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:

I received £317.68, of which £151.35 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs. All dividends were reinvested.

This takes my total income received from dividends for the year to £3,873.06, of which £1,883.05 was from my ISAs. I didn’t quite hit my target but I’m not too disappointed – I was expecting far worse, with all the cut or cancelled dividends.

So here’s how things look at the end of the year for dividend income:

As mentioned earlier, I’ll be tweaking my investments in the new year and will be looking to increase my dividend income so hopefully the graph will start looking more interesting in 2021.

Matched Betting (MB)

There seemed to be more important things to think about than making a few extra quid from hustling so I didn’t spend a lot of time on MB this month.

In the end, I made just £107 profit. Total profits this year came to just £1,795 but I have now made a lifetime total of over £18,000 profits from MB (in nearly 5 years), all tax free.

As mentioned previously, the MB guide I subscribe to is OddsMonkey*, which is great for beginners and experienced matched bettors alike. There are step by step guides and also a friendly forum for you to ask questions and get help on any of the offers.

Goals Update

Here’s how it all ended:

Well I would have smashed the Savings Rate goal had I not changed it to 60% but I’m happy with what I achieved, never actually thought I would ever be able to maintain >50% on average.

Dividend income was affected by cuts and cancellations throughout the year so not a lot I could do about that.

After setting such an ambitious MB goal, I’m resigned to the fact that for me, after so long doing MB, big profits might now be beyond my reach.

This is the first time MB profits made was less than dividend income received but I think this will be the way of things now.

I will claim the charity goal as a win as I donated more than 10% of my MB profits in total, even though I didn’t manage to organise the toilet twinning thing – instead, I split the donation money across a few charities:

The Year that Nobody Predicted

Well, what a year that was.

Although all have been impacted by repercussions of the pandemic, depending on individual circumstances, what was experienced likely differed dramatically for everyone.

I lost my aunt this year (maybe or maybe not due to COVID) but consider myself to be one of the fortunate ones who was able to get through the year relatively unscathed, financially, physically and mentally.

Remaining in employment and continuing to aim for my FIRE goals gave me something to think about and focus on, other than the doom and gloom that was spouted out on a daily basis.  I was also glad that I wasn’t on my own during this time.

Video calls on Christmas Day are nothing new to me – I’ve been doing them for years as there are always members of the family in a different country at this time of year. Sadly this time, the family was split even more to shield the more elderly members.

Back in the UK, it was just a small low-key affair, which I shall remember as being enjoyable for the huge amount of food and drink consumed, and a lot of time on the sofa watching ‘comfort tv’ – shouting answers at quiz shows, singing along to musicals and laughing/groaning at Carry On films.

For something different and as a result of getting to know her better during lockdown, we went for a Boxing Day walk with a neighbour, with mugs of hot mulled wine.

Time pencilled in to sort out my goals for 2021 was instead spent reading and playing video games – my brain was getting a proper rest!

We did manage to get out of the house for a bit of ‘entertainment’ and went to an outdoor Light Festival, meeting up with a couple of my friends – it was good to get out and about and socialise.

What has 2020 taught me?

  • That I’ve been lucky – things could have been a lot worse
  • That too much news is bad for me
  • That I can function quite well by setting my expectations really low
  • That I don’t panic when the stock markets plummet
  • That investing during a downturn is scary but that I should do it anyway
  • That I’m quite happy to work long-term from home
  • That despite the above, I really miss my commute, the office and my colleagues
  • That I missed going to pubs but not that much

I’m sure there are many more things but that’s all I can think of, off the top of my head.

Tiers the Season to be Jolly

As we commence the new year under tighter restrictions, I reflect on the fact that the various vaccines won’t miraculously make the world all better again, but it will be a start.

I can’t really see things really heading back to anything resembling ‘normal’ before the summer but I hope by that time, I might be able to travel safely to see my family.

As if the virus were not enough, we’ll have all the Brexit shenanigans to contend with so 2021 promises to be another ‘interesting and challenging’ year, but one which will hopefully be filled with more happiness, less fear and fewer lockdowns.

A Brexit free gift

Anyway, I’d better pull my finger out and get my 2021 goals sorted.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and wealthy 2021 to all of us!

