August 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Another month has passed in this strange year.

Some ‘interesting’ things which happened in August:

    • I ate in a restaurant (thanks for the 50% discount, Rishi!). It was nice to dress up and enjoy a pleasant evening outside of the house. Something I’ve missed a lot.
    • I put petrol in my car! I filled up the day before lockdown and haven’t really driven anywhere so it’s taken this long to use up my petrol.
    • I grew something edible and ate it! So excited as I’ve never had green fingers!

My runner beans!

    • I baked! I don’t normally do baking – I reckon the last time I baked anything was in school during one of my disastrous Home Economics classes! Anyway, I baked some healthy breakfast biscuits, which even my sis and nephew enjoyed!
    • I bought some books! I don’t tend to buy books because I use the library. Although I’ve enjoyed reading ebooks on my Kindle, I really miss holding a physical book in my hands so not knowing when my library is going to reopen, I succumbed to buying some books which I’ve been wanting to read in a while.

Can’t wait to get my teeth into these (not literally!)

    • I tried a couple of recipes with Gousto* (50% off your first box and then 30% off your first month’s subscription if you sign up via my link – while offer lasts). My sis does most of the cooking duties and we didn’t want to start getting takeaways for variety so I’ve subscribed to Gousto on my friend’s recommendation to cook some different meals. These have worked out really well – I’ve cooked some meals I never would have dreamt of cooking (all delicious so far!) and at a decent price (cheaper and healthier than takeaways for definite). I’m on a fortnightly subscription but weekly or monthly are available.
    • I was Employee of the Month – who needs to be in the office to put in a good shift and be recognised? 🙂

As there’s been no change to the lockdown requirements in Greater Manchester, I’m still only leaving the house as necessary, still not been back into the office yet although I am actually looking forward to when I do eventually go back in, just to see some different faces.

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings in August?

I was able to save 47.1% of my net salary – there was quite a bit of spending, including gifts for a couple of special birthdays, some bits and pieces for the garden and some purchases I made the back end of July on my credit card.

The above savings includes top ups from a £75 premium bond win (woo hoo!), £50 Matched Betting profits (from last month), £57.69 from affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!) and £20.20 from TopCashback*.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Big rises in the stock markets meant that my Future Fund jumped up to £197,334, but with some market wobbles this week, I’ll be lucky if I finish as high, come end of September.

Still v-shaped!

Dividends and Other Income

A better month for dividends:

Continue reading

April 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Another month in lockdown and I’m finding living and working like this has become quite normal.

The latest WI Magazine cover which seems quite apt

The latest all employees’ call with work mentioned plans being devised for people to return to the office once it’s been deemed safe to do so but I have mixed feelings.

Yes, I miss being in the office – miss printing stuff off to give my eyes a rest from the screen –  miss my colleagues and being out of the house, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to returning to travelling on public transport. I’ve applied for and received a refund for my annual travel pass in any case.

Anyway, in a full month of lockdown, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 59%! All those occasional little work lunches, Friday after-work drinks and social outings do add up and since I wasn’t spending, I was able to save a lot more.

That said, I wasn’t able to max out my 2019/20 ISA – I think I got to around the £16k mark which isn’t bad, as anything over £15k is good for me.

The above savings includes top ups from yet another £25 premium bond win (4 months in a row!) and £63.15 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

A couple of new investment trusts added to my portfolio, namely Murray International Trust and Templeton Emerging Markets IT, both showing decent discounts when I made the purchases.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

So much doom and gloom in the news globally yet the stock markets are doing their own thing. Whether this bounce-back is temporary or not is anyone’s guess.

My Future Fund stands at £179,924, an increase of over 9% from last month! I’m still down by around 4.4% year to date but that’s not too bad.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but others thankfully continued to roll in: Continue reading

March 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Reasons to be grateful during these difficult times:

  • I have a roof over my head
  • I have running water, electricity and gas
  • I have money to buy food, alcohol and other essentials
  • I have books, tv and internet to keep me distracted/entertained/informed
  • I do not work on the front-line and thank all those key workers doing a valiant job
  • I am still employed (for now)

I have adapted to lock down fairly well, which I put down to my lifestyle. The main ‘disruptions’ for me have been having to work from home (I prefer to work in the office), not being able to go to the gym or catch up with friends in the flesh in a pub/restaurant.

