February 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

Here’s my belated February update – the numbers are probably not so consistent with other months as I had to use figures I jotted down from 20th Feb:

Feb16saved

Anyway, I managed another savings rate of 51.6%! Woohoo! :-)

This really is a great start for me, though unfortunately it’ll be a real struggle to maintain this level of savings in March (see below), or even for the rest of the year as things have popped up unexpectedly in my calendar which I hadn’t accounted for when I set my goal.

Still, I’ve already, in only the second month, equalled my 2015 efforts, where I only managed to hit >50% savings rate twice all year, so I am very happy with this.

Only other income added to savings was £50 from rent received.

Future Fund 

Bear Market, what Bear Market? I was rather surprised to see my Future Fund bounce back already – this now stands at £61,019.63. After pondering upon things, I decided to take on board Ermine’s comment from my post earlier in the month and have included my work DC pension within my Future Fund (note that I still made a gain from last month even if I don’t include the work pension).

Dividends and Other Income

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

Another Premium Bond Win and O.O.O

prembonds

Another February, another premium bond win!

I only won £25 but by massive coincidence(?), I also won this time last year.

I’ve now won £100 in just 12 months, with only a very small premium bond holding of £2,250, beating the oft quoted 1.35% “return”.

Despite recent articles like these talking about premium bonds being ‘bad investments’, I continue to buy a few more bonds each month.  And I actually agree, they are rubbish investments but I see the bonds as the ‘cash under my mattress’ so to speak (except actual cash under my mattress isn’t ever going to win anything!), not as investments – my investments are in shares, index trackers, investment trusts and p2p lending.

Anyway, I think I’ll chuck my winnings at my recently depleted emergency fund.

Out Of Office

The big holiday that I’ve been putting money aside for has finally come round, so I won’t be about for a few weeks. Funnily enough, I don’t feel like I’m ready for a holiday as I don’t normally go away so early in the year (not jaded enough from work, haha!) but I’m really looking forward to catching up with the family and trying new things in a country I’ve never visited before.

I don’t have any blog posts scheduled so will do some catch-up ones when I get back.

Hope you all have a great February – see you in March! 🙂

Festive Stuff etc

Well, work’s Christmas party has been and gone in a blur, and no, I didn’t cause any gossip this time, haha!

New Co’s party budget wasn’t as big as Old Co’s (less free booze available) but it was still a good do and we all got little Christmas hampers to take home with us which was a nice touch.

The bugs and viruses were out partying too this time of year and I managed to catch a bug that’s been going around work. I spent the entire weekend tangled up in sweaty bedsheets – sounds exciting but I assure you, it wasn’t at all unless snotty tissues float your boat (!) – and I’ve recovered just in time for more eating and drinking!

Family

This month has also seen a new addition to our family – I’m an aunt again as my sister and her husband have just adopted a baby girl! Everyone is really excited – I can’t wait to see her early next year.

Last year, I celebrated Christmas with my family by travelling to Hong Kong. I’m not flying out this year so will be spending Christmas with some lovely friends who have decided to put me up (or put up with me…whatever!).

cracker

Anyway, to those who celebrate it, HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL! To those who don’t, happy holidays!

May you all eat lots, drink lots and be merry! 🙂

Ho ho ho and all that!

 

A Not so Frugal Opportunity

When you look through FI and PF blogs, various reasons cited by people on why they pursue financial independence or want to retire early include:
  • Want to spend quality time with the family, in particular children
  • Want to be able to do things they’ve never done before or never had a chance to do before
  • Want to learn new skills
  • Want to visit places they’ve never been to before
Often, people express how it’s perhaps more important to enrich their life with ‘experiences’ rather than ‘things’ – collect great memories, not stuff.
Anyway, the fact is, I have been given the opportunity NOW (not right this minute but within the next 5 months) to achieve all the above points, but it will hit my savings rate, such that I will absolutely not hit my 50% savings rate goal and will not achieve my Future Fund target of £50k, although the markets have pretty much knocked that goal out of the window anyway!
So What’s Happening?
My sisters have invited me to join them on a family holiday.

