December 2019 Savings, plus Round Up

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the celebrations last night to see in the new year.

It’s 3.30pm as I type this and I’ve only just gotten out of my pjs so it was a late one for me! 🙂

Anyway, I had a great Christmas – no travels abroad this time but there was a 400-mile round trip over the festive period – some good times eating too much but surprisingly drinking little (apart from last night!)

So, how did I do in the last month of the year and against the targets I set?

Not flying abroad for Christmas this year meant that I more or less maintained my savings rate, ending up at 41.7%.

My average for the year stands at 46.3%. Although I didn’t achieve my goal (again) to hit that elusive 50%, I’m more than happy with this average, which is my highest to date. It’s a personal best! 🙂

The above savings include top ups from £120 matched betting profits (from last month), another £25 premium bond win and £70.67 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I continued to top up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

This time last year, my Future Fund stood at £142,831. As at 31st December, it stood at £188,605.

The total capital I invested in 2019 was £15,838 yet there’s been an extra increase in my portfolio of £29,935 over the year!  Wow – I’m astounded!

I didn’t do anything special to achieve this – all I did was ignore the noise about political uncertainty and continue to top up/buy and hold my investments, reinvesting all dividends received. I also received a good dose of LUCK with the buoyant markets.  Although I did switch some of my equity ETFs into bond ETFs (for a bit more balance and stability), this seems to have affected income rather than growth.

My investments effectively made a loss last year, so realistically, this could well happen again in 2020.  I can’t expect it to be this good every year!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

State Pension + Change of FIRE Meet Up Venue

A lot of people aiming for FIRE, in particular the younger folk, don’t include the State Pension in the plans

I understand why that is – they won’t be able to touch their pension when they FIRE by 40, the pension-age goal posts keep getting moved by various governments, it might be means tested, there might well be nothing left in the government pot, etc. So quite a few unknowns there.

However, for me, the State Pension has always been part of my plans right from the start. Perhaps I’m just being over-optmistic that the government ‘will come good’ for me, but it’s probably because I’ve gotten into FIRE later in life so I can consider pensions as part of my plan.

What State Pension Might I Get?

When I first started thinking about FIRE, doing my ‘back of the fag packet’ calculations, I used a nominal £5k as my state pension number – I reckoned that I was going to get at least this amount from the age of 67.

Recently however, I’ve been able to obtain a more accurate estimate (can an estimate be ‘accurate’?) via HMRC’s website:

At the last count, I had paid 30 years of full National Insurance. The requirement to receive full state pension pay out is 35 years.

The five years remaining ties in nicely with my stretch target of becoming FIRE by the end of year 2024…

However, as my work pension was contracted out for most of my career (meaning that I paid less NI during that period), it looks like I have to pay an extra two years to receive the max, so 7 more years in total of NI to pay, with my current forecast based on NI paid to date being £139.18 per week:

How Does It All Fit In?

So how does the state pension feature in my FIRE plans when I won’t be able to get my mitts on it until I’m 67?

Well, it’s income which I do not have to accumulate as part of my Future Fund (my FIRE pot).

If (and I actually hope not) I live to 100, that’s 33 x £8,797 = £290,301 (based on current forecast) which I don’t have to save up for (or generate) as part of my Future Fund.

I think this was one of the reasons I never really got into the whole 25 x expenses calculation for FIRE – I couldn’t see where the state pension fit into the calculation. Nor in my case, my DB pension. My DB pension and state pension combined will should provide me with a guaranteed minimum income floor, enough to cover all my basics expenses. It’s down to me to make up the extra for a more comfortable retirement.

As I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, my Future Fund is just a bridge from when I FIRE until when I am able to draw on my DB pension (at 65) and then the state pension.

Sometimes my plan seems too simplistic and I get the odd panicky feeling that I’m making a big mistake with my calculations.

Most other times however, it makes complete sense to me.

I’m sure there won’t be many (if any) but anyone else include the state pension in their plans?

