November 2015 Savings, plus other updates

It’s silly season and despite ignoring Black Friday and the like, I’ve been buying gifts and presents for friends and family. Of course, a fair chunk of my income also went towards my holiday too instead of being saved/invested.

So how did this month go?

A savings rate of 29.5%. Hmmm…not bad compared to average UK savings rates but this is my worst savings rate since I started my blog! 

This takes my average down to 44.8%. The good news is that although things aren’t going to be any better in December, I should be able to maintain a >40% average, which I won’t feel too bad about.

This month’s savings was topped up with £12.90 from TopCashBack* and £80 from rent received.

Future Fund and Net Worth
My Future Fund now stands a£57,023.34, buoyed a little by improving markets this month.

Net Worth is now £114,802.96, an increase of just over 28% so far from the start of the year.

Dividends and other Income

I received £3.26 from British Land Co plc, £3.05 from Ladbrokes plc, £3.64 from Centrica plc, £2.19 from Vanguard Government Bond ETF, £2.85 from City of London IT, £1.80 from Bankers IT plc and 67p from Bloomsbury Publishing!

So a total of £17.46, not one of my better months. However, back in November 2014, my total dividend income was ZERO, so it’s a fantastic year on year increase! 🙂

Anyway, this brings my monthly dividend income average to £24.67, with total dividends received in 2015 now £271.36. There’s a good chance that I will hit the £300 mark by the end of the year!

 Shares and Investment Trusts

I didn’t invest in shares or investment trusts this month but my transferred personal pension has been invested in various ETFs (exchange traded funds), one of which (
Vanguard Government Bond) has already produced dividends.
Current portfolio here.
Non-Financial Goals Update

Food/Groceries Budget – I spent £94.37 this month, averaging £23.59 per week. My average weekly spend so far is now £23.27 so unless I have a big blow-out next month, I will achieve my goal. Incidentally, I’ve just realised that my average dividend income actually covers my weekly shop – sweet!
Cooking RecipesTheFIREStarter gave me the idea of making a fish gumbo – it’s great with my homemade bread!
Online Earnings – I’m well short of my £500 target in online earnings but as mentioned before, I think I was a tad massively over-optimistic when setting the annual goal. Still, another payout from TopCashback as listed above. I have around over £100 in the cashback pipeline as show at the end of this post, but most of it won’t get paid til next year.
Library books –  My target of reading 20 library books was achieved this month – woohoo! I’ve been working 4-day weeks in November to use up my holidays and instead of watching day-time TV, I’ve been enjoying a lot of uninterrupted reading! Really pleased I’ve achieved this goal and will definitely set it again for next year to make the most of local services, read new books and not spend any money needlessly on reading material!

If anyone’s interested, I track all my reading via GoodReads – add me as a ‘friend’ if you are a member!

Here’s how I’m doing against my goals in brief:

* SIPP transfer not included

Ok, it looks likely that I will achieve the cooking and grocery goals but not the savings rate, Future Fund, or online activity goals.  The poker one…well, I know how to play now but not to any high standard, so not sure what to do about that one.

Just one more month left in 2015 – how time flies when you’re having fun!

Wishing everyone great strides towards FI as we see out this year!

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Tweaking my Investment Strategy

When I finally paid off my credit card debts back in 2010, I started to save a bit of money.

Not a huge amount, since I hadn’t come across FI/PF blogs, hadn’t heard of savings rates and what-nots, was too busy enjoying my life debt-free but it was something that was better than nothing.

As the cash grew little by little, I decided I wanted to invest it, so I bought a bunch of funds.

After coming across Monevator and reading Tim Hale’s ‘Smarter Investing’ book, I switched all but one of my funds into index tracker funds to cut down on fees/costs.  I created my Portfolio for All Seasons and set my investment strategy to concentrate on trackers.

