Monkey Stocks – 3 Years on

Anyone around when I announced the winner of my Monkey Stocks League Challenge?

Anyway, as promised in my 2-year update, I bring you the ‘what happened next after 3 years’ update.

Monkey Stocks?

Here’s how I came up with the idea of running my own Monkey Stocks League Challenge.

The majority of the £500 portfolios (consisting of 5 stocks each) which lined up in September 2015 were made up of stocks/shares (from FTSE 350) and were randomly picked out of a hat.

A handful of daft brave souls followed me in purchasing their random stocks for real!

The league also had a couple of portfolios chosen by experts (John K and Huw) and of course, we had M’s infamous portfolio, based on the Dogs of the FTSE strategy, which was the runaway winner of the league after both 1 and 2 years.

One Year vs Two Years vs Three Years

As a reminder, here’s how the top 10 finished after Year 1:

Here’s how the top ten (and the rest of the league) looked after Year 2:

And here are the scores on the doors after Year 3:

Zombie annihilation, with Mr Z’s Undead Monkey Fund taking the top spot, more than doubling his initial investment.

What’s in the winning portfolio?

Three not-so-great shares but the humongous gain (and dividend) from Evraz (EVR) more than made up for those losses (apparently, Roman Abramovich is a majority shareholder – only just found that out!). Of course, EVR is also one of my own Dogs of the FTSE shares…

Anyway, after one year, only 8 portfolios made gains of >10% and there were 10 portfolios showing losses.

After two years, 17 portfolios made gains of >10% (12 of them >20%) and there were only 3 portfolios showing very small losses.

After three years, again, 17 portfolios made gains of >10% (14 of them >20%), with 5 portfolios showing losses.

John K’s Pigmamig Fund was one of those which ended up in the negative after 3 years, but had this been a real portfolio, I’m sure John would have gotten rid of some/all of those stocks to minimise/avoid losses using his own investing strategy.

Still Steady Eddy

Mention must be made of diy’s Mutley’s Magic Formula fund which continued to maintain its steady process and remained in the top 10. This fund was based on Vanguard’s 60% LifeStrategy Fund, ending up with a gain of 34%. Definitely one for the passive investors and one which I will invest in myself.

Random Strategy?

Of course, as before, in no way am I recommending that randomly selecting stocks is a viable investing strategy, though I find it’s a fascinating one, which appeals to my gambling curious nature!

Did my experiment show that randomly picking shares ‘might not’ result in disaster?

It could have all gone horribly wrong, especially as you could have been unlucky and ended up picking Carillion…

Alternatively, fortune could have shone on you and you could have randomly chosen ones like this lot and celebrated seeing your investment quadruple:

Or you could get something in between and according to the experiment, that doesn’t look too bad, with the average gain being 29% over 3 years. Better than sitting 3 years in a cash ISA

Of course, we have seen the FTSE breaking records these past three years. What would  have happened if there was a big Bear market?

No More Updates

A 3-year measurement still isn’t great for a buy and hold strategy but this will be my last update for this league. Whilst the first year was fun (especially as there was a trophy at stake!), it was a complete chore getting all the dividends for the 100+ companies, plus I had to find out what happened to companies which were bought out/sold, changed names or were no longer trading.

I’m still very much interested in the random walk theory in relation to investing so I won’t rule out creating another small experimental portfolio in the future (and again with real money).  Sorry, I won’t be running another such league though – far too much effort and not nearly enough people with skin in the game!

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this experiment and if after your own research you fancy running something similar, I’d be interested to hear about it!

August 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Well, it looked like summer was well and truly over up here and it was time to dig out the warmer clothes already, but then it turned all sunny again! I don’t know what to wear any more!

Life is more or less back to normal – the family have all gone home so the house is all quiet again.

Work has been busy, despite many people being off for the summer holidays – one week, I’m one of the employees of the month (yay!), the next, they’re asking me to work on the bank holiday (I’ll get the day back in lieu).

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence…?

Anyway, I had several social outings this month so how did that affect my savings in August?

I saved 35.8%, which sees my average savings rate going down to 44.9%.  Still a decent savings rate in the scheme of things but not great for the target I’ve set myself!

The above savings includes top ups from £148 matched betting profits (from last month), £18.06 from TopCashback* and £137.42 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I didn’t really notice what the markets were doing so all I can say is that with extra capital and reinvested dividends, my Future Fund now stands at £149,204.30, still steadily making progress towards my next big milestone.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Thinking Fast, Reading Ever So Slow

So one of my goals of the year is to read at least 3 non-fiction books this year.

As someone who only enjoys reading fiction, non-fiction pushes me out of my comfort zone so three is just about all I might manage!

A book that was recommended by various FIRE people was ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman, so I picked this up at my local library.

Verdict

I’ll be blunt and shall say that I really did not enjoy reading this book.

I thought the writing was soooooo tedious, far too academic and far too long – an eye-glazing textbook.

It was a struggle and I found that I could only read/only wanted to read a few pages at a time, which didn’t sit well with me, as I usually enjoy reading chapters for hours at a time.