Change of Manchester FIRE Meet Up Venue

I’ve been advised that the Manchester FIRE meet up on Friday 29th November will now be at The Salutation Pub, 12 Higher Chatham St, Manchester M15 6ED (just off Oxford Road), not at The Bank.

It’s looking unlikely that I will be able to make it but if there’s a chance I can show my face there (even briefly), I will try!

 

Investing Mistakes

It’s been quite shocking to read about how trading on the Woodford Equity Income Fund has been suspended, meaning that many people are unable to sell and withdraw their money.

Neil Woodford took this drastic action as millions of pounds began pouring out of his funds as his previously loyal investors tried to leave what appeared to be a sinking ship.

Following the Herd

Back in 2014, I talked about how I was caught up by all the wave of publicity and invested in Woodford’s new fund.

He was like a rock star in the UK investing world, one of the few to become a household name.

Not smiling so much these days

A year later, I wrote that I was still happy with my investment as I saw some decent gains.

Fortunately for me, and not due to any kind of special investing foresight or premonition, I sold my entire holding of the fund early 2018 (for a profit) as I was switching the bulk of my actively managed funds into ETFs as part of a portfolio re-balancing exercise.

I pity the folk who have remained invested and who now cannot access their funds, so yes, I dodged a bullet there.

But all is not completely rosy with my own investments as I’m in a situation where I too have some funds which I cannot get access to right now (and I’m not talking pensions).

Properly Moosed

Back in 2016, I thought I’d go into property crowdfunding. It was something new, investments linked to something tangible, it looked like a good model, though I acknowledged then that there were risks.

So, I invested in Property Moose and all seemed great. I was receiving small regular ‘rental’ amounts for the properties I’d invested in, all looked tickety-boo.

In Feb 2018, the secondary market was suspended. Something was up.

In a nutshell, Property Moose’s business model wasn’t working. The model whereby investors purchased shares in each property and were paid monthly dividends was  unsustainable and ultimately discontinued.

The directors decided that the best possible long-term solution was to move all properties into a single PLC portfolio. This solution was voted on by investors and received a 99.48% majority.

All properties have been revalued and sold off to UK Diversified Property plc.

All investors who opted to stay invested will receive allocations of shares within the new company. The share price will be valued against the valuations, costs, and revenues generated by the portfolio of properties.

This company intends to be listed on the London Stock Exchange and will probably be like a REIT (real estate investment trust).

And this is where I’m at now, I can see that I haven’t lost my money (so far), I just can’t cash out and neither am I receiving any of the rental income from the properties.

I knew this was going to be a risk, which is why the money I’d invested came purely from my matched betting profits.

Yes, I was effectively gambling with proceeds from gambling in a way, but it’s still annoying that I can’t just walk away from this investment with my cash.

It’s not a huge amount, just under £2k, which if I lose won’t be massively detrimental to my wealth/portfolio.

Am just massively annoyed at myself if anything.

What’s happened to Property Moose might probably be an exception, other similar types of investment companies have been successful but I won’t be investing in anything like this again.

Live and learn.

March 2019 Savings + other updates

So I celebrated 5 years of blogging and I’ve been blown away by all the wonderful comments  – thank you very much for all your support! 🙂

Anyway, it’s been a blur of a month, one which saw me working some late nights, binge-watching seasons 2 & 3 of ‘The Expanse’ and also enjoying a few social outings, including meeting up with fellow FIRE wannabees in Manchester.

One piece of good news at work was that I received a partial bonus, so how did that affect my savings this month?

I decided to chuck the whole bonus into my ISA so I ended up saving 64%.

There’s no way I can max my ISA (I’ve only ever done this once before) and with a few days to go in the tax year, I’m trying to work out how much of my emergency and matched betting funds I can safely shift over, without leaving me short.

The above savings includes top ups from my £25 premium bond win, £14.35 from TopCashback*, £100 matched betting profit (from last month) and £87.59 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, just added to existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I guess the markets are still going up as my Future Fund has grown by more than the capital I’ve invested, now sitting at £158,763.

Dividends and Other Income

A good month for dividends: Continue reading