Investing Mistakes

It’s been quite shocking to read about how trading on the Woodford Equity Income Fund has been suspended, meaning that many people are unable to sell and withdraw their money.

Neil Woodford took this drastic action as millions of pounds began pouring out of his funds as his previously loyal investors tried to leave what appeared to be a sinking ship.

Following the Herd

Back in 2014, I talked about how I was caught up by all the wave of publicity and invested in Woodford’s new fund.

He was like a rock star in the UK investing world, one of the few to become a household name.

Not smiling so much these days

A year later, I wrote that I was still happy with my investment as I saw some decent gains.

Fortunately for me, and not due to any kind of special investing foresight or premonition, I sold my entire holding of the fund early 2018 (for a profit) as I was switching the bulk of my actively managed funds into ETFs as part of a portfolio re-balancing exercise.

I pity the folk who have remained invested and who now cannot access their funds, so yes, I dodged a bullet there.

But all is not completely rosy with my own investments as I’m in a situation where I too have some funds which I cannot get access to right now (and I’m not talking pensions).

Properly Moosed

Back in 2016, I thought I’d go into property crowdfunding. It was something new, investments linked to something tangible, it looked like a good model, though I acknowledged then that there were risks.

So, I invested in Property Moose and all seemed great. I was receiving small regular ‘rental’ amounts for the properties I’d invested in, all looked tickety-boo.

In Feb 2018, the secondary market was suspended. Something was up.

In a nutshell, Property Moose’s business model wasn’t working. The model whereby investors purchased shares in each property and were paid monthly dividends was  unsustainable and ultimately discontinued.

The directors decided that the best possible long-term solution was to move all properties into a single PLC portfolio. This solution was voted on by investors and received a 99.48% majority.

All properties have been revalued and sold off to UK Diversified Property plc.

All investors who opted to stay invested will receive allocations of shares within the new company. The share price will be valued against the valuations, costs, and revenues generated by the portfolio of properties.

This company intends to be listed on the London Stock Exchange and will probably be like a REIT (real estate investment trust).

And this is where I’m at now, I can see that I haven’t lost my money (so far), I just can’t cash out and neither am I receiving any of the rental income from the properties.

I knew this was going to be a risk, which is why the money I’d invested came purely from my matched betting profits.

Yes, I was effectively gambling with proceeds from gambling in a way, but it’s still annoying that I can’t just walk away from this investment with my cash.

It’s not a huge amount, just under £2k, which if I lose won’t be massively detrimental to my wealth/portfolio.

Am just massively annoyed at myself if anything.

What’s happened to Property Moose might probably be an exception, other similar types of investment companies have been successful but I won’t be investing in anything like this again.

Live and learn.

May 2019 Savings + other updates

The month started off with a welcome £50 win on the premium bonds (2 x £25).

It was then pretty much just a blur of work, gym, a lovely weekend away (which will be in a future blog post) and a trip to the cinema to watch ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (which I thought was epic). Is it wrong to take my own water and snacks to the cinema?

There were a couple of unexpected costs which had me dipping into my emergency fund – the down-pipe/gutter at the back of my house had blown down so I had to get that fixed and my car failed its MOT, requiring a new tyre and repair to windscreen washer.

Anyway, on with the numbers – how did I get on in May?

I saved 39.3% of my net salary, which was better than I thought as some expenses (holiday ones) have been carried over into June on my credit card.

I should be due the second part of my work bonus next month, plus a small pay rise will come into effect, so should in theory, be able to save more of my salary.

The above savings includes top ups of the above-mentioned £50 premium bond win,  £67.40 from Google Adsense income and £138.30 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

As mentioned recently, I sold some AJ Bell shares (which I acquired from IPO) and used this money to open up an investment in International Biotechnology Trust.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The markets have been rather jittery this month I believe and my Future Fund has gone a little backwards at £164,227. Nothing to worry about, just continuing to invest.

