Economics, Libraries, plus another PB win

I don’t remember finding the subject of Economics very interesting at school, or particularly after school, if I’m honest. However, I did enjoy the type of ‘economics’ as found in the Freakonomics books, and one of the ‘you might also like’ suggestions in Amazon came up with The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. This became the final non-fiction book I read in 2017 to achieve one of my goals.

The book occasionally got a bit too much like a school text book but all in all, mostly held my attention.

It was very much educational but in an engaging way; things I learned included the ‘scarcity power’ of retailers pushing up prices,  how and why ‘externality pricing’ works’ (eg congestion charges) and ‘auction theory’, where the example used was the UK’s 2000 telecoms/spectrum auction which became the biggest auction ever (at the time), plus an insight as to why sweatshops might not always be the worst thing for employees.

For those who love their takeaway coffee, there’s a chapter called ‘Who pays for your coffee?’ with interesting examples of how coffees/drinks are priced.

I was interested in the history of how China started its latest revolution to conquer the world, although as the edition of the book I was reading was written in 2006, it doesn’t include China’s explosion in the last 10 years.  However, even 11 years ago, China’s growth was spiralling upwards like a rocket.

Having never heard of Harford previously, I now see him everywhere doing a couple of podcasts (interesting one here about fake news or ‘facts’ which mislead), plus there was even an article by him in the British Airways magazine I was reading on the plane during my recent trip to London! I’ve probably just never noticed him or his work before, but I’ll be paying more attention now.

An interesting read in any case and I would definitely read some of his other books.


I’ve been using my local library since the mid-1990s, when I moved back home to Manchester from uni.  Around 12 years ago, my library was at risk of closure due to council cuts – fortunately, it was saved and I started to use it more often, with a ‘use it or lose it’ view. Borrowing books also helped me reduce my spending as I no longer felt the need to buy new books.

I was extremely relieved to hear that the library once again escaped the ‘chop’ and that it was not to be one of ten libraries (yes 10!) which were closed by the council earlier this month. Very sad times and those communities will be all the more poorer for not having local library facilities.

Although my library has been saved, the hours of opening have been severely reduced and I can only feel for the staff who have worked there for many years and the people who regularly rely on using library facilities.

I wonder if Tim Harford has a theory on how libraries can be saved or run more efficiently?

Another Win

And finally, a good start to the year with my first Premium Bond win of 2018 – just the £25 but it all adds up! I hope to get many more wins over the year.

2018 Goals + Bingo

Happy New Year to you all!

For those who work, I don’t know about you but this felt like the longest week ever in the office!

I have no idea what this year will bring but just hope that it will be interesting (bubbles and market corrections? Bring ’em on!), with a lot of good stuff and laughs in between! Oh and with me (and you) continuing to head in the right direction with our finances (bubbles and market corrections notwithstanding!)

Anyway, back to the main topic…Goals!

I only set a few goals last year and the focus on just those few worked well for me with little room for distraction so I’m going to do something similar exactly the same for 2018.

So without further ado, here they are:

Continue reading

December 2017 Savings, plus Round Up

Well, I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, full of sumptuous food, loads of drink and festive cheer! I travelled south to celebrate the holidays and spent some excellent quality time with some family and friends, increasing my waistline further in the process!

Interesting sights in London (Peckham)…

Not even missing my flight home on Boxing Day (the M25 was closed for several hours following an accident, so I couldn’t get to the airport in time) really spoiled things for me – I booked myself into a hotel, spent the evening reading and took the first flight home the following day.  Of course I wasn’t particularly happy that I had to unexpectedly fork out an extra £150 but I’m just glad that my flight wasn’t grounded by snowy weather.

So, how did I do in the last month of the year?

I saved 37.8% – surprisingly higher than expected but some expenses will appear on next month’s credit card.

My average for the year ended up at 42.4%. Although I didn’t achieve my goal (again) to hit that elusive 50%, I’m pretty happy with this average.

Anyway, December savings include £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated and hope you’re enjoying matched betting!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments this month.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I believe Santa put in a Rally, pushing the FTSE 100 to yet another all time high –  my Future Fund ends the year at £133,063, an increase of 46% from the start of 2017!  This increase is almost entirely due to extra capital invested (mostly from my redundancy payment) and not from any ‘investing skills’. I will add however that my investments have benefited from dividends re-invested and uplift from the downtrodden sterling.  I continue to creep towards my next big milestone, for now!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Holiday and Toilet Rolls

I had an excellent holiday – enjoyed lots of quality time catching up with family and friends.

Where are the customers’ yachts?

Managed to squeeze quite a lot in, including:

  • Weekend at an arts & music festival
  • National Geographic dinner event, with Professor Brian Cox as guest speaker – absolutely mind-blowing!
  • Michael McIntyre live in Hong Kong (funny, although jokes about housework fell a bit flat as pretty much all ex-pats have cleaners/maids…)
  • My Dad’s 80th birthday bash
  • My Gran’s 92nd birthday celebrations (maternal grandmother, in case anyone’s trying to do the maths…)
  • A couple of days in Macau – my gambling exploits ended with a HK$100 loss (about a tenner!)
  • A ‘hairy crab‘ evening with the siblings
  • Two ‘Superhero’ cinema trips (‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and ‘Justice League’)

St Paul’s Church Ruins in Macau, which you might just be able to see behind all the tourists…

Budget Blown

The last few times I’ve been on holiday, I’ve hardly bought anything but this time, not only did I do some Christmas shopping but I also actually purchased some new clothes – I know, whatever came over me!? 😉 So I spent quite a bit more than expected out there but it means much of my present-buying was done, so that was a result.

As mentioned above, it was my Dad’s birthday and there was a full-on formal banquet laid on, with the whole clan in attendance. It was fabulous to catch up with cousins, aunts and uncles I very rarely see and great to see all 4 generations get together. Although I knew I was going to be contributing towards the costs with my other siblings, I hadn’t put enough aside for it, so most of it came out of my ’emergency funds’, which I will have to ‘pay back’ over the next year.

This may put a little squeeze on my savings rate but I aim to tighten my spending further so am hoping there won’t be too much impact there.

Toilet Rolls

Some people (apparently) take toilet rolls with them when they go away on holiday – me, I brought some back! Groceries in HK are very expensive, much of the food is imported, so the own-brands of Tesco, M&S and Waitrose compete well over there versus imports from other countries.

However, I spotted that toilet paper in HK is cheaper than in the UK – half the price of an Andrex 9-pack for similar/better quality – so since I had space in my suitcase and I was under my luggage allowance, I brought back some rolls, haha!

And on that note, with the dark days hurtling towards the inevitable madness that is the Christmas holiday, I wish you all a very merry one and will see you all on the other side!

Looks like Zippy (from Rainbow) dressing up as Santa…