Race to £200k

John Kingham who runs the UK Value Investor blog recently posted about aiming for a £1 million portfolio within 30 years and talked about the theory of doubling up.

I posted a comment and in his reply, he challenged me to see who will reach £200k first.

Of course, I accepted the challenge! 🙂

The Runners

In Lane Number 1JK’s Model Portfolio

John started his model portfolio in 2011 with £50k, which is made up of 30 stocks. Its aim is to generate more income and growth than the FTSE All-Share.

Through active trading alone (with dividends reinvested), this portfolio has since doubled, having had no extra capital added! Wow!

John’s strategy is that the least attractive holding is sold every other month and replaced with a new investment the following month.  He details his analysis and reasoning in a newsletter, which is aimed at defensive and dividend-focused value investors. The newsletter is subscription-only and includes a stock screen containing over 200 dividend-paying companies from the FTSE All-Share. There’s plenty of useful stuff to read on his website and blog too that doesn’t need a subscription.

I can confirm that I have met and spoken to people (at the last FIRE Escape gathering) who subscribe to said newsletter and whose investments have done extremely well by it, so yep, John knows his stuff!

In Lane Number 2: Weenie’s Future Fund

Yep, my mixed bag of a portfolio – it’s got a bit of everything! 🙂 Its aim is to provide me with income when I choose to retire early.

I practice a predominantly buy and hold strategy, drip-feeding capital every month, making the most of pound-cost averaging.

The amount I save/invest depends largely on my expenses and whilst I’ve got the basic costs buttoned down, as I’m not practising extreme frugality, things like social life, holidays and celebrations can sometimes get in the way!

Also there’s the amount I can earn from my side hustles, ie matched betting, cashback and affiliate income – I try to chuck all of that into the pot. Oh and any lotto or premium bond wins too!

You may recall that my Future Fund hit £100k recently. In total, it took me 8 years to reach this milestone – 5 years for the first £30k (when I had no plan), then 3 years to get £70k (with my plan).

I have only been investing for around 3 years so I can’t say that I know my ‘stuff’ but I seem to be doing ok!

Five Years

According to my own projections forecast spreadsheet, I reckon I could hit £200k in around 5 years. It’s possible I could get there earlier but this is my estimate, using conservative returns, whilst assuming that I will maintain an average savings rate of 40-45%. Hmm!

Over the last five years,  JK’s Model Portfolio achieved an annualised rate of return of 14.6%, so if at least the same return can be achieved, then it’s going to be a close competition!

Of course, it could take longer than 5 years and things could go pear-shaped for the both of us with the markets tanking, although with his strategy, John will be poised to ditch the rubbish shares and get some good ones in, while I will be trying to ignore all the noise and continue to chuck in my monthly capital regardless.

Different Strategies

I hope people will find this friendly competition interesting as it showcases different investing strategies.

This is all just a bit of fun but also another thing to keep me focused and motivated.

Ladies First

I think I’ve got a bit of a head start as I reached £100k before John did, plus I’ll be transferring the remainder of my severance pay into my Future Fund this month.

Still, I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I’m the Hare and he’s the Tortoise!

Actually, I feel more like I’m Rocky Balboa to his Apollo Creed, except this isn’t Hollywood so there’s no fairy-tale ending guaranteed!

Anyway, good luck to the both of us – let’s get ready to rumble!

Investment Strategy – updated

It’s been over a year since I made a ‘tweak‘ to my investment strategy so I guess it’s about time I did a bit of an update and rehash of the post.

Party Politics?

This post follows hot on the heels of the UK snap election. I have to say that my investment strategy was going to be the same regardless of what happened and I’ll not be doing anything different now that we have a ‘not very strong and stable‘ government for another five years and there are the extremely rough seas of Brexit to navigate through yet.

Original Plan

My original plan had been to build up a large enough pot of investments (funds) and to sell off funds gradually, until I was able to draw down on my company pension at 65 and then state pension at 67.

My money was pretty much all in tracker funds, which followed my Portfolio for All Seasons plan, a plan which I set into motion in 2014.

When my company pension got frozen in 2015, I realised that I needed to review my whole investment plan, as I would need some extra income to make up for the unplanned pension shortfall.

Income

It’s still my plan to try to get dividend income of at least £3000 per year. Obviously, more will be better, but this is the minimum that I’m aiming for, and I think I’m on track for my goal of £1500 this year.

