September 2019 Savings, plus other updates

Update is later than usual but this might become the norm, not sure. Still no real blogging routine yet and I wasn’t about during the weekend to get this out.

Anyway, for those concerned, my nephew survived the few days with me, wasn’t late for school once and didn’t miss his bedtime (by much… 🙂 )

So how did I get on in September with my savings?

I saved 52.9% of my net salary! This was the first month that my sis contributed to household bills since she moved in and I invested the cash straight away.

Of course, at some point, all my utilities direct debits will go up, with me no longer being in the house on my own, but I’ll save as much as I can while I can!

The above savings includes top ups of £120 matched betting profit (from last month) and £126.22 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

Thinking about greener investments, I started investing in Greencoat Wind UK plc.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

With the pound taking a pounding and markets generally on the up, at the end of the month, my portfolio stood at £179,130.49. This puts me in really good stead in my race to £200k, although with Brexit (or not) looming, who knows how things will look by the end of October.

Dividends and Other Income

Another fairly average month for dividends: Continue reading

Family Life

As revealed here, my sister and my nephew have moved in with me and it’s been a massive adjustment to my life.

Until my nephew actually started school, I have to say it sort of felt like they were only here temporarily on holiday and that they would be off home at some point. I’m still kind of getting used to things.

Sis hasn’t rested on her laurels though since her arrival. As soon as the jetlag wore off, she started reorganising the house. It’s been a good exercise, getting rid of some unwanted stuff that’s been in the family for years but also digging out some things I’d packed away in the garage and forgotten about! Still can’t part with my comic collection though…

She’s not quite gone the full KonMari but there’s still a lot to get rid of as she’s got a shipment of stuff arriving in about a month’s time so needs to clear some space. A lot of old spare furniture sitting in the garage has gone to charity already.

Changes

I’m sure at some point, I will get used to seeing little boy’s pants in my washing basket!

Pants…

However, I know I won’t get used to the TV being on with no one watching it…

Or the lights being left on around the house…

Or not being able to have my music blasting around the house…

Or not being able to watch my programmes when I want as they’re unsuitable for children…

Or someone drinking alcohol in the house on a school night!

There have already been discussions about turning the heating on – it’s only September!!

But wait! Let me stop with the negativity! Whilst I’m trying to get used to my new home life, I have to admit that there are a lot of positives.

The good things:

  • home cooked meals when I get home from work!
  • shared household bills, which should positively impact my savings rate!
  • chirpy voice welcoming me home (my nephew, not my sis!)
  • Sunday roasts!
  • garden looks much tidier and weed-free!
  • house is more ‘organised’ – I think I’ve mentioned before that whilst I’m super organised and tidy at work, I’m almost the opposite at home, don’t know why!
  • less unproductive time spent online because it’s anti-social when there are people around…

This last point is good and bad – bad in that I’ve been struggling to find the time to read blogs, comment and also to draft my own posts. I guess I just need to work out a new routine.  I enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in the evenings as sis goes to bed before I do, but at the moment, it’s not quite enough time to do all my blogging stuff.

This post has taken a while to draft as I couldn’t do it in one sitting, had to write it in fits and starts.

Unexpected Consequence

My gym sessions in the evenings used to be quite drawn out affairs – an hour working out after work, half an hour relaxing in steam room/sauna, shower and then mooch home.

Recently however, I’ve just been doing the hour workout, showering and then heading straight home – because then, I can catch my nephew before he goes to bed!

Who would have thought!? Certainly not me!

I realise that he’s not going to stay an engaging chatterbox for long (and mobile phone-free) and that all too soon, his teen hormones will kick in, so I may as well make the most of this period of his life!

He’s settled in well in his new school, has made friends and is doing fine in his classes.

So things seem alright at the moment – no real clashes with sis (so far) and I’ve spent some nice family orientated weekends with them.

However

Sis is off networking with ex-colleagues next week. She will be away for a few days so will be leaving me in sole charge of her offspring.

And thus my life has changed as I will need to be a responsible adult looking after a child….

I hope I remember to not let him stay up too late past his bedtime!

And how am I going to make sure he gets ready for school when I can only just about manage to get myself awake for work!

I hope am sure it’ll be fine…

My Random Share Portfolio, plus Meet Up Reminder

Long term readers may recall my fascination with randomness and investing.

One of the first ‘investing’ books I read was Burton G Makiel’s ‘A Random Walk Down Wall Street’.

You know, the one where he mentions that a bunch of blind-folded monkeys could do better than expert stockpickers. This fascination and curiosity led me to running my own Monkey Stocks League, where I had my own randomly picked portfolio.

Time has meant that I no longer run the league but I now find myself in another position to have a part of my portfolio which is made up of random stocks.

Enter Freetrade

For those interested, here’s my review of Freetrade.

As a result of Freetrade’s referral scheme and thanks to interested souls clicking on my links, I now have a tidy little portfolio of random shares.

Basically, every time someone I refer signs up, we both get a free share. Here’s a screenshot of some of the freebies I’ve received:

I’ve yet to be awarded a high value share – some people have received Tesla shares, worth around £190!!

Here’s my entire portfolio so far:

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these – maybe hang on to some of them, maybe sell some of them.

If I sell some, perhaps I’ll use the funds to buy more of the ones I’m keeping…

Anyone interested in a great investing app plus a free share, whilst helping me grow my random portfolio, please drop me a DM via twitter or contact me via the Contact me form for a one-use only link.

I currently have a ‘mystery’ share queueing, courtesy of Tony from One Million Journey – thanks for using the link, Tony and fingers crossed we get good shares! 🙂

FIRE Meet Up Reminder

Just a reminder of the Manchester FIRE meet up next Friday, 27th Sept.

It’s taking place in the ‘Well Area’ of the Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5JG.

6pm – late

Hopefully see a few of you there for a few beers and some pub grub (you don’t want to see me drinking on an emtpy stomach!).

School Reunion!

Recently, I attended a high school reunion.

Background

I grew up in a small working-class town.

The parents of the kids I rubbed shoulders with served in local shops, did shifts in factories, ran their own small businesses (mostly manual labour) or were long-term unemployed. A couple worked as teachers.

I didn’t come across folk whose parents were doctors, lawyers or accountants until when I went to university.

There were two high schools in the town – the Catholic school (good reputation) and the state comprehensive (not so good reputation). I’m sure you can guess which one I went to! clue: it wasn’t the first one.

As you can imagine, there was intense rivalry between the two, although if there had been school league tables back then, no doubt they would have been near the top and we would have been near the bottom!

Although my early to mid teenaged years were rather awkward, I’d say I enjoyed a lot of my time at school because I loved to learn, I loved and was able to take part in a lot of sport and I had my friends. Of course, they weren’t all happy days but I couldn’t say that I ever hated school.

I knew that I wasn’t going to stay in the town forever – the city lights (and night life) of Manchester beckoned and the family relocated there while I was at uni. However, despite not having lived in ‘Smallville’ since I was 19, I’ve been visiting the town at least once a year ever since, to catch up with a friend I’ve continued to keep in touch with.

Class of ’85 Reunion

This wasn’t the first school reunion I’d ever attended.

The first one was 15 years ago, organised pre-Facebook days via Friends Reunited (remember them?) and my now-ex ended up in a punch-up…yes, really!

Anyway, no such shenanigans were expected this time round, not with us all older and wiser!

I was one of the early arrivals and for a moment, it was as if no one else was going to turn up and I had the fleeting thought that it was all going to be a disaster.

But then, people started drifting in. It was all a bit awkward at first – I mean how do you greet people, most of whom were still in school uniform when you last saw them? In the end, I think around 30 people turned up, some with their partners.

Some faces were familiar, while others had changed almost beyond recognition. I remembered many names, although the name badges did help to jog the memory for ones I didn’t remember.

Names which used to roll off my 15-year-old self’s tongue because I heard them being called out every day when the teacher was doing the class register now felt strange being uttered again after so long.

However very soon, things relaxed, probably helped by the incredibly cheap alcohol (I’ve been too used to paying premium and had to keep double-checking the prices), it was great to roll back the years, to find out what people had been up to, how their lives were the same or different from my own (mostly different).

Many still lived and worked locally and it was good to see that some friendships from school still endured enough that they (mostly women) still went on holidays together. A few attendees travelled up from London and also from as far as Scotland.

It was all quite weird but in a good way – I was greeted warmly by people who, as boys and girls, I had virtually nothing to do with at school because we weren’t in the same friend circles or took different classes.

It’s not a brag when I say that everyone remembered me.

It certainly wasn’t because I was one of the popular kids (I most definitely was not) – it was because I was the only non-white person in my school year.

It didn’t make a difference to me back then and it still doesn’t.

These were the peers I’d learned with, the ones I grew up with, people with (mostly) similar backgrounds. As I looked around, who was more successful? The ones who were grandparents? The ones with top-earning careers? The ones who looked healthy and had their own teeth/hair/slim waistlines (delete as applicable)?

In our own ways, we were all successful. We had made it to the reunion 34 years after leaving school, to (re)connect, to reminisce, to be sociable. And there was no fighting!

A Blast

All the favourite 80s tunes from our youth were played and I danced the night away, getting blisters on my feet in the process!

A few of us then took the party back to my friend’s house. No, we weren’t on the shots, we were being sensible grown-up and having nice cups of tea and coffee, but I still didn’t get back to my hotel til 3.30am!

The whole event turned out to be a real blast and I’m so glad I went. I rekindled some friendships which I thought I’d lost, did a bit of networking, found that some people who I didn’t have much time for back when we were kids have turned out to be the kind of people I’d like to get to know more.

I didn’t mention FIRE but with one or two I chatted to, I mentioned my desire to retire early and they understood completely and said that was something they would want to do.

If I continue to be in close touch with them, perhaps FIRE could end up being a topic of conversation!

Anyone else attended school reunions or is it something you would avoid at all costs?