June 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

I have two sets of friends with whom I socialise on a regular basis so I ended up celebrating my birthday twice on the town this month!

Why not celebrate with both sets of friends together to save time and money? It has been considered several times in the past but dealing with potential clashes of characters and personalities (with alcohol involved!) really won’t be worth the money saved and is not my idea of fun!

I had a couple of great nights out, and inevitably suffered the consequences afterwards! However, I think I was more worried about my liver/kidneys, rather than my finances!

A Bit About Work

Am pretty settled in now, the days are flying by as I continue to get to grips with different processes, procedures and people.

At the last place I worked, there were quite a lot of folk who were in their 40s or older. At my new place, I’m definitely one of the few ‘oldies’, with most people sitting around me in their early to mid-twenties.

In the run-up to pay day, talk was just of what they were going to spend all their money on – mostly socialising and buying ‘stuff’, with one young chap ordering a pair of shoes costing over £500 (some ‘must-have’ brand I’d never heard of). I didn’t join in when the others had a go at him for wasting his money, for fear I would go into ‘FIRE mode’ haha! Ah to be young and so carelessfree with money!

With both my boss and the rest of the team not being based in the same office apart from on the odd occasion, I’m working pretty autonomously, more so than in my previous job. I think I will appreciate this more as time goes by, although I have to admit that I am actually starting to enjoy my work – not so clueless any more!

I still think it’s bloody hard – coming from a highly regulated environment to one that is not so (yet) regulated isn’t easy and my boss warned me that it could get a little frustrating but to be patient as things were moving towards more regulations and controls. I look at their processes and see so many things which would fail an audit.

I think I’m one of the few people who actually abides by the clear desk policy, which isn’t enforced but it’s how I’ve been working for the past ten years so I continue to do so. Still, it’s far too soon for me to be making major suggestions of improvements but I’ve been making notes for the future, ideas for projects and such like.

The lifts weren’t working the other day so I had to take the stairs. I realised that walking up to the 5th floor isn’t too bad and is a great workout, so from now on, I will climb the stairs every day.

Anyway, I got paid in full this month so how much of my net salary did I save? (no £500 shoes for me!)

I saved 54.6%! My average for the year is now 47.8% so slowly creeping up to my goal of an average 50%.

The above savings includes £100 from matched betting profits, £25 from my Premium Bonds win, £20 lotto win and £57.08 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

When I saw the my wage hitting my bank account, I was pleasantly surprised. Until I realised that this is my pay without any corporate benefits deducted – I’ve yet to join the company pension scheme (although the contribution will be low) and I no longer have the ‘premium benefits’ I used to enjoy, namely medical, life insurance and critical illness cover. Oh and my corporate gym membership was also deducted via salary sacrifice.

Another birthday celebrated, another year older – although I keep myself pretty fit and healthy and have a fairly balanced diet, age will catch up at some point so perhaps I need to consider my own medical cover seeing as I no longer have it. I was given a quote by the insurers who used to provide my company medical cover but it was nearly 4 times what I used to pay! What a rip off! I’ll do a bit of research, methinks.

Future Fund 

I have now shifted what’s left of my severance pay into my Future Fund, giving it a decent boost and it now stands at £119,717. A good step towards reaching my next big milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading

Race to £200k

John Kingham who runs the UK Value Investor blog recently posted about aiming for a £1 million portfolio within 30 years and talked about the theory of doubling up.

I posted a comment and in his reply, he challenged me to see who will reach £200k first.

Of course, I accepted the challenge! 🙂

The Runners

In Lane Number 1JK’s Model Portfolio

John started his model portfolio in 2011 with £50k, which is made up of 30 stocks. Its aim is to generate more income and growth than the FTSE All-Share.

Through active trading alone (with dividends reinvested), this portfolio has since doubled, having had no extra capital added! Wow!

John’s strategy is that the least attractive holding is sold every other month and replaced with a new investment the following month.  He details his analysis and reasoning in a newsletter, which is aimed at defensive and dividend-focused value investors. The newsletter is subscription-only and includes a stock screen containing over 200 dividend-paying companies from the FTSE All-Share. There’s plenty of useful stuff to read on his website and blog too that doesn’t need a subscription.

I can confirm that I have met and spoken to people (at the last FIRE Escape gathering) who subscribe to said newsletter and whose investments have done extremely well by it, so yep, John knows his stuff!

In Lane Number 2: Weenie’s Future Fund

Yep, my mixed bag of a portfolio – it’s got a bit of everything! 🙂 Its aim is to provide me with income when I choose to retire early.

I practice a predominantly buy and hold strategy, drip-feeding capital every month, making the most of pound-cost averaging.

The amount I save/invest depends largely on my expenses and whilst I’ve got the basic costs buttoned down, as I’m not practising extreme frugality, things like social life, holidays and celebrations can sometimes get in the way!

Also there’s the amount I can earn from my side hustles, ie matched betting, cashback and affiliate income – I try to chuck all of that into the pot. Oh and any lotto or premium bond wins too!

