April 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Another month in lockdown and I’m finding living and working like this has become quite normal.

The latest WI Magazine cover which seems quite apt

The latest all employees’ call with work mentioned plans being devised for people to return to the office once it’s been deemed safe to do so but I have mixed feelings.

Yes, I miss being in the office – miss printing stuff off to give my eyes a rest from the screen –  miss my colleagues and being out of the house, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to returning to travelling on public transport. I’ve applied for and received a refund for my annual travel pass in any case.

Anyway, in a full month of lockdown, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 59%! All those occasional little work lunches, Friday after-work drinks and social outings do add up and since I wasn’t spending, I was able to save a lot more.

That said, I wasn’t able to max out my 2019/20 ISA – I think I got to around the £16k mark which isn’t bad, as anything over £15k is good for me.

The above savings includes top ups from yet another £25 premium bond win (4 months in a row!) and £63.15 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

A couple of new investment trusts added to my portfolio, namely Murray International Trust and Templeton Emerging Markets IT, both showing decent discounts when I made the purchases.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

So much doom and gloom in the news globally yet the stock markets are doing their own thing. Whether this bounce-back is temporary or not is anyone’s guess.

My Future Fund stands at £179,924, an increase of over 9% from last month! I’m still down by around 4.4% year to date but that’s not too bad.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but others thankfully continued to roll in: Continue reading

Thought Experiment #10 – COVID-19 Edition

It’s been a while since I did one of SavingNinja’s famous thought experiments and here’s his latest one:

“Unprecedented events create new experiences. What fun, misadventure, or positive discoveries have you encountered while locked down?” 

Usually I don’t take part because I don’t have the time, but I can’t really use that excuse on this occasion!

So here goes with a few things which come to mind after 4 weeks of official lockdown:

1 – Discoveries

The week when the bottom literally fell out of the stock market’s backside, I discovered that the massive drop in my investments did not give me any sleepless nights.

Here is how I slept that week (from my Fitbit):

I’d always wondered how I would feel during a stock market crash and now I know, although admittedly, it would probably have been a very different story had I relied upon my investments for income.

2 – Fun 

Although there’s a lot more time for me to read, instead of doing so, I’ve decided to have some fun and have re-taken up another passion of mine, that of video gaming.

Still conscious of cost, I looked for a good free game to play and have settled on Guild Wars 2, a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) which is my favourite game genre.

I think I’m likely to be playing this game for a long while and find it really relaxing levelling up my character.

It’s also been fun having virtual meet ups with family located on the other side of the world and also virtual nights in with friends.

The other night, I also attended the first virtual Manchester FIRE Meet Up (via Zoom) – over 20 of us logged in for a good chat, debate and discussion. Post lock-down, I can see these virtual meet ups still taking place.

3 – Misadventures

Not driving my car for over 2 weeks meant that when I did try to drive it, the battery had gone flat. One of the neighbours has offered to jump start it so I’ll hopfeully get it sorted this weekend.

Also, my oven typically stopped working just as its 5-year parts guarantee expired, so not sure when I can get that sorted. My friend’s husband has offered to take a look  (while practising social distancing) but I don’t know yet how much the parts will cost. In the meantime, we still have use of the hob and also the microwave.

Pre-lockdown, my diet was fairly low on carbs but our groceries recently have noticeably include a lot of carb-laden comfort food, eg bread, cake and biscuits. The good news is that I haven’t piled on the pounds (much!) so I’ll allow myself to enjoy these sinful treats while we must hunker down in our abodes.

4 – Routine

Being stuck at home, I feel that it’s important for me to keep my weekdays separate from the weekends as I don’t want them merging into each other – otherwise, what else is there to look forward to!? This is something I intend to maintain when I retire.

As such, I have continued to keep to the following routine:

  • Wake up to my work alarm every day during the week (a little later than my previous work alarm as I don’t need to commute), shower and get dressed.
  • Go for a quick 10 minute walk (replicating the walk I used to take from the tram stop to the office).
  • Log onto work laptop at the usual time, stop for a dedicated lunch break and log off the laptop at the usual time.
  • Rinse and repeat Monday to Friday.
  • Alcoholic drinks only allowed at the weekend, as well as lie-ins!

And thus I reckon I have maintained my own sanity and a sense of normality.

5. Positivity

You will have gathered that I have remained pretty positive during lockdown but of course I’m not entirely happy.

I miss hugging my friends, I miss eating/drinking out, I miss the office and commute (yes really!!) and I am really missing sport on tv.

I’d say the routine I’ve kept to has helped loads with me staying positive, but also, I think this ties in with ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’: I still Have a job, I Have a garden and I Have Not got children. These 3 things I feel have contributed to my positivity, although as I’ve mentioned, my lifestyle has adapted well to lockdown.

I’ve switched off from a lot of social media and ‘news’ – all I do is keep basic tabs on what’s happening with the virus in this country and I don’t bother looking anything else.

I feel sorry for people who are suffering (mentally, financially or physically) but there’s only so much I can worry about so I reserve my concern predominantly for my family and friends. The government will do (or not do) whatever it will do (or not do) without me having to stress about it too.

Yesterday, one of my closest friends messaged me saying she has the virus symptoms – here’s hoping she doesn’t suffer too much and that she makes a fast recovery.

As I write this, I realise that if the government were to announce a further extension to this current lockdown, I think I will just shrug my shoulders and get on with it.

Other bloggers with their personal takes on this Thought Experiment include:

Mrs SavingNinja

PathtoLife2

Indeedably

Money for the Modern Girl 

Total Balance

Anyone else got any thoughts to share?

FIRE, hit for Six?

With all that’s going on in the world, a milestone nearly passed by without me realising – what a time to be celebrating six years of blogging!

Happy 6th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

It’s seems weird to be writing about achievements right now, but this blog documents my own experiences, accomplishments, plans and goals, and serves as a personal journal for me to look back on.

Before I ramble on about the present however, let me just revisit the past…

What have I been doing these past 6 years? Continue reading

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