Adding up the Cladding

On 14th June 2017, along with the rest of the UK, I watched the horrific scenes of the terrible fire raging through the apartment block Grenfell Tower in London, which killed 72 people.

The fire had likely been started by a faulty fridge-freezer but it was the insulating cladding material on the outside of the building – supposedly having passed stringent fire safety tests – which was found to be flammable and instead of slowing down the spread of flames, actually contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

Questions were asked and it became evident that Grenfell Tower’s flammable cladding was not an isolated case and that many other buildings in the UK incorporated this unsafe material.

The government deemed that all resident apartment buildings were to be made safe and any dangerous cladding material had to be removed.

With a sense of dread, I wondered if my own property, the flat I let out to tenants was affected.

Well, it’s taken 3 years for me to find out.

Wonder No More

I can’t say I was too surprised when I received a letter from the building management agents confirming that my property did not comply with the new government fire safety guidelines. If property developers can get away with using cheaper materials, they will.

What did surprise me was that the costs to become compliant would fall entirely on us leaseholders of the property.

The freeholders will pay nothing.

New Costs

The service fees which I pay have been increased to include the cost of two fire wardens who patrol the perimeter of the building 24/7. These patrols will continue until the building has been made safe.

I guess that’s some small consolation to people like my tenants who have been living in a potentially unsafe building all this time.


I’ve read articles where leaseholders have been told that costs could amount to over £40,000 each – of course each property will be different (eg depending on the number of floors etc) but this could put a MASSIVE dent in my FIRE plans.  Could this even signal the end to my FIRE plans?

But ‘help’ is at hand…

The government has established a Private Sector Cladding Remediation Fund to help cover the cost of replacing the unsafe cladding – the building management agents have made an application on our behalf so we await approval for our share of the fund.

However, who knows if it will be enough, even if we are successful?

The unsafe materials must be removed and replaced as a necessity but any costs over and above the fund allocation will be footed by the leaseholders. By me.

I await the estimated replacement costs with some trepidation.

Note that from a money aspect, I will ultimately be fine and it won’t be the end of the world for me. Yes, forking out tens of thousands of pounds will set me back majorly in my plans but is not going to bankrupt me or anything like that because I have savings and investments to fall back on. Being on the FIRE path has meant that I’m in a far better financial place to deal with the unexpected.

I’m also not looking to imminently sell my property (without the required fire safety certificate, I’d only be able to sell to a cash buyer in any case, who would be in a strong bargaining position) and not looking to re-mortgage my property (lenders would not  currently touch me with a barge pole).

From a safety point of view however, I couldn’t imagine living somewhere which was not safe and having to worry about it on a daily basis, like some others.

It’s looking increasingly likely that my plans will be impacted but I guess I’ll just deal with it when I know what it is that I have to deal with.

Any other leaseholders being affected by this?


“Second Wave” Dogs of the FTSE + Random Shares

My latest Dogs of the FTSE experimental portfolio was set up in June, so it’s time for an update on its progress – a shame I wasn’t able to time it when everything hit rock bottom in March.

Bad timing or not, I continue to follow the strategy as an experiment and will be documenting the bad times as well as the good (mostly bad, these days!).

Here’s a reminder of the Dogs of the FTSE strategy:

  1. Choose the ten FTSE 100 shares with the highest yield (subject to my criteria*)
  2. Invest equal amounts in all ten shares
  3. Hold for a year (give or take a week)
  4. At the end of the year, sell the ones no longer in the top ten, replace with new shares with highest yield
  5. Repeat from step 3

[*criteria being that shares already in my portfolio are not included, nor any where a dividend cut has been announced]

Note that this is part of my ‘fun’ portfolio and represents less than 1.5% of my Future Fund – it is not what I do as a main investing strategy. All dividends received are reinvested.


The stock market has been wobbling a little these past couple of months, reacting (or not) to world events, and my Dogs don’t appear to have done too well. Only 3 are in positive territory, the others are looking quite sorry for themselves:

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was -6.22% so the Dogs are doing slightly worse at -6.76%.

However, if I include dividends received, it’s a loss of -4.09%, which is marginally better but still rather rubbish.

Well, the mangy mutts still have around 9 months to turn themselves around – I’ll do another update in a few months’ time.

Random Shares

My Random Share Portfolio is made up of free shares awarded to me whenever someone signs up to Freetrade* via my affiliate link, bagging us both a random free share (worth between £3 and £200) in the process.

A couple of recent free random shares I received

Here’s the full portfolio – it’s gotten a bit too big to do a full copy and paste.

I’ve kept most of the shares, occasionally selling when the odd one gains by >20%.

