November 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

Have finally recovered from work’s Christmas party/leaving do! Hangovers get so much worse as you get older!

Anyway, it was probably one of the best parties I’ve been to – lots of mixed emotions but what I do recall was a lot of fun and laughter.

Work for me is winding down a little as I begin to hand over the rest of my responsibilities. Not long to go now.

Anyway, how do things look on the numbers front?

nov16saved

So I managed a savings rate of 38.1% – gift-buying has taken its toll a little here but still not too bad. I’ve only a few more items to get now so for me to be able to have a decent savings rate is still a big achievement for this time of year.

My average savings rate however continues its downward trend  –  it’s now at 45.2%. If I can get it to be at least 45% by the end of the year, I’ll be well happy.

This month’s income was boosted by £50 from rent received and £10.36 from TopCashback*.

Future Fund 

Markets went a little wobbly this month, so my overall portfolio dropped a little and now stands at £86,188.

Dividends and Other Income

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

Departing Parties and Black Friday

Next Wednesday sees the second (and largest) group of people leaving the company through redundancy – nearly 40 of them in total.

There haven’t been too many changes in the office these past few months, just some rearrangement of desks and equipment but this mass exodus will make a big difference to the atmosphere, certainly to noise levels.

All those leaving have got invitations to the Christmas party/Leaving bash – it’s predicted that it’s going to be a rather messy affair – well, messier than usual!

What about me?

I have had my final consultation meeting and my official day of leaving confirmed as 31st December 2016.

My severance package, as mentioned before, is close to a year’s salary, plus I will get paid 3 months in lieu of notice.

Also, through my ex-boss’ efforts, the package will include an annual bonus which the company was not obligated to pay as it’s not in my employment contract, so that’s an unexpected and welcome windfall.

Job Seeking

So how has my job hunting gone so far?

Err…it’s not even out of the starting blocks.

My CV is complete and ready to go, my LinkedIn profile all up to date but my head and heart are not committed to the cause.

I don’t see any point in applying for jobs and going for interviews in a half-arsed manner – when I do it, I’d like to give it 100% and right now, I just don’t have the energy or desire.

All I’m thinking about is making the most of my last days working with my friends and colleagues (funnily enough, we’ve started going to the pub every Friday lunchtime!) and then spending some quality time with my family over Christmas in Hong Kong.

Since I no longer need to rush back for work, I’ll be extending my holiday beyond the new year for a few weeks (just need to rearrange my return flight) – I think after 21 years working for the same company, I’m due a decent break!

Black Friday

Unless you’ve been living under a rock on some far off asteroid, you’ll probably be aware that it’s Black Friday today.

blackfriday

I don’t think I’ve ever really been excited about it, even when the concept was first introduced in the UK. I’ve mentioned in the past that shopping has never really been something I enjoy doing – during my ‘spendy days’, it was more something that I did out of habit and fortunately, I got out of the habit.

Anyway, contra to the norm, I did make a purchase today, one which amounted to several hundred pounds – I bought a new mobile phone handset. I had been planning to replace my current phone when my contract ended in December as (being a Blackberry) it will no longer be supported by certain apps next year, apps which I regularly use.

Yes, I could have gotten a cheaper phone but what the hell, I used matched betting winnings to buy it (took a leaf out of Jim’s book, as he bought a handset with his MB winnings) so I’m not out of pocket. I certainly wouldn’t have bought it using my own money!

I’ve also switched from contract to SIM only, pitched BT Mobile against EE to negotiate a great deal (even though they are now technically the same company) so my monthly phone costs have dropped from £15 a month to £9 a month and I get a far superior data plan to boot.

I hope to do much of my gift shopping soon but I will avoid the shops this weekend, opting instead to go on Monday during my day off as I think it’ll be a little quieter.

For those who love Black Friday, I hope you bag some bargains. For those who don’t, hope you enjoy this “normal” Friday and have a great weekend!

Password Stuff

I was one of those customers whose Tesco bank account was frozen the other weekend due to a ‘sophisticated hack‘.

Fortunately, no funds were removed from my account and I wasn’t really inconvenienced in a big way as it’s not my main current account.

Like many people these days, I conduct most of my personal finance online so I was interested to read this article the other week on password strength and security.

There’s some decent advice on how to create robust passwords and I can’t be the only person here to admit that I can occasionally be quite lax with my passwords.

Anyway, in the article, there’s a ‘how secure is my password‘ link where you can check the strength of your passwords, so I gave it a go with one of my passwords (or rather, something very similar to my actual password) and got this result:

password2Bugger…time to change this password methinks to something a bit more complex and tougher to decipher. And no, this wasn’t my Tesco bank account password – that one, when I tested it, would apparently take 1 Month to crack.

Fortunately, another one of my passwords got this result:

password1

I now need to try to change all my passwords so that I get a similar result!

The tough bit will be remembering them all!

I might have to start using a password manager but how safe are those? I might check out Dashlane, as featured in the article.

Bank Security

The most robust password however probably won’t be of any use if the bank itself is targeted, as in Tesco’s case, although who really knows? Maybe my password which would take a computer a month to crack did stop thieves from nicking money from my account, but equally, it could be that they didn’t get round to my account before Tesco plugged the breach.

This recent article revealed that perhaps other banks’ online security aren’t quite as resilient as they should be against hackers – Tesco isn’t even mentioned!

This is probably a good time to put forward the idea of having an emergency fund with a bank other than your main bank, to cover the event of your account be hacked.

But then, how safe is your emergency fund? That could be hacked too!

Cash under the mattress, anyone?

‘Interesting Times’

Well, it wasn’t quite the result that most of us were expecting but ooh, check out all my stocks surprisingly going up!
keepinvesting

As I mentioned after Brexit, it’s democracy at its best/worst (delete as applicable).

Life goes on but not as we know it – we live in ‘interesting times’.