January 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Was it just me or did anyone else find that this month passed by both slowly and quickly?

I daren’t think too much on why this was, as it hurts my brain!

Anyway, ‘highlights’ this month for me in the first lockdown month of the year included:

    • 4 hour+ Zoom chats with a couple of friends from uni, whom I hadn’t met up with for 6 and 12 years respectively – we had a lot to catch up on!
    • Attending two FIRE meet ups: the London one and the Manchester one. Of course, with the meet ups being on Zoom these days, you can be dialing in from anywhere and we even get some FIRE peeps from overseas joinng in. I know many people might be ‘zoomed out’, but unless you talk openly about FIRE with your colleagues or family and friends, I’m guessing these sessions will be different from your usual Zoom calls. Anyway, I’ve put in the links so people can join ‘Meet Up’ and see when the next events are on (the next Manchester one will have discussions about savings rates and the next London one will be talking about aiming for FIRE as a couple).
    • Downloading the Zombies, Run app – (thanks go to Faith of Much More With Less for the heads up on this fun app!). I’m not paying for subscription so have to wait for the new missions but that’s ok, I can be patient!
    • Buying some ‘working-from-home clothes’, in other words, a couple of pairs of leggings, £5 in the sales!
    • Rewatching ‘The Matrix’ for the gazillionth time – I liken Neo’s Red Pill moment to when I discovered FIRE and went down the proverbial rabbit hole myself…
    • Being riveted by the whole ‘meme stock‘, r/wallstreetbets vs hedge funds thing. I even had a few small ‘bets’ myself (using Freetrade*) on GameStop, AMC and Blackberry and came out eventually +12%, although the whole saga continues to unfold. Certainly the fallout from all this will be interesting. Silver, anyone?

    • Rotting my brain with guilty-pleasure TV shows like ‘Married At First Sight – Australia’ and ‘The Masked Singer’….don’t judge me 🙂
    • Spending a whole month with just my Sis in the house since nephew is still with his dad from before Christmas, as pointless him coming back yet with his school shut. It’s been surprisingly ok…
    • Not a highlight but making another trip to the dentist which had me going home minus £300 (2 missing fillings replaced – ouch!).  That went on my credit card and I may just plug this with some emergency cash.

Anyway, how did I get on money-wise in January?

I saved 46.6% of my net salary – not a bad start to the year.

The above savings includes a top up of £20 from Matched Betting profits (from last month).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments apart from ones mentioned here, where I adjusted part of my investment strategy earlier this month.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

After the end of year rush upwards, the stock markets wobbled a little so I saw no real gains, despite new capital being added. Some ‘experts’ are saying there’s going to be another big crash at some point. Yeah, whatever.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund stood at £220,324.

Steady as she goes

Dividends and Other Income

Not a bad start to the year for dividends:

I received £171.23, of which £131.73 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs. All dividends were reinvested. With the recent changes I made to my investment trusts, I should see decent increases in dividends this year…I hope!

Here’s the graph of all dividend income received; nice to see that little spike:

Matched Betting (MB)

Bit slow on the MB front this month, my mind just wasn’t on it.

In the end, I made just £97.50 profit. It would be good if I could achieve a lifetime total of £20,000 profits this year from MB, but it’s getting tougher after all this time to get decent offers and I don’t spend as much time on it as I used to.

As mentioned previously, the MB guide I subscribe to is OddsMonkey*, which is great for beginners and experienced matched bettors alike. There are step by step guides and also a friendly forum for you to ask questions and get help on any of the offers.

Goals Update

One month in, not a lot to look at really:

The Pennine Way virtual walking goal has encouraged me to move about more – I make more of an effort to go a little further on my daily walks, averaging 2 miles a day now when before I wasn’t even doing 1 mile every day. I do however need to make sure I clock some decent mileage to make sure I don’t leave myself with too much to do in the last month or so of the goal.

And that’s it really.

How did you get on in January?

[*referral/affiliate link]

36 thoughts on “January 2021 Savings, plus other updates

  1. I’ve been a casual observer of the Gamestop debacle despite having been a regular member of WSB for 3/4 years.

    It’s funny how it reaching mainstream media means friends are at last being curious about investing despite all the years of talking about it down the pub (when asked, I try not to force it on people). But it’s curiosity being fuelled for the wrong reasons further fuelling the rhetoric that “investing is gambling” when this is just one isolated, rare example.

    Btw, that’s an awesome dividend rate, how long did it take to reach those monthly amounts?

    • Hi AMM

      Yeah, I could have jumped on the Gamestop bus earlier but common sense told me not to! None of my non-investing friends are asking about what’s going on so perhaps that is a good thing – it’s not what I would recommend to them at all!