Dividends and Other Income

Compared to last month, a more typical amount of dividends received. Continue reading

Serious Investing

I mentioned in a recent post that I attended an ‘investment meet up‘.

I had been contacted out of the blue by someone who had read my blog and who had wondered if I’d be interested in attending a meet up for investors in Manchester, which was run by SIGnet, the Serious Investors Group Network.

My immediate reaction to the ‘serious’ bit was that it wasn’t for me. Yes, I do invest on a regular basis but I don’t see myself or put myself in the ‘serious investor’ category – that to me would be someone who’s been investing a lot longer than I have, someone who lives and breathes investing, and who actually knows what they’re talking about! You know…people like the guys from Monevator or John from UK Value Investor.

However, I thought about it some more and I realised that in my own way, I am ‘serious’ about investing (Dogs of the FTSE and Monkey Stock portfolios aside!) as I am committed to investing long-term to grow my wealth and to ultimately fund my early retirement. My net worth is currently made up of around 60% in equities.

I was assured that it was just a group of like-minded private individuals who liked to meet up and chat about their investments, what they’d bought, sold and are interested in. SIGnet has a heavy presence in London and has apparently been around for 20-30 years.  I first heard of them when Mike @ 7 Circles blogged about them (though not in a very good light) but they were looking to secure a stronger base in Manchester.

So I agreed to attend. The fact that I had to book the day off work to attend gave me an idea of the types of people who would arrange a meet up on a Monday morning/ afternoon, when folk like me would normally be working in the office…

Meet Up

Anyway, the meet up took place in the boardroom of the Rain Bar pub in Manchester city centre. There weren’t that many in attendance, just the ten of us in total, and they all seemed to be regulars as they knew each other.

I fully expected to be the only woman there but was pleasantly surprised to find another.

As predicted, they were a mix of retirees, semi-retirees and freelancers/self-employed. And from the sounds of it, all experienced investors, including the chap who looked young enough to be a millennial.

I was hoping to just lurk in the background and listen, hoping that I wouldn’t be out of my depth, but within minutes of kick-off, as the newbie present, I was asked to introduce myself to all and talk about my investing background – yikes!

So, I just talked about my buy and hold strategy, investing in broadly diversified index tracker ETFs and investment trusts and building dividend income.

When prompted, I talked a little about my aim to FIRE, although none of them had heard of it before – my guess is that most of them had actually achieved FIRE already, but just weren’t aware there was a cool acronym for it!

We broke up for a pub lunch and when the event was all over, I stuck around for a drink with a few of them for a pleasant chat.

Did I Learn Anything?

It was fascinating to hear about other people’s investment strategies. Being in the bubble that is the FIRE community, it can be easy to forget that there are strategies other than just buying and holding index trackers, not that there is, of course, anything wrong with this strategy!

There was a lot of talk about AIM stocks, ‘ten-baggers’, which I assumed to be the likes of Fevertree (if you had bought at the start). As one said, he wasn’t interested in bits of dividends from FTSE stocks – that wouldn’t be enough for him to live on so he looked for stocks with potential for big capital growth. Good, if you can spot those kinds of stocks.

A couple had investments in properties (buy to let), there was mention of one dabbling briefly in bitcoin but in the main, everyone was investing in the stock markets.

Another mentioned that one of his strategies was to sell half of a stock, pocketing the profit and to hold onto the rest, a strategy which I adopted myself recently when I sold some of my AJBell shares to take advantage of the >170% gain since its IPO – I intend to hold onto the rest.

There were two presentations, with the millennial guy talking about how he personally went about choosing his investments, his analysis and research etc.

Another couple of the guys did an interesting presentation of a company (they were investors themselves, not owners of the company) but it prompted me to read more about it when I went home.

There was no hard-sell, nobody was asked to part with any money or to invest in anything – it was all quite casual though professional, all very informative.

Ultimate Lesson

The people in attendance made me feel very welcome and by the end of it all, I didn’t feel like an ‘impostor’.

