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

Ravaged Dogs of the FTSE and Random Shares update

Firstly, I hope eveyone is keeping safe and calm, washing their hands and not been caught short by the mad people stock-piling toilet paper, pasta and paracetamol.

Upon family advice, I’ve been making sure bit by bit that my essentials have been topped up since January, because they warned that there would be idiots who would be hording like it’s the apocalypse.

The stock markets continue to be in chaos, so it’s an interesting time to update my experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio. As someone who’s only really invested during a great bull run, I think it’s important to try to document the bad as well as the good!

My poorly mutts weren’t doing particularly well in my first update and things now look pretty dire. Only Persimmon (PSN) is seemingly doing well, still building houses despite everything that is going on in the world.

The FTSE 100 Total Return was minus 10% over the same period so the Dogs are doing worse at minus 16.33%. Even if I include dividends received, it’s a loss of 12.88%. Ouch!

Just one more update to go in June for this portfolio, probably not really enough time for the markets to recover and for my dogs to lick their wounds, but we’ll see. All I can do is to just collect the dividends and hope my losses will be at a minimum.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this is not a strategy I would recommend to anyone, this is my own fun experiment, although it’s really no fun at all looking at all the red numbers.

Cheerful Randomness

Like last time, to cheer myself up, I will take a look at my Random Share Portfolio, which I first mentioned here.

This portfolio is made up of free shares awarded to me whenever someone signs up via my Freetrade affiliate link, bagging themselves a free share in the process. Freetrade is an investing app which (since 28th Feb 2020) allows you to buy and sell instantly for free. Link is here* if you are interested.

Might be an opportunity for those who want to take advantage of some cheap stocks and not have to pay a trading fee.

Anyway, here are a few of the free random shares I’ve been awarded since the last update:

And here’s what the full portfolio currently looks like:

Still waiting for that Tesla or Netflix share to drop, but as mentioned previously, I’m well happy with all my free shares. Most of them are ones I would never have considered buying, only because I wasn’t even aware of them.

I’ve actually sold a couple of the shares (when they gained 50%) and just ploughed the cash into a random share I already owned.

I think I’ll just keep them (mostly) and see what happens.

Anyway, keep calm and carry on investing.

*referral/affiliate link

December 2019 Savings, plus Round Up

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the celebrations last night to see in the new year.

It’s 3.30pm as I type this and I’ve only just gotten out of my pjs so it was a late one for me! 🙂

Anyway, I had a great Christmas – no travels abroad this time but there was a 400-mile round trip over the festive period – some good times eating too much but surprisingly drinking little (apart from last night!)

So, how did I do in the last month of the year and against the targets I set?

Not flying abroad for Christmas this year meant that I more or less maintained my savings rate, ending up at 41.7%.

My average for the year stands at 46.3%. Although I didn’t achieve my goal (again) to hit that elusive 50%, I’m more than happy with this average, which is my highest to date. It’s a personal best! 🙂

The above savings include top ups from £120 matched betting profits (from last month), another £25 premium bond win and £70.67 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I continued to top up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

This time last year, my Future Fund stood at £142,831. As at 31st December, it stood at £188,605.

The total capital I invested in 2019 was £15,838 yet there’s been an extra increase in my portfolio of £29,935 over the year!  Wow – I’m astounded!

I didn’t do anything special to achieve this – all I did was ignore the noise about political uncertainty and continue to top up/buy and hold my investments, reinvesting all dividends received. I also received a good dose of LUCK with the buoyant markets.  Although I did switch some of my equity ETFs into bond ETFs (for a bit more balance and stability), this seems to have affected income rather than growth.

My investments effectively made a loss last year, so realistically, this could well happen again in 2020.  I can’t expect it to be this good every year!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

November 2019 Savings, plus other updates

So it was Black Friday the other day – anyone pick up any bargains?

I should have probably done some Christmas shopping but the only thing I purchased  that day were more investments! My FIRE focus didn’t waiver!

Were the investments ‘on sale’? No idea – I’m sure I’m not alone in not checking the price of a Vanguard ETF before investing, except to make sure I’ve enough cash to invest.

I feel like I’ve caught up a bit on things this month, got myself a bit more organised, including sorted out my tax stuff. I even got round to having my tattoo to commemorate my half-century – it’s only visible when I remove my clothing so I’m not growing old too disgracefully!

In terms of blog reading/commenting, I’ve found that many of the usual blogs I follow haven’t been updating as much as before – have we reached Peak FIRE?

Still discovering and enjoying new UK blogs, but some of the older ones have been pretty quiet lately – hopefully they’re just too busy just getting on with the business of aiming for FIRE.

So, how are my numbers looking?

I saved 44% of my net salary! A larger than usual credit card bill due to social activities meant that I didn’t hit 50% but I’m happy with this.

The above savings includes top ups of £40 matched betting profit (from last month), £133.15 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!), £10 lotto winnings and £50 Premium Bond winnings!

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 

Either the markets were buoyant or it’s just a result of pound sterling taking a bashing  (probably the latter) but my Future Fund jumped quite a bit this month, up to £182,861.46.   And there was me hoping that I would end the year at £180k but we’ll see what happens after the General Election…

Dividends and Other Income

A better month for dividends: Continue reading