August 2023 Savings, plus other updates

Apologies to readers who tried to visit the blog over the last couple of weeks and got:


My blog was ‘attacked’ and the attacks pushed me up to the maximum CPU seconds quota I’m allowed on my website hosting plan. Once the quota is reached, the website is made unavailable until the following month.

Such an attack on my blog has happened before, only on that occasion, I was able to block the IP/country where the attacks were coming from, so I didn’t end up hitting the CPU limit. Unfortunately, this time, I was on holiday when I was getting numerous messages like “The Web Application Firewall has blocked 101 attacks over the last 10 minutes.”

I had just enough of my CPU quota left to post my belated July update and then that was it for the month.

Have to admit that over the years, I’ve neglected the back-end stuff of my blog, so I guess I should read up/work on whether there’s anything I can do to try to prevent such attacks in the future. Still, apart from the blog being made unavailable for a period of time, at least the firewall did its job and all seems ok.

Anyway, August was a mixed bag of a month – a great holiday followed by post holiday blues/jetlag, celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday with a cocktail-making session and then catching COVID, which, whilst symptoms weren’t as bad as last time, still had me below par for a week. At least no lingering cough this time.

So how did I get on with my numbers?

I saved 14.1% of my net salary.  The above includes £49.72 from doing Prolific surveys and £10 from a charity lotto win.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Hmmm, not great to see the dreaded ‘submarine of doom’ on the graph after last month’s rocket! However, it could have been worse, the markets were looking really rubbish mid-month but fortunately, things stabilised somewhat and my Future Fund ended the month just slightly down at £232,947. 

That sideways movement is not a great motivator, but I will just keep on keeping on, as they say.

Dividends and Other Income

A good month for dividends.

Continue reading

July 2023 interim update

Just an update on the month with no numbers as decided to get this out while I could and there’s obviously one more working day for my portfolio numbers to change, dividends to be paid etc.

A blur of a month, felt like a lot was going on at home and at work.


Another year of being lucky with Wimbledon tickets, this time, I got to see a couple of cracking quarter-final matches. The weather was great and even the trains ran on time, so it was a great day out.


The news continues to be full of doom and gloom about the NHS but for me recently, the NHS continues to chug along, doing its thing in the background.

As well as getting invited for routine cervical screening, I’m now of an age where I also get invited for routine breast cancer and bowel cancer screening.

None of these screenings are particularly pleasant (although at least with the latter, I can do the test at home) but when I get these invitations, I will always attend/accept because it’s the only time it feels like ‘someone’ (other than myself) is looking out for me.

I got my results when they said I would get them (no issues) and that’s that for now, until the next screenings.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look after myself and my health so as to try to avoid relying on the NHS unnecessarily – sadly, it seems like all’s fine when you don’t really need them but perhaps a different story if/when you do.


I considered yet another ‘try before I retire’ activity, by attending a life drawing session for the first time.

The last formal ‘art lesson’ I had was when I was 13 before I chose my options at school (I ended up doing Physics instead of Art).  I’ve only ever really done doodles and cartoons so I wasn’t sure how to use charcoal or pastels.

Anyway, it was a challenging yet enjoyable experience, which I found ‘mind-opening’! There was no teaching or guidance, it was just a free-for-all, with attendees’ skills ranging from enthusiastic beginners to more experienced artists. My friends thought my drawings were good but all I could see were the imperfections.

Budget constraints mean I probably won’t attend many of these sessions but I will certainly see what kind of free online resources I can find so that I can improve my drawing skills. And now I’ve found another thing which I enjoy doing, which I can do in retirement.


Having just completed sitting his GCSE exams, my nephew did a week’s work experience at our company. It was weird seeing him in the office and I resisted being a ‘helicopter aunt’, largely avoiding him so he could just be himself.

A product of independent schooling, colleagues commented positively on his confidence and ease at dealing with adults in a new/strange environment.  In his words, he ‘learned a bit and had a right laugh’ (he was with the Marketing team). I’ve also gone up a point in the ‘cool aunt’ stakes as he reckons I work for a good company! 🙂


I used my birthday money to buy a lawnmower (a small Flymo). Thus far, I’d been mowing the lawn with a strimmer, a bit time consuming but quite successfully, I might add.

The strimmer however is an antique, a 40 year old Black & Decker model, and while it still functions, it’s on its last legs so should probably just be used for edging and borders.

Since the new lawnmower has massively reduced mowing time, it has meant that I’ve been able to squeeze in ‘fast cuts’ during brief sunny periods before downpours – yay!

And finally, Friends Fired

I was surprised (but also not so surprised) to learn recently that a couple of my uni friends (we were course mates) have retired at the age of 55.

I wasn’t surprised because they were always the poster couple who I thought would ‘make it big in life’. Met at uni, they were the first of our bunch of friends to get a mortgage (so grown up!), theirs was the first wedding I attended without my parents, they had 3 children in quick succession, in between both juggling what appeared to be hugely successful careers.

