April 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Another month in lockdown and I’m finding living and working like this has become quite normal.

The latest WI Magazine cover which seems quite apt

The latest all employees’ call with work mentioned plans being devised for people to return to the office once it’s been deemed safe to do so but I have mixed feelings.

Yes, I miss being in the office – miss printing stuff off to give my eyes a rest from the screen –  miss my colleagues and being out of the house, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to returning to travelling on public transport. I’ve applied for and received a refund for my annual travel pass in any case.

Anyway, in a full month of lockdown, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 59%! All those occasional little work lunches, Friday after-work drinks and social outings do add up and since I wasn’t spending, I was able to save a lot more.

That said, I wasn’t able to max out my 2019/20 ISA – I think I got to around the £16k mark which isn’t bad, as anything over £15k is good for me.

The above savings includes top ups from yet another £25 premium bond win (4 months in a row!) and £63.15 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

A couple of new investment trusts added to my portfolio, namely Murray International Trust and Templeton Emerging Markets IT, both showing decent discounts when I made the purchases.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

So much doom and gloom in the news globally yet the stock markets are doing their own thing. Whether this bounce-back is temporary or not is anyone’s guess.

My Future Fund stands at £179,924, an increase of over 9% from last month! I’m still down by around 4.4% year to date but that’s not too bad.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but others thankfully continued to roll in:

I received £452.15 in total, of which £147.10 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs.

Here’s what the main graph looks like:

Since more dividends continue to be cut or postponed, I think this graph will look interesting a bit rubbish for the next couple of years!

Matched Betting (MB)

With no sport on, or rather nothing which I wanted to place any bets on, I didn’t do any matched betting this month.

I rather missed it, though I missed the sport more.

Goals Update

Never thought that I would bag two good monthly saving rates in a row but these are strange times we live in!

As mentioned before, my matched betting goal is a write-off but all the other goals are still worth going for.

I’ve continued to donate monthly to my usual charities and also donated to the recent ‘Big Night In’ TV fundraiser.

Investing During these Turbulent Times

I’ve mentioned above that the stock markets have been doing their own thing so what have investors been doing themselves? Selling? Buying? Waiting for the ‘bottom’? Doing nothing?

Carl over at MoneyMow blog asked a bunch of us FI/FIRE bloggers what investment strategies we were following (if any) during the pandemic. You can see my answer in his article along with answers from the likes of theFIREStarter and SavingNinja, but *spoiler*, I’m sticking to my plan and still investing regularly! 🙂

Anyway, during these glum times, I’ve decided to have a little fun with my investing.

I’ve joined a bunch of beta testers to try out Freetrade‘s* fractional shares facility.

This gives me the opportunity to buy bits of US companies I wouldn’t normally be able to afford. I’m thinking of having small stakes in a bunch of companies for a bit of fun.

My first test purchases of fractional shares

Am I actually researching these companies before I invest? Erm, no I’m not!

[Don’t do this at home, kids, DYOR….] I’ve just drawn up a list of well-known companies – well, companies known to me and whose products/services I use regularly – and I’m just going to buy a bit of each one. Maybe I’ll top up on some of them in the future.

Although I do hold some, buying individual shares isn’t of course part of my main investing strategy but in the future, Freetrade will introduce fractionals for ETFs, which do form the bulk of my investments.

Anyway, this facility will be available to all users probably later in the month once it’s been tested properly and teething problems have been ironed out.

If anyone (in the UK) fancies trying out Freetrade for fee-free stock purchases and also wants to earn us both a free share (valued between £2 and £200), please join via this link*.

And that’s pretty much it from me – hope everyone is well and staying safe.

We will get through this.

[*referral/affiliate link]

26 thoughts on “April 2020 Savings, plus other updates

  1. You’ve been an inspiration in these times Weenie, the stay calm and carry on mantra springs to mind 🙂

    59% is awesome! Maybe you can negotiate for some work from home time when this is all over? Especially as you’ve got your future fund at your back to give you confidence.

    Continue being a strong and steady flame in the darkness 😉

    • Cheers SN, I’m glad I’ve been able to be some sort of inspiration! 🙂

      I can’t see people at work returning to the office every day, so if/when I do return, it’s likely to be for a couple of days a week, which I’ll be fine with (and kinder to my pocket!) Might mean I can maintain a higher savings rate!

  2. weenie,

    well done getting your FF back to £180K this month…that was quite a drop in March but I am sure we are all a bit wiser now!

    I can understand your reluctance to go to work on public transport. I think most people will feel uneasy for quite some time entering crowded paces – bars, restaurants, trains, sporting events, festivals etc. so on the work front maybe a bike could be the answer – gym workout and travel combined!

    Dividends look like they will be affected with the likes of Shell cutting the divi by 2/3rds – first time since WW2. Interesting times as they say…

    • Thanks DIY and yes, that big drop was a lesson and a half!

      A couple of my friends can’t wait to go back to pubs and bars but I really am not that excited about it, although I do miss the buzz and atmosphere, I think I can wait a while longer!

