2017 Goals and some New Stuff

Happy belated New Year to you all!

The only thing that I’m certain of this year is that it will be different.

There’s a good chance that it will be better (I started it off with a great holiday!) but as there’s no guarantee, there’s also a chance that it could be worse… In any case, I’ll be doing my utmost for it not to be the latter!

Anyway, back to the main topic…Goals!

I only set 5 goals last year and the focus on just a few goals seemed to work well for me so I’m going to do something similar for 2017.

So without further ado, here they are:

2017 Financial Goals:

  • Average 50% savings rate – Same old, same old! I have not been able to achieve this goal yet (3 attempts so far!) but I just feel that if I can nail this (while working), and continue to keep my living expenses down, it’s the best way to make progress on increasing my Future Fund.  A very challenging one in any case, considering my current unemployed status but hey, may as well aim high! This month and the next two will be covered by my pay in lieu of notice so I will aim for 50% for these 3 months anyway – will see what happens after.
  • £1,500 total dividend income – Last year, I surprisingly hit the £1,000 milestone in total dividend income. This is another tough goal, as in order to increase my dividend income, I need to invest more capital. Transferring my work DC pension to one of my SIPPs will help towards this goal, as I’ll stick the transferred funds into income-paying ETFs. If I can get an average of >£100 per month, I’ll be very, very happy.
  • Earn £4,000 Matched Betting (MB) income – This number may not seem very ambitious considering the earning potential of MB but I still think this won’t be an easy one for me. Given that I’m not working, I could/should be doing some MB during the day but that doesn’t appeal to me and I still consider MB a hobby, I don’t want it to become a chore. There’s also the real threat of getting more of my betting accounts ‘gubbed’, (where I can no longer take advantage of free bets etc) but let’s hope I can continue to rake in the profits.

2017 Non-Financial Goals

  • Borrow and read 20 library books – The same as last year’s goal. Borrowing from the library means that I spend less on books but also means that I am supporting my local library services. I’m going to try to read a total of 30 books this year (I track my progress here via Goodreads), of which at least 20 must be borrowed from the library.
  • Read 3 non-fiction books – Last year’s goal was reading 3 finance-related/investment books. This year, I’ll broaden it out to just topics that interest me (including financial and investment topics). Doesn’t sound like much but as I’ve said before, my passion is reading fiction so this is a challenge for me! Hopefully, I can borrow them from the library so I can work on two goals at the same time!

Charity Goal – Down the Toilet?

As per last year, I will continue to donate at least 10% of my MB profits to charity, so if I hit my MB goal this year, that will be £400. The main charities I donate to regularly are Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, British Red Cross and Magic Breakfast. I also fund ‘charity loans’ via Kiva.

However, the first donation I’ve made this year was to sponsor TheFireStarter to run the London Marathon in April. Check out his fundraising page here.

Anyway, this year I will set myself a charity goal, which will be with Toilet Twinning:

Tearfund, registered charity No. 265464 (England and Wales)

2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo1, something that we’ve taken for granted every day of our lives.

Toilet Twinning is a simple way to solve a serious problem and save lives.

You can twin your loo (like towns are twinned) with a latrine halfway around the world, in a country of your choosing. For a larger donation, you can twin with a school block or with toilets in a displacement camp.

My goal is to twin with a School Block of toilets (donate £240), as well as continuing to support above-mentioned charities. My donation will help build a block of toilets at a school, providing safe, clean and hygienic sanitation and also help fund hygiene education and clean water projects.

While Huw’s formidably aiming to build an entire school with his charity aims, I’m just going for the loos – small but just as important, we all know what it’s like when we need to go! 😉

The lack of a loo in certain developing countries makes women and girls a target for sexual assault as they go to the toilet in the open. Many get bitten by snakes as they squat in the grass! Having no toilets to go to in school, girls often drop out at puberty.

I hope my donations will make a difference to people’s lives.

New Stuff

The following aren’t goals as such but new things that I will be doing in 2017:

  • New Job – I will have a new job at some point.
  • New Hobby – When thinking about what I want to do in my spare time when I’m retired, learning to play a musical instrument is high on my list. Although I’m not musical at all – I didn’t progress past the recorder and glockenspiel at school and I don’t think the triangle counts, haha – playing an instrument has always been something I’ve fancied doing. Anyway, I thought, why wait til I’m retired? So, that’s how I came to buy an instrument while I was out in Hong Kong, which I brought back with me! I’ll reveal more info in a later post! 🙂
  • New Exercise – I found out recently that there’s a place near me where all comers can play netball. I was on the school team so the last time I played was when I was 17! Following the recommendation of one of my ex-colleagues, I thought I’ll check this out – I’ll attend my first session in the next two weeks. The extra exercise will supplement my gym classes as I need to shift some post-holiday poundage! Unfortunately, I’m suffering from a bad cold at the moment, so exercise isn’t on the forefront of my mind.
  • New Man – errrrr…we’ll see! 😉

So that’s it for my goals – did you set any goals for 2017?

