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

Microfiction #1 – Fire

I wasn’t sure at first that I would take part but here’s my entry into Marc@FinanceYourFire’s Microfiction Series. He states a word (in this case ‘fire’) and participants are asked to write a short story (less than 350 words) on the subject. Head over to the article to see his own and any other entries.

*Disclaimer* I’m not an aspiring writer – the idea just came to me as I was sitting on the tram on the way home from work. Quite why I was thinking such thoughts is anyone’s guess…

Here goes:

The girl stood there alone, waiting.

Trembling a little.

Fear or anticipation?

Trying to steady her breathing.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. In, out, in out.

She tried to relax her hands but the hands seemed no longer hers to command. They were the hands of a killer.

She was a killer. Wasn’t she? That’s what they were all saying.

She watched him approach.

Small beads of sweat formed rivulets down her brow, stinging her eyes.

The girl blinked rapidly to clear her vision and swayed to one side, just as Teacher’s heavy fist came crashing towards her face without warning.

It missed by a hair’s breadth, but she reared back a split second too slow for his elbow, which glanced off her chin, causing her to stagger sideways.

She had bitten her tongue, the blood tasted of old metal.

Teacher stepped forwards to grab her and she pivoted, spinning to try to get behind him but his grasping fingers caught hold of her hair.

The girl cursed herself for not taking the time to tie it up. Or shave it all off.

She struggled this way and that, twisting to avoid the onslaught of his kicks and punches. Two blows smashed into the side of her head making her see stars, but she managed to prise away a few fingers and wheeled away, leaving him holding a clump of long brown strands in his gnarly hands.

Her scalp was on fire. Blood dripped from her left ear.

Her breathing came out in ragged gasps and she made the effort to control it again.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. In, out, in out.

“You were always such a disappointment,” said Teacher, with a little sigh.

The girl grinned, showing her blood-smeared teeth.

No more running.

The time for respect was over.

“You were always my favourite teacher,” she said. “But not anymore.”

Teacher thought she sounded sad but as he looked into her eyes, he saw only death.

As the girl stepped calmly towards him, Teacher hesitated.

His final error.

Want to Twin Your Toilet?

In my 2019 goals, I mentioned my pledge to donate at least 10% of my matched betting (MB) profits to charity.

So far this year, I’ve donated £134 and with my MB profits standing at around the £1.4k mark at the last count, I’m pretty much there or thereabouts.

I’m now in a position to donate a further £60 to twin my first toilet (of two) this year.

Since I’ve already twinned both the toilets in my house (here and here), I’d like to gift this next toilet twinning to a lucky reader.

How to Win

All you have to do is drop me a comment below and you’ll be put in the draw to win a framed photo of your twinned toilet. Simples! 🙂 This draw is open to UK readers only.

The winner will be picked out of the hat Easter Monday evening – I will contact the winner by email so please ensure you have up to date email details.

How does this benefit the Charity?

I first came across the Toilet Twinning initiative after seeing a framed photo of a twinned toilet in some pub loo! It inspired me to read more about it and to support the charity.

So, the hope here is that the winner will proudly display said framed photo of their twinned toilet for all who use their loo to see and the charity benefits as the word and idea is spread.

Anyway, on that note, I hope you all have a very happy Easter break – I for one can’t wait as I’m pretty exhausted from work and need a couple of days to empty my head of stuff and catch up on my blog reading as I’m very behind on reading and commenting.

Freetrade App Review

Back in May 2018,  I invested in Freetrade, a new stockbroker app, via CrowdCube.

It went on to become the most over-funded equity offering.

Anyway, after what felt like the longest wait ever, the app was finally available for download for Android today – here’s the Forbes’ announcement.

So, nearly a year after my crowdfunding investment, I have finally been able to download the app (after initially taking part in their beta-test). IOS users have been using the app since October so yes, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting all this time to try it out.

Search for stocks under ‘Discover’

What can I say, except that I can’t describe the feeling of being able to buy very small amounts of shares without being charged a trading fee!

The app is slick, responsive, simple yet aesthetically pleasing.

How will Freetrade make Money?

It operates a freemium business model, which anyone who plays ‘free’ games on their phones will be familiar with – you get a great basic app for free but if you want some bells and whistles, there’s a small cost.

In Freetrade’s case, basic buy/sell trades are all bunched together and executed for free at around 4pm on a working day. Great for someone like me who’s not bothered about price or timing the market.

