January 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Anyone do ‘Dry January’? Although some of my friends and family did, I didn’t bother. Since I don’t drink during the week, I see little point in depriving myself at weekends. Apparently, my sister failed on day THREE, haha!

Anyway, this month I tried to lead a frugal nun-like existence. That meant turning down social events, no eating out/takeaways (massive assumption here that nuns don’t have social events, eat out or have takeaways…).

My only purchases were basic groceries (including necessary toiletries), a gift voucher (for nephew’s birthday), stamps and a pair of socks. No January sales for me.  Packed lunches for work, except for perhaps on 4 occasions where I spent less than £2 on my lunch.

On the one hand, it felt great knowing that I was going to save more of my salary this month. On the other, the frugal existence didn’t make me feel too happy and in the end, to preserve my sanity, I succumbed and forked out to see the latest Star Wars film at the cinema.

I think I already have my expenses and spending down to a decent level allowing me to save/invest whilst enjoying life – there was probably no need for me to do a frugal January but I thought I’d try it anyway. I have to say it’s not something I’ll be attempting again in a hurry, not to this extreme.

So, did my being very frugal affect how I much I saved in the first month of the year?

Yes, because I saved 59.3% – it could have been more if I didn’t have some December expenses on my credit card bill.

I know, I know…imagine if I could do this every month! But no, living like this isn’t something I would choose to do long-term, even knowing that it would help me achieve my goals quicker. I guess I’m just not in that much of a rush!

The above savings include my £25 Premium Bonds win, £16.32 from TopCashback*, £63.22 from Google Adsense (my annual payout!), £71.16 affiliate income from OddsMonkey, £130 matched betting profits, and £50 rent received.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in Witan Pacific IT this month, for some diversification.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The rise of sterling and small wobbles in the market caused my Future Fund to stay pretty much the same at £133,045, despite the capital injection this month. Whatever, I’m just going to continue investing anyway.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

December 2017 Savings, plus Round Up

Well, I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, full of sumptuous food, loads of drink and festive cheer! I travelled south to celebrate the holidays and spent some excellent quality time with some family and friends, increasing my waistline further in the process!

Interesting sights in London (Peckham)…

Not even missing my flight home on Boxing Day (the M25 was closed for several hours following an accident, so I couldn’t get to the airport in time) really spoiled things for me – I booked myself into a hotel, spent the evening reading and took the first flight home the following day.  Of course I wasn’t particularly happy that I had to unexpectedly fork out an extra £150 but I’m just glad that my flight wasn’t grounded by snowy weather.

So, how did I do in the last month of the year?

I saved 37.8% – surprisingly higher than expected but some expenses will appear on next month’s credit card.

My average for the year ended up at 42.4%. Although I didn’t achieve my goal (again) to hit that elusive 50%, I’m pretty happy with this average.

Anyway, December savings include £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated and hope you’re enjoying matched betting!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments this month.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I believe Santa put in a Rally, pushing the FTSE 100 to yet another all time high –  my Future Fund ends the year at £133,063, an increase of 46% from the start of 2017!  This increase is almost entirely due to extra capital invested (mostly from my redundancy payment) and not from any ‘investing skills’. I will add however that my investments have benefited from dividends re-invested and uplift from the downtrodden sterling.  I continue to creep towards my next big milestone, for now!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

November 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

I’m back from a fabulous holiday but am both jet-lagged and hungover – not a nice combination, but yes, Christmas parties have started early!

I’ll do a bit of an update on my hols at a later date but without further ado, how much of my net salary did I save in November?

I saved 25.2%. My worst number since I returned to work but I’m quite surprised I even saved this much to be honest. Hurrah for automated savings!

My average for the year has now dropped to 42.8%. Unless I have an utterly disastrous December (it’s not looking great but shouldn’t be that bad), I should be able to make a reasonably good 40% average savings rate.

The above savings includes £25 premium bonds winnings, £36.75 from TopCashback*, £50 rent received and £85.73 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I sold my Ladbrokes Coral shares to take 15% profit (including dividends received over the two years I’ve held the stock).

I sold as part of portfolio simplifying exercise but my decision to sell was also partly based on my thoughts that the government’s pending restrictions on the fixed odds terminals which will likely to have a big impact on the company, plus the viability of high street bookies in general. As for the takeover by Foxy Bingo owners, GVC? Not really interested to be honest.

The funds from this sale have been added to my usual monthly capital to top up one of my existing ITs.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Markets appeared to be up a little this month, boosting my Future Fund, which now stands at £130,765. Another step towards my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Monkey Stocks – 2 Years on

Yes, it’s been (just over) a year since I announced the winner of my Monkey Stocks League Challenge and as promised, I bring you the ‘what happened next’ update.

Monkey Stocks?

Not my idea originally, but here’s how I came up with the idea of running my own Monkey Stocks League Challenge.

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

A few 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 and which was the runaway winner of the league.

One Year vs Two Years

As a reminder, here’s how the top 10 finished after one year:

As at 10th November 2017, here’s how the top ten (and the rest of the league) look after two years:

Wow, the Underdogs Fund would have doubled your money if you’d kept all the shares for another year! But check out the big gains made in many of the other portfolios – buy and hold for another year strategy looks to have paid off in a big way.

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 made gains >20%) and there were only 3 portfolios showing very small losses.

One portfolio of note is the LovelyLovelyGorgeous Portfolio which a year ago, was bottom of the class, showing a loss of 19%. Another year on, it’s in 5th spot, showing a gain of nearly 38% – wonder if Stephen had purchased these for real whether he would have cut his losses or hung on for the turnaround?

Surprisingly plummeting down the table was John K’s Pigmamig Fund which finished a creditable 10th place after one year but a year later, ended up down in 20th place.

John’s portfolio scored the highest total dividend paid last year but the accolade after two years goes to Jim’s Stonegate Certainty Fund, which has provided a 22% dividend yield!

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 31%. Definitely one for the passive investors!

Random Strategy?

Of course, as before, in no way am I recommending that randomly selecting stocks is a viable investing strategy!

It could all go horribly wrong, especially as you could have been unlucky and ended up picking shares like this lot, which would have seen you make a 55% loss:

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

Or you could get something in between and according to the experiment, that doesn’t look too bad, with the average gain being 26% over 2 years.

Although M’s Dogs strategy proved superior in this experiment, it’s hard to ignore the numerous randomly selected portfolios which bagged some very decent gains.

Of course, we have seen the FTSE breaking records etc – wrong time to run the experiment or the right time? What would happen in a stock market crash?

One More Update?

As with one year, two years isn’t really long enough for any real analysis but this experiment perhaps shows that just buying and holding (and accumulating the dividends) can be a decent strategy.

I should really do one last update so I can get the 3-year measurement.

Let me think about it, as I’ll need to make sure I keep the spreadsheet going and keep on top of all the dividends (have to admit I found it rather tedious!). Hopefully, I will find the time to update it all.

I guess I’d also like to see if the Dogs can stay top for the 3rd year running! 🙂