Original Plan

My original plan was to build up a large enough pot of investments and to sell off funds gradually, living off the proceeds until I was able to draw down on my company pension at 65 and the state pension at 67.
I wouldn’t be following a 4% SWR (safe withdrawal rate) or anything like that – I had a fixed annual income in mind so the intention was for capital to be largely depleted/spent, not to nothing, but certainly, I wasn’t planning to preserve the majority of it.
However, I need to review my plan, which I had set pretty much at the start of my journey as things have changed since then.
I had decided to dip my toe (in June 2014) into Peer to Peer lending to take advantage of high interest rates but planned on keeping this part of my portfolio small due to the cash being tied up for around 3 years.  This now generates around £11 per month in interest.

I’d never heard of ‘dividend investing’ before until I’d come across the term while reading up on FI and investing in general. Building up a big share portfolio and then living off the dividends sounded (and still sounds) great to me.

Yet, I didn’t want to deviate too much from my original plan (and relative comfort zone) of investing in tracker funds so I thought I’d diversify (in September 2014) by starting up my own little share portfolio and be content with getting small but growing dividend income.

I didn’t have big ambitions – in fact, my goal this year was to just earn enough dividend income to cover my TV licence, ie £145. I surprisingly smashed that goal back in July!

Dividend income this year – December is likely to be similar to June

I’ve revisited my spreadsheets and have calculated that I need to factor in a lot more income from dividends into my plan.

This will partially make up for the shortfall from my reduced company pension (due to the company I work for being sold off and the pension being frozen).

I will still keep to my original investment strategy of investing in tracker funds, but my share/investment trust portfolio will now form a larger part of my overall portfolio than originally planned as I reckon I will need it to be producing an income of at least £3k per year, or around £250 per month.

At the moment, my dividend income is averaging around £25 a month (as at December 2015), so I’m looking at a ten-fold increase!

A pretty daunting prospect – best pull my socks up and get busy saving and investing – need to get Christmas and my holiday out of the way first, though!

October 2015 Savings, plus other updates

A couple of social outings, plus a stupid parking ticket added to my expenses. Of course, a fair chunk of my income went towards my holiday too instead of towards my savings.

So how did this month go?

A savings rate of 31.1%, so not too bad, I guess.

This takes my average down to 46.4%. I think if I can keep my average above 40% by the end of the year, I’ll be happy, especially knowing how the expensive the end of the year will get.

This month’s savings was topped up with £20.02 from InboxPounds*, £6.34 reviewing music (and occasionally, ladies fashion!) with SliceMyPie*, £5.74 from TopCashBack* and £100 from rent received.

Future Fund and Net Worth

My Future Fund now stands a£56,294.82, a seemingly huge jump from last month but this was due to my stakeholder pension being transferred into one of my SIPPs. Without the transfer, the balance would be £44,908.29 – an increase of over £2.5k from last month, due to the global market stabilising a little.
Net Worth is now £113,389.32, an increase of 27% so far from the start of the year.

Incidentally, this is the last month I paid into my stakeholder (the direct debit came out just before the transfer). I have now set up a standing order to pay into my SIPP for the same amount from November.
Dividends and other Income


I received £5.54 from Amlin, £5.93 from Diageo, £7.79 from GlaxoSmithKline, £2.36 from Land Securities Group, and £3.01 from Standard Chartered.

So a total of £24.63, bringing my monthly average now to £25.39.  
In October 2014, my total dividend income was just £3.80, so another great increase!


Dividends received in 2015 now total £253.90.

Shares and Investment Trusts

With Amlin soon to be bought out, I decided to start investing in another similar insurance company, namely Lancashire Holdings Ltd. When I receive my funds from the Amlin sale, I think I’ll use it to build up my investment trust holdings, although I’m not yet sure if it will be a top up of existing investments or new holdings. 

Current portfolio here.
Non-Financial Goals Update

Food/Groceries Budget – I spent £113.78 this month, averaging £22.76 per week. My average weekly spend so far is now £23.24 so still on target. 

Cooking Recipes – I made a roast chicken dinner – I know…it seems absolutely mad that I’ve never done this before but this was my first time!
Online Earnings – Still plugging away at this bit by bit, with amounts coming in from InboxPounds, SlicethePie and TopCashback as listed above, bringing my total online earnings so far this year to £242.28. I have around £140 in the cashback pipeline, but it looks like most of it won’t get paid til next year so won’t count towards my goal.
Library books – Three books borrowed and read this month.  17 books borrowed so far, so on track to hit my target of 20 library books by the end of the year. If anyone’s interested, I track all my reading via GoodReads – add me as a ‘friend’ if you are a member!

