I’m thrilled with the market’s latest rally.

It’s a no brainer. The 2.84% unfranked yield on 10-year Australian bonds isn’t likely to get me excited any time soon. But great dividend-paying stocks like BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) certainly are.

Recent falls in their share prices have put them on juicy yields of 4.8% and 4.7%, respectively. Fully franked, no less! But I’m not the only one.

Their impressive track records have them on the watchlists of even the most astute long-term investors.

So who else wants growing tax-effective dividend yields and the chance of long-term capital gains?

I certainly do.

And at these prices, for long-term investors like me, they’re looking much better than term deposits and savings accounts.

However not for one minute am I going to suggest BHP and Woolies are a ‘sure thing’ – they’re not – but I’m also weighing up my options carefully.

Should I just sit back with my money parked in a term-deposit earning 3% before tax and before inflation? By adjusting for them, not only am I likely to be losing purchasing power, I’m losing the opportunity to do something constructive with my money.

On Wall Street, they call this an ‘opportunity cost’. Meaning, by choosing to take the ‘safer’ option of term deposits or bonds, I’ve lost the chance to make better returns in shares.

Of course the first rule of investing is not to lose money. Shares, bonds or otherwise.

Whilst I’ve lost more money in the share market than I’d care to admit, I know this is a numbers game.

In the short term, things can go south, quickly. As the market votes on the latest trends.

But in the long run, the market acts like a weighing machine. This is when high-quality companies with wide competitive advantages show their true colours.

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) is the first company which springs to my mind when I think of competitive advantages.

Currently offering a 5.1% yield, Telstra’s extra reliable dividend is a breath of fresh air in this current low interest rate environment.

In 2015, I’m expecting the telco giant to pay a hefty fully franked dividend of 30 cents per share. Woolies and BHP too are expected to increase their payouts…

Wait a minute, what did I say about the bleak outlook for term deposits? On second thoughts, never mind.

Because if there ever was a secret recipe for extra juicy dividends, the management teams at Telstra, Woolies and BHP have certainly discovered it.

For investors who’ve stuck to their guns and found companies with strong competitive advantages and growing businesses, 2015 is looking like a great year.

Scott Phillips of Motley Fool Share Advisor knows this all too well and could be keeping a close eye on the three aforementioned stocks this holiday season.

He’s long avoided the companies which overpromise and under deliver.

Leading Motley Fool Share Advisor members towards a much more profitable 2015, Scott’s avoided the value traps of the resources and services sectors and focused on reliable dividend-paying companies.

In 2015, with interest rates tipped to stay low and high-quality dividends on offer, it sounds like a winning strategy to me!

The Australian Financial Review says "good quality Australian shares that have a long history of paying dividends are a real alternative to a term deposit." Get "3 Stocks for the Great Dividend Boom" in our special FREE report. Click here now to find out the names, stock symbols, and full research for three of our favourite income ideas, all completely free!

Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any of the mentioned companies. You can follow Owen on Twitter @ASXinvest.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss a very important event! Chief Investment Advisor Scott Phillips and his team at Motley Fool Share Advisor are about to reveal their latest official stock recommendation. The premium “buy alert” will be unveiled to members and you can be among the first to act on the tip.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by – this is your chance to get in early!

Simply enter your email now to find out how you can get instant access.

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.