March 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Reasons to be grateful during these difficult times:

  • I have a roof over my head
  • I have running water, electricity and gas
  • I have money to buy food, alcohol and other essentials
  • I have books, tv and internet to keep me distracted/entertained/informed
  • I do not work on the front-line and thank all those key workers doing a valiant job
  • I am still employed (for now)

I have adapted to lock down fairly well, which I put down to my lifestyle. The main ‘disruptions’ for me have been having to work from home (I prefer to work in the office), not being able to go to the gym or catch up with friends in the flesh in a pub/restaurant.

That’s pretty much it. I’m quite happy being at home and I consider myself extremely fortunate that I am not suffering any real inconvenience or any hardship. Good relations have been maintained with sis and nephew (who recovered from his recent fever – I don’t think he had the virus) so all’s well with them too.

Plummeting Stocks

After the fastest ever stock market crash in history, I’ve decided to stick to my plan until it makes more sense for me not to.

Ever since I’ve been investing, the great bull run has meant that I’ve been buying stocks as they’ve been going up so, in the same vein, I’m buying as they go down. If some are purchased at rock-bottom, then that’s a bonus.

My main strategy is buy and hold, although I confess that I did make one sale… my holding in VUCP (Vanguard Corporate Bond ETF) was a beacon of green in a sea of red so I sold half and used the cash to top up a couple of the more ravaged investments. Only time will tell whether I was foolish but in any case, I didn’t sell anything else.

Oh wait, I did! In anticipation of transferring my SIPP with HL to Vanguard, I sold my iShares Emerging Markets tracker at the beginning of Feb. As the markets started to drop, I decided that I didn’t want my funds in transfer limbo so I lumped all the cash into Vanguard Lifestrategy 80 – not at its cheapest but very much cheaper than it was at the beginning of the year.

The goal posts to FIRE will likely end up moving but they were never really set in stone. One more year however might end up being 2 or 3 more years perhaps – I hope not, but who knows?

So, onto the numbers…

I saved a whopping 76.8%! That’s because I got my bonus and I decided to invest most of it. Risky? Perhaps. This might be the last bonus I get in a while so I’m making the most of cheaper investments.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 matched betting profits (from last month), yet another £25 premium bond win, £64.36 from Google ads and £128.57 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I was prepared for a horrific nightmare but it turned out to be just a bit of a scary movie.

My Future Fund stands at £163,789, which is prety much back to what it was in April last year. That’s down 13% since the beginning of the year.  Double figures yes, but not the 25-30% devastation I was expecting. The recent uptick in the markets did help of course.

Dividends and Other Income

Only one of my dividends got cancelled this month (Persimmon) but the others rolled in nicely:

I received £258.27 in total, of which £214.82 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs.

Here’s what the main graph looks like:

More dividends are being cut or postponed on a daily basis so this graph isn’t going to look so pretty in the coming months!

Matched Betting (MB)

With football and horseracing being cancelled, I was lucky to not make a loss this month, managing to scrape in £19!  That’s pretty much it for my MB until sport restarts although there are still plenty of casino offers which I have not attempted.  Some matched bettors make decent profits from these offers, so I think I may check them out. Or I may just take a break.

Goals Update

Nice to see that I’ve hit my average savings rate goal but maintaining it will be the challenge!

I think I can safely say already that my matched betting goal is already out of reach but once sport starts up again, I’ll be giving it a good go to try to reap those profits!

That’s it from me – hope everyone is well and staying safe.

[*referral/affiliate link]

29 thoughts on “March 2020 Savings, plus other updates

  1. Great post Weenie – really positive – focusing on what matters – I must admit am struggling with working at home – much less sanguine than you – some very positive things – am learning a lot – but it just doesn’t suit me.

    I’d written off match betting –
    thought you could only do it with horses and sport !

    • Cheers The Squirreler. I will only get through this by keeping a positive mindset and keeping focus. Working from home doesn’t suit me either, I can’t wait to get back into the office (never thought I’d say that, haha!).

      I only choose to MB on horses and football but plenty of people work their way through the bingo and casino offers and there are quite a few of these. I’ve done some of the bingo ones in the past and made some money.

  2. Hi weenie, I am glad to see you remain greatful and positive :). Let me add another one to your list; to live in a well developed country. Those living in other not that developed areas as Africa will struggle the most.

    Happy to see your are staying strong and keep with your strategy. If extending your working life a couple of years is required, it won’t be the end of the world, it’s better latter than never.

    I also sold some US corporate bonds and also treasury bonds at a premium and bought stock cheaper. We’ll see if that pans out well over time.

    • Hey Tony
      Yes, of course – so fortunate to be living in a developed country.

      If this crash had happened as I was about to pull the FIRE trigger, I would be a lot more upset but would still end up just adapting, move onto plan B etc.

      Ah good to see that you too profited from some US corp bonds – good luck to us both with our investments!

  3. Wow, 76% is amazing! I can see that staying even higher than usual with having to stay inside.
    I’m also not finding the isolation much of a bother atm for all the distractions you mentioned, plus as a gamer, I’m in my element anyway haha.

    • Thanks AMM! Yes, in theory, my savings rate should be higher than normal but my spending hasn’t really changed since lockdown, I just won’t have the social outings I had planned this month so will save there, I guess.

      As for gaming, hah yes – I played through the act I of Diablo III (for free) and have just discovered Guild Wars 2 which I think I will be playing for a long while! What have you been playing?

  4. Hi Weenie I think a lot of folks will be discovering how much money they can save by not buying the Starbucks, lunch for work, clothes, commuting, petrol etc etc. It brings up that old FIRE chestnut though – if we all started trying to save 70% of our income, would the economy collapse? I think we’re about to find out…..

    • Hey Jim
      That’s assuming the folks keep their jobs or are furloughed but yes, I would think that some people will realise that having done without, they don’t need to buy them any more. But us FIRE folk need people to spend so that companies make money and our investments go up!

  5. Thanks for the positivity Weenie! Well done on the savings rate. I think you made the right decision with the bonus. Things could well get a lot worse, but you’ve bought at a big discount to where we were a matter of weeks ago.

    My company have just started to furlough people. 25% of the staff to start with. Luckily not me yet, but things aren’t looking great in most industries. Hopefully we can come back stronger once this is over.

    Stay well and stay safe.

    Mr Way

    • Cheers Mr Way. It was only because I was comfortable with my emergency fund that I invested the bonus too – I’m not sure that I will get another opportunity to invest at these prices, not while I’m accumulating.

      All the best with you and your job – the rest of this year is going to be tough on all of us!

  6. Horse racing still going on in HK and USA if u have sky sports.
    One can always try trading commodities.Oil went up 40% in 2 days.
    If looking for help recommend the website Barcharts

    • Hi Simon

      Yes, I noticed that there was still a bit of horse racing around the world but no MB opportunities have come up.

      I don’t know anything about commodities but perhaps I could spend some time reading up on them. I’ll check out that website, cheers.

  7. Good to hear that you are still investing at the moment, as you know I’m doing the same and I don’t want to look back on this period and wish I had contributed more. I’ve just made my last contribution to my ISA for the year, but holding in cash and drip feeding in.

    Two or three years will fly by if it comes to that. I’ve got a lot longer…and I’m already getting a taste for the retired lifestyle, especially as I’m enjoying spending more time at home.

    • Hi AO

      I’m fairly certain that I will wish that I had contributed more during this massive slump in the markets but I can only invest the money I have.

      Hear what you’re saying, I don’t want to sound smug in any way, not when there are those who are not enjoying the imposed time at home but there’s an aspect of it that I like and I think that bodes well for my retirement!