[*referral/affiliate link]

34 thoughts on “December 2020 Savings, plus round up

  1. Happy New Year!

    Thank you for this and all the other updates you’ve posted this year. Your journey makes for an interesting read.

    Re your tolerance for falls in the market, I’m not surprised. As it happens, yesterday I found myself re-reading some of your old monthly updates and you’ve experienced several periods of turbulence before. Like when your portfolio reached £150k only to spend the next three months falling before recovering. (This year was but a blip in comparison.) Anyhow, each time you stoically carried on: this is the plan and there is no alternative 🙂 I’m impressed at your resilience and determination.

    All the best for 2021. Onwards and upwards.

    • Happy New Year, NewInvestor

      I’d forgotten about the rocky markets back in 2018 – thanks for the timely reminder! I’m sure in years to come, 2020 will also just be a blip on a graph!

      Thanks for the kind words and your support!

  2. Nice update. Shielding is the doublespeak for not seeing elderly family members now it seems.

    • Cheers Steve and sadly, you could be right.

      In our case, our big family gatherings for Christmas involves at least 6 households, so it was split into two gatherings, 3 households in each just to be on the safe side.

  3. Hi Weenie! Happy new year!

    Great update. I could relate to several parts. We half planned mulled wine with neighbours in our own respective gardens but it’s just been too cold! I half joked about taking some in coffee cups to the park playground but Mr Firelite showed a flicker of wondering what kind of woman he’s with..!

    It’s crazy that Covid rates are going up so much and disappointing. I agree that nothing resembling normal until summer. Sounds like a nice Christmas! We had the obligatory Carry On films on too. We did kinda break rules and saw my parents in a neighbouring but different tiered town, but we were there maybe 45 mins and sat in different rooms (us conservatory or outside, them living room). While I was really worried we may pass something on to them, also worried about them being alone for so long and no usual get together. While we could video call, it’s hard for Junior to interact. Esp when my parents’ first language isn’t English. It was nice to see them. Strange times.

    Well done with your investments this year. Over 50% is so good especially if you didn’t manage it previously. Over 17k invested is fab. I was unfortunately still saving my BTL deposit when markets were low so only really heavily investing when markets were on the up again. Shame but still haven’t done badly, as I’ve since been chipping at my savings to invest. I guess a difference is I don’t have a SIPP (db pension instead). I was still slightly jittery back in April if I’m honest, not to sell but about investing. Lesson learned.

    I don’t actually record the amount I’ve invested so gonna work that out for the year. I wonder how long the stock market will keep rising like it has been. Not that I’m complaining! It’s just weird at such a difficult time.

    Good causes you’ve donated to. Well done on the reading too! I can’t wait to dig into a couple of books I got for Christmas.

    All the best for 2021! x

    • Happy New Year, Firelite!

      It must have been a tough decision for you – risk passing COVID onto your parents, or risk them suffering mentally due to pro-longed isolation? I’m not sure what call I would have made in that situation.

      It does seem strange with the stock markets continuing to rise while things are still so messy in the ‘real world’ – what do they know that we know that we don’t?

      Thanks for your support and all the best for 2021 too!

      • The stock market takes a much longer view than some of its investors. Plus the pandemic has affected small businesses much more than large ones, and the latter are the ones that make up the bulk of the stock market and also the ones (particularly tech companies such as Zoom) that have benefitted from the change in working practices etc.

  4. Happy New Year Weenie!

    That future fund is looking good, it’s great to see you making such good progress. We were quite surprised by the market recovery since March, which has given all of our portfolios a welcome boost!

    Let’s hope 2021 brings us a bit more stability, we could all do with a steady year! Hopefully a combination of vaccines and more normality returning mean no more shocks for a little while. It looks as though the next couple of months may be rough though.

    All the best for the coming year and we look forward to seeing your progress towards the 2021 goals, whatever they may be!

    • Happy New Year AWTL!

      Yes, I’m so glad I remained invested – I toyed with the idea of keeping some cash to one side but I was uncomfortable having cash do ‘nothing’ in my investment accounts so invested it all (as I normally would).

      I can’t wait to start living my life normally again but don’t want to be over-optimistic with the vaccines, so I won’t be making any travel plans just yet!