You may recall that my Future Fund hit £100k recently. In total, it took me 8 years to reach this milestone – 5 years for the first £30k (when I had no plan), then 3 years to get £70k (with my plan).

I have only been investing for around 3 years so I can’t say that I know my ‘stuff’ but I seem to be doing ok!

Five Years

According to my own projections forecast spreadsheet, I reckon I could hit £200k in around 5 years. It’s possible I could get there earlier but this is my estimate, using conservative returns, whilst assuming that I will maintain an average savings rate of 40-45%. Hmm!

Over the last five years,  JK’s Model Portfolio achieved an annualised rate of return of 14.6%, so if at least the same return can be achieved, then it’s going to be a close competition!

Of course, it could take longer than 5 years and things could go pear-shaped for the both of us with the markets tanking, although with his strategy, John will be poised to ditch the rubbish shares and get some good ones in, while I will be trying to ignore all the noise and continue to chuck in my monthly capital regardless.

Different Strategies

I hope people will find this friendly competition interesting as it showcases different investing strategies.

This is all just a bit of fun but also another thing to keep me focused and motivated.

Ladies First

I think I’ve got a bit of a head start as I reached £100k before John did, plus I’ll be transferring the remainder of my severance pay into my Future Fund this month.

Still, I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I’m the Hare and he’s the Tortoise!

Actually, I feel more like I’m Rocky Balboa to his Apollo Creed, except this isn’t Hollywood so there’s no fairy-tale ending guaranteed!

Anyway, good luck to the both of us – let’s get ready to rumble!

May 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

Firstly, heartfelt thoughts to the families and friends of the 22 whose lives were mindlessly cut short at the Manchester Arena.

The arena is only 5 miles from where I live, the streets where alleged accomplices of the bomber have since been arrested are ones which I have often driven down. This is scary stuff pretty much on my doorstep but talking to my friends and people at work, there is a sense of strength and solidarity, we will not let terrorism beat us. I would have loved to have gone to the ‘One Love‘ gig that’s on Sunday but there was no chance I was going to get any tickets.

Work and Pay

Well, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants at work these past couple of weeks. It’s been both scary and a bit of a rush but I did ok! Anyway, it was fortunate that I started my new job just before payroll cut off so I received a bit of a wage in May which I thoroughly deserved, if I say so myself! Woo hoo! 🙂

So, how much of my net salary did I save?

I saved 40%! My average for the year is now 46% so not too far off my goal of 50%. I’ll need to put in some good months to haul it back up.

The above savings includes boosts of £400 from matched betting profits, £28.31 from TopCashback*, £43.50 from football predictions, £69.35 from Google Adsense (my second payment ever!) and £51.36 affiliate income from OddsMonkey.

Redundancy Cash

I still have just under 80% of my severance pay left. I’m going to invest some of it next month but think I will err on the side of caution and leave most of it sitting in cash (premium bonds) for now and review my options when I feel the urge to do so.

I’m not bothered about the crap returns from premium bonds – when I started planning for FI/retiring early, I never thought I’d be including any redundancy money so it’s a bonus already on its own. I think this will bring the cash element of my portfolio to around 14-15%.

I’ve topped up my emergency fund so that it now covers around 4 months’ expenses which seems to be an amount I’m comfortable with.

Future Fund 

With the markets buoyant this month, my portfolio has continued to grow. At the end of May, my Future Fund ended up at £104,753.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading

April 2017 Savings, plus Other Updates

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed my amended logo to show the new £1 coin – thanks to The Investor from Monevator for reminding me to change it!

Anyway, I have to confess that I have really felt like not publishing this update.

For the past 3 years, I’ve been saving a large part of my salary towards my goal for FI/retiring early and happily documenting my progress on this blog.

This is the first month I have had no salary in over 20 years and I wasn’t sure what I could say, without coming over all miserable with doom and gloom – there’s still nothing on the work front yet although I continue to actively job-seek.

But hey ho, spare me the pity, I’m a mostly glass half-full kind of person and as I said in my last update, my goal to FIRE is still on, just suffering a bit of a ‘blip’, so without further ado…

Bad News Alert!

My savings rate this month is ZERO! 

This is because I have always worked out my savings rate to be what I save from my normal working wage. I know others work out their savings rates differently but I’m just being consistent with my own calculations.   I’m now living off my severance pay – ouch!

All Is Not Lost

That’s not to say I haven’t added to my Future Fund at all this month – I made investments using the following income: £400 from matched betting profits, £92.49 from TopCashback*, £138.47 affiliate income from Odds Monkey, £50 rent received and £40 from a lottery win!

This income is by no means guaranteed on a monthly basis so in the short-term, I’m going to try to continue to invest as much as I can for as long as I can, to keep the investing momentum going. I did toy with the idea of investing nothing while I wasn’t working but that didn’t seem to make sense to me, not when I had the means to make some cash which I did not require to live on.

Future Fund 

After hitting my big milestone of reaching £100k in savings/investments last month, my Future Fund continues to grow, buoyed by the announcement of our own snap election and the elections in France. At the end of April, my Future Fund ended up at £102,023.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading