November 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Not sure where November went – it was a bit of a blur.

I went to the Lake District for the first time ever to participate in my (kind of) new hobby, walking.

I know, Tuppenny, beautiful countryside merely 1.5 hours away in the car, pretty much on my doorstep and yet I’d never been before! No excuse really, just never crossed my mind!

Would definitely go back, it was lovely, although I’m not sure I’d want to live there long-term, bit too remote for my liking and I’m not fond of driving down country roads. Perhaps there’s too much of a City gal in me.

Anyway, stayed in Bowness-on-Windermere and went on the Grasmere to Alcock Tarn walk (around 9 miles).

I did wonder what was lurking under that peaceful lake…

Typically, it was raining and cold but after the extreme weather I experienced in Snowdonia, this was a bit of a doddle and felt quite mild :-). Although there was a part of the walk where we had to cross a fast flowing stream, jumping over slippery rocks and I ended up with what felt like half the stream in my boot!

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 36.3%, which sees my average savings rate going down a little to 43.7%.

Not bad really, although I’ve not done much in terms of any Christmas shopping yet.

For the first time, I actually bought something on Black Friday but it was on behalf of family. I did make one significant purchase this month – a new mattress after checking out Kiernan’s mattress review website as I didn’t know what to get. Suffice to say, I’m very happy with my purchase, although there were some shenanigans regarding delivery.

The above savings includes top ups from £240 matched betting profits (from last month), £10 lotto winnings and £124.50 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.

AJBell Youinvest had their own Black Friday offer (fee-free trades) so I took the opportunity to finally offload my Vodafone shares. Yield is currently an insane 7.9% but I’m not confident this will continue in the long term. With the loss in capital and dividend income over the years I held the stock, I probably more than broke even (would have been a loss if I’d paid trading fees to sell).

Speaking of AJBell, I’ve applied for shares for when they float on the stock exchange later this month. The shares probably won’t be as lucrative as the Hargreaves Lansdown ones (which sadly, I didn’t buy) but as an existing customer of theirs, I thought they’ll be worth a punt.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The markets appear to have recovered a little so my Future Fund is heading in the right direction again, sitting at £146,601.

I’m resigned to the fact that I’m unlikely to end the year >£150k unless there’s going to be a really really generous Santa Rally!

Dividends and Other Income

So, wobbly markets or not, my dividends continued to roll in regardless: Continue reading

October 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Happy Halloween!

My efforts this year.

In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve (although I don’t have time for trick or treaters), I’ve enjoyed carving pumpkins, having pumpkin in my casserole and munching on pumpkin seeds but was it a horror show for me, investment-wise?

During the recent stock market upheavals, I made a point of not checking my investment numbers (apart from my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio).  I didn’t see the point of scaring/torturing myself.

So I was able to ignore all the hysterical news and remain blissfully ignorant…until now!

Firstly, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 41.2%, which sees my average savings rate going down a little to 44.4%.

It’s all downhill from now until the new year as the spendy months are here, plus I need to pay off my holiday flight.

The above savings includes top ups from £430 matched betting profits (from last month), £78.20 from TopCashback*, £20 lotto winnings and £80.40 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 ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Well, I can confirm that the value of my Future Fund was affected negatively by the volatile markets.

It might be easier to show to what extent with a graph:

2018 Future Fund progress

No need to panic – it’s just sort of back to where it was in June, so no disaster.

I was preparing myself for the worst and as with the recent budget, in the end, not a lot happened.

It would be good to get back over the £150k mark by the end of the year, so let’s hope things pick up over the next month or so. My balance now stands at £145,068 and I will continue to invest as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

The markets tanked yet my dividends continued to roll in regardless: Continue reading

September 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Moel Eilio in Snowdonia. Yes, it looks creepy…

For someone who’s never really counted ‘walking’ as a favourite past-time, I did quite a lot of it this month.

Spent a couple of weekends doing ‘practice’ walks in the Peak District and the West Pennines, which I found surprisingly quite pleasant – not strolls but not too strenuous either.

The practice walks were to prepare me for a charity walk in Snowdonia, organised by work. We managed to choose a day which was in between two days with yellow weather warnings and ended up doing the walk in extreme weather conditions and quite poor visibility.

With lashing rain which stung the face and winds still buoyed by recent storms in the country which blew us all over the place, I found out that my waterproof jacket was not waterproof and neither were my walking shoes!

But I’m glad I attempted and completed the 9-mile walk, it was a good test of character! Plus I might even go on more walks in future (weather permitting), as may have discovered a new hobby of sorts!

Anyway, onto the nitty gritty, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 43.5%, which sees my average savings rate going down a little to 44.8%.  Considering this month was quiet on the social outing front, I’m a little disappointed if I’m honest as I thought I would be closer to 50%.  No realistic chance of achieving my goal now with the final (more expensive) stretch of the year coming up but I’ll keep at it.

The above savings includes top ups from £447 matched betting profits (from last month), £16.15 from TopCashback*, £60.53 from Google Adsense and £123.33 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 ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Again, I didn’t really notice what the markets were doing – all I can say is that with extra capital and reinvested dividends, my Future Fund now stands at £150,051, so I’m halfway towards my next big milestone! Woohoo!

I seem to have streaked well ahead of John K (whose portfolio is currently showing as £103,427) but I did mention that I had the massive advantage of chucking in a large chunk of my redundancy money last year. The next £50k will take much longer to accumulate as no large amounts of capital to throw in, so plenty of opportunity for John to catch up using his strategy.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Monkey Stocks – 3 Years on

Anyone around when I announced the winner of my Monkey Stocks League Challenge?

Anyway, as promised in my 2-year update, I bring you the ‘what happened next after 3 years’ update.

Monkey Stocks?

Here’s how I came up with the idea of running my own Monkey Stocks League Challenge.

The majority of the £500 portfolios (consisting of 5 stocks each) which lined up in September 2015 were made up of stocks/shares (from FTSE 350) and were randomly picked out of a hat.

A handful of daft brave souls followed me in purchasing their random stocks for real!

The league also had a couple of portfolios chosen by experts (John K and Huw) and of course, we had M’s infamous portfolio, based on the Dogs of the FTSE strategy, which was the runaway winner of the league after both 1 and 2 years.

One Year vs Two Years vs Three Years

As a reminder, here’s how the top 10 finished after Year 1:

Here’s how the top ten (and the rest of the league) looked after Year 2:

And here are the scores on the doors after Year 3:

Zombie annihilation, with Mr Z’s Undead Monkey Fund taking the top spot, more than doubling his initial investment.

What’s in the winning portfolio?

Three not-so-great shares but the humongous gain (and dividend) from Evraz (EVR) more than made up for those losses (apparently, Roman Abramovich is a majority shareholder – only just found that out!). Of course, EVR is also one of my own Dogs of the FTSE shares…

Anyway, after one year, only 8 portfolios made gains of >10% and there were 10 portfolios showing losses.

After two years, 17 portfolios made gains of >10% (12 of them >20%) and there were only 3 portfolios showing very small losses.

After three years, again, 17 portfolios made gains of >10% (14 of them >20%), with 5 portfolios showing losses.

John K’s Pigmamig Fund was one of those which ended up in the negative after 3 years, but had this been a real portfolio, I’m sure John would have gotten rid of some/all of those stocks to minimise/avoid losses using his own investing strategy.

Still Steady Eddy

Mention must be made of diy’s Mutley’s Magic Formula fund which continued to maintain its steady process and remained in the top 10. This fund was based on Vanguard’s 60% LifeStrategy Fund, ending up with a gain of 34%. Definitely one for the passive investors and one which I will invest in myself.

Random Strategy?

Of course, as before, in no way am I recommending that randomly selecting stocks is a viable investing strategy, though I find it’s a fascinating one, which appeals to my gambling curious nature!

Did my experiment show that randomly picking shares ‘might not’ result in disaster?

It could have all gone horribly wrong, especially as you could have been unlucky and ended up picking Carillion…

Alternatively, fortune could have shone on you and you could have randomly chosen ones like this lot and celebrated seeing your investment quadruple:

Or you could get something in between and according to the experiment, that doesn’t look too bad, with the average gain being 29% over 3 years. Better than sitting 3 years in a cash ISA

Of course, we have seen the FTSE breaking records these past three years. What would  have happened if there was a big Bear market?

No More Updates

A 3-year measurement still isn’t great for a buy and hold strategy but this will be my last update for this league. Whilst the first year was fun (especially as there was a trophy at stake!), it was a complete chore getting all the dividends for the 100+ companies, plus I had to find out what happened to companies which were bought out/sold, changed names or were no longer trading.

I’m still very much interested in the random walk theory in relation to investing so I won’t rule out creating another small experimental portfolio in the future (and again with real money).  Sorry, I won’t be running another such league though – far too much effort and not nearly enough people with skin in the game!

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this experiment and if after your own research you fancy running something similar, I’d be interested to hear about it!