2021 Goals

A new year begins
A time for optimism
Look to the future

At some point in December, me and my siblings got so bored of quizzes that we started making up Haiku poems (something I last did when I was a schoolgirl) in our Whatsapp group just for something different to do, so I thought I’d start this post with one!


Anyway, it was back to work for me on 4th January and although my brain felt suitably rested, my ten-day break really didn’t seem long enough.

Right, onto the main topic…Goals!

I was scribbling some notes (yes, I still like to use pen and notepad to initially draft blog posts) when Boris announced the latest national lockdown measures.

I decided on one ‘lockdown goal’ (see below in non-financial goals) but apart from that one, I decided that I didn’t want to make a big deal of the situation.

As with previous years, I can focus better if I only set myself a few goals, with little room for distraction. This seems to work for me so I don’t see a point in changing this. Apologies if this doesn’t make very exciting reading but such is my life!

I managed to hit three of my six goals last year, so at least I know those goals were on the challenging side

So without further ado, here they are:

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December 2020 Savings, plus round up

Happy New Year!

Ok, let’s just get the numbers out of the way first, eh?

I saved 47.3% of my net salary. Gift spending was balanced out slightly by a small but welcome bonus in our December pay. Another ‘bonus’ I received this month was a cheque for £84.94 which apparently was for a short-payment on an endowment plan I cashed in back in 2015.

The above savings also includes top ups from £20 Matched Betting profits (from last month), another £25 Premium Bond win, £55.34 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my link!), £60 from Adsense and £25.53 from TopCashBack*.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing investments. This will however likely change, as I will be making some tweaks to my portfolio in the new year.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

This time last year, my Future Fund stood at £188,605. As at 31st December 2020, it was £219,553. Not even a pandemic could stop the Santa Claus Rally?!

No holidays, no commuting costs and no social life meant I was able to invest more this year.

The total capital I invested in 2020 was £17,935, (the most I’ve ever invested in a year, barring the time I invested my redundancy payout) so given what happened to the markets in March, I will happily and gratefully take an investment gain of £13,013 (YTD around +6%).

I remained fully invested throughout 2020, selling only some high-flying bond ETFs in March to rebalance into equities which were looking particularly dire.

So, a final month of dividends:

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“Vaccinated” Dogs of the FTSE + Random Shares

Time for another progress update on my latest Dogs of the FTSE experimental portfolio which was set up in June.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to time it when everything hit rock bottom in March but who can time the market, in any case?

Bad timing or not, I continue to follow the strategy as an experiment and have been documenting the bad times as well as the good.

Here’s a reminder of the Dogs of the FTSE strategy (which is based on the US Dogs of the Dow 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]

Note that this is part of my ‘fun’ portfolio and represents less than 1.5% of my Future Fund – it is not what I do as a main investing strategy. All dividends received are reinvested.

Signs of Life

Finally, some good news to share – the mutts are showing some stirrings of life!

Big upticks in November had most of the Dogs showing some gains, although a few persist in wallowing in the red.

Who knows what a deal/no-deal Brexit will bring or whether mass vaccination will miraculously stop the virus in its tracks and kick-start world economy again, but it will be interesting to see:

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 8.07% so the Dogs are doing worse at 6.91%.

However, if I include dividends received, it’s a gain of 9.80%, so not bad really.

The pooches still have around 6 months to stay the course – I’ll do another update in a few months’ time.

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.

Out of the Champions League but in my portfolio

Here’s the full portfolio.

I’ve kept most of the shares, occasionally selling when the odd one or two gain by >20% (quite a few did in November).

The money from sales of such shares have been invested into my Winter Rock Associates Fund 😉

Freetrade will imminently be offering SIPPs as well as ISAs (my current S&S ISA is with them).

For a flat fee of £9.99 per month, this seems quite competitive compared to other brokers’ SIPPs, especially when you factor in no trading fees for buying or selling. Comparison here if anyone is interested.

Anyway, thanks to all who have signed up via my link in the past – hope you all got a decent free share!

See you on the Other Side!

I haven’t got anything to write about between now and the end of the year – perhaps I’ll use this time to think about my goals for next year, although these will probably be similar to the ones I set for 2020, only not so ambitious!

So I may as well take this opportunity to say I hope that everyone has as safe and as happy a Christmas/festive holiday as they can under the circumstances and here’s to 2021 being a better year for all of us!

November 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Recently, I came across another definition for FIRE – Forced Into Retirement Early (article might be paywalled).

With the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK, sadly, this is probably happening to many people of a certain age (not just women, as per the article).  I also need to be mindful that it could affect me if I were to lose my job before I’m ready to FIRE, seeing as I’m one of those people of a certain age, except that my saving and investing will have me in a less-dire position than some others.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but Lockdown #2 seemed to pass quite quickly – as I mentioned in my last update, this second national lockdown wasn’t going to pose any real change to how I’d been living my life over the last few months.

With Greater Manchester moving into Tier 3 from tomorrow, it’s just the same old, same old.

I’ve just been focusing on the things I can do, such as continue working from home, go for walks, exercise at home (with my newly purchased weights), enjoy Zoom calls with friends and family (yes, I’m still doing those), enjoy home cooking, watch some decent stuff on tv, read and play video games (my new gaming obsession is Rimworld, thanks to Monevator).

I haven’t been dwelling on the things I’ve not been able to do or people and things I miss – it’ll only make me miserable.

‘Highlights’ this month for me included:

    • Being chatted up in the gym – a first! It was a couple of days before Lockdown #2 and with no one going to pubs or nightclubs, I guess a lad’s gotta try when the opportunity arises! It was good for my ego, if nothing else, that I’m still approachable whilst sweatily huffing and puffing through my weight training exercises 🙂
    • Earning £200 for participating in an investment trust investor community – not bad for 10-20 mins a day for two weeks! If you’re interested in doing investment surveys (to earn Amazon vouchers and possible selection for future investor communities), register here (this is not a referral link).
    • Buying my first Christmas present and a new pair of trainers. Still not in the Christmas spirit yet though.
    • Transferring an old work DC pension to one of my SIPPs – the whole process (from request to actual transfer) took a while, my money was out of the market for several weeks but it looks like I’ve inadvertently/luckily timed the market correctly.
    • Catching up with my uni pals on Zoom, six years after we last saw each other.
    • Working 4 days a week – no overseas trip this year meant I’ve got holidays to use up as I’m only able to carry a few over. It was nice having long weekends, even when I didn’t go anywhere or do anything special. However, this has shown me that cutting my hours down in the future probably wouldn’t be a viable solution to ‘glide’ into early retirement (if I stayed in this job) – long term, it would place too much pressure on my boss and the rest of the team.

Anyway, how did I get on money-wise in November?

I saved 58.8% of my net salary – December is going to be a bit more spendy so I thought I’d try to stick in as much as possible this month. Not enough to hike my average up by much but good enough.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 Matched Betting profits (from last month) and the abovementioned £200 from taking part in that investor community.

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 

Just when I thought it was going to take me a while to get to that milestone again, the stock markets bounced up (on the back of US election results and vaccination news) and my Future Fund jumped by over 6% to £212,100! Whoosh!

Although this is a fantastic increase from last month, I need to bear in mind how quickly it can drop back down again! I would love to finish on a high but this is 2020 so I have no expectations…

Dividends and Other Income

Not a bad month for dividends:

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