Well, April came and went in the blink of an eye!
Work on my driveway was completed and I’m very happy with it – looks so much better and is a lot safer (for me and my car!).
I used most of my work bonus to pay for it and also pretty much cleared out my ‘House Fund’, so need to save up for the next bits which need doing.
Work was extra busy, with me covering for colleagues on annual leave (I can’t wait til I no longer have to do this any more!), so it was a big relief to have that nice relaxing long Easter weekend.
There was also a week where I had a really bad cold, which was so bad that I tested myself in case I’d caught COVID again (I was negative). I’m sure I used to catch colds all the time and they were only ever mild, just the ‘sniffles’, but perhaps my immune system still isn’t quite right yet.
Anyway, some good news at work was that I received the maximum performance-related pay rise offered by my company.
The bad news was that at 5%, it doesn’t beat inflation but hey ho, I’m not going to cry about that – increases are not guaranteed and there have been years when no pay rise was given (performance-related or not). Average wage increase in the UK this year is apparently just 3%.
Some people would complain and even consider leaving due to the size of this pay rise but for me, it’s not such an issue. I know the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, even if the pound signs might appear to be bigger. I don’t love my job but I mostly like what I do, I get on with my boss and my colleagues and enjoy a fair amount of flexibility and autonomy in my job – those things I value far more than ££££.
Also, as promised by the government, I duly received my £150 Council Tax rebate.
I chucked this into my ISA. I know, this rebate wasn’t really meant for people like me, who didn’t need help with bills, but my house meets the criteria (Council Tax band A – D) and I’ll not say no to free money from the government.
My direct debits (utilities, broadband and council tax) have all gone up, as has the cost of my weekly shop but not significantly so. My car is only used for trips to the gym and supermarket so increased petrol costs haven’t really affected me. I’ve yet to feel the need to cut back on anything.
So, how do my numbers look in April?
I saved 13% of my net salary. Having received my pay rise, I was planning to save a bit more but social activities (paid for by credit card) caught up with me! The above includes £65.18 from doing Prolific surveys and the aforementioned £150 rebate. I also invested £374.20, a partial repayment I received from my disastrous foray into property crowdfunding, which was a pleasant surprise since I’d pretty much written all of that off four years ago.
Shares and Investment Trusts
I opened a new investment in European Assets Trust, to add to the income-paying part of my portfolio.
Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.
(Entire portfolio here)
The markets waivered somewhat after last month’s apparent recovery, but I really can’t let myself stress about it – just gotta keep at it.
My Future Fund wobbled down a little to £230,752 by month end.
Dividends and Other Income
As always, when the markets are down, dividends always bring a smile to my face. Actually, scratch that, they make me smile regardless of what the markets are doing 🙂
I received £362.11, of which £228.27 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs.
Here’s what the graph looks like:
If history repeats itself, next month should be a good one for dividends.
Matched Betting (MB)
Not a lot of time spent on this – using very small bets, I made just £22.87 profit on EW betting and a couple of accas.
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.
Here’s how I did in April:
Think I’m still mostly on track with all my goals, although might need to keep an eye on the emergency fund one, which is the one I might end up struggling with.
Helping the Community
It’s been mentioned by various people in the FIRE community (including readers of this blog) that if there’s something you plan to do in retirement, it’s a good idea to start doing that activity before retirement.
One of the things I planned to do upon retirement was volunteer or give back to the community.
I’ve started doing some litter picking around my area (fortunately not my estate, but the main road next to it). There are council-provided bins available but the lazy and the inconsiderate just leave a trail of rubbish wherever they go and the litter just makes a nice neighbourhood look like a sh*t one. The country could probably do with another ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign.
Anyway, I’d say it’s mostly teenagers, from the sheer number of empty sports drinks bottles and sweet/crisp wrappers I’m picking up. There’s also a lot of McDonald’s rubbish, although the nearest restaurant is over a mile away.
I contacted the local council, which kindly dropped off a large supply of bin bags and a litter picking bag hoop. I bought a litter picker from a local shop for a few quid. As the bin bags have the council logo on them, I don’t need to add the rubbish I pick up to my own household rubbish, I can leave the rubbish-filled bag next to any litter bin and the council will collect it.
It takes me around half an hour to fill up a bag and during that time, I listen to music or a podcast.
My Local Pub
I’ve finally popped into my local pub.
It hasn’t really changed over the years since I was last there – a traditional English pub with a beer garden, serving pub grub, with flatscreens for sports, frequented mostly by locals (including a couple of my neighbours) and the odd traveller staying at the nearby Premier Inn.
It’s a pub I’m happy to go to by myself for a drink to watch the football anyway and the food, whilst not spectacular, is decent and good value.
Well, I hope you all had a good April and that you all have a good bank holiday weekend.
It would be great if the weather is nice so I can spend more time pottering around the garden.
Otherwise I’ll be all day long on my chaise longue…(can’t get this song out of my head!).