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

Are We Nearly There Yet?

This year has flown by.

However, I don’t know about you, but I actually can’t wait for it to be over.

No, I’m not doing a ‘Bah Humbug’ but it’s just all too ‘busy’ right now for my liking.

This is despite the fact that I’ve participated in enjoyable things such as:

  • taking my nephew to the panto (Craig Revel Horward was fabulous as the Wicked Queen in Snow White)
  • having more than a few free drinks at the works’ Christmas party
  • attending my first sci-fi con in years, catching the larger than life Brian Blessed and the small but wonderful Warwick Davis, among lots of people in cool gear!
  • a couple of social outings with friends

Dare you walk on the Dark Side?

  • I even had another Premium Bond win (£25).

Work is really busy and my head is just full of ‘stuff’. I’m also glad the election business is all over – it was all doing my head in and my only real consolation was checking my investments the day after and seeing a big jump in the value of my portfolio – the ‘Boris Bounce’ but perhaps it’s the Santa Rally come early! Let’s see if the boom lasts til the end of the year.

I’m behind on my gift shopping so it’s all a mad rush these next few days. I’m looking forward to a nice break. I’m not travelling abroad this Christmas but I will be away from home – a change of scenery will do me some good.

The bits of presents I have purchased have been done online (Amazon) as I haven’t yet braved the shops.

Vouchers

Remember in my July update where I mentioned that I took part in an investment webinar and was paid £100?

Well, I was invited by the same research company to take part in a online investment panel for two weeks, whereby I had to review numerous articles, websites, listen to podcasts and watch video adverts.

Time-wise, I probably spent 4 hours max in total doing the various bits, for which I was paid £175 in Amazon vouchers! Handy for any time of year really but particularly now!

Anyone interested in taking part in such investment surveys, drop me note. I’m not sure I can share their details on my blog, so would rather share privately and no, it’s not a referral or affiliate link.

Toilet Twinning

I’m still planning on twinning my second toilet for the year. However, am unlikely to complete the task before the end of this month as I don’t want the framed pic to get lost among the festive packages.

Like before, I’ll offer the twinning for free to a lucky reader – just drop me a comment below and I’ll include you in the draw to win the twinned toilet (ensure you include a valid email address so I can contact you should you win).

The winner will be picked randomly on 30th December.

And on that note, wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

See you for my December update and round-up of 2019 (of sorts…).

Timing of FIRE

Among the FIRE community, there are many who wish to FIRE before they are or when they reach 40. Ms ZiYou is one of them and well on her way to achieving her goal.

And why not? Slog it out in the corporate world, maximising your earning power, living frugally and within your means, saving and investing as much as you can, building a pot of wealth so that you can call it quits on your work at/by 40, choose to do some other kind of work or really FIRE, as in retire early.

What’s not to like?

This got me thinking – imagine if I had learned of FIRE in my twenties just as I’d gotten  my first permanent job?

Imagine if I’d been able to save 40-50% of my salary (and save up all my bonuses) and invested it all. I was a different person when I was 24-25 years old, unlikely to have embraced the idea of FIRE but had I done so, my underlying character would have meant that I would have pursued it in the same determined fashion – what hasn’t changed since my younger days is that if I set my heart and head on something, I don’t give up too easily.

So, imagine I’d been on the FIRE path since my mid-20s. Coming up to the age of 38/39, I’d be planning to pull the FIRE plug; I’d be thinking about what I could do with all my spare time, what places I could travel to.

Except that my plans would have gone completely pear-shaped because I would have been pulling the plug just as the 2008 global financial crisis happened, a complete meltdown of the stock markets and the near-destruction of the global economy. Ouch.

That would have been really unfortunate timing, yet sequence of returns risk could still affect any of us currently on the FIRE path.

Older and Wiser

Caveman recently wrote that the best time to start on the FIRE path was in your 30s/40s and in much the same way, I’m glad that I didn’t discover FIRE in my 20s and stopped working at 40, global financial crisis notwithstanding.

That’s because in terms of job satisfaction, I’ve found that the work I’ve done and the jobs I’ve had between the age of 40-50 have been far more rewarding than any I’ve done or had earlier in my career.