I know it seems like it would be easy to just double it but I’m still adding to the tracker funds too so my monies are spread out.

£3000 a year currently covers the following expenses for me – electricity, gas, internet/broadband, mobile phone, water, boiler cover, TV licence and dental/optical cover. That’s a lot of bills to not have to worry about!

Of course, these costs are likely to go up with inflation but hopefully, if I’ve invested wisely, my dividends will also continue to grow and kind of keep in line with inflation.

Share and IT portfolio can be found here.

Last year, I switched some of my tracker funds into ETF equivalents which added to the monthly income received, whilst at the same time reducing some management fees (the fees on my investing platforms are capped for ETFs but not for funds).

Living off dividend income is very appealing but to only live off income and not sell off any capital would be pretty much beyond my financial capacity.

I don’t earn a mega salary, there’s only one income coming in (gotta get dating again) and I don’t have the luxury of saving/investing for >20 years to build a massive pot, not if I want to retire early.

I could probably save and invest more but who wants to live like a frugal nun? Not that I have anything against frugal nuns but I choose not to go down the extreme path.

This past year or so, I’ve been steadily throwing cash at a basket of investment trusts to grow my dividend income. The shares I already own also contribute to this income. I practice a buy and hold strategy, apart from the little experimental portfolio I have, whereby I will sell in accordance to the ‘Dogs of the FTSE’ strategy – well, I’ve not sold anything yet but plan to do so early next year!

P2P and Property Crowdfunding

As well as the trackers/ETFs and the shares/ITs, I’ve also got a small amount in peer-to-peer (P2P) loans and some in property crowdfunding (via Property Moose*).

I’ve been invested in P2P for 3 years and my portfolio has grown by over 15%. However, I have now started to divert some of the P2P funds (interest and repayments) into my other investments.

This is for no reason other than to start simplifying my portfolio, although if it was possible to convert my existing P2P accounts into one of those new innovative finance ISAs (it’s not), I would probably just leave them as they are.

I won’t be cancelling or cashing in any P2P loans early, just withdrawing the repayments and interest, so this exercise could take up to 4 years before the loans are fully cashed out, since I took on some long term loans early on when the interest rates were really high (some of my Funding Circle loans were at 17%).

I’m likely to keep the property crowdfunding ticking over for a while longer – I want to see how it does since it has been purely funded by matched betting profits.

SIPP or ISA?

Aside from the bit of money tied up in P2P and property crowdfunding, the rest of my savings/investments are ‘tax efficient’, ie either in my SIPPs or my ISAs.

I’m continuing to invest in both, although I plan to build up more in my ISAs as I feel they offer more flexibility and (hopefully) will continue not to be subject to tax. I currently have more in my SIPPs but hopefully that will be addressed over the years.

Cash

As someone who may consider stopping working full-time within the next ten years, I don’t have a huge amount in cash in my overall portfolio.

The latest Monevator post reminds us that we’re not getting any younger and that your investments should reflect your age.

The classic principle governing age and asset allocation is:

Hold 100 minus your age as a percentage in equities
Hold the remainder in bonds (or cash?)

Equities currently make up around 85% of my portfolio which is pretty high risk for my age. I’m ok with that.

The majority of the 15% cash element is sitting in premium bonds. Yes, I know, crap returns and all that, but I don’t care – I just love that every month, I get the chance to win something. In fact, I won again this month, the second time this year, although it was just a £25 prize!

It’s possible that I might not leave so much in cash/premium bonds – I might feel the urge to pick up some bargains when the stock markets take a dive. Or not. Probably not. Who knows if I’ll be feeling ‘brave’ when the news and noise is full of doom and gloom!

Anyway, as mentioned in my May update, my emergency fund isn’t looking too shabby now, with the equivalent of about 4 months’ living expenses, courtesy of some of my redundancy payout.

So that’s my investment/savings plan for the next couple of years or so.

It’s not set in stone and is subject to change depending on what obstacles life (or government legislation) throws at me and will be reviewed as required.

How are you investing for your future?

[*referral/affiliate link]

 

May 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

Firstly, heartfelt thoughts to the families and friends of the 22 whose lives were mindlessly cut short at the Manchester Arena.

The arena is only 5 miles from where I live, the streets where alleged accomplices of the bomber have since been arrested are ones which I have often driven down. This is scary stuff pretty much on my doorstep but talking to my friends and people at work, there is a sense of strength and solidarity, we will not let terrorism beat us. I would have loved to have gone to the ‘One Love‘ gig that’s on Sunday but there was no chance I was going to get any tickets.