      All the best with 2021!

  5. A fantastic, open and honest insight into your turbulent year.(s) It has been so tough for everyone in 2020 with financial markets going into meltdown and not knowing what to do next. However I think we all learnt from the experience this year and heeded Monevators timely advice of not to sell, stay calm and time will rectify and eventually reward.
    Keep up with your progressive project as its working very well All the best for 2021 and most of all enjoy the ride and experiences it gives us all.

    • Hi Ged

      Yep, absolutely heeded Monevator’s rallying call to not sell. I do wonder however how differently I might have acted had I not been in accumulating phase but instead, was relying on my investment income. I’d like to think that I would not panic then either but…

      Cheers and all the best for 2021 – I shall continue to enjoy the ride and experiences!

  6. well done and happy new year! i’m curious why you have 2 SIPPs – and do you have a target number for future fund? onwards and upwards!

    • Thanks hal and Happy New Year!

      I have 2 SIPPs, one with Hargreaves Lansdown (which I opened when I first started investing), the other with AJ Bell. I started my second SIPP because at the time, there was no cheap way to invest in ETFs cheaply (it was before HL introduced their regular investing). I will finally be transferring my HL SIPP, (though not to AJ Bell) to reduce fees – I like the idea of not having all my investments with one provider (to spread the risk).

      My target number is between £350k – £400k – it changes depending on tweaks I make to my spreadsheets.

    • Happy New Year, diy – yes, next milestone is a quarter of a million….it sounds massive to me but is within my reach, perhaps even by the end of this year!

  7. Happy new year weenie. I’ve enjoyed reading your updates during 2020 so I am looking forward to keeping doing so during 2021 too :D.

    Congrats on the 2020 growth of your future fund, all the best moving on towards this new year. I am glad to read that despite your loss and unfortunate year you consider yourself as lucky. I consider myself very lucky too, as I’ve kept myself financially, mentally and physically healthy and that’s given me some confidence in myself and my capabilities to cope with unfortunate environments.

    All the best in 2021!

    • Happy New Year, Tony!

      Your blog updates have shown how hard you have worked at keeping up your financial, mental and physical fitness – I think the FIRE community/FIRE blogs have been very positive and encouraging during these tough times – by following the FIRE ethos, many of us have been in a better situation to cope with bad events.

      Thanks for your continued support and wish you all the best for 2021!

  8. HNY Weenie. Congratulations on smashing your original target savings rate, and as for the revised goal let that be a lesson for you to never take unregulated unqualified investment advice from one of your readers. What a silly suggestion!

    A 54% result doesn’t sound like a ‘failure’ to me, and once you strip out all of the fixed costs that you probably can’t do too much about (unless you switch all the heating off and never boil a kettle again…!), it’s probably difficult to see how you could increase this significantly, without making some extreme sacrifices.

    I don’t track my finances to anywhere near the same level you do, but i have had a look at my annual ‘outgoings’ for both 2019 year and 2020 year, and not surprisingly 2020 came in much lower – pretty much exactly two-thirds of the prior year. I did embrace the lockdown though, and massively upped the ‘grow your own’ in the garden, and can’t recall any impulse purchases online.

    i’ll be interested to see the tweaks you make to your investment trust portfolio. Mine appeared to hold up pretty well with regards to the dividends, but i do wonder if some of them have dipped into their reserves, and there’ll have to be some sort of payback at some point.

    Anyway, on with 2021, and as one of my favourite YouTubers from Salford says, “Let’s have at it!”.

    • Happy New Year, KC!

      Haha, had you not mentioned revising my Savings Rate goal, I would have ended up doing it anyway! 🙂

      I’m not sure I could repeat the >50% savings rate again – once things are back to normal, my spending will likely shoot up – not to silly pre-FIRE-path levels but I’d probably be ‘doing my bit to help the economy’, including socialising a lot more and travelling.

      One thing which I did enjoy during lockdown was growing my own and a few of my Christmas presents will help me continue on this front, so hopefully, I will be able to show pics of my home-grown produce!

