January 2020 Savings, other updates + next FIRE meet

A bit late but I couldn’t get myself organised over the weekend to post.

A quiet month social-wise, not a lot happened – aside from recovering from having my tooth extracted following a recent visit to the dentist (it’s only just healing up now 🙁 ), much of it was spent reading, making the most of my £1.60 Now TV 3-month subscription (binge-watching Billions), working out in the gym and generally relaxing at home.

Work is nicely busy – some good news is that firstly, it looks like I should get my annual bonus and secondly, they’ve announced that they will be increasing their pension contribution to 5%! Woohoo!!

Anyway, another great start to the year for my Premium Bonds with a win of £50 – the first of many I hope!

So, how did I get on with my savings in the first month of the year?

I saved 40.8%, which isn’t too bad a start.

The above savings includes top ups from £90 matched betting profits (from last month), the £50 premium bond win, £33.81 from TopCashback* and £77.60 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

A small investment in BlackRock World Mining Trust for some further diversification,  with the rest going on existing investments. Keep calm, carry on investing.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Jittery markets as a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus saw my Future Fund not moving much at £188,361, despite new cash invested.

Dividends and Other Income

A low month for dividends:

I received just £99.22 in total, of which £69.23 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs. Some income had been paid early in December so I’m fine with the lower than normal number, except that it looks a bit rubbish on my main dividend income graph!

Early days yet though:

Matched Betting (MB)

No massive profits to report but the £201 I made was the most I’ve made in January in years!

As mentioned before, the MB guide I subscribe to is OddsMonkey*, which is great for beginners and experienced matched bettors alike with quality tools such as the Oddsmatcher, Each Way Matcher, Extra Place Matcher, Racing Matcher and Acca Matcher. There are step by step guides and also a friendly forum for you to ask questions and get help on any of the offers.

Matched betting isn’t for everyone but you won’t know until you try it! Anyway, check out the free trial* (with no obligations).

Goals Update

Not a lot to see really:

Yes, as mentioned earlier, I did a lot of reading this month but I even managed to read a non-fiction book (‘Convicts in the Colonies‘) which I thought was really interesting. Thanks to Average Money Man who prompted me to check out the History section of my local library!

Next  Manchester FIRE Meet Up

Manchester FIRE Meet Up #4 has been arranged (thanks to the Squirreler!) – get this in your diaries:

Date: Friday 21st February 2020
Start: 6pm (‘informal presentations‘ at 7.15pm)
Venue: The Salutation pub, 12 Higher Chatham Street, Manchester, M15 6ED (just 10 mins walk from Oxford Road Station)

Yes, something different has been plannned – a room has been booked and there will be informal presentations and discussion on FIRE journeys/investing (no advice of course), as well as the usual drinking, mingling and chatting with like-minded people.

Not sure how this will work but we’ll see, so see you there?

Hope you all had a great January!

[*referral/affiliate link]

18 thoughts on “January 2020 Savings, other updates + next FIRE meet

  1. Congrats on your premium bond win!

    Good, well rounded update! Can I ask what inspired your Blackrock WMT purchase?

    Hope your tooth extraction heals smoothly! Did that come out of the emergency fund or this month’s savings?

    Noticed my Pacific fund ex Japan take a bit of a dive…Let’s hope this virus is short lived (and not just for my finances ha!)

    • Thanks Firelite.

      Blackrock WMT has been on my watchlist for a couple of years – I had no exposure to commodities in my portfolio so thought this was missing in terms of diversification. It pays a decent dividend (4.8%) and is trading at a 10% discount.

      The cost of my tooth extraction (£62.10 on the NHS – who says the NHS is free!?) just came out of my normal spending. Am saving the emergency fund for when the big dental costs kick in!

      • Good to hear your explanation. Interesting. I see you enjoy receiving dividends. Is this to minimise rebalancing? Sorry if I’m missing something there that’s common knowledge!

        Oh, I’m sorry, I obviously don’t know enough about teeth (though no doubt that’ll change…) but had mistakenly thought you’d paid for the whole thing! It’s so annoying paying for these things, isn’t it? I just checked out the prices at a local private dentist and a standard extraction goes “from £90” (I read it’s more expensive for back and wisdom teeth)…if that makes you feel any better??! At least this is what I do with my (NHS) dental costs, given that hardly anyone I know has been able to get an NHS dentist!