Here’s how I’m doing against my goals in brief:

* SIPP transfer not included

Out with the Old, In with the New…

This will be my last update while working for my current company as I will very shortly be working for New Co when the sale finally takes place, just 2 weeks short of my 20 years’ service!

I’ve been told I will get continuous service – I wonder if I’ll get anything for it though?

Hope you all had a good October!

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September 2015 savings, plus other updates

So having decided that I will be diverting some of my hard-earned cash towards a big holiday with the family next year, what has this done to my savings rate this month?

A savings rate of 33%, which is a lot better than I thought I would be able to achieve. Only one rather frugal social outing this month (a good old fashioned pub crawl, no less!) meant that social expenses were kept to a minimum.

My average savings rate however, is now down to 48.1%.

This month’s savings was topped up with £21.73 from TopCashbackand £50 from rent received.

Future Fund 

Markets are still all over the place – my strategy is to carry on saving and investing as before.

The good news is that there’s been an increase (albeit tiny) this month, even if it is due to money invested this month. My Future Fund now stands a£42,363.03, miles behind on my goal but at least heading in the right direction again.

Net Worth

I realised that I may have confused some people when it looked like I’d ‘magically’ cleared my £3k car loan payment out of thin air. I had moved the funds intended to pay off the loan from my Future Fund spreadsheets as I knew I was going to spend the cash, but I should have still included it in my net worth calculation.

I’m now going to start including these kinds of funds in my net worth calculation, especially as I need to start building up some sort of emergency fund (or funds, rather).

Anyway, here’s how things look in a bit more detail:

(a) Figure based on August 2015 statement, plus overpayments made

(b) Just starting my personal Emergency Fund…

(c) Just starting an Emergency Fund for emergencies related to my BTL property…

(d) On a 0% rate

(e) Zoopla estimated value of property as at 30/09/15

(f) Statement as at May 2015, plus contributions

Net Worth is now £109,784.67, an increase of 23% so far from the start of the year. However, this has gone down from last month, as Zoopla’s estimated valuation of my BTL property has dropped. I never thought property prices (in Manchester) could yo-yo that much but I guess I don’t tend to pay much attention really to such price movements normally.

Dividends and other Income

I received £4.51 from BP, £8.27 from Rio Tinto, £19.72 from BHP Billiton, £10.95 from Vanguard All World High Div Yield ETF and £3.25 from Bloomsbury Publishing.

So a total of £46.70, my second highest monthly dividend income so far! 

I can finally do my first year on year comparison

In Sept 2014, I received dividend income totalling £0.19, so you could say I’ve made a bit of a leap in this area, hehe! 

My monthly average is now £25.47, dividends received in 2015 now total £229.27.

Shares and Investment Trusts

The only shares I purchased this month were the ones for my Monkey Stocks portfolio.

Update coming up in the next day or so on all challengers taking part – watch this space!

Current portfolio here.
Non-Financial Goals Update

Food/Groceries Budget – I spent £102.71 this month, averaging £25.68 per week – first time I’ve gone over-budget I think this year!  My average weekly spend so far is now £23.29 so I am  still within my targeted budget.

Cooking Recipes – Corned Beef Hash and Salt & Pepper Ribs – two recipes this month so I am back on track with my goal.
Online Earnings – Still lagging on this one but received an amount from TopCashBack as listed above, bringing my total online earnings so far this year to £210.18
Library books – Two books borrowed and read.  14 books borrowed so far, so I’d say I’m still on track to hit my target of 20 library books by the end of the year. 

Personal finance/investing books – well I finished reading my second one so I have achieved my goal! Will post a mini review shortly.
Here’s how I’m doing against my goals in brief:

It was good to be able to cross off another goal – I know it was only 2 books but as someone who generally reads fiction for fun, I struggled with them, even though I know reading such books are of more benefit to me than getting lost in made up worlds!

Hope you all had a great September!

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