I don’t like to give up on books – I know some people think that life is too short for books you don’t enjoy.  I started reading it in May, it’s dragged on til now and I ended up paying a library fine.

However…

Despite the above, I thought that the topics covered by Kahneman were absolutely fascinating!

That’s the annoying thing about this book – I was really interested in the experiments and some of the theory and history, it just wasn’t an easy read by any stretch of the imagination.

One of the book’s aims is to “improve the ability to identify and understand errors of judgement and choice, in others and eventually ourselves…” and indeed, after toiling and slogging through the pages, I did learn about or rather increase my awareness of decision-making.

What did it cover?

There’s an interesting chapter titled ‘The Illusion of Stock-Picking Skill’ – one for those who think they can beat the market – which covered things like halo effects and regression to mean.

There’s been recent mention of cognitive biases and the book touches on these, which might have me looking at my FIRE plans again as it seems most people (and I include myself) are prone to these biases, such as:

  • Optimism Bias, which includes underestimating costs and duration of projects we undertake – will definitely be looking at my spreadsheets again!
  • Confirmation Bias, where we look only for info to confirm what we already think/believe, whilst ignoring any info (even if true) which contradicts our view – perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss the views of FIRE naysayers so quickly…
  • Availability Bias, where continued exposure to things can affect your judgement/thoughts – has being in the FIRE bubble/community lulled me into thinking that what I’m doing is a probability rather than a possibility?

Another topic covered was that most people underestimate the role of chance in events.  Fortunately, I believe very much in luck and chance, being a bit of a gambler (still).

The piece on loss aversion was particularly interesting especially as I could directly apply it to how I feel with my matched betting and also with my investments.

Lots of other interesting stuff covered, such as anchoring effects, stereotyping, how experiences and memories differ and the rise in use of algorithms in decision making (uh oh, robots taking over!)

Some of this stuff I would very much like to read more on, starting with this great piece titled ‘Your Lying Mind‘ which the Monevator kindly brought to my attention this week.

Anyway, I’m so relieved to have gotten the book out of the way – only two other non-fiction books to get through now although I will try to choose something a lot friendlier to read!

Recommend?

Please ignore the negativity at the start of this post – that’s just me struggling with my general aversion to non-fiction! I do recommend this book as it’s got some great insights, some interesting stuff on how people can get swayed in their decision-making and it does make you think.

Oh and I was finally able to update my book bingo card again – yay!

Phone-free Day

I left my mobile phone at home the other day.

I only realised as I got out of my car at the tram stop. Although I had time to drive back to pick it up, I wanted to get into work early to crack on with stuff so I thought I’d go phone-free for the day.

I’m sure there are people breaking out into a cold sweat at the thought of being without their phones!

How did we get like this?

History

My first phone was the Nokia 1610. Nokia phones were what everyone wanted, back in the 90s and 00s. Very sturdy, with a battery which lasted for days. I think there were only around half a dozen telephone numbers stored in it as it still wasn’t very common for people to carry phones, not among my circles of friends anyway.

A) My first phone, the Nokia 1610; B) My last non-smart phone, the Nokia 6600 Slide (photos not to scale)

Over the years, I possessed various phones of other makes, including the Motorola Razr clam-shell, which was probably one of my all-time favourites, but I kept returning to Nokia.

In 2009, I switched to my first smartphone, a Blackberry Bold 9700. This was also the first contract phone I owned as I had previously only ever been PAYG (pay as you go).

Not Part of the Crowd

My friends and family all thought it was funny that I chose Blackberry when they had all gone for iPhones but I fell in love with the Blackberry keyboard and still love it. I had nothing against the iPhone but as I already had an iPod Touch and an iPod Nano, I thought I owned too many Apple products already!

I’m glad that I didn’t jump on that bandwagon anyway as I don’t have the urge to upgrade to the latest phone – I don’t mind that my Blackberry looks a bit chunky and seems a bit slow when browsing the net – what’s a few seconds?! It is a little annoying that new apps tend to be developed for iOS before Android but as mentioned before, I don’t mind waiting.

Phone-free Day

So back to my phone-free day – what did I miss?

  • 16 x Whatsapp messages
  • 1 x missed call
  • 1 x voicemail
  • 10 x emails (3 were spam)

That first hour of work, I felt a little anxious and kept thinking about not having my phone. However, as the day progressed, it was out of sight and out of mind.

I usually do a bit of matched betting* during my lunch hour on my phone but as I was on a bad run on the each way bets, I was glad to have the break.

The only thing I really missed was Whatsapp as that’s how I keep in touch with my family and close friends.

I didn’t miss anything else – not Twitter or Facebook. Or scanning blog posts.

As I still use my iPod for my music and use a mini Filofax for my diary, I guess that’s why I didn’t miss my phone so much in those respects. I don’t look at my phone when I’m at the gym so again, felt no loss when I went for my work out that evening.

Anyway, with no distractions, it felt like I was more productive at work, so perhaps I should have more phone-free days!

Would anyone else consider this or is your phone like an extension of your body which you can’t do without?

[*referral/affiliate link]