June 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Into month 4 of lockdown and if I’m honest, I’m not in a hurry for things to change (apart from a much-needed haircut!).

No plans to venture into any pubs on ‘Super Saturday‘ – I’ll make do with socialising online a while longer.

The woods near where I live

This month, it was my birthday and I celebrated by going for a nice walk in the woods, a boozy Zoom night in with friends and my sis cooked me a steak dinner.

We’ve had some lovely hot days, which would have been more enjoyable had I not been working.  I’ve got a ton of holidays left so I’d better start using them up.

As well as the hot days, we had the typical rainy ones too and I spent such time engrossed with The Great British Sewing Bee, which I think I enjoyed more than the better known The Great British Bake Off, probably because I’m a better seamstress than I am a baker!

There was an online Manchester FIRE meet up, which was fun and interesting. Although I really enjoyed the meet ups we had in the pub, these online ones meant that people from afar could dial in, including various people from London and even one lady from Uruguay!

The next meet up is Friday 21st August – sign up to Meet Up for the details (time and Zoom link).

I’m trying my not-very-green-fingered hand at growing vegetables and whilst I’m nowhere near the level of expertise as Jase of FIRE Lifestyle, I hope I’ll be able to share some photos of the fruits of my labours at some point! The veggies I’m trying to grow are green beans, carrots, potatoes and cherry tomatoes.

At work, our office has reopened and those who want to go back in have done so and although it looks like they’ve made the place appear safe, I’m in no rush to return. At some point, I do want to go in to retrieve some things from my locker and I guess it would be nice to see some of my colleagues.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 66.8% of my net salary!  I received a credit card refund for my Wimbledon tennis tickets, so an extra £180 got chucked into my ISA.

The above savings includes top ups from yet another £25 premium bond win, £10 lotto winnings (from charity lottery) and £68.91 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 

The stock market continues to do its own thing without a care for what’s happening in the world.

My Future Fund stands at £192,197, which means it’s finally higher than what it was at the start of the year, so all losses have been recouped (not counting capital deployed in the last few months).

Still looking ‘V’ shaped

Heading back in the right direction but really, who knows for certain?

Dividends and Other Income

What dividends did I receive? Continue reading

Dogs of the FTSE 2019/20 – final update + Random Shares

After an awesome 2018/19 when my 2nd experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio romped home with 8.77% gains (16% including dividends), I was stupidly quietly confident that they would do the same again for 2019/20.

Sadly, like everyone else, I hadn’t counted on the pandemic.

Plague Dogs

So one year on and my 3rd experimental portfolio has been quite a disaster, to put it bluntly.

As a reminder, here’s the Dogs of the FTSE strategy:

  1. Choose the ten FTSE 100 shares with the highest yield (subject to my criteria*)
  2. Invest equal amounts in all ten shares
  3. Hold for a year (give or take a week)
  4. At the end of the year, sell the ones no longer in the top ten, replace with new shares with highest yield
  5. Repeat from step 3

[*criteria being that shares already in my portfolio are not included, nor any where a dividend cut has been announced]

Here’s how the 2019/20 portfolio looked after a year (as at 8th June 2020):

Ouch – look at all the red numbers!

An overall loss of -20.09%-15.46% if you include dividends paid out.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was -9.60%.

Only one of the Dogs showed showed any significant profit (Persimmon) so a woeful performance overall.

What Next?

It’s always been my intention to run this as a (minimum) 5-year experiment so the Dogs will be back for their 4th outing very soon.

There’s likely to be a brutal culling – mangy mutts hopefully replaced by Dogs with a bit more pedigree!

I’ll get this new portfolio set up soon, so will do an update in a couple of weeks.

Random Shares

My Random Share Portfolio is made up of free shares awarded to me whenever someone signs up to Freetrade* via my affiliate link, bagging us both a random free share (worth between £3 and £200) in the process.

Here’s the full portfolio – it’s gotten a bit too big to do a full copy and paste.

One of the free shares I received recently

Thanks to all who have signed up via my link – hope you all got a decent free share!

I’ve actually sold a couple during the recent market recovery (whenever any showed >40% gains) and replaced them with more random shares.

Until next time – keep calm and carry on investing!

[*affiliate link]

May 2020 Savings, plus other updates

11 weeks of staying at home and the ‘lockdown me’ is just getting on with life.

Whoever invented this is to blame for my expanded lockdown waistline!

My hair is the longest it’s ever been and I waiver daily over whether to keep my greys or bolt for the hairdresser’s as soon as their doors are opened so I can hide them for a while longer.

My waistline has expanded somewhat and my weight is up – not enough exercise, too much comfort food. I look forward to my gym reopening so I can revert to my previous fitness/strength levels.

I have a fantastic glowing tan, courtesy of the wonderful weather we’ve had; I’ve been enjoying a lot more sleep and have loved spending time reading (books) and watching boxed sets. I’m still currently employed.

Work sent out a ‘Back to Work’ survey form for everyone to complete – I responded that I didn’t have a need to return to the office as I could work comfortably from home, but that I would go in if I had to, as long as I felt safe.  One of my friends has already been told by her work that she will be working from home for the rest of the year.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 60% of my net salary.  Aside from groceries, the only things I purchased this month were some plant pots. If I can keep this up, it’ll be the first time ever that I will have achieved my savings rate goal.

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 

The stock market continues to show no correlation whatsoever with what’s going on in the world.

My Future Fund stands at £186,988, only a couple of grand down from the beginning of the year, so almost a complete recovery (if you exclude the extra capital I’ve invested these past few months).

‘V’ recovery, or the beginnings of a ‘W’?

It could be the calm before the storm of a global recession – who knows?

As the great late Jack Bogle said, “Nobody knows nothing”, so I continue stick to my plan and invest on a monthly basis.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but it was a good month overall: Continue reading

Information Overload

I think I’ve been suffering from information overload or rather, infoxication.

From originally wanting to know everything about the pandemic and the economic and health repercussions of the virus, I’m at the point where it’s just getting overwhelming for my poor brain and sanity to cope with.

I feel that all I need to know right now are actual specifics about lockdown and how it will affect me personally (ie when and what is being relaxed, who I can meet up with and where) and from my employer, when/if I’ll be going back to the office.

That’s it.

I really don’t need or want to know any more. I used to watch the daily Coronavirus update but even that was getting a bit too much.

At some point in the future, I might be interested in reading more about what the various experts and governments around the world should have/shouldn’t have done but I’d rather read about it as a historical event which I lived through – that’s assuming I will live through this.

Maybe HBO will do a Chernobyl-like mini-series about it to dramatise all the lies and incompetence but also pay homage to the brave and the inspirational.

I’ve tried to cut back on my use of social media.

The weekly Zoom calls I have with my friends are great but also remind me how much I miss them.

I still check out Twitter for my business/investing news and although I haven’t unfollowed or blocked anyone, I’ve muted a LOT of people who were just spouting negativity. I know things will get worse,  I just don’t want to be bombarded with this fact every day in a hundred different ways.

Give me more stories about Captain Tom Moore.

I’m still reading other FIRE blogs as many are continuing with their goals and there’s still a sense of positivity, whether they’re volunteering or even when there’s been redundancy.

I’m sooooo glad that the German football league has started as my feed will now have a trickle of positive but irrelevant tweets.

I’m really craving reading something that I’m interested in but which has nothing to do with whether people are going to die or that the country will go down in flames during the worst recession in history.

I also recently developed the terrible habit of checking my phone excessively while I’m watching tv, in between reading chapters of my book and worse, it’s really distracting me while I’m working.

I came across the Forest app (free for Android) which supposedly helps you focus on tasks at hand.

Basically, you set a time for however long you want to concentrate (and not be distracted by your phone) and if you succeed, you grow a tree for your virtual forest.

If you fail (by giving up), you end up with a withered tree and you don’t want that messing up your nice little forest, do you?

My forest after a week

Yes, it’s a little gimmicky but I’ve found that it has helped me somewhat with my concentration.

Anyway, there’s a better review of the app at The Money Mountain, where I first read of the app.

How is everyone else doing and does anyone else use apps to help with their concentration/focus?

Hope you’re all enjoying the bank holiday.