December 2022 Savings, plus round up

Happy New Year!

I was in the gym before 9am this morning – starting as I (hopefully) mean to go on, but I’m still a little jetlagged so am waking up at ridiculous hours.

Hope you all had an enjoyable festive period and NY celebrations.

Anyway, let’s just get the numbers out of the way for 2022 – I’m sure many will say good riddance to that year!

I saved 13.5% of my net salary, more than I thought I would save, given my travels and the time of year.

The above includes £48.75 from TopCashback* and £29.16 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

It was inevitable that I would end the year with my porfolio down in the dumps.  As at 31st December, my Future Fund finished up at £225,325.60.

Here’s how it all looks at the end of another year:

Much as I’d like to forget about 2022, it’s my worst investment year so far (using unitization, I’m down 8%), but I think I need it to remind me that investing is not all upward trends and bull markets. Or fun.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent final month for dividends:

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Winter is Here

The following is just a mish-mash of recent thoughts/draft posts I’ve had, to make up an ‘all filler, no killer’ kind of final post for the year!

Not-So-Glad Tidings

Tis supposed to be the season to be jolly and all that, except it probably won’t be for some.

Alternative Advent Calendar (more dates may have been added since this screenshot)

There’s nothing cheerful about the UK suffering from a real winter of discontent, with the various unions determined to go ahead with strike action.

Should they all get their higher than inflation pay rises? Perhaps, perhaps not.

I’m probably not the best person to ask, as I’m undoubtedly biased having never been in a union and I don’t know anyone who works in any of those industries planning strike action.

But there was me being content with my max pay rise of 5% this year, knowing that inflation made me worse off, but mindfully aware that others in the company got less (or nothing) as pay rises at our place are performance related only. If you don’t like it, you lump it, and a few did.

Anyway, glad to say that I’ll be escaping the country shortly so I can hopefully avoid all the news about the disruptions and their consequences until I return.

Now that my heating is finally on, my energy bills have rocketed (credit balance on account has mostly been eaten up already) but at least I will be able to pay.

Sadly, for some, the cost-of-living crisis is real, so bad that someone made off with the charity box full of cash at work, which had been meant for the homeless this Christmas.

I think we’ve all assumed it’s someone really financially desperate, otherwise there would be a lot more anger.

For as long as I’ve worked there, there’s always been a charity box of some sort in the office throughout the year and this will now have to be locked up. Some people may now not bother to donate. Sad times.

Smile!

I was at the gym, pausing in between workouts, trying to catch my breath, waiting for my quivering muscles to calm down before I attempted the next set of exercises. I’ve been carrying a couple of minor injuries recently; one of my knees has been giving me on-off gyp and I’ve got a bit of Achilles tendinitis. They’re the kind of injuries I’ve always suffered at some point from exercising, but age is probably more of a factor these days.

“Smile, love!” says a voice, “It’s not that bad!”.

I looked over at the man (of course it was a man!) and I was tempted to, a) ignore him/pretend I didn’t hear him, or b) reply with a quick put down about sexism.

Instead, I just gave a big sigh and said, “I’m smiling on the inside.”

He burst out laughing, which did bring a smile to my lips.

I know, I know, I’m not really helping the feminism cause here, but I’ll save my energies for some other battles, there was no harm done here to me.

Tunes!

A friend of similar age to me recently admitted that he hadn’t listened to any new music from the last decade and a half. I somewhat smugly replied that I still listened to stations like Radio 1 so that I could get to hear new tunes. It doesn’t mean that I like everything I hear but there’s often new songs or a new artist I find I can get into.

So there’s me thinking I’m down the kids/younger generation music-wise, until I saw my recent ‘Spotify Wrapped’ for the year, which was a roundup of the music I’ve been listening to all year.

I use Spotify (free) when I’m chilling, browsing the internet, writing this blog, updating my numbers etc.

If you’d have asked me, I would have said off the top of my head that the artists I’ve been listening to most this year are Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi and Adele. Maybe Wet Leg would sneak in there, or some Dua Lipa.

Well, actually no.

It seems like for comfort listening, I’m firmly rooted in the music I was listening to between my teens and early 30s, namely synth-pop from the 80s, with some grunge/alternative-rock from the 90s/00s!

The top 2 songs I apparently listened to the most were Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’ – it is my favourite song of theirs – and Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round’ which is a song I thought I only listened to when I’m getting ready for a night out.

According to a study mentioned here, people’s taste in music forms during adolescence (generally between age 10-30) but, peaking at age 14. When some “golden oldie” comes on the radio from my teenaged years, I still know all the lyrics from when I learned them from Smash Hits magazine – really showing my age now, haha!

Anyway, I’ll see if my listening changes at all next year!

Anyone else try this and get some musical surprises?

Comme ci, comme ça

I’ve continued doing my daily French lessons in Duolingo.

150 days in and I still haven’t learned anything that wasn’t taught at school and uni (I did ‘A’ Level French and also Business French at uni), although of course, I have forgotten so much of it.

One new word I guess was ‘le mot de passe’ (password) which didn’t appear in any of our pre-internet French textbooks!