      I think I switched to more income paying investments as part of my strategy in 2016 (including switching from funds to ETFs) and been slowly adding to them since then. The change I’ve made recently to higher yield income paying investments should push the dividend rates even higher this year.

  2. I’m normally a fairly cautious investor (nearly all funds, apart from a couple of shares in companies I use, because they give perks other than dividends), but after reading some of the posts on the WSB forum, I have bought a few GME stocks to lend my support. I fully agree that this is not a strategy to recommend; my stocks are down about 40% from last week, but as I only bought a few and mentally kissed that money goodbye as soon as I bought them, I’m actually quite pleased they haven’t gone down more!

    Reading the posts on that forum has been eye-opening; I think there will be a number of heads rolling when the US securities commission really starts to investigate.

    BTW, they are not supporting silver – that seems to have been fake news to try to take attention away from GME, and many of the main news outlets seem to have fallen for it, although some are now backtracking.

    • Hi Tina

      Yes, it’s one thing to lend your support with a small amount (and kiss that amount goodbye), it’s another to be putting huge amounts on what is really a massive gamble, like some Reddit users were doing! There will be tears.

      I think the outcome of an investigation will be very interesting, to see if Wall Street did ‘change the rules’ when the tables were turned on them.

      I saw all the ‘buy silver’ cries, didn’t know it was fake news but didn’t act on it in any case! I can see this kind of thing happening more as the big boys try to disrupt what the little guys are trying to do.

      • Yes, some people seem to have lost their heads completely; college funds, delivery suite fees, life savings. Bonkers.

        Fingers crossed; it’s a good sign that there seems to be support on both sides of the House.

        Yep; the whole bag of dirty tricks seems to be in play.

        • The saying that its “an old game with a new name” is quite apt. History tells us that people keep repeating the same mistakes, reference tulip bulb mania to dot com booms and any number in between. Seems to me we’re undoubtedly in the mania phase of a bubble. The difficulty though is bubbles can expand quite significantly before they pop and with all the central bank support around who knows where it will end but planning for that pop at some time is probably not a bad thing to be planning for.

          • Hi Hopeful Firer

            How to invest in a bubble or plan for one?

            I don’t want to cash out my existing, possibly overvalued investments and I don’t want to have cash lying around, waiting for when it bursts, to dive right back in again.

            For me, I guess the only thing I can do is to just carry on investing as normal and ride out the storm!

          • Hi weenie. J wish I knew. We tend to only truly recognize bubbles after they pop and timing investments in expectation is very difficult. Personally speaking I’m still investing but starting change what I’m investing in with a view that I’ve seen good returns and am happy to bank some of them.

          • The main thing is to have a good spread of investments, in the hope that at least some will do well, no matter what stage the market it at. As Warren Buffett says ‘time in the market is better than timing in the market’.
            (Sorry if this ends up in an odd place; or some reason, I can’t reply to the last message in this thread).

  3. That graph of your future fund look awesome to be fair. I love the hot air balloon hehe. Sorry to hear about another dental trip, that’s a big ouch in more ways than one! It’s really good you have been fine with it being just you and your sister too.

    £20,000 from matched betting would just be an incredible figure. I retired at 15 hehe…good luck at achieving that if you can.


    • Cheers TFJ – when the graph’s going up, I’ve got the rocket, no change I have the hot air balloon now but need to find something appropriate for when it’s going all pear-shaped (couldn’t find a lead balloon emoji!)

      Thanks – it will be a big achievement to get to £20k but I will give it a go!

  4. I love the dividend graph, must make good reading when you see the increase over time. I didn’t receive any dividends during January! 😀

    As for “Zombies, Run”, that made running fun for me. I have had it for years now although not used it recently. It’s cool to have a story and hear how the plot evolves. Last time I used it they had enhanced the game so that you could use the gathered resources to upgrade your base – can’t remember what benefit that gave though?

    I missed the whole story behind GameStop, it was only when a couple of non-investor friends mentioned it in group chat that I thought I’d better take a look. Aside from it being a protest move, I wonder how people are going to lose money that they can’t afford to with this (or Nokia, Blackberry, etc.).

    Your matched betting is still coming out ahead of mine, I didn’t feel like doing much last month so my profit is meagre. But the good thing is, there’s no obligation to do it – as long as I make enough to cover my subscription, which I easily have, then anything else is a bonus.

    • Cheers John, your own dividend graph is coming along slowly but nicely!

      As a non-runner, I’d never heard of Zombies Run and I’m only using it for walking! 😉 I’m not sure about the benefit of the gathering of resources although there’s a part of the app where you can build up your base, eg build school, hospital etc using the resources you picked up. I do smile when it says I’ve picked up random things which I immediately wonder they would be useful or not!

