June 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Into month 4 of lockdown and if I’m honest, I’m not in a hurry for things to change (apart from a much-needed haircut!).

No plans to venture into any pubs on ‘Super Saturday‘ – I’ll make do with socialising online a while longer.

The woods near where I live

This month, it was my birthday and I celebrated by going for a nice walk in the woods, a boozy Zoom night in with friends and my sis cooked me a steak dinner.

We’ve had some lovely hot days, which would have been more enjoyable had I not been working.  I’ve got a ton of holidays left so I’d better start using them up.

As well as the hot days, we had the typical rainy ones too and I spent such time engrossed with The Great British Sewing Bee, which I think I enjoyed more than the better known The Great British Bake Off, probably because I’m a better seamstress than I am a baker!

There was an online Manchester FIRE meet up, which was fun and interesting. Although I really enjoyed the meet ups we had in the pub, these online ones meant that people from afar could dial in, including various people from London and even one lady from Uruguay!

The next meet up is Friday 21st August – sign up to Meet Up for the details (time and Zoom link).

I’m trying my not-very-green-fingered hand at growing vegetables and whilst I’m nowhere near the level of expertise as Jase of FIRE Lifestyle, I hope I’ll be able to share some photos of the fruits of my labours at some point! The veggies I’m trying to grow are green beans, carrots, potatoes and cherry tomatoes.

At work, our office has reopened and those who want to go back in have done so and although it looks like they’ve made the place appear safe, I’m in no rush to return. At some point, I do want to go in to retrieve some things from my locker and I guess it would be nice to see some of my colleagues.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 66.8% of my net salary!  I received a credit card refund for my Wimbledon tennis tickets, so an extra £180 got chucked into my ISA.

The above savings includes top ups from yet another £25 premium bond win, £10 lotto winnings (from charity lottery) and £68.91 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 

The stock market continues to do its own thing without a care for what’s happening in the world.

My Future Fund stands at £192,197, which means it’s finally higher than what it was at the start of the year, so all losses have been recouped (not counting capital deployed in the last few months).

Still looking ‘V’ shaped

Heading back in the right direction but really, who knows for certain?

Dividends and Other Income

What dividends did I receive? Continue reading

May 2020 Savings, plus other updates

11 weeks of staying at home and the ‘lockdown me’ is just getting on with life.

Whoever invented this is to blame for my expanded lockdown waistline!

My hair is the longest it’s ever been and I waiver daily over whether to keep my greys or bolt for the hairdresser’s as soon as their doors are opened so I can hide them for a while longer.

My waistline has expanded somewhat and my weight is up – not enough exercise, too much comfort food. I look forward to my gym reopening so I can revert to my previous fitness/strength levels.

I have a fantastic glowing tan, courtesy of the wonderful weather we’ve had; I’ve been enjoying a lot more sleep and have loved spending time reading (books) and watching boxed sets. I’m still currently employed.

Work sent out a ‘Back to Work’ survey form for everyone to complete – I responded that I didn’t have a need to return to the office as I could work comfortably from home, but that I would go in if I had to, as long as I felt safe.  One of my friends has already been told by her work that she will be working from home for the rest of the year.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 60% of my net salary.  Aside from groceries, the only things I purchased this month were some plant pots. If I can keep this up, it’ll be the first time ever that I will have achieved my savings rate goal.

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 

The stock market continues to show no correlation whatsoever with what’s going on in the world.

My Future Fund stands at £186,988, only a couple of grand down from the beginning of the year, so almost a complete recovery (if you exclude the extra capital I’ve invested these past few months).

‘V’ recovery, or the beginnings of a ‘W’?

It could be the calm before the storm of a global recession – who knows?

As the great late Jack Bogle said, “Nobody knows nothing”, so I continue stick to my plan and invest on a monthly basis.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but it was a good month overall: Continue reading

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

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