If so, good luck! 🙂

 (footnote 1 –  also known as toilet, lavatory, WC, bog, privy or bathroom, plus some other names not mentioned!)

December 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

Hi all, I’m back! 🙂

I’ll talk about my hols in a later post but right now, I need to get my final 2016 numbers out, plus an update on how I did against my goals.

Apologies in advance for this long post but here goes…

My savings rate in December was 40.6%, resulting in an overall average in 2016 of 44.9%. Although it meant that I failed in my goal, I’m pretty satisfied as I was able to beat 2015’s savings rate of 43.7%!

December’s savings was boosted by £122.25 affiliate income from Siteground* and Oddsmonkey*, £100 from rent received and £100 from matched betting winnings.

Future Fund 

With the crippled £ sterling continuing its slide, my Future Fund got a big boost, up to £91,101. The number looks good on paper/online and I’m a bit giddy that it’s getting closer and closer to that coveted £100k milestone. However, I’m not kidding myself that things are all rosy – the UK is poorer as a result of this currency slide and of course, at some point, the stock market will come crashing down again.

Net Worth

I’ve not mentioned my net worth in a while, only because it’s not something I regularly track. Anyway, my net worth is now £163,004, an increase of 39% from the start of 2016.

I have no idea what a ‘good’ net worth number should be so I’ll just say that I think that’s a pretty good increase!

Dividends and Other Income

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

Crowdfunding – Two Sides

Apart from setting up some direct debits for various charities, I’ve not withdrawn or used any of the profits that I’ve made via matched betting. I’ve just let the funds accumulate across my current account, my exchange accounts and the various gambling accounts.

In June, I finally invested £100 of the profits but I opted to do something different. theFIREstarter’s post reminded me of something that I had looked at previously but not gone for – I decided to invest a little in property crowdfunding.

Property crowdfunding “allows people to invest in buy-to-let properties without having to take on the additional responsibilities that come with being a landlord”. So says the blurb. Anyway, here’s a better explanation of what property crowdfunding is all about.

If I had a wedge of spare capital, I would probably be tempted to buy another little BTL property but I don’t, so property crowdfunding interested me when I first heard about it.

Some of the property crowdfunding websites required a minimum of £1000-£5000 investment but I went for Property Moose*, where the minimum investment is just £10.

propertymoos

So basically, you pick an available property from the website, invest your money with a load of other people to buy ‘shares’ in the property. When the property is tenanted, you start earning ‘monthly rental’ based on the number of shares you own.

Rental income seems to vary from around 5% – 7%. With Property Moose, most properties tend to be in the north/northwest, with only a few in London. Said properties tend to be ones which require renovation and you are able to see the progress of the renovations via photos posted on the website.  At the end of the fixed investment term (ranging from 1-3 years), the property is sold and proceeds are shared amongst the investors (subject to their share and less costs and expenses), although it appears that investors are able to vote to retain the property for a further year.

Property crowdfunding is not without its risks – I view it along the same lines as P2P  – still pretty new, regulated but not covered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) so I’ll not be investing a huge amount in this.

Since that initial investment, I’ve chucked some more matched betting profits at Property Moose.  I think there’s still some life left in investing in property (yes, despite Brexit and the doom and gloom about property bubbles) so will be continuing to build on this investment bit by bit and will update with the rest of my portfolio.

Another Side to Crowdfunding

I came across Kiva a while ago but decided to revisit when I was looking for charities to support recently.

kiva

Kiva is a charity platform which aims to support people from poorer countries via crowdfunding loans. Deki is another platform, which I hope to have a look at again.

So how does it work? First, a borrower applies for a loan. Usually, loans are to start or grow a small business, used to go to school/further education or simply to be able to live in better conditions.

The loan, after it’s approved is crowdfunded by other lenders, in $25 increments.

Repayments of the loan are made on a monthly basis and such repayments can then either be withdrawn or used to fund other loans.

My first Kiva loan was to a woman from the Philippines who wanted to build a sanitary toilet for her family…. such things that we take for granted…

So, different sides to crowdfunding – I hope to make some money on the one side, and hope to help improve someone’s life a little on the other.

[*Referral Link – edited 16/09/16]

May 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

My last ‘normal’ month for a while, so how did I get on in May?

may16saved

Ooooh, so close at 49.2%!

My average savings rate now stands at 51.3%, so still on target.

This month’s income was boosted by £50 from rent received, £123 gambling winnings (a small punt on Leicester winning the league, a small win from the Eurovision Song Contest sweep at work and a big win from Man U winning the FA Cup!) and £9.14 from TopCashback*.

Future Fund 

New capital and steady markets mean that my pot now stands at £68,127.91.

Dividends and Other Income

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