That’s pretty much it. I’m quite happy being at home and I consider myself extremely fortunate that I am not suffering any real inconvenience or any hardship. Good relations have been maintained with sis and nephew (who recovered from his recent fever – I don’t think he had the virus) so all’s well with them too.

Plummeting Stocks

After the fastest ever stock market crash in history, I’ve decided to stick to my plan until it makes more sense for me not to.

Ever since I’ve been investing, the great bull run has meant that I’ve been buying stocks as they’ve been going up so, in the same vein, I’m buying as they go down. If some are purchased at rock-bottom, then that’s a bonus.

My main strategy is buy and hold, although I confess that I did make one sale… my holding in VUCP (Vanguard Corporate Bond ETF) was a beacon of green in a sea of red so I sold half and used the cash to top up a couple of the more ravaged investments. Only time will tell whether I was foolish but in any case, I didn’t sell anything else.

Oh wait, I did! In anticipation of transferring my SIPP with HL to Vanguard, I sold my iShares Emerging Markets tracker at the beginning of Feb. As the markets started to drop, I decided that I didn’t want my funds in transfer limbo so I lumped all the cash into Vanguard Lifestrategy 80 – not at its cheapest but very much cheaper than it was at the beginning of the year.

The goal posts to FIRE will likely end up moving but they were never really set in stone. One more year however might end up being 2 or 3 more years perhaps – I hope not, but who knows?

So, onto the numbers…

I saved a whopping 76.8%! That’s because I got my bonus and I decided to invest most of it. Risky? Perhaps. This might be the last bonus I get in a while so I’m making the most of cheaper investments.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 matched betting profits (from last month), yet another £25 premium bond win, £64.36 from Google ads and £128.57 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 investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I was prepared for a horrific nightmare but it turned out to be just a bit of a scary movie.

My Future Fund stands at £163,789, which is prety much back to what it was in April last year. That’s down 13% since the beginning of the year.  Double figures yes, but not the 25-30% devastation I was expecting. The recent uptick in the markets did help of course.

Dividends and Other Income

Only one of my dividends got cancelled this month (Persimmon) but the others rolled in nicely: Continue reading

February 2020 Savings, plus other updates

After a month of doing nothing in particular, February was a month where I was busy with something pretty much every weekend. I did have an post I wanted to put up last week but will publish next week instead.

Firstly, I’ve only gone and joined the W.I, that is, the Women’s Institute in Manchester. Like you, I too thought it was for ‘older women’, into their baking, knitting, making jam etc (I’m not interested in any of these) but when I turned up to the first meeting, I was surprised to see that I was actually one of those ‘older women’! The average age must have been around late 20s or early 30s.

Why did I join? It was one of those things which I thought I would do once I’d retired and I realised that there was nothing to stop me from joining now. Good for networking, good for establishing new interests and I got to meet and chat with some nice young women. Not sure how much time I can throw into this right now but I will make some time for it.

Anyway, before I continue with what else I got up to, some of you must be itching to see what my numbers are so here goes…

I saved 33.3% – my spending on social activities took its toll this month.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 matched betting profits (from last month), another £25 premium bond win and £77.31 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 investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund (** Coronavirus ALERT **)

With the stock markets going into chaos caused by Covid-19, my Future Fund stands at £180,751, which is more or less back to what it was in September last year. That’s down 4% since last month.

To say that I’m not feeling a little fearful would be a lie – of course I’m a little scared, both of the virus and what it’s doing to my investments.

However, I’m going to stick with my plan. I got paid today, so my usual investment was made into my ISA. I’ve heard some people are keeping aside cash to invest at the bottom – who knows when stocks will be at rock-bottom, I will just invest when I have the cash and hope that I will scoop up some bargains along the way.

Dividends and Other Income

The bottom has fallen out of the stock markets but like clockwork, my dividends continue to roll in: Continue reading