  8. 76% is insane! well done! Seeing you post about savings rates has really made me think that I need to get my arse in gear and start tracking it- currently I am only looking at net worth. Haven’t done as well as you, looking at 20% down on my stock related assets, even some of my green investments that I thought wouldn’t be so affected. Oh well, onwards and upwards!

    • Hi SouthWalesFI

      Thanks but yes, it is insane and a one-off!

      Measuring net worth or savings rate – I decided to concentrate on the latter only because it means more to me in terms of tracking my own progress.

      I don’t currently have hardly any green investments but in the few I do have, I too saw a big initial drop although they seem to be recovering already. I will continue to top them up as with my other investments.

      Onwards and upwards as you say!

  9. Pingback: The Full English – The problem(s) with behavioural psychology/ economics – The FIRE Shrink

  10. Love your thoughts at the start. So many people in other countries have such worse lives by far on a day to day basis than we do, even now we are “forced” to stay at home. It’s not the end of the world when you think about it (notwithstanding the virus and deaths part of it of course, which the majority will be barely affected by).

    You might even find this crash fast tracks your FI date, if the recovery is faster than expected it will just mean you bought your final bunch of shares cheaper than you would have done otherwise.

    All the best as always!

    • Cheers TFS. Exactly – so many others around the world have it much much worse, I really can’t bring myself to moan about this predicament at all.

      Well who knows about whether the crash fast tracks my FI date, eh? We already seem to be seeing a bit of a recovery as China slowly hauls itself out of lockdown but it could be a bit of a false dawn as UK and in particular the US haven’t hit peak yet so there could be another fall but perhaps not as sharp as that previous big one.

      Let’s hope that the investments I’ve continued to make do pay off!

  11. Hey weenie. I really like that you start the post with reasons to be grateful for. I similarly feel fortunate in so many ways even when it comes from looking at the Financial side of things. My fund has gone down to £164,219 as of writing so we are still almost neck and neck as before heheh.

    Be safe


    • Hey Chris
      Yes, all I can really think of with my situation is that it could be far far worse, hence I decided to focus on the positives.

      Hehe, good to see our funds are going down (and up!) in sync!

  12. Hi Weenie, nice post. You’ve inspired me to sell off some of my Vanguard corporate bond fund too and switch it to other funds instead.

    I’ve just signed up to FREETRADE via your link, but I assume there’s no referral benefit for you? Sorry, not entirely sure how it works. Anyway, thought may be worth a small dabble and who knows with the free share! Do you still feel as positive about the app/company since your review?

    Great that you invested your bonus! Your savings rate is one for me to aspire to this month!!! Hope you had a good Easter break!

    • Ooh, so I was informed you get the referral as long as we fill in the form. Hm, can’t work out if I filled that in! Shame I missed the Wednesday share giveaway!

      • Hi Firelite

        Thanks for signing up via my link and yes, I will get a free share too once you’ve filled in the form (to state that you are not a US tax payer) and you deposit £1. There’s always next Wednesday’s giveaway! And yes, I’m just as positive with the app/company – I used them for my ISA last year and will do so again this tax year.

        Cheers and hope you’re enjoying your Easter!

        • Ah yes, I did answer that question so hopefully sorted! Fingers crossed for ud both with the share! Yes, lovely Easter thanks, and now back to the grind! Hope you did too.

  13. Am annoyed at lack of matched betting opportunities, but found a couple of survey sites Prolific and Populus to replace the MB income.

    • Hi Simon

      Yes, I can’t wait for sport to restart so I get on wiyh matched betting again (as well as watch football!). I did surveys many years ago, not sure I have the appetite to do them again but I’ll take a look, thanks for suggesting.
      I’ve diverted some of my MB funds into Football Index but I don’t really want to talk much about it as it’s gambling! I do have a referral link though if you are interested! 🙂

      • Yes I have heard of Football Index but seems like spread betting on steroids! Therefore beyond my risk tolerance but wish you luck with it all the same.

        • Haha thanks, Simon! Well you can’t lose more than you put in so it’s not as risky as spread betting, although of course, it is gambling!

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