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: Continue reading

Our Hopes And Expectations

“Be careful what you wish for” goes the saying.

For the last few years, I’ve been wishing that the stock markets would crash so that I could take advantage and invest in lower priced stocks during my accumulation phase.

What’s happened isn’t quite what I had in mind.

In fact, I can’t really say what it was that I had in mind – just not this!

I wasn’t an investor during the financial crisis of 2008, I’m no grizzled investor who’s been round the block, so this is all new to me.

So the time is now. Or is it? As mentioned in my last post, I’ve made the decision to just stick with my plan, which is to not sell and to continue investing on a monthly basis, in accordance with my asset allocations.

Tempting though it is, I’m not going to dip into my emergency cash reserves to invest, especially as I have big dental costs this year, never mind the other (as yet) unknown expenses likely to occur.

Whatever I invest in now is effectively on sale, whether the price is rock bottom (it probably isn’t) or not.

Black Holes and Revelations

I was going to avoid looking at my portfolio until when I did my usual month end update but curiosity got the better of me. I ended up having a bit of a peek and now I wish I hadn’t!

It was a couple of days ago and I’ve lost at least a year of gains, around 22% or £34k. The markets have dropped more since, so I fully expect to be reporting a further decrease in my Future Fund at the end of the month – YIKES! 🙁

This could massively set me back in my FIRE plans, although there’s the hope that if the markets recover back to their dizzy heights in a rapid fashion, I might get back on track. Not really going to hold my breath though.

We could be in a depressed state of recession for a while. The global economy will probably get worse before it gets better and who knows how long it will take to recover, if at all.

There could well be an impact on my job – will the company need to lay off people?

I could end up getting ill, or rather, I probably will get ill (as part of the herd immunity strategy our government has adopted) – let’s hope I don’t suffer too much and can recover.

I need to brace myself in case there are shocks around the corner but until I know what is actually going to happen, I will carry on as normal.

Starlight

For something less gloomy, how’s about a bit of FIRE dating?

This beta dating website for single FIRE folks was brought to my attention via Money for the Modern Girl .

I have a feeling that there are going to be mostly young folks on here and not many in my age group, but if past relationships are anything to go by, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue! 😉

Beyond filling in bits of my profile, I’ve not really spent any time on this, so not had a good look around yet properly or connected with anyone.

However, with no sport, no or limited matched betting and no real social outings,  I have no excuse for lack of time, haha!

Hope everyone is keeping themselves and their loved ones safe, keeping calm and washing their hands.

Next post will be my month end figures – it’ll be a bloodbath!

Ravaged Dogs of the FTSE and Random Shares update

Firstly, I hope eveyone is keeping safe and calm, washing their hands and not been caught short by the mad people stock-piling toilet paper, pasta and paracetamol.

Upon family advice, I’ve been making sure bit by bit that my essentials have been topped up since January, because they warned that there would be idiots who would be hording like it’s the apocalypse.

The stock markets continue to be in chaos, so it’s an interesting time to update my experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio. As someone who’s only really invested during a great bull run, I think it’s important to try to document the bad as well as the good!

My poorly mutts weren’t doing particularly well in my first update and things now look pretty dire. Only Persimmon (PSN) is seemingly doing well, still building houses despite everything that is going on in the world.

The FTSE 100 Total Return was minus 10% over the same period so the Dogs are doing worse at minus 16.33%. Even if I include dividends received, it’s a loss of 12.88%. Ouch!

Just one more update to go in June for this portfolio, probably not really enough time for the markets to recover and for my dogs to lick their wounds, but we’ll see. All I can do is to just collect the dividends and hope my losses will be at a minimum.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this is not a strategy I would recommend to anyone, this is my own fun experiment, although it’s really no fun at all looking at all the red numbers.

Cheerful Randomness

Like last time, to cheer myself up, I will take a look at my Random Share Portfolio, which I first mentioned here.

This portfolio is made up of free shares awarded to me whenever someone signs up via my Freetrade affiliate link, bagging themselves a free share in the process. Freetrade is an investing app which (since 28th Feb 2020) allows you to buy and sell instantly for free. Link is here* if you are interested.

Might be an opportunity for those who want to take advantage of some cheap stocks and not have to pay a trading fee.

Anyway, here are a few of the free random shares I’ve been awarded since the last update:

And here’s what the full portfolio currently looks like:

Still waiting for that Tesla or Netflix share to drop, but as mentioned previously, I’m well happy with all my free shares. Most of them are ones I would never have considered buying, only because I wasn’t even aware of them.

I’ve actually sold a couple of the shares (when they gained 50%) and just ploughed the cash into a random share I already owned.

I think I’ll just keep them (mostly) and see what happens.

Anyway, keep calm and carry on investing.

*referral/affiliate link

February 2020 Savings, plus other updates

After a month of doing nothing in particular, February was a month where I was busy with something pretty much every weekend. I did have an post I wanted to put up last week but will publish next week instead.

Firstly, I’ve only gone and joined the W.I, that is, the Women’s Institute in Manchester. Like you, I too thought it was for ‘older women’, into their baking, knitting, making jam etc (I’m not interested in any of these) but when I turned up to the first meeting, I was surprised to see that I was actually one of those ‘older women’! The average age must have been around late 20s or early 30s.

Why did I join? It was one of those things which I thought I would do once I’d retired and I realised that there was nothing to stop me from joining now. Good for networking, good for establishing new interests and I got to meet and chat with some nice young women. Not sure how much time I can throw into this right now but I will make some time for it.

Anyway, before I continue with what else I got up to, some of you must be itching to see what my numbers are so here goes…

I saved 33.3% – my spending on social activities took its toll this month.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 matched betting profits (from last month), another £25 premium bond win and £77.31 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 (** Coronavirus ALERT **)

With the stock markets going into chaos caused by Covid-19, my Future Fund stands at £180,751, which is more or less back to what it was in September last year. That’s down 4% since last month.

To say that I’m not feeling a little fearful would be a lie – of course I’m a little scared, both of the virus and what it’s doing to my investments.

However, I’m going to stick with my plan. I got paid today, so my usual investment was made into my ISA. I’ve heard some people are keeping aside cash to invest at the bottom – who knows when stocks will be at rock-bottom, I will just invest when I have the cash and hope that I will scoop up some bargains along the way.

Dividends and Other Income

The bottom has fallen out of the stock markets but like clockwork, my dividends continue to roll in: Continue reading