      Yes, reduced dividends for definite, this year and next year I suspect as a minimum. It’s actually just as well this has happened now and I can see how dividend income is affected. One reason why I didn’t just go for the growth/acc strategy, I wanted to see the income come in myself, or not, as the case seems to be!

  3. I’m with you, the prospect of returning to work in the next few weeks/months feels like a mixed bag. It’ll be good to see colleagues again and have a change of scenery, but overall I think I prefer working from home now! Hopefully I can wrangle a 50/50 home/office split.

    It’s interesting to see the markets are bouncing back at the moment. I suspect they’ll drop again once the effects of this shutdown become more pronounced, but either way, I have the same attitude as you – keep calm and carry on investing!

    • Four premium bonds win in a row? Superb!
      PBs get a bad rap over on the Freetrade forum but they’re definitely worth thinking about for a diversified portfolio.

      • Hey Jim
        Yes, people always go on about them being ‘bad investments’, when they’re not investments at all, they’re just cash! I’m waiting for the day when I get a big win so I can say ‘told you so!’ 😉

    • Hey Dr FIRE
      Yeah, I reckon I should be able to get a 50/50 work from home deal – certainly, if my boss is going to work mostly from home, I should be able to too!
      Hope all continues to go well for you and yes, keep calm and carry on investing!

  4. Nice Weenie! I think lots of the FIRE community are showing good savings rates in April due to lockdown.

    I too am missing the office environment – though fortunately my commute is only a 20 minute drive to work. Do you reckon you’ll change anything regarding the dividend investing or just keep on?

    • Cheers Jase and yes, most I’ve seen who still working have shown good and improved savings rates.

      Seeing dividends being cut has probably made me think about having a bigger cash buffer that I previously planned on having, to cover these scenarios. I’m still comfortable with having a portfolio which has both income and growth elements though expect the divi income to be a bit depressed in the next year or so.

  5. Great post Weenie. My approach is same as yours but have had a little bit of cash that has just been released out of high interest current accounts which I have invested. My approach is steady and index trackers but fancy a bit of the Freetrade action for some fun / learn some new stuff, will follow your link!

    • Hi Cath, I hope you were able to pick up some ‘bargain’ investments with your extra cash! Yes, the Freetrade/individual shares is just a bit of fun (my ISA with them holds the more ‘serious’ global ETFs’ – thanks for using my link and good luck with the free share!

  6. I can completely relate to the working from home and actually missing some aspects of being in the office, I am lucky at the moment as I have the balance of being able to go in the office once or twice a week which is actually quite nice to do as we are on a rota.

    That’s great how your fund is back at £179,000. I am surprised that the markets are as optimistic as they are currently like many. I no doubt believe it will all right itself but I’m surprised we aren’t even more down at the moment.

    Keep safe Weenie.

    • Hi Chris

      I can see a rota type system being implemented at work – some of our desks in the office are really close to one another so no way all those people could come in at the same time.

      Our portfolios were pretty much neck and neck, so yours must be around the £179k mark too. 🙂

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  8. Hi Weenie, it’s so good to hear that you are doing OK and keeping upbeat. I think it will be difficult for any of us to return to normal, whatever our version of normal is, but I just wanted to check in and say “take care”. I have been re-reading my old blog entries recently which made me realise how much the world has changed in such a short time. Best wishes.

    • Hey, how are you doing Cerridwen! 🙂 I hope all’s going well with your retirement and yes, I can imagine how looking back on your blog, how things have changed!

      I can’t see things going back to the ‘old’ normal – it’s going to be a ‘new’ normal!

      Hope you are keeping safe and well!

  9. Hey Weenie, I also miss printing stuff off to save my eyes!

    I’m on the US fractionals train, but not bought any yet! Wish I’d bought more of that clean energy ETF now though as it’s gone up 8%! But just the 1 free share lol!

    Congrats on your 4 PBs wins in a row! That’s impressive. Being down 4.4% from a year ago also! Wow, I’m guessing it’s closed even more now.

    I nearly bought printing paper, lol. Holding out…

    • Hi Firelite
      I don’t have a printer at home so won’t be tempted to buy any paper haha!

      Sadly no PB win this month so I couldn’t make it 5 in a row but good going anyway! And yes, investments are continuing to creep up but for how long is anyone’s guess!

  10. You should sack off the MB and create a new yearly goal for PB wins! 🙂

    Amazing savings rate! If I still had an income I might have matched it… Haha.

    All the best as always

    • Hey TFS
      Variance with PB isn’t as bad as with MB haha! A few offers have started to trickle though on OM so I may even make a small profit this month, woohoo!

      Cheers and hope all’s well with you and the family.

  11. Amazing savings rate you go going on there!

    You have done extremely well to get to those numbers in 6 years. I would be thrilled if I could achieve the same. Im 31 and aim to be retired by 55. Who knows how things pan out though I may get there sooner.

    It’s really nice to see some real-world numbers though aside from the millionaire on youtube haha.


    • Thanks Sean – one of the benefits of being in lockdown and spending even less money than usual!

      Your 24 year investment horizon will surely reap many dividends – I can’t even imagine how big my pot would be had I started at your age!

      And yes, mine certainly are more normal numbers! 🙂

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