Olympian Efforts


I love the Olympics so have been watching and enjoying the games in Rio – I’ve stayed up as long as possible to catch certain finals and am pretty much watching as much as I can, mixing in all kinds of events and occasionally shedding tears myself when I see the winners cry with joy/relief.

The hours and hours and years of practice, dedication and single-minded focus to win a medal that only comes round every 4 years. Miss your chance and it’s another 4 years til your next attempt, and that’s if your body is still young/fit enough to compete at that level.

I’d love to apply the Olympic ethos of ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ to achieving FI/RE but alas, I couldn’t come up with anything clever off the top of my head, haha!

Not that I’m comparing myself to an Olympian (I certainly don’t make the sacrifices required) but in my own way, I am prepared to dedicate years of focus and perseverance to achieve my ultimate goal.

FI Steeplechase

Maybe my journey to FI is a bit like running in the steeplechase event.

I’m just jogging around the track, saving and investing as I go along, rubbing shoulders with other PF/FI bloggers. It’s an international field, mostly US, others from Europe and of course, various Team GB members!

This is no ordinary race however – everyone is going along at their own pace, the aim just being to reach the finish line and achieve whatever personal goal has been set.

The runners are wearing their own kits, which some have saved up to buy new, others have bought theirs from bargain shops, although TFS appears to be wearing old grey underpants!

Check out Mr Z shuffling along – more ‘Running Dead’ than ‘Walking Dead’ with that high savings rate! Oh look, Huw and RIT appear to be at the finish line already!

Around the track, there will be the usual steeplechase obstacles that need to be navigated past successfully. In this case, obstacles such as redundancy, financial emergencies and other life events. Fall at the hurdle and I’m just going to have to pick myself up and carry on.

Like bad weather conditions, other external conditions beyond our control may occur to make our progress around the track more precarious, such as stock market crashes, a drop in interest rates/yields, investments going sour. We need to make our way through these, hold our nerve and not panic.

All winners?

So, we’ll all be winners when we get to that finish-line – that would be the happy ending except that not all of us will get there.

Some of us may change our minds as we’re plodding round the track.

Others may not be able to get past certain obstacles.

Still others may need to take a long rest before continuing their journey due to changes in their circumstances.

And some, after reaching their goal, may carry on running, just for the sheer joy of it or because they just want to keep going for a while longer (some call this the ‘one more year’ syndrome but I see nothing wrong with doing this if that’s what you want to do).

All, however will have learned something valuable from attempting the race in the first place.

So, I’m on the track and I’ve got a long long way to run til I get to that finish line. My ‘speed’ will depend on my savings rate, earnings potential,  keeping expenses low and some luck with the external conditions.

I can see obstacles looming on the horizon – let’s hope I prove to be mentally as well as financially prepared to leap over them!


Monkey Stocks League Challenge – Update #10

Mr Market has appeared to shrug off Brexit doldrums (for now) so what effect has that had on our Monkey Stocks League Challenge?

Below is a snapshot as at the close of trading on 29th July 2016 and still romping away in the lead for the FIFTH consecutive month was M’s Underdogs Fund!2907league

The ‘fund’ is showing a gain of nearly 58% – last month, it was 37%!  This is despite the fact that the portfolio includes shares in Standard Chartered, one of the many banks which look unlikely to recover any time soon.

For the Live table (during trading hours, Rank and Value will be updated automatically) and full portfolio listings, have a look here and also via the right sidebar.

All July dividends have been added to the respective portfolios. However, please let me know if I’ve missed any (or if there are any errors) as there are so many to keep track of.

Real Portfolios

Of the real portfolios, behind the Underdogs Fund is my own Funky Monkeys battle with Mr Z’s Undead Monkeys for second place, both with healthy gains of over 20%. FireVLondon’s B Team Fund continues to languish in mid-table obscurity, with Cerridwen’s Eye of Toad Fund just out of the bottom 3.

Expertly Picked Funds

John Kingham’s Pigmamig Fund drops to 8th place, with Huw’s Kunniga Apa Fund dropping into 10th. Just two more months for either/both to finish above the monkey funds by the end of the competition – it’s not looking good for the ‘experts’!

Steady Eddy

As mentioned  before, diy’s Mutley’s Magic Formula fund maintains its steady process and ends yet another month in the Top 5. This fund is based on Vanguard’s 60% LifeStrategy Fund and appears to not bounce around as much as the funds made up of just 5 stocks.