      During 2020, my investment trusts veered from one extreme to the other, with Scottish Mortgage on one (+180%) and Temple Bar and BMO Commercial Property on the other (-56%). The tweaks I’ll be making will include cashing in on the former but keeping the latter two for income, as well as adding a bunch of other high income ITs.

      Yes, bring on 2021, it can’t be as bad as 2020! 🙂

      • If you’re going to cash in SM, you might want to take a look at some other Baillie Gifford funds; they’ve done really well for me this year, especially BG American (although that’s got a lot of crossover with SM, so you might not want to swap to that), and they’ve had 5 funds in the top 10 performers this year.

        • I’m looking to switch from growth/low yield ITs to income/high yield ones and I’m not sure BG have those, unless I’m mistaken? So will be switching out of SMT (yileld 0.27%) to something like a REIT paying >5%.

  9. Happy New Year weenie 🙂

    Congrats on investing nearly £18k, that’s pretty impressive – don’t think I will get to that level any time soon, unfortunately.

    And well done on your savings rate, although you didn’t hit your revised target, 54% is great!

    Like the mug by the way 🙂

    • Happy New Year, John 🙂

      You’ve been paying off debts so once that’s done, you’ll be able to concentrate on your investing too so that will ramp up – will just take a bit of time.

      Haha, the mug was a surprise free gift – a commemoration or commiseration item? Not sure!

    • Cheers Jim.

      The only other bits of crowdfunding I’ve done is with BrewDog (Equity for Punks – invested just enough to get my 10% bar discount 🙂 ) and a bit in Abundance.

      Oh and I’ve still got some cash stuck with what used to be Property Moose – I can’t see myself getting hold of that any time soon, so in my mind, it’s a write off/lesson learned and is no longer part of my Future Fund.

  10. Happy New Year and well done on your achievements in 2020.

    Looks like 2021 is set to look promising for you.

    It’s interesting that you have found MB slowing down for you. I did dabble for about a year, but with my time differences it was getting a bit too much. Can I ask did you try the casino offers, or stick to the sports betting?

    • Happy New Year, MSG and thanks!

      My biggest profits came in years 2 and 3 of matched betting, probably at a time when I still had quite a few of my main accounts unrestricted and perhaps when there were more offers around.

      I’ve only attempted a few casino offers but they’re not for me (too much temptation to gamble) so I’ve stuck with sports betting. I think there’s probably more longevity with the casino offers as there are a lot more of them about. Most of the MB service providers (eg OddsMonkey) now have sections dedicated to casinos – I’ve not been tempted to take a look…yet!

  11. I like seeing your monthly dividend graph. Very motivating to see if increase year by year.

    I am assuming your future fund includes the totals of all your investments. I had a similar portfolio return of 6%. Although my personal YTD return is slightly higher as I invested some in the dip in April.

    I did dip into crowdcube for freetrade in the year but I kind of regretted it as I don’t see an exit plan as of yet. What’s your experience with crowdcubing shares?


    • Hi Fireplanter

      Yes, I enjoy updating the monthly dividend graph as I too think it’s motivating and I hope it helps motivate others by showing how far I’ve come from when it was just a few quid a month!

      Yes, my future fund includes the totals of all my investments. If I only look at say my Freetrade account, where the bulk of new money has been invested this year, I get a return of 18%, but this all gets balanced with my other accounts.

      With my crowdcube investments, I didn’t really go into them with an exit plan – I just see them as very long term investments which may (or may not) bear fruit but I’ve gone into them as I believe in the companies, which I hope will succeed.

  12. Hey weenie,

    Sorry only just got around to reading this.
    Amazing year on the savings front!
    I’d love to say we spent less due to Lockdowns etc but I don’t think we did, Amazon got hammered 🙂 – not very FIRE

    I like all the things you learnt about yourself this year, it was definitely one for a bit of introspection…. Not much else to do was there!

    All the best for 2021

    • Hey TFS

      I got tempted by Black Friday and Amazon Prime day – put things in my basket but opted not to click ‘buy’ immediately so it allowed me to have second thoughts, haha!

      I was going to do a whole post on introspection but I learned another thing – I’m not good at too much deep thinking!

      Cheers and all the best to you too for 2021 – hope to hear about what you’ve been up to in 2020 and your plans for this year (hint hint 😉 )

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