        Ooh, may pop in for the FI meet, especially if you’re presenting. I’ll see how brave I feel nearer the time.. :S

        • Hi Firelite

          I don’t expect anything I write to be common knowledge as it’s all jumbled up in my blog! Part of my portfolio is intended to produce dividend income, enough to hopefully cover my basic expenses, eg utility bills etc. Right now, I’d say I’m earning enough to probably cover my gas, electricity and internet!

          My dentist does both NHS and private treatment – NHS dental work falls in 3 band prices 1) £22.70 (check ups etc), 2) £62.10 (fillings and extractions) 3) £269.30 for anything not in the first 2! As you can imagine, private will be charged at a premium of all the above, eg if I wanted a white filling (not available on NHS), I’d be paying over £100 instead of the £62.10. I think I do need to add more to my emergency fund for teeth!

          Hah, you think you’ll be brave attending the meet? I certainly don’t feel brave at the prospect of presenting! (I hate presenting…)

  2. Hey weenie. I had the same thing when checking my portfolio this month after adding to it, it put it back slightly under the last time when I checked it. I’ve gotten use to such things though of course, it’s the long terms that counts. I still am amazed to be fair at how much it’s grown over the last few years… I keep anticipating a big pull back at some point.

    That’s interesting about the Manchester meet up. Are many people doing presentations? Are you finding out who is and isn’t prior to it?

    Chris @ TheFIJourney

    • Hi Chris

      I can see the big pull back coming sooner rather than later, caused by production in China grinding to a halt as they lock down to prevent virus spread…

      Re presentations, I think there will probably be just a few brief ones, one of them likely to be me (after a couple of beers, hah!). I guess anyone else who wants to do one could do one, subject to how long we have the room for. It’s all really informal, no strict agenda.

  3. The 5% pension contribution is a nice move but still not enough.
    One thing that two decades ago convinced me that taking control of your money was very important was that paying in 5% or 10% of your salary for 40 years might give you (optimistically) with 5 or 10 years worth of salary to “retire” on.
    As the DB pensions came to an end, employees are left to defend for themselves – failure to do so will result in old age poverty!

    • Hi GFF
      The 5% (or 10% combined with my contribution) is of course not enough on its own, Some youngsters in our office have turned their noses up at the 5% and opted out – I’m not in a position to tell them they’re making a terrible mistake as I don’t know their financial situation or personal circumstances. It’s scary though that they’re not thinking of the future.

  4. Woo solid start to the year Weenie! Onwards and upwards!

    That reminds me to check my first ever Premium Bonds entry!

  5. Hi Weenie

    Congratulations on another great month. Do you count dividends as part of your savings rate? I.e. is the £69.23 ISA dividends included in the ISA Investments figure of £781.41? I ask because the table says ‘% of net salary saved’, and note you include the MB income, so wondering if you include dividends as well.


    • Hi EMS
      No, I don’t include interest or dividends in my savings rate.

      The MB income is actually only mentioned as a ‘top up’ and doesn’t form a part of the %. Sorry if I’ve confused you – I’ve been tracking it this way for years it’s probably clear in my mind and clear as mud for everyone else!

      • Hi Weenie

        Thanks for clarifying, your system makes sense. If you did include dividends (they are a form of income after all), and assuming you re-invest 100% of them, then your savings rate would be even higher. Kudos to you for being restrained! I’ve definitely noticed there’s no FIRE standard for measuring savings rate. Mortgage: Principle, principle + interest, or none? Dividends? Excess cash left-over in current account after a frugal month? Thoughts on this welcome!


  6. Hey Weenie!

    Well done on the savings rate this month! Mine has taken a right old battering with tax bill etc. Unfortunately I can’t make the meetup as I’m away, but i’ll look out for the next one!


    • Hey Jase

      February already don’t look so great but as with you, it’s early days so we can both recoup!

      Ah, that’s a shame – hopefully catch you at a future meetup.

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