February 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Perhaps it was just as well that I had a frugal January, which was quiet and without incident, seeing as February was almost the opposite, though it was a mix of good and not-so-good.

Good Stuff

Several social outings with friends did the world of good to banish away some January blues!

Work has been manic but manageable –  the leadership team were over from the US, and my colleague and I were described as a ‘Dream Team’ – hope they remember that when they’re dishing out the pay rises, haha!

I received a surprise letter from a building society regarding a ‘failed’ PPI claim I’d made last year, which advised me that following the FCA’s updated regulations, I was actually entitled to payout so I received £74.40 – thanks very much!

Then, it was another month, another premium bond win, with £25 going into the pot with the other winnings!

Also, I kicked off my home brewing again as I had a ‘window of opportunity’ before work on my kitchen is finally completed. I’d forgotten how much effort it all takes but it was an enjoyable kind of effort and my kitchen smells like brewers hops now! A full update once I have a (hopefully) nice IPA to sample!

Chinese New Year came and went with its usual associated family expenses which were (mostly) budgeted for. May the Year of the Dog be a happy, prosperous and lucky one for all!

Not-So-Good Stuff

That first cold snap we had in the month, my boiler broke down so I was without heating and only intermittent hot water for 3 days. Fortunately, I still had the use of a gas fire, made the most of the shower facilities in my gym, plus the call out and subsequent repair was covered by my boiler plan.

Next, my PC of 8 years decided to break down. I spent 3 days trying to fix it myself (via youtube vids) but as I didn’t want to make the problem any worse, I had to call in an expert. The repair and replacement hardware took a chunk out of my emergency fund but it’s all running like new again so here’s to another 8 years.

Savings Stuff

So, how did I get on with my savings this month?

Ok, I saved 43% – not as bad as I thought it was going to be if I’m honest. My average savings rate now drops to 51.2%.  As I’ll be booking my holiday in the next month or so (which may turn into a ‘holiday within a holiday’), I’ll just need to keep a cap on some other spending over the next couple of months so my average doesn’t drop too much, though I won’t go full-out frugal again like last month (too soon!).

The above savings was topped up with my £25 Premium Bonds win, £74.40 from the PPI claim and £85.73 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all who signed up via my links!)

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in Scottish Investment Trust this month, for more diversification.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The news in February was all about the crisis – I’m talking stock market, not KFC chicken, haha – which I pretty much ignored at the time.

What I do know is that at the end of the month, my Future Fund stands at £132,249 – yes, it’s gone down a bit from last month, but in line with my long-term plan, I’ll just continue investing as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month:

£87.76 was received – I was hoping to break the £100 barrier for the first time in February but a couple of payments didn’t hit my account until the beginning of March. Total dividends this year stands at £329.42, so a little behind plan but still a way to go yet with some big payouts in the pipeline!

So here’s how things look on the main dividend income graph:


Matched Betting (MB)

Social outings plus my PC breaking down meant that I missed out on two Saturdays this month, which is when I do most of my MB.

My profit was only £145, which is a bit rubbish really but it’s better than nowt!  At least the no-lay accumulators (accas) didn’t end up in a loss although it was touch and go at one point! I’m hoping March will give me a decent run of profits.

The no-lay acca strategy is a long-term (and slightly risky) one. I have had decent runs on them before – starting to feel like a distant memory though!

Note that there are plenty of folk who do MB who don’t touch accas at all but who still make regular profits from other offers.

The matched betting guide I subscribe to is OddsMonkey*.  It’s an excellent little website for beginners and experienced matched bettors alike – for beginners, there are plenty of tutorials which provide you with step-by-step guides on how to make profits and to work through special offers. They also offer one-to-one sessions for those who need a little more help. OddsMonkey offers quality tools including the Each Way Matcher, Extra Place Matcher, Dutch Finder, Racing Matcher and Acca Matcher. There’s also a friendly forum for you to ask questions. Anyway, check out the free trial*.

Goals Update

Again, not much to see as it’s only the second month:

The way it’s going, passive income (dividends) could end up beating active income (matched betting) which would be great, though not great for the MB goal I’ve set myself this year!

Also, for those interested, you can also see how I’m getting on with my Book Bingo here – I’ve crossed off some more squares!

Anyway, that’s it from me – hope people haven’t suffered too much from the effects of the ‘Beast from the East’!

[*referral/affiliate link]

37 thoughts on “February 2018 Savings, plus other updates

  1. Hi Weenie,
    What an excellent start in Feb, failed PPI back, premium bond wins – it all helps!
    Shame about the boiler, I guess this is where havig gym membership really did come into its own, but the real plus of the boiler plan (I used to have that with my old boiler, worth every penny!)
    43% is still a very good savings rate – compared to the UK average of what, about 3% – good luck for keeping targetting the 50%!
    Good luck with SMT – it’s been a great holding for me over the years and I will be topping up in the new tax year I am sure. The yield at present isnt great, but the capital performance has been… well… capital!