      Yes, still chugging away at the MB and yes, if I make over the subscription, then it’s still worth it!

  5. Dentist: £300 is not too bad. You wait until the day you have to pay for a dental implant. I doubt that you’ll be saving much that month! (Alternatively, the emergency fund will need a few months of heavy top-ups thereafter.)

    Little to report here, other than yet more fettling with the ETF/fund allocations. One day, I’ll settle on something but at least the comments on Monevator keep me trying to simplify to a two-fund strategy. Speaking of which…

    You have global in your allocation (target 35%) but simultaneously have UK, UK mid cap, and emerging markets. Is the purpose of the latter lot to alter the regional allocation of VWRL because you don’t like the near-60% US bias? Or just an accident?

    I can understand global small-cap to round out the picture given that VWRL doesn’t have small-cap. Compare/contrast that Vanguard’s Global All Cap fund does. Which seems a little odd as to why they didn’t throw small cap into VWRL too especially as they don’t offer a global small cap ETF. Life’s mysteries, eh? 🙂

    • Hi NewInvestor

      Sadly, I am scheduled to have my first consultation for an implant – I would wish then it was just a mere £300!

      Yes, the latter lot of ETFS was so that it wasn’t so skewed towards the US – no bad thing in 2020 but I just wanted a bit more balance.

  6. You’ll be at 250k before the year is out, I’m sure of it. The Zombies run app looks so cool 😮 will definitely be trying that one out, thank you!

    • Hey SN

      I’d like to think that I’ll be at 250k before the year is out but something has come up which could massively derail things – I need to find out more before I can post about it!

      Yep, the Zombies Run app is fun, a little cheesy at times but just something different to listen to!

  7. Wow ! MB – I have taken a break from that this month.
    I haven’t seen any free bet offers so not really doing very well at the moment. Making £20k would be impressive but I have a very long way to go to achieve that!
    I am not too hooked on this although when I do actively participate I my hourly rate is much more profitable than doing any of the ‘gig’ work that I am signed up to.
    I am trying to find some positive viewpoints during what feels like a dull and heavy winter.
    Look forward to reading your next post……

    • Hi SparkleBee

      The £20k is over many years but yeah, I guess it’s still pretty significant as side hustles go.

      Might be harder to do these days but definitely not impossible.

  8. Hey weenie. Love the blog I read monthly and love the mix of investments you have
    You have spurred me on to pop next years Isa into some investment trusts so fingers crossed. Thought AJbell as I am bit bored of the vanguard lifestyle now ( am holding that) and they have a good suggested range so will start there I think

    Teeth are expensive and wait to hear the big news for later hope it is not cladding

    • If you’re interested in AJ Bell, you might want to have a look at iWeb; owned by Halifax, but AJ Bell runs the SIPP, and it’s a bit cheaper than going to AJB direct. Also cheapest for ISAs: £25 start-up fee (increasing to £100 in April), then £5/trade. Ideal for people who only trade a few times a year; not necessarily the cheapest for people reinvesting dividends.

    • Hi Vespaboy

      Cheers for reading and all the best with the investment trusts – which ones did you go for?

      Still mulling over the ‘big news’ but need to wait a bit for more info!

  9. An impressive bounce back in the future fund, really shows the benefits of staying invested.

    I’m ashamed to say that Married at first Sight Australia is a guilty pleasure in our house too…

    • Hey Mr Misanthrope

      Thanks and yes, the bounce back proves (to me) that the best decision was to stay invested and to continue investing.

      MAFS – I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself when it ends lol!

  10. Love the graph of your funds. Exceptionally good job. Really shows what one can do if you put your d to saving and investing for the future.

    Why isnt FIRE on school curricula?

    Thanks for keeping the blog going and looking forward to seeing the end of 2021 balance!

    • Cheers J.B and as @Tina says, no government will want people to retire early, likely because they want (need) people to carry on working to a) continue paying NI and b) delay taking state pensions.

  11. I jumped in on the GME / AMC drama and put in £500 into AMC – came out the other end with £800. A bit too much drama for me though! Much prefer the index fund way / seeing it at a much slower pace.

    It’s great to see that graph from March 2020 last year to what your fund stands at now! What an increase!

  12. Hey Jase

    Nice bit of profit you made on AMC but like you, the whole drama and hysteria is a bit too much for me. Fun to jump on for a brief ride but at minimal risk/cost! Get wealthy slowly is also more my cup of tea!

    Yes, the graph is pretty amazing – imagine if I had panicked and sold…it doesn’t even bear thinking about!

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