2017 Goals and some New Stuff

Happy belated New Year to you all!

The only thing that I’m certain of this year is that it will be different.

There’s a good chance that it will be better (I started it off with a great holiday!) but as there’s no guarantee, there’s also a chance that it could be worse… In any case, I’ll be doing my utmost for it not to be the latter!

Anyway, back to the main topic…Goals!

I only set 5 goals last year and the focus on just a few goals seemed to work well for me so I’m going to do something similar for 2017.

So without further ado, here they are:

2017 Financial Goals:

  • Average 50% savings rate – Same old, same old! I have not been able to achieve this goal yet (3 attempts so far!) but I just feel that if I can nail this (while working), and continue to keep my living expenses down, it’s the best way to make progress on increasing my Future Fund.  A very challenging one in any case, considering my current unemployed status but hey, may as well aim high! This month and the next two will be covered by my pay in lieu of notice so I will aim for 50% for these 3 months anyway – will see what happens after.
  • £1,500 total dividend income – Last year, I surprisingly hit the £1,000 milestone in total dividend income. This is another tough goal, as in order to increase my dividend income, I need to invest more capital. Transferring my work DC pension to one of my SIPPs will help towards this goal, as I’ll stick the transferred funds into income-paying ETFs. If I can get an average of >£100 per month, I’ll be very, very happy.
  • Earn £4,000 Matched Betting (MB) income – This number may not seem very ambitious considering the earning potential of MB but I still think this won’t be an easy one for me. Given that I’m not working, I could/should be doing some MB during the day but that doesn’t appeal to me and I still consider MB a hobby, I don’t want it to become a chore. There’s also the real threat of getting more of my betting accounts ‘gubbed’, (where I can no longer take advantage of free bets etc) but let’s hope I can continue to rake in the profits.

2017 Non-Financial Goals

  • Borrow and read 20 library books – The same as last year’s goal. Borrowing from the library means that I spend less on books but also means that I am supporting my local library services. I’m going to try to read a total of 30 books this year (I track my progress here via Goodreads), of which at least 20 must be borrowed from the library.
  • Read 3 non-fiction books – Last year’s goal was reading 3 finance-related/investment books. This year, I’ll broaden it out to just topics that interest me (including financial and investment topics). Doesn’t sound like much but as I’ve said before, my passion is reading fiction so this is a challenge for me! Hopefully, I can borrow them from the library so I can work on two goals at the same time!

Charity Goal – Down the Toilet?

As per last year, I will continue to donate at least 10% of my MB profits to charity, so if I hit my MB goal this year, that will be £400. The main charities I donate to regularly are Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, British Red Cross and Magic Breakfast. I also fund ‘charity loans’ via Kiva.

However, the first donation I’ve made this year was to sponsor TheFireStarter to run the London Marathon in April. Check out his fundraising page here.

Anyway, this year I will set myself a charity goal, which will be with Toilet Twinning:

Tearfund, registered charity No. 265464 (England and Wales)

2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo1, something that we’ve taken for granted every day of our lives.

Toilet Twinning is a simple way to solve a serious problem and save lives.

You can twin your loo (like towns are twinned) with a latrine halfway around the world, in a country of your choosing. For a larger donation, you can twin with a school block or with toilets in a displacement camp.

My goal is to twin with a School Block of toilets (donate £240), as well as continuing to support above-mentioned charities. My donation will help build a block of toilets at a school, providing safe, clean and hygienic sanitation and also help fund hygiene education and clean water projects.

While Huw’s formidably aiming to build an entire school with his charity aims, I’m just going for the loos – small but just as important, we all know what it’s like when we need to go! 😉

The lack of a loo in certain developing countries makes women and girls a target for sexual assault as they go to the toilet in the open. Many get bitten by snakes as they squat in the grass! Having no toilets to go to in school, girls often drop out at puberty.

I hope my donations will make a difference to people’s lives.

New Stuff

The following aren’t goals as such but new things that I will be doing in 2017:

  • New Job – I will have a new job at some point.
  • New Hobby – When thinking about what I want to do in my spare time when I’m retired, learning to play a musical instrument is high on my list. Although I’m not musical at all – I didn’t progress past the recorder and glockenspiel at school and I don’t think the triangle counts, haha – playing an instrument has always been something I’ve fancied doing. Anyway, I thought, why wait til I’m retired? So, that’s how I came to buy an instrument while I was out in Hong Kong, which I brought back with me! I’ll reveal more info in a later post! 🙂
  • New Exercise – I found out recently that there’s a place near me where all comers can play netball. I was on the school team so the last time I played was when I was 17! Following the recommendation of one of my ex-colleagues, I thought I’ll check this out – I’ll attend my first session in the next two weeks. The extra exercise will supplement my gym classes as I need to shift some post-holiday poundage! Unfortunately, I’m suffering from a bad cold at the moment, so exercise isn’t on the forefront of my mind.
  • New Man – errrrr…we’ll see! 😉

So that’s it for my goals – did you set any goals for 2017?

If so, good luck! 🙂

 (footnote 1 –  also known as toilet, lavatory, WC, bog, privy or bathroom, plus some other names not mentioned!)

December 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

Hi all, I’m back! 🙂

I’ll talk about my hols in a later post but right now, I need to get my final 2016 numbers out, plus an update on how I did against my goals.