However, if you want to buy/sell immediately, it costs a £1. For people used to paying £10-£12 per execution, this is a huge difference. Hell, I might even be tempted to part with the odd £1 occasionally for a quick sale/purchase!  Current pricing can be viewed here. At some point, Alpha accounts will be introduced, for a monthly fee, providing discount on instant trades and other services.

One of the reasons I’m more of a passive investor is because with conventional brokers, actively trading too much adds to high costs, eating into my gains.

These free trades or low fee trades are kind of dangerous.

My ‘test’ portfolio

How so?  The free/low cost trading might actually encourage some to over-trade, tempting people to buy/sell on a whim.

Or not. I guess it depends on what type of investor you are. At the end of the day, no big fees when you want to re-balance your portfolio or want to take advantage of some low prices, so definitely a win.

I think this app might well change the way I invest – previously, I waited for dividends to accumulate up to a minimum of £100 before I reinvested once a month (using my platform’s £1.50 regular investing facility).

With Freetrade, I will be able to invest when there’s just a few quid of dividend cash in the account, so my cash in the account will be invested a lot quicker.

Apologies that my cheap Android phone doesn’t do the app any justice in the screenshots as it’s only got a small screen.

You might get a better view of the screens here.

Android Compatibility

Speaking of cheap Android phone, the app is only compatible with Android version 7.0 and above. My current phone is on Android 6 so yes, I picked up a new basic handset just so that I could use the app! (thanks @Chris Perry for reminding me to add this to the post!)

What’s on Offer?

At the time of writing, ISAs were availabe for IOS users, priced at a fixed £3 per month (from July 2019 – it’s currently free).

ISAs should be available for Android users from next month and I will be setting up my 2019/20 ISA with them to see how it goes. I’m not sure if ISAs can be transferred just yet but it’s definitely in the pipeline.

Basic graph thingy…

At the moment, the choice of investments is nowhere near what you have available with say Hargreaves Lansdown, but pretty much all of the FTSE100 is available, much of the FTSE 250, many ETFs, a few investment trusts and also numerous US shares – FANG stocks anyone?

New stocks are being added all the time (albeit slowly) while the team concentrate on continuing to improve the app.

Topping Up

At the moment, the only way to top up my Freetrade account is by bank transfer (you have to link a bank account to the app).

Top up via Apple Pay is available for iPhone users and I believe other methods of topping up will be added in time.

So it’s not as handy as topping up via debit card which I’m able to do right now with my other platforms, but it’s no great inconvenience doing the bank transfer.

Google Play store is showing a load of one star reviews, received when the company made the decision a few months back to allow the app to be downloaded, only to place the people in a queue.

For people who read the blurb and were expecting this, fine; for those who didn’t and were expecting a fully working model, they one-starred it. Hopefully, there will now be better (and more accurate) reviews now that the fully-working model has been delivered. Apparently, there have been over 20k downloads already.

There is still plenty of scope for improvement and the Freetrade team continue to work on the development of the app to incorporate functionalities we’ve become used to with other brokers (eg ISA transfers, SIPPs etc) and other functions, such as being able to buy fractions of shares (US only). Here is their open product roadmap, documenting what they are working on.

I’ve not tried to do any research of stocks or other investments on the app – right now, I prefer to do my research from other websites, so improving this area isn’t a biggie for me but some users have mentioned that there wasn’t enough research/news material. All in good time, I guess.

Also, checking my portfolio on my phone is something quite new to me as I do pretty much all my investing on pc or laptop. Hopefully, this might mean that I won’t be too tempted to tinker…

One thing I’m really looking forward to doing is ultimately having my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio on here as it will be the perfect platform to run the experimental portfolio. I might even reconsider doing another Monkey Stocks portfolio – let me have a think about that!

Another thing I’m interested in, is seeing Freetrade added to Monevator’s broker comparison table – if I were a gambling woman, I’d put money on Freetrade being the cheapest!

Anyway, with Freetrade being FCA registered and investments being covered by the FSCS, I can’t wait to continue to build my portfolio using this app.

[Disclaimer – Aside from being an investor in the Freetrade company, I have no affiliation whatsoever with Freetrade (ie this is not a sponsored post) and this is not a recommendation to download the app (although, why not? 🙂 ). There are no referral links in this post]