The money from sales of such shares have been invested into my Winter Rock Associates Fund 😉

Thanks to all who have signed up via my link in the past – hope you all got a decent free share!

September 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Compared to last month’s ‘activity-filled’ calendar, September was on the quiet side.

The only things of any note were:

  • My nephew went back to school and all was well until during the second week when he came home with the lurgy and we had to self-isolate. Fortunately, he was able to get tested within a day and his results (negative) 48 hours later so there was little disruption to the household.
  • I had a little homegrown ‘harvest’:

  • And did I mention that I managed to hit a little milestone this month? More on that later…

Work had my brain fried most evenings so all I’ve felt like doing after logging off was slumping on the sofa watching ‘comfort’ TV – I rewatched/binged all 4 seasons of ‘Heroes‘ (“Save the cheerleader, save the world!“) and have just started to rewatch ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ (the remake, not the original camp 70s show).

I did however keep up my gym sessions so haven’t been entirely unhealthy!

Me and Sis have slowly started to add more to our shopping – an extra packet here, a couple more tins there – in anticipation of a second lockdown and in case people start going mad again stockpiling like they did in March and April (which seems a lifetime ago).

Restrictions haven’t eased off in Greater Manchester, with cases continuing to rise. Life (as we know it now) will just go on.

So, how did I get on with my savings in September?

I saved 56% of my net salary – very good, but considering it was a month of doing pretty much nothing, I was surprised I didn’t save more.

The above savings includes top ups from £60 Matched Betting profits (from last month) and £72.72 from affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I sold my holding in Murray International Investment Trust (MYI) for a small profit (reason being that MYI hasn’t done so well compared to other global ITs and while the yield of >5% is tempting, I’m not sure it will be maintained). I swapped it for SPDR S&P Global Dividend Aristocrats ETF (GBDV). I topped up other existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

After reaching my £200k milestone, the stock markets went all jittery and did their best to spoil my little celebration.

By the end of the month, my Future Fund had dropped to £199,167 – it could have been worse so I’m ok with that, although it seems I wasn’t the only one who ‘flirted’ with £200k, only for it to skip out of reach again!

Dividends and Other Income

An average month for dividends:

Continue reading

Invest in this Fund!

The pandemic and resulting lockdown, combined with falling or non-existent savings interest rates has turned thousands of people into armchair investors, dipping their toes into the stock markets for the first time and potentially risking their money due to their lack of experience and knowledge.

With Winter Rock Associates, you will benefit from years of expertise, knowledge and time spent by the fund manager, researching and picking the best opportunities to produce the best performance for your money (capital at risk etc).

Investing in our fund means your money is spread across multiple assets. As some investments will perform better and some worse over time, diversifying will, fingers crossed, help spread the risk and smooth returns over time.

Our management fees are very competitive, which you will find in the small print hidden in our website but you will be benefitting from significant returns on your investment so it will be money well spent in the long term.


Here are some of the assets the Winter Rock Associates Fund has invested in:

The fund is showing an overall return of 10.9% (since March 2020) so would be a great addition to those saving for the future.

Note that the fund is only open exclusively to new investors for a short period of time so don’t delay – contact me now for more details! Don’t miss out on profits!


I’m joking of course, so please don’t contact me! 🙂

It seems anyone can create a fund these days – thanks to Average Money Man for pointing me to Hedge Fund Name Generator and I had some fun designing the logo at Free Logo Design.

What is real, however, are the assets/companies I mention above – I do have these actual investments in a portfolio.

I didn’t use any expertise, knowledge or time to select those companies I’m invested in – my criteria was that they were a well known brand/I’d heard of them before or I used their products/services.

Using Freetrade*, I bought £10 fractional shares in each of those companies (plus others) and when they make a decent profit (eg 50%+), I sell.

Of course, I don’t recommend this ‘strategy’ to anyone – I’m just saying this is the strategy I’ve followed and I’ve had a bit of success recently (with a large dose of luck!).

This is my ‘fun portfolio‘, which allows me to do daft things like pretend I’m a hotshot trader, buying and selling with impunity, and giving in to FOMO! I even follow some ‘experts’ on YouTube for latest buys and sells!

The main thing is that I leave my core investments (my ETFs and investment trusts) ticking along (untampered with) in a sensible but boring way, as long term investments should.

Yes, it was very exciting last month when I sold my £10 piece in Tesla for £20! But that’s as much excitement or risk I would like or need investment-wise.

Anyway, if anyone fancies getting us both a free share worth up to £200, sign up via my link – good luck and perhaps you too can enjoy creating your own Winter Rock Associates Fund! 😉


[*referral link]