However, I was surprised they would retire early due to the ever increasing size of their house (the last one I was aware of was a 6-bed mansion) and his penchant for tinkering with classic cars. Success has come to them through ambition and hard work (as far as I can tell) but it looks like once all their offspring had finished uni/schooling, they evidently realised they had ‘enough’, and decided enough was enough.

They’ve never mentioned FIRE before (but who does?), yet in true FIRE-fashion, they first trialled and then bought a motorhome and will be making some road trips in that! It’s been a while since I caught up with them properly so I hope to find out more when I see them next.

A recent message to me was “Retirement is fab, do it as soon as you can!” Believe me, I’m trying! 😀

Anyway, need to finish my packing for my hols – will sort out a numbers update when I get back.

Hope you all had a great July!

May 2023 Savings, plus other updates

May unexpectedly saw me embarking on another property purchase.

It can only be described as an impulsive buy as I really had not planned on buying but after viewing it online (I was not able to view it in person), I just had to go ahead with the purchase.

Madness? Probably Definitely. Did I mention impulsive?

It’s a detached, 3-bed, new build with no chain, and I didn’t have time to sort out conveyancing.

Given that high mortgage interest rates are showing no signs of dropping, I decided that this had to be a cash purchase.

No refurb or decorating will be required which suits me perfectly, only the odd fixtures and fittings perhaps. I just need to find tenants for it now, hoping for some viewings any time soon.

The yield on this property will be non-existent, with no chance of capital gains either.  However, I didn’t buy this property for financial gain, but to benefit the community.

Yes folks, I am now the owner of an insect hotel, or ‘Air-Bee-n-Bee’! 😀 😀

It’s been located at the other end of the garden, basically as far as it could go as I would rather not live too close to these neighbours, haha!

One of my friends has one and says she has bees (solitary bees) living in hers every year.  No idea if mine is actually attractive to insects, so might have to cope with some ‘void periods’ or resign myself to the fact that I’ve just spent a tenner on a garden ornament!

Yes, I know this seems to contradict last month’s post where I bought a plant to eat insects but I don’t mind insects in the garden, pollinating my plants, just don’t like/want them in my house!

Anyway, May was a pretty good month, with sunny days and lots of bank holidays to provide some much needed R&R as I’ve been providing cover for both my boss and another team member.

The good news at work is that they have rolled out Bupa medical cover, which is great as I know how expensive such cover costs if I had to buy it personally.

The bad news is that my boss has come back from holiday and handed in his notice. I’m sad he’s going as we get on and he leaves me to get on with my work, but I felt none of the devastation I felt when my previous boss announced she was leaving. Oh well, we’ll see what happens there.

In other news, I’ve just paid for my next trip to Hong Kong, the most I’ve ever paid (over £1.5k just for an economy class flight!), which had to all go onto the credit card so I’ll be on a tighter budget for the next month or so.

So, how did I get on with my savings?

I saved 17.6% of my net salary.  The above includes £70.11 from doing Prolific surveys and £20 from matched betting profits.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

My Future Fund seems to be going nowhere fast but at least it’s not going down! At month end, the total was £230,322.

Dividends and Other Income

A good month for dividends.

Continue reading

April 2023 Savings, plus other updates

April was a bit of a spendy month.

Enjoyed a couple of social outings, one of them being the Manchester FIRE pub meet last Friday.

Also, unusually for me, I intentionally went clothes shopping. I haven’t done this in a long time as it’s not something I particularly enjoy doing, but with my preferred hipster/low-waist jeans back in fashion, I had to pick up a couple of new pairs to supplement my old ones (still fitting me from the 90s but looking rather shabby!).

I know many people these days just get their clothes online, but I’m old-fashioned and prefer to try before I buy. The only time I buy clothes online is if I’ve tried the exact item previously instore. Plus, I can’t be faffed with returning items which don’t fit.

It’s the first shopping trip I’ve been on in a long while and the first items of clothing I’ve purchased since the Marie Kondo 50% cull of my wardrobe in 2021 prior to my house move (with the exception of gym wear/underwear).

During Easter, I went on a traditional bank holiday outing to B&Q and took advantage of the gorgeous weather to paint all my garden fences (front and back). As well as paint, I also came away with a plant (more on this later) – B&Q is one of those places where you inevitably always end up buying something that wasn’t on your shopping list! However, I deliberately didn’t get a trolley or basket so there was only so much I could carry – the 12L tub of paint was heavy on its own! The tricks one must do to stop ourselves from spending needlessly, haha!

Anyway, some good news at work was that I received the maximum performance-related pay rise offered by my company, which was 5%, the same as last year.  Again, nowhere near inflation-busting, but still, I’ll take it for what it is, since annual increases are not guaranteed.

This new bit of extra pay will just get swallowed up by bills as it looks like everything has gone up for me, apart from water and tv licence.

Right, enough waffle, how did I get on in April?

I saved 17% of my net salary.  The above includes £41.78 from doing Prolific surveys and £20 from matched betting profits.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

No apparent drastic events to rock the stock markets, so my Future Fund moved up a small notch, to £231,955.

Dividends and Other Income

A fairly average month for dividends.

Continue reading