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

February 2020 Savings, plus other updates

After a month of doing nothing in particular, February was a month where I was busy with something pretty much every weekend. I did have an post I wanted to put up last week but will publish next week instead.

Firstly, I’ve only gone and joined the W.I, that is, the Women’s Institute in Manchester. Like you, I too thought it was for ‘older women’, into their baking, knitting, making jam etc (I’m not interested in any of these) but when I turned up to the first meeting, I was surprised to see that I was actually one of those ‘older women’! The average age must have been around late 20s or early 30s.

Why did I join? It was one of those things which I thought I would do once I’d retired and I realised that there was nothing to stop me from joining now. Good for networking, good for establishing new interests and I got to meet and chat with some nice young women. Not sure how much time I can throw into this right now but I will make some time for it.

Anyway, before I continue with what else I got up to, some of you must be itching to see what my numbers are so here goes…

I saved 33.3% – my spending on social activities took its toll this month.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 matched betting profits (from last month), another £25 premium bond win and £77.31 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund (** Coronavirus ALERT **)

With the stock markets going into chaos caused by Covid-19, my Future Fund stands at £180,751, which is more or less back to what it was in September last year. That’s down 4% since last month.

To say that I’m not feeling a little fearful would be a lie – of course I’m a little scared, both of the virus and what it’s doing to my investments.

However, I’m going to stick with my plan. I got paid today, so my usual investment was made into my ISA. I’ve heard some people are keeping aside cash to invest at the bottom – who knows when stocks will be at rock-bottom, I will just invest when I have the cash and hope that I will scoop up some bargains along the way.

Dividends and Other Income

The bottom has fallen out of the stock markets but like clockwork, my dividends continue to roll in: Continue reading

January 2020 Savings, other updates + next FIRE meet

A bit late but I couldn’t get myself organised over the weekend to post.

A quiet month social-wise, not a lot happened – aside from recovering from having my tooth extracted following a recent visit to the dentist (it’s only just healing up now 🙁 ), much of it was spent reading, making the most of my £1.60 Now TV 3-month subscription (binge-watching Billions), working out in the gym and generally relaxing at home.

Work is nicely busy – some good news is that firstly, it looks like I should get my annual bonus and secondly, they’ve announced that they will be increasing their pension contribution to 5%! Woohoo!!

Anyway, another great start to the year for my Premium Bonds with a win of £50 – the first of many I hope!

So, how did I get on with my savings in the first month of the year?

I saved 40.8%, which isn’t too bad a start.

The above savings includes top ups from £90 matched betting profits (from last month), the £50 premium bond win, £33.81 from TopCashback* and £77.60 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

A small investment in BlackRock World Mining Trust for some further diversification,  with the rest going on existing investments. Keep calm, carry on investing.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Jittery markets as a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus saw my Future Fund not moving much at £188,361, despite new cash invested.

Dividends and Other Income

A low month for dividends: Continue reading

Only Sixty Left

The other day, standing in a packed tram and having just finished reading my book, rather than dig out my phone to aimlessly scroll through Twitter, I started to idly think about my goal to FIRE.

My stretch goal (now my actual goal) is to FIRE at the end of 2024. This is in about 5 years’ time, which really isn’t that far away. I’m over half-way there.

And then it suddenly hit me.

Assuming that I will be continuously employed, this means that I only have 60 more pay days from my employer!

If not gainfully employed all that time, then less than 60!

Rather than think ‘Hurray, only 60 more pay days til I can stop working!’, I felt a flutter of doubt and fear about my numbers. Numbers which I have checked and rechecked numerous times over the years.

What if it’s not enough!?

I did the maths and the resulting number (ie 60 x my monthly salary) on its own added to my current pot is not enough for me to FIRE.

But I don’t save the full amount, do I? My savings rate is around 40-odd percent which means that based on my current savings rate, I’ll not be in sniffing distance of what I need.

Of course, there’s a chance that I might get a pay rise or two in that time and the occasional bonus, but such increases/bonuses will have a minimal effect.  I’m not looking to move to another job if I can help it, so no big hike in salary from switching companies.

I will therefore be relying heavily on growth and income from my investments to get me past the finish line. Oh and a lot of LUCK, in regards to sequence of returns risk.

What Will I Do?

Over the next 60 months, I will need to continue to remain focused, to be mindful of my spending whilst still continuing to lead and enjoy what I consider to be a normal life.

Over the next 60 months, I need to continue making extra cash via matched betting and ensuring that I continue to bank/invest any affiliate income I receive from the blog, plus any lotto or premium bond winnings.

While my sis and nephew are living with me, I need to make the most of the extra contribution to bills.

Proverbial Spanner

There will of course be obstacles for me to overcome, expenses which will try to wreck my plans.

Barely 3 weeks into the year and a spanner has already been tossed into the works.

Over the weekend, one of the crowns on my back teeth loosened and fell out, causing pain and discomfort. I went to the dentist and he told me what I was half expecting but not wanting to hear: my tooth is broken and needs to be extracted.

After extraction, the two teeth on either side of the resulting gap will be checked to see  if they are strong enough to support a bridge, cost will be around £600.

If not, then it’s highly likely that I will need to have an implant which will cost an eye-watering £2k! 🙁  It’s not on the NHS as it’s classed as cosmetic work and I’ve already used up my dental cover provision this claim period (which would only cover £100 in any case!)

Leaving a gap is not an alternative –  I won’t be able to chew properly on that side of my mouth, plus there could be a risk that my teeth could move or twist into the gap.

I can’t go through the rest of my life not being able to eat properly, so it’s a needs must.

Fortunately, I won’t have to pay the £2k in one go but my trusty emergency fund will take its biggest hammering so far and will need to be replenished. This in turn will affect my savings rate.

£2k pretty much wipes out one of my pay days, so it’s now just 59 more to go! YIKES!

How?

How has this suddenly turned into a situation where I feel like I am running out of time (to save for FIRE), instead of joyfully counting down the time until I no longer need to work?

This is the goal I have set for myself, what I have been aiming for all these years.

I think this big dental cost is giving me negative vibes – I’m normally a glass half-full kind of person.

Time to go over those numbers once more…