Apologies in advance for this long post but here goes…

My savings rate in December was 40.6%, resulting in an overall average in 2016 of 44.9%. Although it meant that I failed in my goal, I’m pretty satisfied as I was able to beat 2015’s savings rate of 43.7%!

December’s savings was boosted by £122.25 affiliate income from Siteground* and Oddsmonkey*, £100 from rent received and £100 from matched betting winnings.

Future Fund 

With the crippled £ sterling continuing its slide, my Future Fund got a big boost, up to £91,101. The number looks good on paper/online and I’m a bit giddy that it’s getting closer and closer to that coveted £100k milestone. However, I’m not kidding myself that things are all rosy – the UK is poorer as a result of this currency slide and of course, at some point, the stock market will come crashing down again.

Net Worth

I’ve not mentioned my net worth in a while, only because it’s not something I regularly track. Anyway, my net worth is now £163,004, an increase of 39% from the start of 2016.

I have no idea what a ‘good’ net worth number should be so I’ll just say that I think that’s a pretty good increase!

Dividends and Other Income

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

End of an Era

I hadn’t really given much thought to my redundancy lately – that is, until I received my P45 in amongst my Christmas cards in the post last week! Yep, it’s really happening!

My severance pay hit my bank account on Friday and I immediately shifted funds around various high interest current accounts and also put some in Premium Bonds.

As this money is ear-marked to be spent on normal living costs, it’s all staying in cash, not in investments and none of it has been added to my Future Fund – not until I get another job.

I’m also not planning to ‘treat myself’ with any of it – there’s nothing really that I want, although I will use some of it to buy some new work clothes which I will need for my next job.

I’ve been pretty good on the clothes/shoes shopping front – I bought a grand total of 3 tops and one pair of trainers – all year! So yes, I do think it’s time I bought some new decent work gear.

End of an Era

So today was my last day at work. It was kind of surreal saying goodbye to people I’ve worked with for the past 21 years – some of whom I will keep in touch with, others I’ll probably never see again.

There had been lots of tears when a large number of people had departed on Black Friday, but I’ve never been one to cry at work so I held it all in (I noticed I was shaking a little as I handed in my laptop and security pass) until as I was driving out of the work car park for the last time and I shed a few little tears.

What Now?

I’m shortly off on my extended holiday (about a month) to Hong Kong, so there won’t be any new blog posts for a while.

I’ll do a belated December update/round up and something on my goals for 2017 upon my return late in January.

So, there’s nothing else for me to say really, except:

Millionaire Next Door

I purchased the book ‘The Millionaire Next Door‘ by Thomas J Stanley  & William Danko second-hand, from Amazon.

Inside was a handwritten inscription:

“Cindy,
Merry Christmas 1999.
Here’s to the First Million!
Love [unreadable name]”

At first glance, it looked like ‘Cindy’ hadn’t even bothered to open the book as it was in pristine condition, with no creasing in the spine or cover and it had all the appearance of having been left on a shelf with other unread books.

However, throughout the book, there were a few handwritten notes and certain paragraphs were underlined, so she did at least have a read of it.

Millionaire Folk

In a nutshell, from the results of an extensive survey, the book depicts how folk on above average salaries (mostly but not exclusively entrepreneurs/self-employed) become millionaires and maintain their millionaire status by living below their means, budgeting, not succumbing to consumerism, investing their money and making the most of opportunities to make money.

Sound familiar?

Those who regularly read the various FI/PF blogs will feel like they’ve read all this before and bought the t-shirt – I found that the book did seem to be covering some ‘old ground’ but  there were interesting examples and stats.

I guess it was worth reading first hand the book which many people have cited as being inspiring and changing their way of thinking how they live their lives and how they view ‘wealthy’ or ‘rich’ folk.  None of  the millionaires in question achieved their wealth via inheritance or lottery wins.

It had me checking out my own neighbours and wondering which ones were possibly millionaires.

Becoming a Millionaire

It sounds like the person who bought this book for Cindy thought that it would be a guide on how to become a millionaire.

Perhaps it is, but in order to become a millionaire, it helps if:

  • you earn a decent income ($70,000 per year is cited, although the book was written in 1998, so a much higher salary might be needed today);
  • you marry someone who is good at budgeting and is frugal;
  • your grown up children (if you have any) are also frugal;
  • you buy your cars second-hand instead of new;
  • you invest your money and spend time planning your investments

What If?

I’ve never had any real aspirations to become a millionaire – it has only ever been a dream for me and sadly, a dream which involved winning the lottery!

I did wonder what would have happened if, like Cindy, someone had gifted this book to me in 1999, a time when I was probably at my most ‘spendy’ and deep in credit card debt.

If I had read it back then, it would certainly have been a complete revelation and could have changed my financial outlook – I could have been well on my way to achieving FI much earlier in life.

The reality however is that I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to read it and it would have been on a bookshelf gathering dust. The person I was in 1999 would not have been mentally prepared for a lifestyle change, nor I’d say, be willing to change.

The good news is that I don’t need to be millionaire to retire early. Or even a half-millionaire (Semi-millionaire? I’m making up words here!).

Like the successful millionaires interviewed in the book, I think I know what my “enough” is and I’ve shown over these last couple of years that I won’t succumb to life-style inflation.

I just need to keep plugging away at the savings and investing to keep my wealth ticking up.

I wonder if Cindy ever became a millionaire?

Anyway, the completion of this book means that I have achieved one of my reading goals – yay!