Fees

I read recently that some poor bloke’s pension fund hadn’t grown in 11 years due to the extortionate fees charged by his provider and thought I’d mention something closer to home.

My sister has been over for a visit these past couple of weeks.  Over the course of catching up, conversation turned to pensions and she mentioned that a pension plan which she was saving into on a monthly basis in Hong Kong wasn’t ‘doing anything’.

In fact, not only was it not ‘doing anything’, it was actually worth less than the capital she had put in over the last 6 or so years! I asked her how this was so, as we were in a run of bull markets and suggested that she checked the fees she was being charged. She said she didn’t have time to look at such things so I said I’d look for her, if she provided me with her latest statement.

It turns out that she is investing in various funds (I didn’t make note of the exact fund names and no longer have her statement to hand) which have an initial charge of 5%, plus ongoing fees of average 1.7%. On top of that, her ‘financial advisor’ charged her an admin fee of 2%. Ouch!  All those fees were just gobbling up any profits the funds were making!

When I told her, she was really annoyed, both at herself (for not making the time to check the fees) and at her financial advisor. To add insult to injury, upon investigation, she found that there was a big exit fee if she were to transfer this pension to another provider. Double ouch!

It looks like the only thing she can do is to switch the expensive funds into cheaper trackers/ETFs (if she is able to do so), so that’s going to be one of her first tasks when she gets back home after her holiday.

Now that she is conscious of how devastating high fees can be to investments, she will also be considering other pension providers and if she can find a cheaper one, will stop contributing to the current one and set up a new account.

My family have been investing a lot longer than I have but it looks there’s still stuff I can bring to their attention! Perhaps I’ll speak to other members of my family to make sure they too are not paying too much fees-wise.

Me and my Funds

When I first started investing, my investments were all in funds. I then switched to cheaper tracker funds. However, just over a year ago, I switched nearly all the remaining tracker funds into ETFs to reduce fees further.

The biggest fund I own now is my Vanguard Life Strategy 80% but I’ve worked out that if I switch this one into an ETF, I’m not really saving anything so I’m going to leave it as is for now.

The two providers I use for my investments (SIPP and ISA) are Hargreaves Lansdown (HL)* and AJ Bell Youinvest (AJ)*. The latter is cheaper but service and website-wise, I have to say that it’s quite a bit behind HL.  AJ has FAR more downtime for its website at weekends (how annoying when the weekend is when I have more time to check my account!) compared to HL and ‘regular investments’ don’t always happen on the day they’re supposed to happen!

On the other hand, even if occasionally late, I prefer how regular investments are made with AJ than with HL (investments are made from monies within the account, rather than direct from your bank account) so there’re pros and cons to both, which I can live with.

Anyone else changed their investments or switched providers when they found out they were being ripped off?

[*note this is not a recommendation to use these providers, I’m just saying these are the ones I’m using – as always, please do your own research or better yet, check out Monevator’s broker comparison!]

July 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

The other day, I was pleasantly surprised to spot a guy reading a copy of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad‘ on the tram into work! I’m glad he was really engrossed with his reading and didn’t look up, otherwise he would have seen some strange woman grinning at him, haha! I’ve not read it myself but I wonder if it will change his life as many readers have claimed?

Anyway, the month has flown by – I had family staying for a while so had a great time with them, plus the weather was lovely, which was a bonus.

I’ve also belatedly started having work done to the kitchen. It should have been sorted while I was unemployed and had lots of free time, but well, I actually didn’t think I would secure a job so quickly, so I’ve been busy sorting things there. And eating microwaved food as I have no oven or cooking hobs!

So, how much of my net salary did I save this month?

I saved 47.9%! A couple of meals out with my sis carved a little chunk out of what I could have saved but as I don’t get to spend a lot of time with family, it was worth that bit of cost.

My average for the year is now 47.8% so still slowly creeping towards my goal of an average 50%, but I need to get a few more >50% to hike it up. Might struggle with next month (more family members coming to visit), but we’ll see.

The above savings includes £50 from matched betting profits, £50 from my Premium Bonds win, £10 lotto win, £12.77 from TopCashback* and £57.08 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I sold my XP Power shares to take 55% profit (including dividends received over the 10 months I’ve held the stock) – yes I did it, FiL and of course, will now attempt to avoid checking up on XPP as I don’t want to see that it’s doubled in price now that I’ve sold, haha! :).