    Whilst you didn’t hit the £100 dividends (if it helps, February is always a low month for me on div’s) think of the money hitting your account that you didn’t have to lift a finger to do anything for 🙂

    I wait with interest to hear how the IPA turns out, but how you can’t say KFC is a crisis, I will never know… :O

    And the best quote I saw about “The Beast from the East” was that it was more “Hysteria from Syberia”! 🙂


    • Cheers FiL.

      I know, PPI claim and premium bond win – I’ve not bought the lottery recently so maybe I should havem to get a 1-2-3 in wins! 🙂

      Yes, a shame I didn’t hit the £100 dividends for Feb but it’s great that I didn’t have to life a finger to get it! It’s all reinvested so I’m confident that I’ll hit it next year.

      Haha, I quite fancied a KFC recently, only because I realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I had one – I probably have one once or twice a year! I had a McDonalds the other week – will probably be a long time before I eat there again as that’s my fix for a while!

      Haha, didn’t hear of ‘Hysteria from Siberia’! The Beast from the East had me working from home for a couple of days as the road to my estate wasn’t gritted and I couldn’t drive down it safely. Hoping it all blows over soon.

      • There was a conspiracy theory that running out of chicken was a clever marketing ploy. I’ve been fancying KFC for a week now lol

        • Haha, I’m not sure it started out being a clever marketing ploy, but they turned all the bad publicity into one and I’m sure sales will reflect this! I’ll probably grab one when the deliveries are all sorted!

  2. Hi Weenie
    Nice post yet again
    I’m looking to invest in some high dividend stocks/funds in the coming months and was wondering how you came to invest in yours? Are there any resources you used to research these higher yielding companies/funds?

    • Hi Karl

      It’s been a while since I bought any new individual stocks, but for basic research, I had a minimum criteria of PE Ratio of <20 and dividend cover >1.5 and was looking for increasing yield so created a watchlist from Dividend Champions http://dividendchampions.uk/. I also checked out what the experts had to say, eg https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/blog/ . You can also see which FTSE 100/250 shares pay the highest yields here https://www.dividenddata.co.uk/dividendyield.py?market=ftse100 but high yield may not always be the best option here.

      Also, perhaps you could check out this forum where there a discussions about HYPs (high yield portfolios). – https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/viewforum.php?f=15

      With my investment trusts, I’ve gone for mostly ‘dividend heroes’ (ITs who have grown their dividends for 40-50 years continuously) and tried to buy when they’re trading at a discount. I also look at the companies the ITs are invested in, I don’t mind some overlap of companies though am aiming to get a good mix for more diversification.

      Good luck with your own research and picking your high yield stocks!

  3. Hey,

    Still great savings rate even with that all included! Do you have a number you’re targeting for FI?

    That yoy growth view for Jan & Feb looks awesome, bet it feels great too!!!

    Re: MB, good to see you sticking with the no-lays, planning on putting up some stats at some point? You building up a decent Cheltenham war-chest? 🙂

    Are your dividends automatically re-invested? or do they build up in cash and then you put into stocks/ITs as and when you’re topping up?



    • Hey Brian

      I keep tweaking my spreadsheets to calculate my number but I’d say it’s probably around the £300k mark. I guess this doesn’t sound like much but my DB pension will kick in when I’m 65 so the pot will cover from when I retire early up to that age. My DB pension should cover around 60-70% of my expenses so any surplus from my pot will be used to top up the pension income as required.

      I’ve put up stats before on no-lays and it’s pretty depressing! Still, as you’re interested, this month isn’t too bad – I did 25 no-lays, winning 7, losing 11, with 7 acca ins. Profit was £67, low as I’ve reduced my bets to £5/£10 per acca as I can’t stomach the £15/£20 losses any more!

      My dividends sit as cash, which then gets rolled into my top up the following month to make more purchases. My platform does have an auto-reinvest facility but it’s cheaper for me to do it the way I’m doing.

      • Planning appropriate withdrawal rates when you’re essentially using savings/investments as a bridge to a separate (DB in both our cases) pension is something I’ve not seen much material on.

        Obviously a higher SWR is appropriate than for those dealing simply with one big pot to last them the rest of their lives, but I have a nasty feeling that it’s not that much higher, as you’ve got to keep a decent amount invested and can’t afford too much sequence of returns risk unless you’re looking simply at bridging say 5 years and can keep pretty much everything in cash.