Work and Pay

Well, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants at work these past couple of weeks. It’s been both scary and a bit of a rush but I did ok! Anyway, it was fortunate that I started my new job just before payroll cut off so I received a bit of a wage in May which I thoroughly deserved, if I say so myself! Woo hoo! 🙂

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

I saved 40%! My average for the year is now 46% so not too far off my goal of 50%. I’ll need to put in some good months to haul it back up.

The above savings includes boosts of £400 from matched betting profits, £28.31 from TopCashback*, £43.50 from football predictions, £69.35 from Google Adsense (my second payment ever!) and £51.36 affiliate income from OddsMonkey.

Redundancy Cash

I still have just under 80% of my severance pay left. I’m going to invest some of it next month but think I will err on the side of caution and leave most of it sitting in cash (premium bonds) for now and review my options when I feel the urge to do so.

I’m not bothered about the crap returns from premium bonds – when I started planning for FI/retiring early, I never thought I’d be including any redundancy money so it’s a bonus already on its own. I think this will bring the cash element of my portfolio to around 14-15%.

I’ve topped up my emergency fund so that it now covers around 4 months’ expenses which seems to be an amount I’m comfortable with.

Future Fund 

With the markets buoyant this month, my portfolio has continued to grow. At the end of May, my Future Fund ended up at £104,753.

Dividends and Other Income

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

First Impressions

So I’ve survived my first week at work!

My friends asked if I enjoyed it and I have to say that although I was glad to be working again, ‘enjoyable’ is not a word I would use to describe my first week!

After many months where the only thing to tax my brain was calculating my matched betting profits and losses, my brain has been hurting from all the new stuff it’s had to absorb. I’ve certainly slept well at night!

Work

The company I’m working for is a global business with offices around the world. The two main HQs are UK (Manchester) and the US (Houston). My immediate boss is based in London.

It’s in a different industry from the one I’ve worked in previously (ie not Finance) but the business culture appears to be very similar from what I’ve seen so far.

My job is VERY different from my old one and I have an extremely steep learning curve ahead of me which I need to climb quickly.

The person I am replacing leaves next week so handover and training is going to be minimal. To up my game, I’m going to do some reading/studying at home to gain some background knowledge.

During my interview, it was established that formal training was not planned as such so it’s me, with my trainers on, trying to hit the ground running! I hope I don’t stumble!

Anyway, here are some initial pros and cons I’ve come up with from my first week:

Pros v Cons

Pro – I’m back on track with my FI plan! I got a bit of a pay rise, so I’ll be able to save/invest a bit more.

Con – The overall benefits package is nowhere near as generous as my old one, particularly the pension.

Pro – I’m learning lots of new stuff that will enhance my career.

Con – I’ve gone from knowing everything about the business I work for, to knowing nothing about the business I work for. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this way!

Pro – The office is only 4 miles away from where I live, compared to my previous office which was 14 miles away.

Con – It’s in city centre so major traffic jams all the way.

Pro – I like Manchester City Centre.

Nice surroundings, 10 mins from the office

Con – I am travelling by public transport.

Pro – Public transport means I can read during my commute.

Con – There are often delayed trams or full trams not stopping, so I need to take this into account for my journey.

Neither Pro nor Con – Public transport costs will be about the same as my old petrol costs.

Pro – My tram stop is a 15 minute walk to the office so I am getting 30 mins of general exercise every day.

Con – I’m not looking forward to this walk during the cold/snowy and dark winter mornings/nights or shivering on a freezing platform.

Con – I have to leave the house half an hour earlier than I used to, to ensure that I get a parking space outside the tram station.

Con – I no longer have time to make my own lunches in the morning and I don’t like to make salad pots the night before.

Pro – Work provides free breakfast (toast, cereals and fruit) every morning so the extra money I’m spending on lunches is cancelled out by no longer having to spend any money buying stuff for breakfast.

Pro – I can still get to the gym in the evenings and make it in time for my aerobics classes.

Con – As I only make it just in time for the aerobics classes, there isn’t any time for my gym/punchbag workout beforehand.

The people are generally friendly and tea and coffee (proper bean!) is free. They have two dress-down/casual days so I only need to wear business attire for 3 days – yay!

It’s back to the grindstone, working for ‘The Woman’ and yep, as far as things go, I guess I’m happy! 🙂

Have a great weekend all!