I don’t usually sell any of my shares, mainly because my strategy is to buy and hold, but also because I find it very difficult to decide when I should be selling. Banking some profit can’t be a bad thing I guess, plus at some point, I want to simplify my portfolio so may as well sell stocks off bit by bit.

The funds from the sale will be added to my usual monthly capital to top up one of my existing ITs. Current portfolio can be found here.

Future Fund 

Markets have continued to be mostly favourable, so my Future Fund now stands at £122,659. Continuing to advance towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

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

Dogs of The FTSE – Q2 (2017)

It’s been nearly 6 months since I set up my experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio.

So how have the mutts done?

Are they still in the doghouse or vying for Crufts?

As at close of trading on 25th July 2017, the portfolio was showing a 5.24% gain from its starting value.

Including dividends received, it’s a 8.18% gain.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 3.85% so the Dogs are looking good on both counts!

Showing its ‘pedigree’ is Capita (CPI) which was actually booted out of the FTSE 100 in March 2017. Persimmon is also looking good right now.

Four of the Dogs are looking a bit flea-bitten but there’s nothing to do really except to keep track of dividends as they roll in and see how things look in another 3 months’ time!

Riveting stuff! 🙂

Retire at 40?

I’m way past 40 so it won’t be me! But who watched Channel 4’s 30-minute programme, shown on Monday night, ambitiously titled ‘How to Retire at 40‘?

I won’t go into the programme details myself except to mention that I didn’t think much of it, but there are some interesting discussions here and here, from bloggers who were actually featured (briefly) on the programme and one who missed the cut (unlucky, Huw!).

Watching the programme and seeing the young folk featured on it, I was reminded of how when I blundered into embarked on my own career in my early 20s, the very very last thing on my mind was retirement (although following my older sister’s advice, I joined the company pension scheme as soon as I was able to).

Traditional

I’m from the traditional/common way of thinking – go to school, go to university, graft for 40 years, retire in my mid-60s.

Nothing wrong with that way of thinking – it’s what many people do. I have been fortunate in that my 20+ years career (so far) has been largely fulfilling and enjoyable, and I have made close and life-long friends through work.

Despite spending most waking hours at work, I’ve been able to enjoy my life, including go on holidays every year, have enough time for family and friends, have hobbies etc. I have always been able to maintain a good work/life balance.

I will admit however that much of my life was fuelled by debt but that was me being stupid with credit cards until I came to my senses and paid them all off.

Throughout my career, I have never minded working for The Man/The Woman, although I guess I’ve been fortunate with my bosses in that they’ve all been pretty reasonable people (most of the time) and people who I respected. I may not be so fortunate in the future.

Be my own boss? No real desire to do that, sounds like too much hard work!

Anyway, what got me thinking about early retirement a few years back was stumbling across MMM and then wondering what I would do if I suddenly started to hate work and be fed up with the 9-5? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to just walk away?

Options

Well, without sorting out my personal finances, my only option would be to keep plugging away another 20 or so years until normal retirement age (67 for me). Ok if you like/love your job; not ok if you have health issues or dread going into the office every day, although of course, you can always switch jobs if this is the case.

I’m hoping that saving and investing hard now will build up a big enough pot which will allow me to choose to stop working full-time at age 55-56 (my stretch target) if I’m fed up with work by then. Some may not think this is early retirement but I consider anything <60 as early!

In the event that I’m not mentally ready to give up work then (like Jim from SHMD) or if I’m just content doing what I’m doing, I might choose to just carry on working and continue to save and invest. That’s the thing – I’ll get to choose.

I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘too much’ in retirement funds (I won’t be anywhere near the lifetime limit!) but ‘too little’ would be a miserable scenario!

I’m barely two months into my new job and things are looking good so far but I must keep one eye on the future. I’ll be eligible to join the company pension next month so a few more £££s in the pot there.

Another win!

Anyway, ending on a good note: another month and another Premium Bond win for me (any wins for you, FiL?).

I won £50 so I’ll be lumping this in with other cash to be used to buy investments.

In it to win it, like the lottery only you get your money back (subject to inflation!)

Have a great weekend, all!