Best vs Worst

The best 5 performing shares since the start of the league are Centamin plc, Evraz plc, ARM Holdings plc, Glencore plc and BGEO Group (previously Bank of Georgia Holdings plc).

If someone had happened to pick all these shares for their portfolio, they would have seen their initial investment of £500 nearly double in value:


The worst 5 performing shares were Nostrum Oil & Gas plc, Barclays plc, Restaurant Group, OneSavings Bank plc and Interserve plc.

If you’d had the misfortune to pick this lot, you would have seen your portfolio value drop by nearly a half – ouch!


Two more updates to go before the winner is announced – has M got the trophy in the bag?

July 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

Another month that went by in a bit of a blur – took some days off to spend time with the family, which coincided with the few ‘heatwave’ days that we had up here – lovely.


So I managed a savings rate of 41.1%, a little better than last month. Some more entertainment/outing costs with the family, some of which won’t manifest themselves until August, so those will eat into my savings rate next month.

My average savings rate has continued to drop –  it’s now at 48.2%.  Still pretty good  I guess but looking like it’s on a downward spiral at the moment!

This month’s income was boosted by £95 from rent received and a £10  win from the British Red Cross charity lottery. I also channelled another £290 of matched betting profits into Property Moose.

Future Fund 

The markets continue to be kind to my portfolio, which now stands at £77,740.29, a gain of over 7% from last month.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading

Crowdfunding – Two Sides

Apart from setting up some direct debits for various charities, I’ve not withdrawn or used any of the profits that I’ve made via matched betting. I’ve just let the funds accumulate across my current account, my exchange accounts and the various gambling accounts.

In June, I finally invested £100 of the profits but I opted to do something different. theFIREstarter’s post reminded me of something that I had looked at previously but not gone for – I decided to invest a little in property crowdfunding.

Property crowdfunding “allows people to invest in buy-to-let properties without having to take on the additional responsibilities that come with being a landlord”. So says the blurb. Anyway, here’s a better explanation of what property crowdfunding is all about.

If I had a wedge of spare capital, I would probably be tempted to buy another little BTL property but I don’t, so property crowdfunding interested me when I first heard about it.

Some of the property crowdfunding websites required a minimum of £1000-£5000 investment but I went for Property Moose, where the minimum investment is just £10.


So basically, you pick an available property from the website, invest your money with a load of other people to buy ‘shares’ in the property. When the property is tenanted, you start earning ‘monthly rental’ based on the number of shares you own.

Rental income seems to vary from around 5% – 7%. With Property Moose, most properties tend to be in the north/northwest, with only a few in London. Said properties tend to be ones which require renovation and you are able to see the progress of the renovations via photos posted on the website.  At the end of the fixed investment term (ranging from 1-3 years), the property is sold and proceeds are shared amongst the investors (subject to their share and less costs and expenses), although it appears that investors are able to vote to retain the property for a further year.

Property crowdfunding is not without its risks – I view it along the same lines as P2P  – still pretty new, regulated but not covered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) so I’ll not be investing a huge amount in this.

Since that initial investment, I’ve chucked some more matched betting profits at Property Moose.  I think there’s still some life left in investing in property (yes, despite Brexit and the doom and gloom about property bubbles) so will be continuing to build on this investment bit by bit and will update with the rest of my portfolio.

Another Side to Crowdfunding

I came across Kiva a while ago but decided to revisit when I was looking for charities to support recently.


Kiva is a charity platform which aims to support people from poorer countries via crowdfunding loans. Deki is another platform, which I hope to have a look at again.

So how does it work? First, a borrower applies for a loan. Usually, loans are to start or grow a small business, used to go to school/further education or simply to be able to live in better conditions.

The loan, after it’s approved is crowdfunded by other lenders, in $25 increments.

Repayments of the loan are made on a monthly basis and such repayments can then either be withdrawn or used to fund other loans.

My first Kiva loan was to a woman from the Philippines who wanted to build a sanitary toilet for her family…. such things that we take for granted…

So, different sides to crowdfunding – I hope to make some money on the one side, and hope to help improve someone’s life a little on the other.

[*I don’t have a referral link for Property Moose but if you are interested, please drop me a note via the contact form with your first name only and email address and we’ll get a tenner each if you choose to make a £100 investment!]