However, I did realise that I wasn’t quite ready to be part of their club of ‘serious investors’. By that, I mean that I’m not where they are right now but I’m on my way there.

They are where I would like to be upon achieving FIRE, a position where I envisage I will have more time to dedicate to my investments, due to not having to work full-time.

That’s not to say that I wouldn’t attend future meet ups – I fully intend to (and to pay SIGnet’s annual £25 membership fee) because not only did I enjoy their company but I think there is still so much I can learn about investing, despite having invested for over 6 years. These people will have been invested during the big stock-market crashes, something I’ve never experienced before and many likely to be living off their investments already.

I’m not sure I would book the day off to attend another meet up (unless I had surplus holidays to use up) but I believe there’s the occasional evening meet up so will definitely be looking to attend a few of those.

Has anyone else ever been to one of these kinds of meet ups specifically for investing?

Cancelling my Gym Membership

When I say I’ve cancelled, what I actually mean is that I’ve given notice to end my membership, since my gym/sports club demands a whopping 3 months’ notice to terminate.

And what I’ve done is in contrast to what I was talking about four years ago.

But things change.

What brought this on?

A month ago, the aerobics class which I have been attending twice a week for nearly 15 years (Body Attack) was taken off the timetable.

Lack of ‘adequate attendance’ was cited as the reason by the club, despite other classes with low attendances remaining on the group exercise timetable.

A petition was signed by 50 members asking for the classes to be reinstated to no avail. Numerous emails were sent to the club manager asking for the time slots to be replaced with a suitable aerobics replacement class but really, Legs, Bums & Tums is not a suitable replacement! (this isn’t to diss people who love Legs, Bums & Tums classes, but they are very different classes!).

For many years, my gym membership was heavily subsidised by work. It’s only these last 3 years where there’s been no reduction but I put up with the price because it was my club which I attended frequently and because my gym membership was something which I was prepared to spend money on – my only extravagance.

After being a member of the club for over 20 years, I suddenly realised that despite it being more of a social club than a gym (I meet my friends there, we eat there, relax in sauna etc), without my preferred classes, the club as no longer was giving me what I wanted. The high membership price could no longer be justified.

Plus I was really dissatisfied with the inadequate communications from the club and their pathetic reasons for not reinstating the classes, especially as it just looks like it boils down to them being too cheap to renew the licence to run the classes.

So I gave them my written notice.

Importance of class times

The recent bout of working many late nights can be partially blamed on not being able to attend my preferred classes. Previously, I would leave a little earlier from the office to be able to make my classes on time.

With no set classes to attend, I was working late and then going to the gym even later. That left very little time to eat when I got home before it was time for bed. I needed to get back into a routine which didn’t make me feel tired.

Weights

In response to my notice and to probably try to entice me to stay, the club gave me a free personal training session.

I already did my own bit of weight training in between my classes but what happened was that the PT session gave me a fantastic weight training exercise programme which I can do on my own…at any gym.

In the few weeks which I’ve been following the programme, I already feel a lot stronger (and according to friends) look stronger.

I do however still miss the aerobic classes, miss the camaraderie, miss people looking like they’re half-dead after the power/cardio tracks, miss the challenge of keeping ahead of people half my age.

But, I’ve been enjoying this new challenging weight training exercise so this will do in the meantime.

Another

I guess I’ve always been a bit of an outlier in FIRE circles in that I’ve continued to pay for my gym membership. So no surprises really to hear that I now need to find another gym which is convenient in location and timetable.

Apologies for the deceptive title of the post and to the extreme followers of FIRE but gym membership is very much part of my life for my health and well-being.

I know many people can keep fit for free by running or cycling but I’m not one of those people, that’s not how I like to exercise and keep-fit. What I do works for me.

In any case, any other membership will most certainly be a lot cheaper than what I have been paying, so this should have a positive impact on my savings rate, probably to the tune of around £50 a month…