  4. Congrats on the PB win! Always a nice bonus. Have to say Feb is generally a low month for dividends for me too. Sorry to hear about the Boiler, we went through a 5 year period where the boiler would break down every single winter like clockwork, since it was replaced we have thankfully had no problems. I know not all people believe in boiler plans but for us it was very useful and probably saved us a lot of money!

    • Thanks Mrs Chai. Did you hear about that PB winner who won £1m in their FIRST month of the draw – what a lucky so and so!

      I think as I’m continuing to invest (and reinvest dividends) , I’m confident that I’ll hit the £100 in Feb next year!

      My boiler is pretty old and probably breaks down every other year (though not always in the winter!). However, it’ll cost a few grand to replace and since it’s still classed as ‘economical’, it just makes more sense for me to have the boiler cover.

      • Funnily enough I’ve just cancelled my boiler cover. Time will tell whether that was the right decision

    • Hi LMF

      Yes, it was a nice surprise to get the claim and I was very pleased with the compliment! However, as I mentioned, let’s hope they put their money where their mouth is!

  5. Saving rate is amazing weenie. Puts mine to shame (mines roughly 35% of gross salary including pension.

    A little thing really brought it home how different the fire community is from the normal world this week. I was saying to a colleague I was looking forward to payday as I was skint. People know I have a reasonable salary and that I’m careful (tight). My assistant at work who I would say her and her husband Dont earn dramatically less than I do as a pair said ‘when you say you’re broke you’ve probably still got like 5 grand in savings. It’s not like when normal people say they are broke’ like that would be an extreme amount to have and say I’m broke. I have ten times that in the bank. Doesn’t stop me saying I’m short at the end of the month. It does make me wonder what normal people have to fall back on

    • Cheers FBA, though there’s nothing shameful about your 35% – your assistant and her husband are probably saving below the UK average 3%, if at all!

      I still describe myself as ‘skint’ if I’m edging towards going overdrawn before pay day! That’s because I’ve already made all my savings and investments for the month and am just living on what’s left in my current account. I don’t think I’ve ever really used the term ‘broke’ as that to me is a much stronger description for someone who has real financial problems and debt issues.

      I think spending so much time within the FIRE community, we end up in a bit of a ‘bubble’ and start thinking of what we are doing as the ‘norm’ when it’s still very much niche.

      • I do t know if I use the same calculation as you. I’m finding it hard to balance between pensions and non pensions. I’m well into hrt bracket so put around 12% of my salary in that with work contributing another 5%. I also put another 400 in SAYE and sip (stock investment plan whereby I buy £90 net and this gets grossed up to £150. As long as I keep them 5 years they are tax free. I’m going to keep them and sell them as they come up to the 5 year mark. I then put 300 a month into a s and s isa and various bits into cash regular savers though some of that is money just being moved to get the best rate rather than new savings. I work the % out including my pension. Outside of that and my share save stuff I guess it’s Only probably about 15%. Once I get rid of my silly lease car that I got ill be able to save more. Worst thing I ever got was my car such a waste of money every month. 570 quid a month! I console myself that my company pay half but still. Not very frugal lol

  6. All the talk about the KFC crisis made me really want one even though I don’t eat there that frequently. You have done very well with your savings within the past month, trying to keep at the 50% savings rate is a good goal and one which I go for myself. Good luck for the rest of the year!

    • Cheers Martin and good luck with your own goals. Yep, bad publicity for KFC was still publicity and all that free advertising in the news too!

  7. I’d describe you as the Dream Team as well Weenie! Sounds like you are enjoying and getting stuck into the new role.

    I cannot believe you survived 3 days with no boiler in this weather. I was complaining when my heating broken for a few hours. And your PC as well, that’s an unlucky month.

    And still keeping an eye on the savings rate. Where is the holiday? And the holiday within the holiday?

    • Cheers Ms ZiYou!

      But I’m not such a bad ass – my boiler broke down two weeks before this recent snowy weather, so it was around zero, not minus temperatures!

      My holiday will be my usual trip to Hong Kong to see the family. The ‘holiday within the holiday’ might be a weekend in Thailand if I can squeeze it in while I’m over in the far east anyway!

  8. Hey,

    Congrats on the PPI claim and premium bond win! Even though last months dividend payout wasn’t as big as you’d hoped, there is still a year on year improvement.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Thanks HTSC.
      Agree, the year on year improvement is probably the main thing, so I’m heading in the right direction!

  9. Haha I love the fact that you have a spendy month and your savings rate still beats our “frugal” month (going to post the Feb update later on today but it was around 40% as a spoiler).

