April 2022 Savings, plus other updates

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!).

Before and after

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)

Future Fund 

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.

Goals Update

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!).

[*referral/affiliate link]

12 thoughts on “April 2022 Savings, plus other updates

  1. Interesting. You said £994.38 is 13% of take home pay, which would make your take home £7,648.46 wouldn’t it? My maths could be way off though, or there’s some factor I’ve not considered…

    My first thought is where on earth is all the money going?! I would have thought that with that sort of net, your savings rate would be *much* higher. My take-home is somewhat less, but my savings rate is regularly around 75%, so I am a bit confused as to where the money is going.

    Dare we see a breakdown of your expenses on this blog…??? I’m sure you are not buying yourself diamonds every month!

    Sorry, me being curious and probably way too nosey as well! 😉

    • Hi Codefreeze

      No need to apologise for asking questions.

      My savings rate is based on what I save from my net salary paid by my employer and I only saved 13% of it this month.

      However, I do state that that number (£994.38) includes top ups from money not from my take home pay, e.g. the council tax rebate, the property crowdfunding repayment etc. Those amounts aren’t in the 13% as they’re not part of my usual take home pay.

      The main point of the table really is to show where I’ve allocated my money, e.g. in my SIPP, ISA etc.

      So no diamonds to be found here, it’s probably not the clearest way of doing things but it’s been how I’ve been documenting it for 8 years.

      I could make my savings rate look better by including my work pension contributions or mortgage payments and including all income (like some others) but what’s the point?

      Well done to you, with a savings rate of 75% – I think I only ever managed that once and it was a one-off!

  2. Oh, sorry for missing that! You did indeed say that there were savings not included in salary, I guess I was focused on the table.

    So taking off those numbers, that would make the part of savings from salary £405, and your net salary £3,115.38. When you then allow for mortgage, and council tax, and the never ending costs of house repairs (been there), that sounds more as I would imagine!

    There’s an interesting point here which I think is generally missed, which is savings rate can be quite a deceptive number, as it seems to imply your ability to save, when rather it’s more related to ability to earn. That’s because there is a “fixed cost” to living in the West, which I would say is an absolute minimum of £1,000/month, but typically nearer to say £2,000/month.

    So, for example, someone who had a 15% savings rate on a net of 3,000/month, would actually be a better saver than someone who had a savings rate of 25% on a 10,000/month net, given similar fixed costs. Of course, then you get into lifestyle inflation and so on…so “all things being equal” never really applies in practice, because all things are typical not equal! 😉

    One last note, on my savings rate, that does sound high compared to some, but my fixed costs are relatively low, not due to any particular “savings skill” on my part (being old == no mortgage, kids grown up, fairly simple tastes etc etc etc). 🙂

    • Agree that the savings rate can be deceptive as people calculate it in different ways – probably the important thing is to find the way which works for you and stick with it so you can measure your own rate and progress consistently.

      And yes, ultimately, it is the ability to earn – the bigger your salary, the bigger the opportunity to have a big savings rate because of fixed costs of living. Lots of FIRE people concentrate on being frugal and reducing costs but there is only so much of scrimping that you can do as you will still have the cost of living to pay for and the only way then to increase your savings rate is to get more income.

  3. I must admit I made the same assumption about your salary and again wondered where all the money goes. My savings of £1100 per month are a 39% savings rate so I’m evidently depriving myself too much in my pursuit of FIRE!

  4. That driveway looks really fab, Weenie.

    A job like that, though expensive, is always worth getting done – and the longer it gets left, the more expensive it becomes!

    Now you won’t have to worry about breaking an ankle 😉 And, of course, it really adds to what Phil and Kirstie would call the ‘kerb appeal’ and completely upgrades the look of front of the house 🙂

    Jane in London

    • Thanks Jane in London.

      You’re right, I’m so glad I got it done as I knew it would be more expensive if I left it. There’s other work to be done (at the back) but this was the critical one.

      Haha, yes ‘kerb appeal’ – my sister was trying to think of the words the other day, must tell her!

  5. Hey weenie. Your new block paving looks really good. I too had a bad cold recently just like you a month or so after having Covid. There are so many viruses going around now for sure…

    Well done on getting the max pay rise, we will be getting the centrally negotiated 3%. My fund is at £236,000 this month so still very close to yours as usual. That’s also great about the litter picking activity and that’s a good idea about listening to music while doing it. Perhaps you could do the litter picking meditation audio cd hehe.

    TFJ

    • Cheers TFJ.

      Yes, am even more conscious now of people with sniffles or coughing on the bus now (these are the ones who should still be wearing masks in my opinion, so they don’t pass lurgy onto other people).

      Interesting that my fund appears to have closed the gap a little on yours, considering I withdrew a chunk out of it in October to buy the house – if I add that chunk back in, I’d be over £250k.

      Funny that you mention meditation, there’s actually something a little therapeutic and calming about litter picking – I get angry and annoyed when I see the rubbish blowing about but after I’ve done a litter picking session, I feel a lot better!

  6. I listen to Radio X sometimes when I’m WFH and it’s tragic that most of what ‘m hearing is the same bands from my twenties, Foo Fighters, Liam Gallagher, Radiohead etc.

    Thank you Wet Leg for producing a stunning track, i agree! I’d like to say original, but it could have been released 35+ years ago and been a massive new wave hit. Which is probably why it’s so good. (Check out Black Honey “Hello Today” for a current band who should have been huge?)

  7. Hear what you’re saying, Starla – I looked at my recent playlists and I seem to be listening to same music from the same bands (including the Foos!), with the only ‘new’ bands in my list over the last 8 years or so, being Royal Blood and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. I listen to commerical radio as sometimes can catch some decent good music but often, I hear something I like but I don’t know who sings it! Checked out Black Honey, sound like the kinda stuff I loved (and still love) from the 90s, a la Garbage. Thanks, will check out more of their stuff!

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