When the subject was first brought up, I think I pulled a face, as I immediately thought of the costs and what it would do to my savings rate and my FI plan.

But when I thought about it again, I realised that not only was it an opportunity that I may not get again but that I could actually afford it, without dipping into my Future Fund and without going into debt.

The only ‘loser’ would be my savings rate, as I would not be saving (as much) money, since a chunk of it will be going towards the holiday.

Choices

As I have been pretty much living on just over 50% of my salary this past year, I’m in a position where I can choose what I want to do with the other half of my salary.

I have been choosing to save/invest it for this past year, as evidenced on this blog.

Now, I choose to spend some (not all) of it.

So I said “Yes!”

What’s the Holiday?

Next year, when I go on my usual trip to Hong Kong to visit the family, I will be there a week, where I will spend some time with my parents and my grandmother and catch up with friends out there.

I will then head out to Japan on a family skiing holiday with my sisters! Or rather snowboarding in my case!

Let me refer back to the above list:

  • Want to spend quality time with the family, in particular children
As well as spending time with my sisters, I will be spending some quality time with my niece and nephews. They’re aged between 6 and 8 and there will come a time when they will be far more interested in hanging out with their friends, rather than with their daft Aunt Weenie from the UK! This will be a great opportunity for me to create some great memories with them while I can.
  • Want to be able to do things they’ve never done before or never had a chance to do before
I’ve never been on an actual ski slope before, only ever had a few tries at snowboarding on the indoor snow slope at the Chill Factore a couple of years ago. If I were to wait til I retire, even if I were to retire early (in 10 years), I may feel that I’m too old to try this out for the first time! 
  • Want to learn new skills
I will learn how to snowboard properly! Oh and learn some Japanese words!
  • Want to visit places they’ve never been to before
I have never been to Japan!

Two boxes will be ticked off my ‘bucket list’!

When I embarked on my plan to achieve FI/RE, I realised very quickly that I couldn’t do it in the same way as Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme. That way was far too extreme, too frugal – I still want to live and enjoy my life, still be seen as vaguely ‘normal’ by my colleagues and friends.  I know this shouldn’t matter but it makes my life easier. I have enough personality quirks as it is, without displaying more!

With a decent plan and by cutting down on unnecessary expenses, I have made a relatively good start with my savings and investments, with very little impact on how I live and enjoy my life.
I was always going to continue travelling abroad for my holidays, especially as pretty much my entire family live on the other side of the world. My holidays are not extravagant – when I go to Hong Kong, I’m not staying in fancy-shmancy hotels, I’m staying with family so have no accommodation costs, (it’s a good job I can sleep anywhere as sometimes I’m on a sofa, occasionally on a camp-bed, depending on who I stay with!). When I go on short trips to Europe to get my sunshine fix, it’s to somewhere cheap and cheerful like Greece, spending as little money as possible – yes, even travelling with my own beach mat so I don’t have to pay 5 Euros for a sun-lounger!

This holiday within a holiday however will be my most expensive ever (I of course will be travelling economy class as always!).

Savings Rate
So, I will be unable to achieve my 50% average savings rate by the end of the year. Having just paid off my car loan, my savings rate was actually about to consistently start hitting above the 50% mark …until I decided to go on this holiday!

Based on what I’ve been told about the cost of the holiday, I reckon I will still be able to maintain a savings rate of around 30%, although this could be a challenge as it gets closer to Christmas…we’ll see.

30% is a still good rate compared to some, just not so good compared to what I’ve been able to achieve and rather rubbish against the goal I’ve set myself.

This should only be for the next four or five months, after which ‘normal’ savings rates should be resumed.
I know this holiday flies in the face of being frugal and striving for FI but I just feel that it’s an opportunity that I can’t let pass, not while I’m fit and healthy enough to go on such an activity holiday.

All the more reason for me to save/invest that much harder in 2016!

Incidentally, this is my 100th blog post! Yay! 🙂