No, it’s not the increase in salary – having spent most of my career with the same company for over 20 years, my wages were stagnating so did not really increase in any significant increments (or not at all for several years). I’ve never been one to chase the higher wages.

I think part of the satisfaction comes from experience – I’ve learned to work with all kinds of people at all different levels, managing their expectations, learned to work smarter, not be afraid when to speak up but also to know when to shut up/not say anything.

In my 20s-30s, i recall getting caught up in office politics, stressing about promotions (mine and other people’s), stressing about pay (what I earned and what other people earned), stressing about people’s time-keeping, the number of ‘sick-days’ people had,  the time they spent going out for cigarette breaks, people’s extended lunch-breaks, the overtime they did, the clock-watching, my long working hours, etc, etc. I was once labelled a ‘trouble-maker’ by one of the directors – well,  I obviously hadn’t learned at the time when to shut up!

That’s a lot of stress, with very little to do with me personally!

As I got older, I became only concerned about my own performance at work and that’s it. What anyone else did (or didn’t do) was their problem. My work ends when I leave the office – I argued that it was unnecessary for me to have a work mobile (and won) and I don’t take my laptop home (unless there’s an urgent piece of work that can’t wait). This attitude meant that I enjoyed my work a lot more and was able to concentrate and focus more on the job at hand. I have a good work/life balance.

You could argue that I was bothered and stressed by all those things when I was younger because my personal finances weren’t in a great way. I was carrying high credit card debts and funnily enough, once I’d paid them all off, I was a much happier person.

Final Stage

And so, I now move to what I believe will be the final stage of my working career. I’m not looking to progress up the career ladder – I’m just looking to remain gainfully (and happily) employed until I hit my FIRE goal.

I like my job and I enjoy the work I’m doing – I’m given a lot of flexibility and autonomy, the work is challenging, my colleagues are nice and I like and respect my boss. But I can see how just a few factors changing could make things really difficult for me.

I’ve mentioned that change/company re-organisation is on the cards, perhaps later this year but more likely to be next year.

The question is: will I be able to ride out the changes until I reach my FI goal?

And of course, another global financial crisis could still happen just as I reach my goal and I don’t know if I’d be any more prepared.

Since I can’t control what will happen in the future with my job or with the stock market, I will concentrate on what I can control, that is my spending, my saving/investing and living my life.

Update on Freetrade’s Free Shares

And finally, further to my recent mention of free shares via Freetrade worth up to £200 (previously £80), I’m beta-testing their referral scheme so if you want to check out their cool app and bag a free share, DM me via Twitter (@QuietlySaving) or via the Contact Me form for a one-use only link – first come first served!

UK only and Android users will need version 7.0 or above.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

April 2019 Savings + other updates

Another month has whizzed by – late nights at work, gym sessions and nights out all  sort of melded together. Oh and GoT! 🙂

My spending usually starts hiking up over the spring/summer months so I really need to watch my eating out from now on, although looking at my diary, I’ve already got too many social events booked in and I have a full bank holiday weekend.

What else did I get up to in April? I was featured in a ‘Bloggers on Fire’ interview, went on a 7-mile walk, topped up my tan and also attended an ‘investment meet up’ – I’ll do a write up on this soon.

Although it looks like I’ve been doing a lot of late nights in the office, I’m not actually moaning or complaining, as things are actually pretty good at work. Business continues to grow so my volume of work has gone up. The work I do could be done at home but I don’t like working from home and I find that email or Skype tennis isn’t half as productive as face-to-face communication. I know there are ways I can work smarter but just need to smash through what I’ve got on at the moment.

Anyway, how did I get on in April with the numbers?

I saved 43.6%, only because much of my going out expenses went on my credit card so those will hit my numbers next month.

As predicted, I was not able to max out my 2018/19 ISA – I got up to £16,400 in the end and that included jiggling emergency cash and some matched betting funds into my cash ISA. I’m going to make a real attempt to max out the 2019/20 ISA, although it looks like I’ve made a poor start on this already with my spending! Must try harder.

The above savings includes top ups of £35 from TopCashback*, £200 matched betting profit (from last month) and £138.41 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 

The markets have been pretty buoyant lately as my Future Fund has shot up to £164,851.

Dividends and Other Income

A record-breaking month for dividends: Continue reading