    Another Premium Bonds win! Maybe with that and the PPI money, you are using all your luck up with those that’s why the acca’s aren’t going so well? 🙂

    Cheers to Man City again for pulling down 2 of my accas in the very first leg last night. Although I have to say I literally did no research on it and didn’t realise it was the second leg so they didn’t need to win. Odds of 1.22 were very bad value given that scenario. I think this is the key to getting a good win rate, is actually do a tiny bit of research on each match, there are plenty of 1.3 or below shots that I leave out once research has been done as they just look like potential banana skins. You may already be doing this and still getting bad luck, of course, but I have found when I don’t have time to research I am far more likely to hit losers.

    I’ll be writing up my full thoughts on this soon so keep an eye out for it 😉


    • Thanks TFS but you know better than anyone to be comparing savings rates – apples and pears! 😉

      I don’t think I’ve used up all my luck yet but wouldn’t it be great to carry on like this for a while longer? I need to start buying the lottery again perhaps, not had time to sort out my syndicate.

      You are absolutely right about researching no-lay accas and this is only something I’ve cottoned onto myself recently. I didn’t have Man City but I did notice that some big teams weren’t winning their cup ties, not when they had already won say 5-0 from the first leg. I am still getting a mix of bad luck (and making my own mistakes – doh!) but I will keep at it. I look forward to your guide as there’s probably something I’ve missed!

      A new MB strategy I’ve started is the Each Way Value bets using the EW Matcher – it has the potential to go the same way as no-lay bets, ie not laying any bets but profits in the long run. I think they’re easier to do than the accas, plus you can do them on gubbed accounts (which haven’t been closed). I’m not sure I want to do a post on this as I don’t really know exactly why it works, although I might try a brief explanation of the strategy at some point. If you’re interested, there’s a monster ‘How To’ Guide under General/Community – EW No Lay – Pingus method / FAQ as well as a long running discussion thread.

      • Hi weenie,

        Funnily enough I have recently started doing something similar* with the each way bets (although I’m not using OddsMonkey for it, although there ew matcher makes it easier for most people I have just been watching the exchange markets and bookie markets at jumping on when a price becomes an arb) and have had a fairly decent success rate on it so far!

        And yea, I’m not laying obvs… not my style 🙂 and the maths always works out better if you don’t lay in the long run if you have the bank and cojones to stick at it.

        And yea it’s great to use this on Offer gubbed accounts. I am really confident of smashing all previous profit records using all of these new methods this year, although they have (in theory) greater risks, it seems the profits should end up being also much greater.

        *Also did something like this when got one of my bigger wins at Cheltenham last year, so will be looking to do similar this year on the correct races / when there are extra places on offer, which there should be loads.

        Cheers 😉

        • I should have known that you’d be all over this strategy already, TFS! 🙂

          I need a good run on the accas to make some decent profits but hopefully these EW bets will help with the shortfall.

          All the best with Cheltenham!

  10. Hey Weenie!

    Just come across your blog and love it! I’ve recently discovered FIRE and it’s so refreshing to see a UK perspective. There seems to be a swamp of US people earning six figures who FIRE with pots of $1m+ and not many UK blogs of people who have a more normal walk of life. (If you know any other blogs please point me in the direction!)

    A quick question about premium bonds, why do you keep money in them? I’ve seen some negative things about them with people saying the effective savings rate of them comes to about 1.5% whereas long term stock market gains sit 7-10% per year, would it not be more beneficial to move money out of them or am I missing something?

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!


    • Hey Charles

      Yes, I’ve seen the negative press on premium bonds – as investments go, they are rubbish! However, my premium bonds only make up around 10% of my entire portfolio and represents the only bit of cash I have – the rest of my portfolio is pretty much all in shares/equities, hopefully earning the 7-10% you quote! I see owning premium bonds like having cash under the mattress, except you get the chance to win something each month! 🙂

      There’s a list of UK blogs I read in the side bar further down my blog, so hopefully there will be some other blogs you might like to check out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Ah, I see!

        If interest rates rise again above a couple of percent would you consider swapping out to a normal savings account for better cash returns? Or is the chance of winning just too tempting?!!!

        Thanks for pointing out those other blogs, i’ve got some reading to do!!


        • If cash ISAs ever rose to around 4% and above, I’d probably swap some out. Actually, rather than swap out, I’d probably just leave the premium bonds as they are and not add to them, just put my next bit of cash into the cash ISA.

  11. Hi Weenie,

    Glad to see that you had a decent savings rate for February despite your misgivings that it was going to be very spendy. It must have felt SO nice going out and socialising after your frugal January.

    Don’t worry too much about the lack of matched betting progress, there’s still plenty more months left in the year. Hopefully you’re able to get caught up a bit with Cheltenham this week?

    Love to read your updates as always.


    • Thanks Corinna.

      However, Cheltenham didn’t turn out as exciting as I’d hoped, will provide more details in my next monthly update.

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