I wonder how I will struggle when I eventually get to the genuine new bits of the language – my brain/memory is nowhere as sharp as it was back then!

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

For the first time in years, I didn’t attend work’s Christmas do because I didn’t want to mingle and run the risk of catching Covid or any other lurgy before travelling.

So it was a very pleasant surprise while I was sat at home in my PJs to get a message from my colleague at the party that I had won one of the Employee of the Year awards! Go me!

And on that note, I think I’ll sign off for the year.

So, wishing you all a merry Christmas, stay safe and warm and let’s all hope 2023 won’t be as tough as it’s predicted to be!

November 2022 Savings, plus other updates

I mentioned at the end of my last post that I had family staying with me in November.

As it was their half-term holidays, I took some time off work and had my niece and nephew for a few days – my sister needed a break from hungry teenagers (13 and nearly 16)!

I was only aware of two rules (from their parents) that I needed to responsibly apply, and that was no phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom. Happy to say there was full compliance and no fuss! There might have been a bedtime rule too, but I forgot what that was, so they stayed up with me and went to bed at the same time – oops!

I let them have a lie-in one day but other days, I got them up early so we could spend some quality time together. I didn’t want them just vegging on my sofa playing games on their phones and laptops (although they did enjoy some of that), so I took them out to eat (ranging from KFC to fine dining Italian), we browsed around the shopping mall,  got lost driving around Manchester City centre (it’s been so long since I last drove in and all the roads have changed!) and had some fun in the arcades. The weather wasn’t great, and they didn’t have appropriate shoes otherwise I would have taken them out for walks.

In the evenings, we watched films together and played cards and board games, including Catan and old school favourite, Yahtzee.

At one point, they both agreed that I was their ‘coolest Aunt’ – well, that’s my job done, haha! 😀

After a nice break away from work, I returned to an explosion of emails in my inbox – this is something I definitely won’t miss when I retire!

Anyway, after deciphering all the emails, and reading between the lines, I decided to volunteer for some extra responsibility.

This will just be another task I’ll have to juggle with, one which no one wanted, and which other departments have chucked over like a hot potato, but hey ho, I continue to make myself ‘valuable’ to the business, thus hopefully reducing the risk of me being out of a job before I’m ready to go!

Anyway, enough of the waffling, how did I get on with my numbers in November?

I saved 16.7% of my net salary.

The above includes £52.74 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No changes, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund

Was it the bottom of the market in September? Signs may indicate as much but who really knows what’s going to happen? I’ll be happy however if there’s a Santa Rally so I don’t end the year on a negative!

My Future Fund ended up at £228,180, now just minus 1.2% YTD. It doesn’t seem so bad, and the rocket makes another appearance:

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends.

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October 2022 Savings, plus other updates

Had a little flutter on a one-horse race

Another month, another Prime Minister in charge.

Let’s hope he’s in there long enough for Mrs Sunak to be choosing the wallpaper, so things can calm down a bit.

A mostly uneventful month, with quiet weekends spent tidying up round the garden, raking leaves etc. Until last week, where I was out for a work’s leaving do one night, the Manchester FIRE pubmeet the next and then a curry night with family and friends. I’m not used to being out three nights in a row, but thankfully, I was sensible and didn’t overdo it!

After doing so well in the ‘great-company-to-work-for stakes’ by pulling out all stops on the Dubrovnik trip, work is now playing at being not-so-good guy by indirectly trying to ‘persuade’ people to head back to the office again. They have asked that all those who were provided with (rather expensive) office chairs during the pandemic to return them asap.

The question, “But what will I sit on when I’m working from home?” has been met with, “Well you can always come into the office…” – see what they did there?

During lockdown, the lease on a section of the office wasn’t renewed and was blocked off, so the reduced space meant that not everyone could fit it anymore and hybrid-working was the way to go.

However, a large section previously filled by banks of filing cabinets has now been cleared so more hot desks can be squeezed in, meaning that the number of people allowed back in at any one time has increased.

Very annoying as I’m quite happy working from home most days.  I duly returned my chair but not before I picked up my own from a second hand/office refurb place.

My replacement chair is in mint condition and cost 180 (RRP £700). I could have gotten a much cheaper one, but I considered how much more time I would spend sitting on it than on my own sofa, and deemed it was worth investing in something comfortable, ergonomic, with full lumbar support etc. That was a discounted price as me and a colleague bought at the same time and also, with this company, cash is still king.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers in October?

I saved 17.3% of my net salary. I’ve been nowhere near my goal of average 25% savings rate and with my living expenses pretty much as low as I can comfortably make them (and they’re only likely to go up over the next year), it looks like the days of decent savings rates for me are well and truly over.  I will keep at it howsoever I can.

The above includes £58.04 from doing Prolific surveys and a £50 premium bond win – yay!

Shares and Investment Trusts

No changes, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund

‘Rishinomics’ (or is it ‘Huntonomics’?) appears to have calmed the markets down a little but we’re definitely not out of the woods yet. We have to get through this loooong winter of discontent.

My Future Fund ended up at £219,164, now minus 5.6% YTD, so an improvement on last month.

Dividends and Other Income

Thankfully, the dividends continue to roll in.

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