Gin and Win

For a side hustle, you can’t do anything more exciting or different than create your own GIN and this is what Little Miss Fire has done!

My go-to drink (when I’m not on the beers) is gin and I’ve been drinking it since the days when all that was available was Gordon’s or Bombay Sapphire and the only tonic you could get was good old Schweppes.

Nowadays, you can’t go to a pub without there being a display of different gins to choose from for discerning drinkers and a whole raft of different flavoured Fever Tree tonics to try out.

Funny how there are drinks which you loved when you were younger (for me, cider and rum) which I can no longer drink or stomach (probably because I’ve been so ill from over-indulgence in the past!) but the same can’t be said for gin, which I still love!

Anyway, I was lucky enough to receive some samples of Springmount Gin from Little Miss FIRE. However, I was out last weekend (Manchester meetup and then out for 30th birthday) and as I don’t drink during the week it’s taken me until now to try them, so bottoms up…

Gin

So three flavours:

The first one I tried was Mint and Lime – the mint was more of a hint, which I didn’t really taste at first as the lime flavour was quite strong. However, in between sips, you definitely got the minty flavour, which made this drink quite refreshing, something for a nice summer’s day, rather than a dark evening in March!

The second flavour I tried was Strawberry and Raspberry. Of all fruit-flavoured food or drinks, I’d say strawberry is my favourite so I was a little disappointed that the strawberry flavour wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. Perhaps the raspberry just blended the flavour into a tangy ‘berry’ flavour, which was nice and fruity, but not standout different.

I saved the last one, Lavender and Lemongrass for last as I thought this would be my favourite and I was right! Upon pouring the gin, there was a lovely light lavender fragrance, which combined well with the stronger lemongrass. Taste-wise, the lemongrass came out well (it’s a taste I love) so unfortunately, this one I didn’t really take the time to savour as it was very more-ish and after finishing it quite quickly, I wished there was more!

So for me, order of preference was Lavender and Lemongrass, Mint and Lime and Strawberry and Raspberry. I’d be happy being served any of these and personally, would recommend them with plain, unflavoured tonic water to allow for the flavours to be enjoyed.

If you’d like to invest in Springmount Gin, LMF and Mr Fire are crowdfunding so you can share in their success (and get your own mitts on the good stuff!).

Win

Nothing last month but March sees my second premium bond win of the year (£25).

So this prize will be chucked into the ISA to be reinvested. Let’s hope I get some more prizes in the year.

As mentioned previously, Premium Bonds make crap ‘investments’ but it’s the only cash element of my portfolio and represents less than 10% of the total, with the rest pretty much all equity, hence the roller-coaster dips and rises of my Future Fund.

The gambling gremlin in me also loves the fact that I could win a big prize – in it to win it!:-)

And that’s it, just a brief update to get these bits out of my Drafts – have a nice weekend all and hope the weather isn’t too bad!

January 2019 Savings, plus other updates

Unlike last January, where I tried to lead a frugal nun-like existence, I did no such thing this time round – it was just a really quiet month social-wise, with only one cheeky ‘beer and Nando’s’ session after work on pay day.

All other weekends, I went to the gym or stayed at home, slowly making my way through the alcohol in the house, reading a little and re-watching (and enjoying) old episodes of Doctor Who (I started from the Christopher Eccleston series).

Oh, I did go on my first walk of the year – a 6-mile flat trek along the Bridgewater Canal in Warrington, which was very pleasant. I wore my new waterproof jacket and walking trousers (hand-me-down and a late Christmas present from a family member) so my walking gear is getting a bit more suitable for the good ole British weather!

I also got my first Premium Bond win of the year – hopefully, the first of many!

NS&I’s app informing me of my win!

So, how did I get on with my savings in the first month of the year?

I saved 41.5%, which is a pretty good start.

The above savings includes top ups from £116 matched betting profits (from last month), the £25 premium bond win, £10 lotto winnings, £15 from TopCashback* and £69.02 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 was vaguely aware that the markets had begun to recover a bit but was surprised to see the extent of that recovery when I ran my numbers – my Future Fund is heading in the right direction again, sitting at £151,358. Whilst not all the losses have been recouped, I’m just glad to have crossed the £150k milestone again!

Dividends and Other Income

An average month of dividends: Continue reading

April 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Ok, so I had some second thoughts after reading some of the comments from last month’s post about pulling out all stops to top up my ISA, so with just a few hours to go before the tax year deadline, I opened a cash ISA account – nowt like living on the edge, haha!

Sadly, I wasn’t able to max my ISA, but I did add another £2.5k to make it over £17.5k (moved some of my emergency cash over and withdrew some matched betting funds) – I’m in a better position than I was before so thanks to all who made me reconsider and not dilly dally! 🙂

I went for Nationwide Building Society as I already bank with them so it was quick and easy to open the account – interest is 1.4% (Nationwide gave me an extra 0.1% loyalty bonus – woo hoo, I guess!) and the account has limited access but I’m ok with that.

Let’s see how I get on with this tax year’s ISA – I’m going to have try to top £17.5k now, aren’t I? Eek!

Anyway, how did that affect my savings this month?

I saved 45.3%! My average savings rate has now gone down to 51.1%.  I have now booked my holiday to HK – have paid for my flight in full (most of it via my ‘holiday fund’) but my sister has paid for my ‘holiday within a holiday’ (a few days in Thailand) so I’ll need to pay her back by next month.

The above savings was topped up with £1020 matched betting funds (I withdrew some cash from my betting and exchange accounts) and £68.54 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks 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 

The markets must have recovered a bit – after months of going backwards,  my Future Fund now appears to be heading in the right direction again at £138,939, back on track towards my next milestone.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

March 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Sorry, you’re probably getting fed up seeing this image again but I’m not! 🙂 Another premium bond win of £25 means three wins in a row (a ‘Turkey‘, if I was ten pin bowling!), a record for me!  Can I make it a four-bagger!?

At work, it was decided that despite the company not hitting their global year-end target, we would still be paid a bonus. That bonus was a whopping 1% but hey, I’m not complaining as that’s still more than zero. Anyway, with nothing better to do with it, I’ve invested the full bonus amount.

So, how did that affect my savings this month?

I saved 56.6%! My average savings rate has now gone up to 53%.  I however still haven’t gotten round to booking my holiday, plus I have a super-busy social calendar in April so the high rate may provide me with a bit of a cushion when my rate drops over the next month or so!

The above savings was topped up with my £25 Premium Bonds win, £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all who signed up via my links!), £300 matched betting profits and £50 rent received.

As I don’t earn enough to max out my ISA (the max being £20k in a tax year), this past week has been spent shaking down piggy banks and scrabbling behind the sofa to find anything to top it up before the end of the tax year, due to the ‘use it or lose it’ factor.

I managed to find a bunch of old £1 coins so these have been banked – every pound counts and they went towards helping me pay £15k into my ISA. Last year, I managed this amount with the help of some of my redundancy pay (when the max for an ISA was £15k) so I’m really chuffed with this achievement.

I’m sure some of you might be wondering why I’m also paying into my Emergency Fund instead of concentrating on my ISA – well, I took a chunk out for ’emergencies’ last year so need to top it back up. Once I get it back up to >3 month’s worth of expenses again, I can chuck more into my ISA.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in HICL Infrastructure Company Ltd this month. Think that’s it for new investments for a while, I’ll just top up existing ones for the rest of the year.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Wobbly markets again apparently. As before, I didn’t follow the daily ups and downs, just got the month-end figure for my update. My Future Fund stands at £130,574 – it’s down 1% from last month, but whatever, I’ll just continue investing as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading