August 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

A month of distraction, therefore a month of higher-than-usual spending and I think some of this might overlap into next month as I used my credit card to pay for some stuff towards the end of the month.

I had family staying (again) so enjoyed some days out, quite a bit of eating out and also had some fun playing cricket in the garden with my nephew. Don’t ask me the rules though, I only know the bare minimum!

Had a weekend away at V Festival (the awesome Pink was headlining). As well as for the music and the atmosphere, I love going to festivals as they’re the only places where I think you can safely people watch (as in really people watch), ie staring at what they’re wearing (or not as the case may be!) and at their tattoos (of which a lot were on show) and nobody bats an eyelid! There’s only so much of that you can get away with on a night out in town without causing trouble!It’s a pity that the only thing available to drink was crap beer (“probably the best worst lager in the world”) but that didn’t stop me from drinking large quantities of it! My fellow festival goers were on wine, which I believe was not a great vintage vile and just got them drunk quicker – apparently, as time went by, it started to taste better!  The weather wasn’t great and although we had a few hours of sun, it was just rain later on but we were prepared!

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

Well, I saved 36.2%. Although still a fairly decent chunk of my salary, as expected, it’s lower than my usual figure.

My average for the year has now dropped to 46.3%. With only four months of the year left, I have a feeling I am going to struggle to hike it back up on track. My social diary is starting to fill up, I have a pretty big holiday in a couple of months time and although I will try to keep spending in between these events low, inevitably, my savings rate will continue to take a hit.

Of course, I could always sacrifice my social life just so that I could hit my goals but that’s not something I’m prepared to do right now or in the foreseeable future, if I’m honest. As and when I get close to my end goal however, I may change my tune.

The above savings includes £100 from matched betting profits and £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

Nothing new was purchased, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current portfolio can be found here.

Future Fund 

Despite the slight wobble in the markets, with extra capital added, my Future Fund continues to grow and now stands at £125,946. Slowly plodding on towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

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

Three Months

Indeed, three months have passed and I rejoiced when I received the above the other day.

YES, I’m in!!!!

It’s been so long since I’ve had to work through a probation period, I was stressing a bit over this. My friends were all saying I’d be fine but the ‘chimp‘ in my head (which hasn’t been around in a long while) kept asking, “But what if you’re not good enough?

Anyway, all’s good for now so I can relax a little.

Impressions Update

When I started the job back in May, I wrote about my first impressions, along with some pros and cons.

I’d say that in general, things are looking more positive:

  • As mentioned previously, the benefits package is nowhere near as good as my last one but I’ve joined their DC pension now, plus their cash health plan which saves me £20 a month. I’ve also applied for a loan for my annual travel pass. Every bit counts!
  • Commuting via public transport hasn’t been too bad. Since I’m setting off earlier, the trams aren’t packed and I get a space at the park and ride car-park. I love that I’m able to read a lot (or play Pokemon Go when not reading!) and as I arrive at the office over half an hour early, I can take my time having breakfast, my first cuppa and sorting out my inbox before the working day starts. Of course, I will probably change my tune when it’s winter…Plus, I’m not sure how I’ll cope when people are coughing and sneezing around me – I’ll probably wish I was back in my car!
  • I’m a bit more organised now with my routine so only need to buy lunches once or twice a week, and can have a decent lunch for around £2 per day. So, I’ve cut down on my weekly expenses and am still enjoying the free breakfasts!
  • As I’ve been getting in the office early, my boss has said it’s ok for me to leave a little earlier on my gym nights, so I won’t be just about scraping into my classes and should be able to get more of a workout again – yay! I need it – this hasn’t been a healthy couple of months for me! Driving to the gym, I always see the traffic on the other side rammed bumper to bumper – I really don’t miss sitting in those jams on the M60!
  • I was able to work from home one day (due to a rescheduled engineer visit). However, let’s just say I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I much prefer working in the office.

Three months in and my job title has changed, standardised in line across the businesses meaning that I now have ‘Manager’ in my title. Although this doesn’t mean anything to me or change my role, I guess it looks good on my CV and my Mum will be pleased, haha!

Ooh, a bit of blue sky!

And that’s it, just a quick update. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up on my blog reading over the weekend.

Have a great Bank Holiday all!

Fees

I read recently that some poor bloke’s pension fund hadn’t grown in 11 years due to the extortionate fees charged by his provider and thought I’d mention something closer to home.

My sister has been over for a visit these past couple of weeks.  Over the course of catching up, conversation turned to pensions and she mentioned that a pension plan which she was saving into on a monthly basis in Hong Kong wasn’t ‘doing anything’.

In fact, not only was it not ‘doing anything’, it was actually worth less than the capital she had put in over the last 6 or so years! I asked her how this was so, as we were in a run of bull markets and suggested that she checked the fees she was being charged. She said she didn’t have time to look at such things so I said I’d look for her, if she provided me with her latest statement.

It turns out that she is investing in various funds (I didn’t make note of the exact fund names and no longer have her statement to hand) which have an initial charge of 5%, plus ongoing fees of average 1.7%. On top of that, her ‘financial advisor’ charged her an admin fee of 2%. Ouch!  All those fees were just gobbling up any profits the funds were making!

When I told her, she was really annoyed, both at herself (for not making the time to check the fees) and at her financial advisor. To add insult to injury, upon investigation, she found that there was a big exit fee if she were to transfer this pension to another provider. Double ouch!

It looks like the only thing she can do is to switch the expensive funds into cheaper trackers/ETFs (if she is able to do so), so that’s going to be one of her first tasks when she gets back home after her holiday.

Now that she is conscious of how devastating high fees can be to investments, she will also be considering other pension providers and if she can find a cheaper one, will stop contributing to the current one and set up a new account.

My family have been investing a lot longer than I have but it looks there’s still stuff I can bring to their attention! Perhaps I’ll speak to other members of my family to make sure they too are not paying too much fees-wise.

Me and my Funds

When I first started investing, my investments were all in funds. I then switched to cheaper tracker funds. However, just over a year ago, I switched nearly all the remaining tracker funds into ETFs to reduce fees further.

The biggest fund I own now is my Vanguard Life Strategy 80% but I’ve worked out that if I switch this one into an ETF, I’m not really saving anything so I’m going to leave it as is for now.

The two providers I use for my investments (SIPP and ISA) are Hargreaves Lansdown (HL)* and AJ Bell Youinvest (AJ)*. The latter is cheaper but service and website-wise, I have to say that it’s quite a bit behind HL.  AJ has FAR more downtime for its website at weekends (how annoying when the weekend is when I have more time to check my account!) compared to HL and ‘regular investments’ don’t always happen on the day they’re supposed to happen!

On the other hand, even if occasionally late, I prefer how regular investments are made with AJ than with HL (investments are made from monies within the account, rather than direct from your bank account) so there’re pros and cons to both, which I can live with.

Anyone else changed their investments or switched providers when they found out they were being ripped off?

[*note this is not a recommendation to use these providers, I’m just saying these are the ones I’m using – as always, please do your own research or better yet, check out Monevator’s broker comparison!]

July 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

The other day, I was pleasantly surprised to spot a guy reading a copy of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad‘ on the tram into work! I’m glad he was really engrossed with his reading and didn’t look up, otherwise he would have seen some strange woman grinning at him, haha! I’ve not read it myself but I wonder if it will change his life as many readers have claimed?

Anyway, the month has flown by – I had family staying for a while so had a great time with them, plus the weather was lovely, which was a bonus.

I’ve also belatedly started having work done to the kitchen. It should have been sorted while I was unemployed and had lots of free time, but well, I actually didn’t think I would secure a job so quickly, so I’ve been busy sorting things there. And eating microwaved food as I have no oven or cooking hobs!

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

I saved 47.9%! A couple of meals out with my sis carved a little chunk out of what I could have saved but as I don’t get to spend a lot of time with family, it was worth that bit of cost.

My average for the year is now 47.8% so still slowly creeping towards my goal of an average 50%, but I need to get a few more >50% to hike it up. Might struggle with next month (more family members coming to visit), but we’ll see.

The above savings includes £50 from matched betting profits, £50 from my Premium Bonds win, £10 lotto win, £12.77 from TopCashback* and £57.08 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I sold my XP Power shares to take 55% profit (including dividends received over the 10 months I’ve held the stock) – yes I did it, FiL and of course, will now attempt to avoid checking up on XPP as I don’t want to see that it’s doubled in price now that I’ve sold, haha! :).

I don’t usually sell any of my shares, mainly because my strategy is to buy and hold, but also because I find it very difficult to decide when I should be selling. Banking some profit can’t be a bad thing I guess, plus at some point, I want to simplify my portfolio so may as well sell stocks off bit by bit.

The funds from the sale will be added to my usual monthly capital to top up one of my existing ITs. Current portfolio can be found here.

Future Fund 

Markets have continued to be mostly favourable, so my Future Fund now stands at £122,659. Continuing to advance towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

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